May is National Foster Care Month. Often, people have some serious misconceptions about the foster care system and requirements to be a foster parent. The choice to be a foster parent is not an easy one, but it can come with lasting benefits.
Myth: Foster Children Are Broken or Dangerous
Many people fear that foster children, especially older ones, will be too much work. While it is true that some foster children have been in several foster homes or that they have a long history of abuse, making them potentially angrier or more challenging, many foster children are well-behaved and only want to feel loved and supported.
Myth: I Shouldn’t Get Attached, So I Would Not Be a Good Foster Parent
You should absolutely get attached. Getting attached doesn’t mean that you cannot let the children go when it is time. It means that you care about their well-being and what happens to them. Children of all ages need someone they can depend upon in difficult situations. When their parents can’t be that person, you can. Of course, you can’t overstep parents’ boundaries, but it takes a village to raise a child. Be part of their village. You might get to see them or hear from them even after they return home.
Myth: Foster Children Might Hurt My Biological Children
The truth is that this rarely happens. Only a small percentage of abused children become abusers. While you could certainly be in this situation, it is improbable and rare. Anytime you mix biological children and foster children, you will want to ensure that everyone remains safe. However, this is as much true for keeping your biological children safe as it is for keeping the foster children safe. The chance for abuse is pretty equal from either side. There’s no reason to assume that something will happen from either side. Kids are kids, and they are generally not abusers.
Myth: Foster Parents Are in It for the Money
This myth is probably the worst for foster parents. While they do receive a small payment for bringing children into their home, most parents do not see this as an income opportunity. Foster parents are overwhelmingly in it for the love they have to give to children and the love they receive in return. The benefits are worth more than that small monthly allowance.
Myth: Foster Families Must Be Heterosexual Married Couples
Once upon a time, this was true. However, these days, many different types of foster families exist. Same-sex and single-parent households are on the rise in the foster community. The only thing you must have is space for a foster child and the means to care for them. Working, older, younger, and childless people have all become successful foster parents. In most places, you need to be 21, but there are few requirements for who the parents must be.
Anyone with love for children can be a successful foster parent. You can help children of all ages and abilities to grow and thrive even in a difficult situation. You don’t generally need special qualifications, and the system is there to support you when you need assistance. You can be a fantastic foster parent.