Becoming a foster parent is one of the most rewarding adventures you’ll ever experience.
The journey may seem daunting at first with so many variables you’re probably thinking about as you begin. But do not fear, there are plenty of supports for you. Don’t get overwhelmed.
There are some basic steps you can take that will help you lay a solid foundation for your new child. Creating fun rituals that provide structure is one of those important elements. It’s also smart for you to bond with your child by talking openly and being there for them whenever they need you.
Creating rituals can help anchor children in their new environments, while reinforcing good habits. Regular dinners around the table are still valuable practices, even if you hold them a few times a week. At the very least you could hold regular Sunday dinners, which gives everyone a slotted time to check in with each other.
Having regular times and dates for activities goes a long way to making people feel at home. Throwing in a few chores can take this all a step further by providing structure as well. Pick a day or night of the week for laundry or house cleaning. Try to make it fun by ordering take out or watching a movie when you’re done.
Talk about yourself. Let your child get to know you by sharing stories about where you grew up, the types of friends you had and even some of the struggles you overcame. You may not get much detail from your children immediately, so you’ll likely need to carry the weight of the conversations. Don’t overshare to the point you’re giving your child ideas about trying something they shouldn’t, but let them know you’re human too.
Get involved in your children’s lives. Showing up for important events and milestones will go a long way to show you’re genuinely interested in their successes and it will also prove you’re there to support them in their failures. Go to those parent-teacher meetings, attend any extra curricular events (sports, drama, etc.) and go to court whenever necessary.
As far as court dates go, you may or not be allowed to be in the courtroom. It’s absolutely crucial to be there no matter what. If you’re not allowed inside, drive your child to the courthouse and wait outside. Be there when he or she come outside. This builds trust and there’s no better time to talk about the result than when they first walk out the door and see you there.
There are also some basic requirements that may vary depending on the state, but here is a list of some of the generally accepted rules:
- Provide a criminal background check
- Be 25 or older
- Be prepared to pass home visit tests
- Must have income that can cover all expenses
- Have at least one bedroom
- Have a vehicle, valid insurance and a clean driving record
- Need a flexible schedule to accommodate court dates, counselling, etc.
At Holy Cross Services in Michigan, we offer a range of supports for foster families. We’re here to help parents be successful. If you’re in a happy space with the supports you need, then our children will be in happy homes.