A lot of individuals don’t know a great deal about foster care and may be a little afraid to give it a try. It is important to know that the U.S. foster care system works to provide homes for those children from birth to 20 who are not able to live with their biological parents.
Some of these children are voluntarily given up by their parents and others are taken away by the state because the parent has been irresponsible. Of those who enter foster care, about half of them will return to their original family and another 25% will be put up for adoption. Those who are put up for adoption are often adopted by the foster parents.
The remaining 25% will often remain in foster care until they are too old, without the parents granting permission to adopt.
It is important to note that the children coming into foster care who have been take away from their parents may be facing emotional, psychological and behavioral problems due to the unrest, abuse and negligence they may have experienced. Despite this, these kids have many positive impacts on the family they come in to. To give you a more detailed account of the pluses and minuses I will list them separately below.
Cons of Foster Care
Emotional strain – The whole idea of taking in a foster child is to take care of them while their parents improve themselves or their living situation so the child can return to his biological parents. This will be extremely difficult if you get attached to the child. This strong emotional tie will be hard to break when it’s time to return the child to their original parents. You need to make sure you are capable of doing this.
Paperwork and training – The amount of paperwork needed to apply to be a foster parent is overwhelming and makes the paper work the IRS requires look like a joke. In addition to the paperwork you are required to take a course consisting of 30 hours over a 10 week period.
Financial – Although you do get some compensation for taking a foster child, this never covers all that needs to be covered. So if you decide to take a foster child in make sure you can afford to do so.
Judgment – Due to the fact that you have to have a check of your background and because your house has to be inspected, you will feel like you are being judged. Because the biological parents are facing losing their child, they may be angry and lash out at you. This is nothing personal. Everyone but you will have someone to represent them in court. The parents have an attorney representing their rights, the child has one to make sure their needs and rights are fulfilled, and even the state has one. Although this will be challenging to be in the middle of this without any help, it can and has been done.
Your character will be tested – As stated above, many times children coming to you will from an abusive or neglected home and will be experiencing emotional, psychological and behavioral problems. This often manifests in the form of anger and acting out. And guess what, you are the one who is there to take this out on. Although this may be challenging, it can be gotten past with patience, love and understanding. If need be, counseling for the child will be provided.
I am sure that a lot of you reading this far are wondering why anyone would ever want to get involved in foster parenting. If you continue reading you will see the great reasons for getting involved in foster care. They are listed from least important to the single most important reason.
Pros of Foster Parenting
Monetary compensation – You will be compensated for taking in a foster child. Please note that this is listed as the least of the pros to indicate that this should not be your only reason to take in a foster child. This is important if you have been thinking of taking a foster child in but you thought you would not be able to afford it.
Good way to start a family – Once again, this should not be one of your major reasons for doing this, but if you are able to adopt your foster child, you do not have to pay the fees you would have for a private adoption. You don’t have to pay for an attorney either, so if you want to start a family by adopting this is the way to go.
Helping someone out – Because the idea of this is to take a child until the biological family can take them back, you are really helping someone out; not only the child but the bigger family too. Thus, not only are you helping these children out by giving them a home, you are helping the parents, as well as the community at large.
Gives you purpose – By foster parenting, you are saving a life that would otherwise not be saved. This will give purpose and meaning to your life. This is probably one of the best things you have ever done in life.
It will change you – If you have no kids, wait until your foster kids call you Mom and Dad for the first time. It is an awesome feeling and you will never look at life the same. There is no love like that of a child’s where they depend on you for so much.