When we began the process to become Foster Parents, we were exposed to so many myths from family, friends, and coworkers. Lucky for us, these myths did not scare us away from going through with the process. We would like to bust a couple of these myths for you and spread awareness.
- Myth – There is a lot of red tape to become a foster parent. Before we even started the process, Bryce and I googled what people had to say about fostering. It was all over the web, that to even become a foster parent you had spent a lot of money up front and on top off that jump through hoops to even get your license.
Bust the Red Tape Myth – It really is not a lot you have to do to get your home ready to become a foster parent. Your house does not have to be immaculate, but up kept. Most of the things they check for, are things you should have regardless of having a foster child, for safety reasons. Hazardous cleaning supplies and all medication does have to be locked up. We use magnetic locks on our medicine, and cleaning supply cabinets. You need working smoke detectors that work in all rooms, a carbon monoxide detector, and a fire extinguisher. I should add that you only need the carbon monoxide detector if you have fuel-burning appliances. Now the last thing they check for is to see if you have what is needed to take in the child or children that is listed on your license. If you are licensed for a child ages 0-8, for example, it is expected you have a car seat for each of those ages. I suggest getting an infant carrier, one of those car seats that grows with the child, and a buster seat to be ready. Your home must have the proper furniture for your age range. Foster children must be in beds with frames. So we have cribs for our babies, and twin beds for our older children. Make sure each child has a place to put their belongings, this includes dressers and closet space. Different states have different regulations, but in most states trundle beds, and pull out beds do not count as proper beds for foster children. Remember you want children to feel safe in your home, and like they belong. Not temporary guests, although they might be.
*****Things to note. If these apply to you get more information from your agency***
- All guns must be appropriately locked up. This include ammo locked in a separate container from gun.
- If you have a pool, you must follow foster care pool safety regulations. We do not have a pool, so I have to be honest I never really paid attention to these guidelines.
2. Myth – Foster Kids are behavior children. You would not believe how many stories I heard when we began telling people we were becoming foster parents. My hair dresser told me a story she heard about a mom who fostered a child and later that child came back and murdered her years later. A friend told me that the rate of foster children getting arrested and in prison is high. A coworker told me that she knew someone where the foster kids burnt down their house. I heard these countless stories and have to admit would get a little apprehensive about moving forward.
Bust behavior myth – There is something to remember about kids in the foster care system. Their lives are really just not fair. Imagine being taken away from your family and what you know in an instance. Being limited in what you can take, and not being able to say goodbye to friends, being separated from your siblings and placed in a stranger’s home. Things that are norms for us like running water, toilet paper, food in our refrigerator, beds to sleep, and so forth … may not be norms for them. These kids are taken out of their element and may have various feelings about it. They also may not know how to express these feelings and yes certain behaviors might come up.
Here is how the myth is busted, foster children are not behavior children. They are kids learning how to handle disappointment. If a foster child is placed in your home, do not write them off as a behavior problem. They can feel if you have such feelings, and may respond so. Be willing to model how you handle frustrations of your own and be patient. Communication is key. Be open and honest about how certain behaviors make you feel. Model how you handle disappointment. Talk through what you do.
From experience, kids test boundaries. They want to know if they can trust you. Can you really love them? What will make you send them back? How long will it be before you to abandon them? Certain behaviors are portrayed when kids do not know how to appropriately express themselves or communicate frustration. This is why modeling is key. As a child builds trust and learns proper ways to express themselves, inappropriate behaviors dwindles. It does not happen at once, and is an evolving process. I cannot tell you how many times we saw outbursts, and later found out unresolved emotions came up. I cannot highlight enough how important it is to be patient and communicate with your child.