Opening your home to children in need is a noble gesture. If you have children of your own, there are some major considerations that need to be made before becoming a foster parent. I have a unique perspective on foster care, since my parents were foster parents. My entire childhood had foster children coming and going from my home and life. Prospective foster parents who are already parents need to consider the needs and disruptions that their own children will face first.
Foster Parenting Takes More Time
Foster parenting is more complex than regular parenting. There will be regular visits by social workers and home assessments. Also, foster children usually have additional needs that will require your attention. Many go for regular psychiatric care to deal with the situation they came from. Foster parents are often responsible for transportation to and from court ordered visitation and monitoring phone, mail and online contact. Foster children also often have increased medical and dental needs due to lack of care. Also, many foster children have behavioral issues that take a lot of time and energy to deal with. All of these extra events in your household will reduce the amount of time and attention that you can give your own children.
Foster Parenting is Expensive
There are payments to foster parents and stipends for the child to pay for some expenses, but the additional costs of raising children can far exceed the amount given. Foster parents can limit the child’s spending to what is provided by the state, but it would leave the children lacking in many areas. Additional expenses such as food costs, buying larger vehicles to transport extra children and household goods will add up quickly. This will leave you with less for your own family. Field trips, spending money, yearbooks, Christmas and birthday gifts along with other expenses came out of my parents’ pocket. As a biological child in a home with foster children, I felt left out by only receiving used goods due to financial constraints while foster children bought new several times a year from their stipend.
Foster Parenting Brings Adult Issues to Your Children
Exposing your children to adult issues is probably the most important issue to consider. Foster children bring their issues with them. A foster parent does not know what to expect when a child steps through the door. The full story or extents of the child’s issues were rarely fully explained by the social workers. There is no way to protect your children from the horrific details that a foster child can bring into your home. I learned about different types of abuse, kidnapping, neglect and other frightening adult issues from a young age. My earliest memories include children showing signs of major abuse. This included mirroring the abusive behaviors from previous experiences on those around them, including me and other children.
Foster Parenting Brings a Lack of Stability to Your Household
With the constant flow of children through the home, it is difficult for your own children to find stability. Foster children stay in foster homes for unknown periods of time. I never knew who I would come home to or when the next threat to my safety would happen. I was hurt, stolen from, verbally accosted and endured my own horrors that haunt me to this day by the hands of foster children. Privacy did not exist within my household. I had to actively learn how to hide things I wanted. In order to get peace, I had to actively stay away from my own home.
Becoming a foster parent is noble, but as a parent your own children’s welfare and safety must come first. Seriously consider the downside to foster parenting. Now that I am a parent, I would not even consider taking in foster children while I have minor children. I never want them to deal with the abuse, running away, lack of stability in the home and adult issues that come along with this responsibility. Before signing up, realize what you are exposing your children to and the complex issues that come from being a foster parent.