Keeping Things in Perspective as a Foster Parent
How can I make up for all of the pain this child has suffered?
Am I really the right person to do this?
Can I stick with this child over the long run and give her the stability and security that she needs?
These questions come up for almost every foster parent at some point in their fostering journey.
Obviously, there are no easy answers to these questions.
But there are some things to keep in mind.
Remember that no one can undo what happened to your foster child in the past. But you can offer a variety of corrective experiences which will help her heal and grow.
These experiences happen mostly within the context of your normal family life. Being safe and cared for in a loving home does wonders for kids who have experienced trauma. The everyday predictable routines of getting ready for school, meal times and hanging out with family give children a sense of security. As they feel more secure, they can begin to develop trusting relationships with the people around them.
If you’re caring for them, you are the right person to do it. If you can provide the safety of a strong family, you have what it takes to parent your foster child. Like all children, your foster child has the simple human need for things like for love, consistency, discipline and guidance. And those are things that you can provide.
It may be that your foster child has some special needs that you and your family can’t meet without outside support. The social worker from your foster care agency should work with you to help address those needs. That is the promise your foster care agency makes to you when you take the extraordinary step of fostering a child.
Sticking with your foster child through her inevitable ups and downs will show her the unconditional commitment that is the foundation for healthy human development. When foster children begin to believe they are secure in their home and family, they can let go of some of the pain which has made life so difficult for them and, sometimes, difficult for those who care for them. The young person who came into your home with so many fears and reservations can begin to relax and start to become a happier and more confident person.
Hanging in there with your foster child isn’t always easy. But rest assured, you are helping her move past the pain. You are the right person. And chances are, you can stick with her.