Is foster parenting for me?

You’ve considered foster parenting but you have a lot of questions, and finding dependable answers seems overwhelming. You're in the right place.

Internet searches and advice from family and friends may have you a little overwhelmed. Here are some simple answers to some of your questions that can make it easier for you to make an informed decision about becoming a foster parent.

Frequently asked questions
for potential foster parents

A: Congratulations — it sounds like you are normal!  Couples rarely if ever start out on the same page when it comes to foster care.  While you should certainly come to a place of oneness on this issue before bringing a child home, there are some steps you can take to create an environment for meaningful and important conversations that will help get you there.

The Jason Johnson Blog offers some of these conversation starters in the blog posts, “10 Questions Couples Should Ask Before Becoming Foster Parents” and “Fostering or Adopting for the Husband Thats Not Sure”.

A:  This is a really important question.  Foster care isn’t easy for anyone involved in it, and that includes the children already in your home.  However, “not easy” doesn’t equal “not good”.  In fact, if we are honest, it is the “not easy” things in our lives that have usually been the most worthwhile.  There are some important considerations for the children already in your home and we can help you explore what some of those are.

Jana Hunsley, a Graduate Research Assistant at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD) and an adoptive sibling wrote this article, “Lessons from Adoptive Siblings”, to help parents understand how changing family dynamics affects everyone in the home.  Jayne Schooler also addresses “Understanding the Impact of Foster Care and Adoption on Children Already in the Home” in this article with Focus on the Family. 

Finally, if a podcast is more your speed, listen to Frantz and Stephanie Guignard talk about “Foster Care and Your Family” on the Foster Movement Podcast.

A:  Singles can make amazing foster parents!  Having a supportive community is important for anyone considering foster parenting, but this is especially true for singles.  There are some things you’ll want to think through in terms of your career, your dating life and your support system.  There are some other singles that have navigated these things and can help you do the same.

Hallie Graves shares “How Did I Decide to Become a Single Foster Mom” at the Archibald Project. Jillian Kellenberger breaks down some of the harder parts of single foster parenting at The Forgotten Initiative in this post, “The Struggle of Single Foster Parenting”.

A:  It certainly feels that way, especially at the very beginning.  Just like climbing a mountain, your best bet is to pick a path and start by taking the very first steps.  Which by the way, your being here shows that you’ve already started.  We can help you take the next ones.  Before you know it, you’ll be at the top. The Foster Movement Podcast, “Process and Paperwork”  dives into starting the process with veteran social worker,  Jailynn Smiley.

A:  It is normal to have some reservations about interactions with biological family members of children that come into your home.  For most foster parents, it takes a little time and experience to find their groove on this issue.  Like most things in foster care, your perspective now will not likely be the same a year or two from now.  Be open to taking some first steps down the road of learning more and see where it leads you.

On the More Than Enough Podcast Episode “Surprised by Love”, biological mom Crystal Story shares about overcoming addiction and bringing her daughter back into her home with support, encouragement and love from her daughter’s foster mom, Holly.

A:  Yes, it can be.  In fact, frustrations with the system itself are among the top reasons foster parents stop fostering.  However, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.  First, very often the professionals involved are just as frustrated with the system as you are (which is why their turnover rate is also very high).  Second, imagine being a child in that system whose very future hinges upon some of these frustrating realities.  They are going to experience the results of those realities with or without you.  Chances are, doing it with you will be better for them.

Jamie Finn from Foster the Family offers encouragement in her blog post, “Stop using the broken system as an excuse”.

A: Parenting children who have experienced trauma doesn’t necessarily take a “special person” (as is often said about foster parents).  Instead, it just takes a regular, flawed person who is open to learning and growing.  There is a lot more information and support out there than ever for parents who navigate these realities.  If you lean into them, you can do this. 

We recommend listening to the Foster Movement Podcast Episode 18 “Parenting Kids from Hard Places with Joanna Torres and Kayla North”. Show Hope has also compiled an extensive list of parenting books and resources found  here.

A:  The answer to this question will ultimately have the single biggest impact on your ability to stick with foster parenting through the hard things.  There are conversations to be had with friends and family as you go through the process.  There are also people you don’t even know yet who will become some of your greatest sources of support — if you know where to look for them.

Focus on the Family offers encouragement for all grandparents here.  For those looking to support foster and adoptive families in their community – check out Jason Johnson’s blog  post “Wrapping Around Foster and Adoptive Families”.

A:  If you think foster parenting might be for you, your next step is to attend an orientation meeting for an agency or two. Once you are matched up with an agency (public or private depending on your state), they will be able to very clearly map out your next steps. Now is a great time to listen to social worker Jailyyn Smiley on The Foster Movement Podcast, “Process and Paperwork”, or read “How to Choose a Foster Care Agency “ by Holly Gnuse at The Forgotten Initiative.  

Now, if after exploring foster care, you don’t feel that foster parenting is for you (at least right now), we are so glad you have some clarity on that!  There are SO MANY other ways you can be involved in making a huge difference for children and families.  We would like to help you take the next step to find your fit in foster care. We have created 7 videos and this PDF to get you thinking how to best use your gifts and talents on behalf of children and families in your community!

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