You are now a foster parent! Congratulations! You’ve opened up your home and heart to a child, and regardless of whether they’re staying with you for a short-term or long-term period, you are a hero! Fostering is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can prove to be challenging at times. Here are some tips to help out new foster parents:
1. Take care of the basics.
Make sure the child you’re fostering has clean clothes and their own (preferred) personal hygiene items. Introduce them to your biological kids, and show them the different rooms and areas of the house. Perhaps ask the child what their favourite snack or meal is and provide it for them to help them feel a little more at home in such an unfamiliar environment.
2. Don’t get too attached to your expectations.
Chances are, the child now under your care has been through a lot. You may have expectations for them and you may expect them to achieve certain goals in a few weeks or months. It’s advised not to stick to these expectations too much. Wanting the best for the child is understandable, but many of these children have gone through a lot of emotional trauma which may make it difficult for them to do well in school for the time being, for instance.
3. Document all the memories.
Sometimes, you don’t know how long a child will be under your care. It could be days or months, or sometimes even permanent. Take lots of pictures and write down stories, or anything else you’d like to remember. You’ll enjoy looking back on these later, and the child will, too. Should they leave your care to return to their birth parent(s) or elsewhere, you could give them a photo album full of memories to remember their time with you and your family!
4. Make the child feel as welcomed as possible.
The child is being placed in a situation completely unfamiliar to them. They’re surrounded by strangers in a strange environment and this can prove to be very scary for them. Let them know you’re here to help and that they can talk to you if they wish. Try not to get invasive about their past and their feelings, instead let them come to you. As much as you’d love for your foster children to become comfortable with you straightaway, this isn’t the case and usually takes time.
5. Find a therapist if needed.
This applies to your child if they are having a difficult time processing the trauma they may have gone through, but this also applies to you. Taking care of a child in need can be extremely challenging, and the stress can get to you. Remember that it’s important to seek out help when needed.
Chances are you’re doing a great job! Keep it up and seek out advice if you feel it’s necessary.