So, you're considering fostering a child? Given that there are about half a million children in the foster care system at any given time and only 125,000 families currently licensed to care for them, there is an obvious need for people to open their hearts and homes. But let's face it, raising children, even your own, is a difficult task; what makes someone want to take on the added responsibility of raising someone else's child(ren)?
Ask any foster parent why they took on this challenge and you are likely to get a range of answers. For many, the idea of making a difference in the life of a child (or children) is their motivation. Some enter the foster care system with the hope of being able to eventually adopt a child. In fact, about two-thirds of children entering foster care are eventually adopted by a foster family. Others are empty nesters longing to once again fill their homes with the laughter and activity of small children.
Whatever the reason, before taking the step that could forever change not only your life, but the lives of your family and the children you welcome into your home, take the time to ask yourself one basic question: Is it the right thing for me and for my family?
Can You Be Part of the Solution?
The first step, according to Madelene Hunter, a foster child advocate from California who also spent time in the foster care system as a young girl, is a frank self-assessment of your reasons for wanting to become a foster parent. Ask yourself, can I be part of the solution for a child's life or will I add misery to their unfortunate situation?
Hunter recalls her own experience in foster care as being mostly "dismal and hurtful" until she arrived at the home of the foster mother, whom she describes today as "an angel who reached out to me and provided me with kindness unlike anyone had done for me before." By providing a home rich in structure, love, and predictability, this foster mother was able to repair the early motional wounds suffered by Hunter and the countless other foster children that passed through that home in the ensuing years.