So You Want To Be a Foster Parent? Foster Parenting Readiness Quiz.

When you first decide to look into fostering, it’s all about the kids. You feel called to help someone who can’t defend or fend for him/herself in their time of need. But after nine months of being a foster parent, we have learned that there is much more to it than that. So here’s my foster parenting readiness quiz:

  1. Do you think you can love a child and accept him/her as part of your family, including them in your lives just as you would for a child of your own? (this part is the easiest!)
  2. Are you willing to undergo an in depth several month long analysis of your family, your marriage, your home, and your everyday life?
  3. Are you willing to do ridiculous things like measure your hot water temperature, install a fire extinguisher in plain view on your wall, lock up your laundry detergent, etc., just because the county says so?
  4. Do you have an extra bedroom? And do you have the income necessary to support a child? (foster parenting does not pay well. With our agency, which is higher than most, we receive a little less than $20 a day which needs to cover diapers, food, clothing, outings, as well as gas for all the extra driving and time for all the paperwork and visitations, not to mention increased babysitting costs!)
  5. Now comes the harder part. Can you be unbiased towards biological parents who have made mistakes and had their kid(s) taken away? Your ministry in fostering is perhaps more for the parents than it even is for the kids.
  6. Can you handle your parenting being criticized by parents who have had their kids taken away? Can you defend your parenting to social workers? Can you explain the smallest bump, bruise, and sickness to any county worker or biological parent who wants to know about it? This takes some parenting confidence.
  7. Do you have the time and money to transport and/or supervise visitations several times a week? (in our county, 2 hours twice a week for each parent is standard at the beginning, with it increasing from there. And most parents don’t visit their kids together. So that’s 8 hours minimum, plus driving. Find out where your county’s visits usually happen. Ours is 20-55 minutes away, depending on the time of the visitation and the traffic. Also, find out how many hours your agency or county expect you to supervise before offering to help.)
  8. Can you keep track of the paperwork involved in being a foster parent? (weekly reports, incident reports, medical visitation forms, telephone call logs, clothing receipts…)
  9. Are you willing to be in the dark about everything involving your foster child? Communication between the many parties involved in your child’s case is not always clear.
  10. And last of all, but hardest for Greg and I: Do you believe in rehabilitation? If a child is taken away for abuse or neglect and that abuse or neglect is not disputed, do you truly believe that the biological parent can change in the course of 6-18 months? Will you be able to forgive that biological parent and support the court’s decision to return your child to them at the end of the process? Not that your opinion or support matters, but it would be nice to feel confident about where your child goes when they reunify.
These are all tough questions, most of which we never really thought about as we began the process of becoming foster parents. We still can’t answer yes to every question here, and perhaps you can’t either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a foster parent, but you should at least have these thoughts on your mind as you consider it.
Today is Midge’s six month court hearing. Her mother is still requesting reunification. Her social worker is not recommending it. Her father is making headway in his case plan. We have been told this judge is pretty crazy, and “who knows what he’ll do.” Well that’s encouraging, when you’re talking about our precious baby girl and her future. We are praying big prayers and hoping for impossible things.
It’s just another normal day as a foster parent.

4 thoughts on “So You Want To Be a Foster Parent? Foster Parenting Readiness Quiz.

  1. Thanks for sharing. I have my first visit by the Agency tomorrow. Your questions really made a lot of difference to me. I hope you gotta your baby girl back. May the Lord bless you and your husband. πŸ™‚

  2. You forgot asking if I can handle angry kids who regress behaviorally and no matter what would rather be with their bio parents. πŸ˜‰

    I’m a relative caregiver. Trying to get Lisenced because of all the support it brings.

    But I’m also a new mom with a 5 month old son.

    I don’t think I can keep this up. We weren’t prepared for all of this at once. And the paperwork alone is overwhelming. Discipline for the 4 year old is exhausting. And keeping the 12 year old happy is a bit difficult.

    Now we are going through background checks for everyone we know trying to figure out babysitters.

    We are low income and live in a two bedroom place.

    Your list is very accurate.

    I’m overwhelmed and don’t know if I can do this right at this point in my life.

    • You’re right, Allie! Since making this list I would probably add a lot more things on there. It’s especially different foster parenting for kids who are older, like we’re doing now. My prayers are going out to you as you try to take on the toughest job there is. Best of luck to you and your family!

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