If you can’t have children of your own—or can’t have any more but want them—you may be looking into helping those who have no family. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of children in the social care system. Adopting may not be an option for you but fostering a child could. However, you need to make sure this is right for you and your circumstances.
It’s really important to remember that fostering a child is not the same as adopting. The child will never legally be yours, which means you have no legal rights.
You are there to protect and support the child during the time with you. This is rewarding if you want to help to shape children’s future with your love and kindness.
There are different types of fostering that could suit your specific needs. For example, you may not want to do it for the long term just now but you could offer emergency or short care.
You could be there for those one or two days when children need a more permanent home or for those who are about to be adopted.
Fostering does offer a little more freedom. If it does become too much for you, you can stop altogether; however, you want to avoid this as much as possible.
If you find that the type of fostering you are doing is no longer right, you can talk to a social worker about doing a different type to suit your needs.
You have the opportunity to help children at all stages of their life. There are some newborns that need fostering until they are two or three years old, which can be rewarding to see them develop.
You could also adopt teenagers who have been in and out of the system and feel they have nowhere to go.
The issue with fostering is you never know the background that the child has come from. You could have one child who is used to the system, gets on with school and life and wants to be better than her parents.
On the other hand, you could have one who is a trouble-maker, has psychological problems and is angry all the time. Can you deal with that?
If you adopt, eventually the visits stop. You are deemed the best place for the child and you can live your life together as a family.
With fostering, you will have constant visits from the social workers. They need to make sure your home is always suitable for the youngsters.
Knowing about the lives that the children have had can be really difficult to hear.
There are books of foster parents who tell of the difficulties of fostering and knowing just how badly some of the children—even babies—have been treated. Could you really handle the distressing situations?