Anyone who knows me knows that I love fiercely. I will love and protect every child who enters my life; my bio children, my children’s peers, my foster placements, and even strangers children. I am a mama bear and I will destroy you if needed be, I am a children’s advocate. I have devoted my life to children, both my own and others because I am passionate about them. Everytime we get a new placement I feel the need to refresh memories, with this being said… let’s go over some do’s and don’t, shall we?
Do offer help. Help is not always needed but it helps us feel secure, the foster parent and child can both benefit from this. Make sure your offer is sincere; I might need a favor sometime or maybe our foster placement will ask you for something.
Don’t sympathize, empathize. Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings of another (having shared the same experience, or very similar experience) it goes far beyond sympathy, which is pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Don’t tell my foster babies you understand what they’re going through, you simply cannot unless you’ve been a foster child.
Do recognize that my foster kids are not “damaged goods.” They come to me as humans, some are experiencing trauma and some are not. These kids often have amazing personalities, they laugh and play, they’re smart, witty, and have some skills that my family sometimes doesn’t. Remember, these kids aren’t placed in care because they’re bad…they’re placed in care because their parents made mistakes.
Don’t tell me I’m a saint for being a foster parent. I. Am. Not. Saving. Anyone. I’m just providing a safe, and loving, home for a child who is living with me. I certainly don’t praise you for going to your child’s sporting event, I don’t tell you how wonderful you are for going to a parent/teacher conference, I don’t high five you for successfully pulling off a Tooth Fairy/Elf on a Shelf/Santa thing. Don’t tell me you could never do it, don’t say it must be heartbreaking, just stop. I’m just a parent…just like you.
Do teach your children to be welcoming, inclusive, non-judgmental, and kind. I’m especially lucky to be a part of a large group of kids and their families who know what I do, they know I’m a foster parent, and they have taught their children to be accepting and helpful. This is magical, if you haven’t talked to your children about foster care…do it now. The large group of kids typically know that I’ve a new placement; they see a new child or children with me. The kids are quick to introduce themselves, to let the child know how they know me/my child/husband, tell them something positive, and run off to do their thing. If kids can do this, anyone can. The kids NEVER ask if they are a foster kid, they NEVER ask what they did to be placed in our home, they NEVER make our placement feel as if they’re different than anyone else. Adults can learn from this.
Don’t be a moron. This should be self explanatory, but I’m going to ramble off some points.
- I am not making money being a foster parent, don’t ask.
- Will you adopt them? Seriously, ask yourself if you’ll get in a car accident today. Do you know the answer, probably not.
- Watch what you say about their parents, kids hear everything.
- Am I their real parent? Go suck an egg.
- Don’t you dare say anything about race, I’ll likely assult you.
- Go ahead, ask me how many children I fostered. Do you want me to go sad? Don’t make me take that dark trip down memory lane.
- Treat these kids like you treat my bio kids.
- Try to start conversations and don’t ask a lot of questions, that’s a tough one. Try a compliment! If the kids don’t respond please be understanding.
- Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. Stop being overly friendly, over the top happy, etc, just be you.
- Offer help in unconventional ways.
- Celebrate small victories with us.
- If our foster kids aren’t acting in a way that is appropriate, relax. I can handle them. Don’t feel sorry for them or me; they’ve experienced trauma and they’re coping the best that they can.
I know it’s hard to understand, I know some of this sounds bogus. It’s most important to be understanding.