The choice to foster is not a choice to be taken lightly. It requires training, thought, support, a big heart, and, quite honestly, bravery. Not the typical type of bravery where you’re the hero saving the day. The type of bravery to admit you might not always know the answers, that you may have days where you just want to cry, or that you get angry too. The type of bravery needed to open your heart to whatever may come your way, to not judge, and to just simply love. Love in a way you’ve never loved before, a love that expands your understanding of unconditional. If you think you have that type of bravery, here are a few other tools you might need in your foster parent toolbox.
Foster care doesn’t follow a plan, you never know what might be happening from day to day. It’s important not only to be flexible with your schedule, but also with your heart. You may be asked to put together a bed at the last minute or accept the toddler-aged sibling of the teen you originally said yes to. As a foster parent, you will go to great lengths to maintain some of life’s most precious connections, even when the child you’re caring for is kicking and screaming that they no longer want those connections.
Foster parents are masters at multi-tasking. And great with organization. It takes a lot of planning to get everyone where they need to be when they need to be and for them all to be fed along the way. Add in taking time for yourself and you’ll find there are days you’re multi-tasking before you’ve even finished brushing your teeth.
Foster care will challenge your ability to be open-minded. You’re asked to set aside any preconceived notions you may have about most everything. You’ll be asked to put yourself in someone else’s shoes actively, not passively. The only way to come close to what the children and their parents are thinking is to truly drop everything you think you know and be willing to listen.
There are many other skills needed to be successful at fostering, but if you can master the ones listed here, you’re well on your way to success. Remember, it’s easy to love but “foster” love might be a bit harder. In the end, though, foster love is the best possible love you can give.