Making the decision to take in a foster child is not one that families reach overnight. There are many reasons to reach out to displaced child and offer the security of a stable, loving home. For families that are new to the process, there is some mental and organizational preparation that is needed before a home is ready to take in foster children. Consider these tips:
Make room. In order for fostering to work, there has to be some physical space allocated to the newest resident of the home. It is not as simple as deciding where the foster child will sleep; you also want to consider personal storage, bathroom space, and a seat around the dinner table. The goal is to make the child feel at home as quickly as possible, so plan ahead to be accommodating.
Create family rules. Sit down as a family unit before any foster parenting begins and talk about everyone’s role in the process. First-time families may want to meet with a representative from a San Diego fostering services organization to ask questions. It is important to allow everyone room to speak freely and honestly to address any issues upfront. If you have other children in the home, make sure they know that they are part of the process and that a new face will not take away the time or love you have for them. Agree to work together to make the home accommodating, but to keep the family routine as normal as possible too.
Expect challenges. Even veteran foster families face new obstacles with each new child they welcome into their homes. Do not expect gratitude or even politeness from foster children, but rather try to understand their point of view. Do not view it as the foster child’s job to adjust to your family and routine; instead be perceptive to the needs and feelings of the child. Realize that not every moment will be perfect, but with time everything will fall into place.
Be open minded. While part of the role of foster parents is to instill their values into the home life of the child, remember that foster kids have things from their backgrounds that can help you learn too. Embrace any cultural differences and ask about the customs your foster child holds dear. Find ways to make family time and holidays a hybrid of your own traditions and the new ones a foster child brings. It’s also important to remember that the emotions people show vary based on environment and culture, so do not expect the same behavior that your biological children exhibit in similar situations.