Becoming a foster parent is a big decision. The decision gets more complicated when there are other kids in your home. Parents often wonder how adding another child to their family will impact their other kids. Is bringing a foster child into your family fair to your other children? What if the foster child’s needs take up too much of your time?
Of course, there are no simple answers to these questions. Every family’s situation is unique. But there are some things you should consider. First, you won’t be alone in this process. Your foster child’s social worker will help you explore these issues. They’ve worked with many foster families and know all about the risks and benefits. Also, the training you take to become a foster parent will address many of your concerns.
Prospective foster parents often wonder about the age of a child who’ll join their family. Some families will prefer to foster children who’re younger than the kids already in their home. They do this in hopes of not undermining the basic structure of their family. While this works for many families, it’s by no means necessary for everyone. Age is just one factor to consider in determining the “fit” of a particular child with your family. Some families who’re raising young children do well with an older foster child.
Is it fair to our other kids to bring a foster child into our home? You should consider the impact of foster care on your other children. Most foster parents can identify pros and cons for everyone in the family. It’s true that a foster child will need lots of your attention, time and love. It’s also true that families have a way of embracing a new member without anyone else being left out. Sometimes a foster child will strain the emotional, psychological and physical resources of a family. At other times, the kids in the home can’t imagine life without their foster brother or sister.
Will our other children resent our decision to foster? Children need to be prepared for having a foster sibling join their family. They should be included in discussions long before a foster child becomes part of the family. It’s important to listen to their concerns and answer their questions. They’ll have some very basic questions such as “will I have to share my room?” Your social worker can help you with these discussions. Addressing your child’s concerns before a new child joins the family will make them feel part of the decision and more inclined to welcome a new person into the family.
Experienced foster parents have dealt with these issues. Many of them say that having a foster child in their home was sometimes difficult for their other kids. But they learned to make sure that all the kids in the home got special time with their parents. They also learned to watch for signs that their children needed extra quality time with mom or dad. And, they’re quick to add, it was mostly a positive experience for the whole family. Their kids learned lessons about caring for others. They became more tolerant of others. And even the tears shed when their foster child left their home were worth it.
Written by Diane Kindler