Some families spend weeks, months, or even years trying to pray and decide if fostering is for them. Many families feel called to foster, but put it off. A lot of families never consider fostering.
The misconceptions and lack of knowledge of the system feed the fears of those considering fostering. There are so many reasons why people get held back from making that first step.
Reasons why people don’t foster or are afraid to foster:
We would get too attached
This reason is probably the most popular. In a sense though it’s not wrong. When you invite a child to live in your house for a year while their parents straighten things out it’d be hard not to get attached. Yes, chances are they are going to go back to their parents. Yes, it’s going to hurt. BUT if you don’t love them who is going to? For whatever reason these children are taken out of their homes and all they want is someone to love them and take care of them. The love you give them for a year (or however long you have them) will most likely stay with them forever. You’ll be a positive memory in their life. How many people have you had in your life that you’ve loved, but are no longer around for whatever reason? If we let the fear of losing someone drive our decisions many of us wouldn’t have the lives we have now.
For many families, the actual process of becoming a foster parent is somewhat of a mystery. Most people think the process is basically a bunch of paperwork, people going through your house with a fine tooth comb, and being told whether you’re good enough or not. Oh, the other rumor is that it almost always takes a year to two years to get through the process to foster. Once again, part of this has some truth, but it sounds scarier than it really is.
Yes there is a bunch of paperwork. You’re offering to bring someone else’s child into your home for an extended period of the time while the state is responsible for them — of course there’s a lot of paperwork. Yes, a social worker goes through your home to make sure it meets their standards. And while there are a few extra things that some people might not already do, most of the things they’re looking for are things that many parents would already be doing anyway. And while the process is time consuming, a lot of it depends on you when it comes to time.
When you fill out the initial paperwork and background check there is a wait for the background check to come back. However, in the meantime there are other things that could be done such as the physicals, CPR/First Aid, and getting the house ready. The Arkansas Department of Human Services says that from start to finish if everything is turned in when it’s needed the process takes about nine months. Some families have had delays and it’s taken over a year, but it’s not necessarily the norm. It is a lot of work and it is a lot of time, but there’s a reward. At the end of the nine month or one year period your home is open to children who need some love and attention. Even pregnancy takes nine months to produce a healthy baby.
I couldn’t handle small children/teenagers again
When you fill out paperwork to foster, you check off little boxes that say what ages you’re willing to take. If you are an empty-nester and the idea of having a toddler again makes you nervous, check the boxes that say you want children 10 and up. You will probably still get phone calls asking if you’ll take them, but you can always say no. The same goes for families that don’t want teenagers. You can check the box that says no teenagers.
I have children of my own to worry about
Many families considering fostering are worried about how foster children in the house might affect their own children. It’s true that many of these children have seen terrible things or had terrible things done to them, but that doesn’t mean they should be loved any less or that you have to take them. People who have small children at home have the option to say they only want small children or babies — no teens.
Foster kids need a stay at home mom
All kids could benefit from a mom (or dad) that stays at home, but of course that isn’t reality. Unless the child is under 5 years old they’re going to be in school all day anyway. If you feel that a toddler is better with a stay at home foster mom, you can choose to only foster school age children. That way you know they’re safe during the day at school and you can still work without feeling bad. For those willing to foster children 4 and younger, Arkansas DHS provides vouchers for them to be in a licensed daycare while you work.
You can do it
No matter your fears, if you feel God calling you to foster, you can do it. There will be rough days and there will be frustrations, but the majority of foster families would tell you it’s worth it.
For more information about the process of becoming a foster parent, comment on this post or contact Communications Coordinator Erica Sirratt at 501-288-3197.