In the modern day and age, people are showing an increased interest towards becoming foster parents. Fostering children is not something that can be taken lightly since the well-being of a child depends on it. Many governments have already put up strict regulations and rules regarding child rights, as it is something that has to be protected well for the future of the nation.
The rules for fostering children vary according to the country, so you will need to be extra careful about raising a child. There are many intricacies involved when you are fostering a child, and this article will leave you with a few tips in order to raise your child better. So let us take a look at various aspects of raising a foster child.
What is Foster Parenting?
Foster care refers to an arrangement where the child will be made to stay with unrelated family members because of unfortunate circumstances within his own family. If the child cannot live with close friends or extended family, he will be made to stay with foster parents in foster care. This is on a temporary basis, for the child. In case a child has to stay with foster parents, the preference will be given to people who have similar cultures or tribal connections.
This is unlike adoption, where the birth parents of the child lose all rights and responsibilities regarding the child. Fostering usually continues only until the child becomes 18 years old, and the child will be able to keep in contact with the birth parents, and actually encouraged to do so.
Foster Parenting in India
In India, there are already a set of model guidelines for foster care. These rules were developed after consultation with state governments, experts and various other representatives of the program.
The child will be encouraged to get back in touch with the parents after the age of 18, in India- although, foster parenting is usually encouraged only for children in orphanages. There is also a proposed financial aid of Rs. 2000 per month for the foster family, although a major requirement for foster parenting is that the parents should not be dependent on the aid and be well off financially themselves.
How to be a Good Foster Parent?
There are many responsibilities of a foster parent that you must think of so that you can adequately look after your child. Here are six tips which can help you be a great parent.
1. Know Your Children and Family
When you make yourselves available as foster parents, you have to remember that it is going to be a bumpy ride at times. You will need to understand a few skills and practices, like patience and the willingness to say goodbye to the child after he grows up or returns to his parents. You will also need to think of your biological children before preparing yourselves to welcome a new member to the family. It does have an effect on the atmosphere of the house, and you will need to understand whether it will affect your children detrimentally. You should also brace yourselves for negative opinions- you have to understand that everyone around will not be as enthusiastic as you towards this idea.
2. Communication is Key
As in any relationship, communication plays a huge role in determining how your relationship with the foster child is. You will not only have to speak to the foster child at large but also many others. You will have to be in close contact with the birth family, the school teachers, therapists, social workers and maybe even court officials. You will also have to talk to other foster parents to understand what it means to be a foster parent. More importantly, you will have to talk at lengths with your own family and children before and after you become a foster parent. He changes may be too drastic for your family to bear, and your children may find it hard to adjust to the new addition.
3. Understand the Challenge
Becoming a foster parent is definitely a challenge, no matter how well you think that you have prepared for it. The act of being a foster parent will definitely throw up some twists and turns somewhere in the way- you can be sure of that. You will have to remember that the children you foster will have varied backgrounds, and some may even have been abused and neglected severely in their childhood. So, you will have to prepare and choose a child according to the situation at your home. The foster care system is also something hugely frustrating, with a lot of paperwork involved- do not be disheartened by all that.
4. Manage Your Foster Children Well
Foster children are unlike your own children- they have blotted pasts, and need to be treated accordingly. They will need special care and your patience in many matters, so be prepared to sacrifice some parts of your personality and life for them. Corporal punishment is a strict no- the children may have already gone through damaging physical or mental abuse in their pasts. You should not inflict any punishment that causes physical discomfort to the children. Building a rapport with your foster child will require effort but is required to build a true bond that can inspire your child for the better. Foster children can be extremely hard to manage, but you will have to stay calm and help them get through their difficulties.
5. Manage Losses
Many times, the parents might find themselves too emotionally invested in the past of their foster child. While this is perfectly natural, you should take care to not be affected too much by the past of the child. Foster children will inevitably have been affected by grief and sorrow, and they might not get over it quick enough. You will have to be patient with them so that they recover quickly from their losses. You should let them grieve in a healthy manner, and even place them in contact with their relatives if you think that would help them recover well.
6. Be a Team Member
A corollary to being a great communicator, you will have to work with a lot of people in order to be a good foster parent. This means that you will not only have to communicate well with others but also take care of their needs and be a good team member in general in order to help your foster child. Many times, foster parents will also find themselves having to guide the whole family of the foster child. This is normal, and also plays a huge part in the child growing up to be comfortable as a part of your family.
Pros and Cons of Being a Foster Parent
There are many aspects to being a foster parent; there are a lot of benefits of being a foster parent, as well as difficulties. Let us take a look at a few of the good and bad parts associated with foster parenting.
1. Social Responsibility
There are currently more children who are ready for foster parents than foster parents themselves, and you will be doing a huge service to the society when you choose to be a foster parent.
2. Shaping a Person
You will be providing someone with the love and care which has been missing for great parts of his life when you adopt a foster child. You will become extremely important in the life of a child, and help him develop in life.
3. Preparing Yourselves
Becoming a foster parent will also be a good way to prepare yourself if you are planning to adopt a child soon.
It is also a great, enriching experience to be so important to the future of a child who deserves it.
It can be hard to take emotionally when someone you have opened your heart and home to, has to leave forever.
The amount paid by the government for fostering the child will never be enough to look after him adequately.
3. Frustrating Paperwork
You will have to go through a lot of paperwork and training to be a foster parent in India.
4. Family Balance
Your family may also not accept your decision to welcome a new person into your home.
The agency will have to scrutinize you before making you a foster parent, so you might feel judged.
Becoming a foster parent is a great opportunity to do some good for the society and also shape the future of a child, but it may not be good for everyone. You have to think about whether the time is right, and your family is all right with you taking care of another child, before making the decision to become a foster parent.