It is not easy to picture what fostering is like unless you have been a foster parent earlier. You only learn with experience and if you are a first time parent, it is hard to picture how you will respond to challenges. Every child has different circumstances and situations they have gone through and you may not know about it until you are in it.
Most children in foster care have gone through trauma and the trauma shapes the brain of the young child. Children sometimes live in the flight mode where they expect the world to be unsafe and dangerous for them. This leads to unexpected and difficult behavior from the child. They find it hard to adjust with the foster family and the scale of that is different for every child. First time foster parents can go into a flight mode as well. This happens when they say yes to a child but in reality they are not ready for fostering.
Unrealistic expectations from the child
- The child will be comfortable with you quickly and will be grateful for the care you provide.
It is true that the child will be grateful to be out of the neglectful and abusive environment but they will take time to be comfortable in your home. Children are loyal to their families and when they are removed from their environment, it is scary for them. You are a stranger to them and even if you give them a safe environment, they will still feel like they are plopped in somewhere. They will look for opportunities to get back control of their life and it will take a lot of time for the child to adjust and win their trust.
- You will connect with the child right away
A lot of adults do not have experience of caring and loving for a child they are not biologically related to. However, they still expect to bond quickly and build trust in no time. You will have to connect with the child who will respond to you according to their history and you might have to face difficult behavior form the child. You should not take it personally even if it feels personal. You will need a lot of love and compassion for the child. It should not depend on whether the child loves you back or not. You will have to shower the child with all the love you have in your heart.
- The child is safe and has nothing to fear
Yes, the child is safe in your home but the child does not know they are safe. Everything inside your home is new for your child and they need to be felt safe before they begin to trust you. You should not assume anything and use family bonding activities to bond with the child. Help the child feel safe in your home by giving them adequate space and talking to them. Incorporate the culture and traditions of the child’s biological family into yours.
- There will be no additional expenses
This is a very unrealistic assumption you have. When you have a foster child in your home, the family expenses are going to increase. No doubt, you will receive foster care pay but that will not always be enough for you to cover all the expenses on the child. You will have to buy clothes, toys, food and other essentials for the child. You might also have to enroll them into classes where they show interest on learning. This means your monthly budget will go through a significant change.
Fostering is not an overnight decision and should never be taken lightly. You need to do your own research and understand what goes into fostering. You will have an opportunity to ask as many questions to the social worker as you feel like. Gain clarity with regard to the process of fostering and what to expect from the same. You are allowed to be vulnerable and you can ask your questions or talk about your fears during the meetings and training.
Fostering is not only about you, it is about the entire family and you need to ensure that the family is prepared for the change in their life. Speak to an experienced foster parent to gain an insight into how fostering feels like and how you can adjust with the child in your home. Accept the child with open arms in your family.