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PostHeaderIcon Could fostering be right for my family?

fostering

Making the decision to foster is always a difficult and complex one; although you know that you will be doing a wonderful thing to help vulnerable children, how this affects your own life and whether it is something you can cope with and are prepared for will always be a concern.

If you have biological children of your own the decision to foster is an even bigger one; even if you feel excited and ready to foster will this be something that is too difficult for your own children to deal with? Will it affect your family dynamic negatively, or in fact help your children to be stronger, caring and mature individuals?

Andy Young, a carer with The FCA, began fostering this year. He lives with his wife Lesley, daughter Chloe, 15 and son Ethan, 8. He has shared his experience so far with us, and based on this we have listed a few things you should consider before making the decision to foster:

 

Your children’s age/maturity level:

How old your child is and their personality type will influence how well they cope with fostered children. When Lesley and Andy first decided they would like to foster their son Ethan was only two, and they thought it would be wiser to wait until he reached an age when he could understand the situation fully and cope more effectively “…we felt that (at 2 years old), our Ethan was too young to deal with the impact that Fostering can have. Now, at 8 years old, Ethan & Chloe (15) have as strong an influence on our Foster children as we do!”

Placement types:

There are pros and cons to all fostering placement types and you can specify which would be most suitable for you. If you are worried about how attached your children will grow to the children you foster, respite or short-term fostering might be better options.

A long term fostering placement will give your family more stability, but there is the worry that over a period of months and years your child could grow very attached to a fostered child and find moving on difficult to deal with.

If you are providing care for a child for days or a couple of months your children might find this easier; accepting each child will be with you for a limited time before moving on to a more permanent situation, and another child will soon be in their place.

Your children bonding with the foster child:

It is important that your children feel involved in caring for the fostered child, rather than being on the outside of the situation and resenting the time you have to dedicate to help the fostered child.

Fostering agencies like the FCA tend to organise a lot of events to help your family bond with your fostered child, as well as meet other people in your area who foster. This is a great way to gain advice, support and new friendships!

The Young family get involved in school holiday activities, saying “They give a young person an outlet to express themselves & also have provided our own birth children with activities they would not normally have access to. Such as; canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and team building”

Working through problems as a family:

It is important that when you hit difficulties in the fostering journey you can work through them together as a family, rather than your children feeling pushed out or unable to express their feelings.

If you don’t already have a strong, functional and loving family unit then adding a troubled foster child to the mix probably won’t be a good thing for your family. On the topic Andy said: “we are very much a strong family unit and we believe in ‘family meetings’ and being open and honest with each other and communicating in a calm and sensible manner. Hopefully, this will stand us in good stead for any future difficulties of this type that we might come across.”

 

Fostering can be a wonderful experience for your family and help you each develop strength, kindness and an open-minded attitude as individuals. As long as your own children are old enough to understand the situation and prepared to work with you through any difficulties that may arise together, you can care effectively for vulnerable children that need it most as a family.

 

Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of The FCA, a fostering agency that helps families around the world make their first steps to begin on the fostering journey.

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