Top 5 Traits You Need to Foster
Can anyone foster a child? You may think so, but the truth is, there are some people who definitely should not. There are some upstanding citizens who should not foster children. There are millionaires who should not foster children. There are women who should not foster children. Then who should or who can?
I have derived a list of my top five personality traits that every foster person should have (or have access to - I'll explain in a bit).
The first one is KNOWLEDGE! You must be knowledgeable about multiple things. You must know about the process of fostering. This can be found from local and state organizations that are involved in foster care within your state. You can search your state through this link. https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information. The process of fostering involves the classes to foster/adopt, paperwork (a lot of paperwork), home inspection, interviews, referrals, and more. The classes in my state were a total of nine, three-hour classes and one orientation session. No children were allowed to attend these. These classes were great for prepping you for the journey ahead.
The second one is LOVING! There are multiple types of love, but overall, you must be a person who can love a stranger - exhibit love through actions. There is tough love - which is necessary at times. There is emotional love, where you are able to hug a child or able to say "I love you" back when a child says it to you. A love that will get up in the middle of the night and feed a crying baby. You must show love by staying up all night to care for a sick child that you only met a week ago. You must show love to a child who may kick and hit you. That may be the only interaction they have had in their life till you.
The third is ORGANIZED! When you take a foster child in, they come with appointments, visits, and therapy. You will need a planner and a place for the appointment cards. You'll need places for medical cards, life books, and journals. You will want to keep a journal for the kids. These journals could be invaluable. The journals will detail parent phone calls, parent visits, reactions to calls and visits, trouble in school, behavior issues and much more.
The fourth trait is SYMPATHETIC! Sympathy is caring for others. You care about their sorrow and have pity for their hardships. You'll need to be a person that can lend a shoulder to cry on. There may be many tears OR the child could be beyond tears by the time they arrive at your home.
The fifth trait is EMPATHETIC! Empathy is putting yourself in the child's shoes. You feel what the child feels. You should try to think about how it would make you feel to have been in the situation and how you would want to be treated. That is why it is important to be knowledgeable about the case, so you can empathize with the situation Think back to childhood. Think back to when you were small and an adult was harsh. Walk a mile in their shoes.
So, if you do not have one of these traits, what do you do? If you are married, does your spouse possess the organization skills where you lack it? Or do you have a planning gene that your spouse is missing? You work together. If you do not feel that you can love properly, get a support system of other parents and your own children to pitch in with the love, sympathy, and empathy. Utilize grandparents, church family or your family to be a sounding board without disclosing intimate private information. There is confidentiality that comes with foster parenting but you will need a support system also to become that foster parent the child needs. It will take every ounce of energy you have most days to be the best you can be. When you are at your best, you can bring out the best in the child.
So, what would you add to the list? Do you feel this is accurate or would you add more? Would you exclude anything? Comment below to share your thoughts and ideas on the subject.