One of the hardest things to decide in life is whether to foster a child. It is such a difficult decision because of the huge change it makes on the existing family dynamic. The family relationship is such a precious thing and so very fragile. When children are added to that- things change. These changes are not always good. The children that are coming into your home often have baggage that follows. This coupled with the other children (and your own) baggage can make for hard times.
I believe that some of these hard times can be avoided. In order to successfully maneuver fostering a healthy dose of reality must exist. The reality is that you (as a parent) are not going to know or love a foster child as you love your own- in the beginning. This is natural. Time and great effort must be invested for any relationship to gain a firm footing and this is no different. I would go as far and say it is harder to establish. Any child that is brought under your roof has pre-existing ideas and ways of doing things. These ways are sometimes hard to understand and can get frustrating.
It is also very easy to get into the comparison game. I know that I struggle with that myself. It helps me to remember that every child under my care has a different make-up. They are simply not going to mature at the same rate, do things the same or even desire to conform to the standards that perhaps another child does. Don’t get me wrong- this is still frustrating and difficult to deal with but it is my attempt at doing the best I can for everyone under my roof.
All of this sounds so bleak. You may be wondering, “Why would anyone consider fostering if it is so hard?”
The reason is simple. There are so many good kids that need a stable home. Fostering is their only option. If all of the foster parents could walk into the process with reality in their one pocket and compassion in their other- failure would not be an option. If you are interested in foster care, seek out someone in your area that is currently doing it. Ask them about their highs and lows. Listen closely (without judgment) when they tell you how they have failed. Rejoice with them in their successes. Ultimately, the decision to foster must be made with great respect and research. Take the time to do both.