Advice For Foster Parents
Though I told them things, there were some things I could not openly tell them because I did not know or maybe I was afraid to speak up… Anonymous foster care writer
I strongly believe that the toughest and the most satisfying job in this universe is parenting. Luckily, with one’s biological children, parents know where they are and what the children have gone through. On the other hand, foster and adoptive parents usually count themselves lucky to just to find information on what vaccinations the child has had and the identity of a few relatives.
Due to the responsibility of looking after the welfare of a child who is not your own, you will have to properly research into it before making the final decisions. One of the best sources of information is from a fostering agency; they will be able to answer all the questions that you may have. Social workers, former foster parents and birth family members also hold some bits of information about the child’s life. Though none of the above sources will know everything about the child however; each of them holds valuable information that might be of help to the child in life.
I joined my foster family aged nine. By then I had an idea of who I was and my origin, or where I had come from. At that time, I told my foster parents lots of things about myself, my life and my experiences. Though I told them things, there were some things I could not openly tell them because I did not know or maybe I was afraid to speak up. But now that I am a grown-up, I would really like to share some things that I wish my parents knew.
One, you can never and there is no need to, replace the biological parents, or the foster parent who I had before me. My birth parents and the foster parents who were there before me hold special places in my heart, even at the time they became my parents. My parents of my third placement, who happened to take me back for my fifth placement, earned a special title Mom and Dad because they were always there for me. This is not to say that they were perfect, no, they were not, the special thing about them is that they loved me and they never tried to replace or compete with my mum.
As a parent, you should know that foster children think about moving most of the time. When they are happy, they tend to fear that they will be moved to another place. When they are unhappy, they will think about running away or asking to be moved. When I was in care, I usually felt that all things were dependent upon where I would be when some things happened. For instance, I never got happy about family holidays until the day they happened because I knew I might be moved before it happened.
Kids have different thoughts about the services they receive and how they are treated. Make sure you listen to their views even if as a parent you don’t agree. For example, if a child tells you that he or she doesn’t like his or her home therapist, make sure you find out why. I once complained about a therapist who usually fell asleep during my appointments, but no one listened whenever I said I did not want to go to the sessions until my dad saw one of the naps himself.
Always know that foster children have their own identity. Forcing them to be you or to be like other people in your family upsets and suppresses the greatness they possess. As an alternative of trying to turn your child into some other person and get disappointed, encourage them to be what they want and be proud of what he or she can become. One way my parents did this was telling me how clever I was and I could go to college if I worked hard. They really wanted me to be in sports, but they learned I was gifted intellectually and embraced that, and I’m glad they did.
Children have talents, you as a parent have a role to identify them, nurture and help them do something special with them. Help them discover their talent and encourage them that they can continue doing it even when they go to another home. My biggest fear as a child was not finding what I was good at, but my fear was being good at something and then moving to another family that wouldn’t allow me to pursue what I loved. The greatest role my foster parents played in developing my talent was pointing out my talent and allowing me to practise it.
Children who live in foster homes together become very close. Denying them opportunities to see their other foster siblings is one of the most hurtful things you can do as a foster parent. Foster parents always have excuses for it, when this happened, I felt that my foster parents were hurting me. As a result, I felt I needed not to have communication with those parents again because they denied me what was my family.
A foster child is a kid and all kids make mistakes. Therefore, just like any other kids, they need to have the assurance that the foster parents still love them even when they make mistakes. However, this doesn’t mean that there should be no consequences of what they do, it means forgiveness.
After a foster child leaves, they won’t forget you and all the experiences they had in your home. If you really loved that child and gave him or her nice memories, he or she will remember that later in life. By the same way, if all you did was hurt the child, do not think that he or she will forget it later on life. Childhood memories follow each child and most of the times they shape what and who we are as adults.
When foster children grow, they are not under the control of the fost
er parents anymore. However, what you teach them as adults are important. It is very important to teach foster children real-world or practical things like how to manage money and how to keep the house clean but it is also important to teach them about forgiveness, accountability, respect and love. You can do this by setting an example yourself by loving, being accountable, respecting and forgiving other people
Although every single foster parent I lived with had his/her own mistakes, I am thankful that they were my foster parents. If I had never been into such a place, a place that I called home or parents who made sure I was healthy and offered me encouragement to chase my good grades, I would not be who I am today. As one of the foster children, let me say that those efforts make a difference.