I have technically been a foster parent for almost 8 years, but having had only 3 babies come through my home, I don’t consider myself an ‘experienced foster parent’. However, I do know a few things. There are some things that you just shouldn’t say to a foster parent.
“Don’t you just want to keep them forever?” I hate this question because there is no ‘good’ way to answer it. “Nope” makes one sound cruel and heartless. Sometimes there is a fit and sometimes there isn’t. This is not the fault of the child, or the foster home. It’s just the way it is. But who is actually going to say it? No one. “Of course I want to keep them forever” only elicits one response “awe, that is going to be so hard”. More often than not, it is not the foster parent’s decision whether or not a child stays or goes. It lays in the hand of the social worker or judge.
“Isn’t it going to be so hard when they leave?” To this one I have a very similar response to #1. In addition to the responses above I will say, yes, it will be hard. Why dwell on it now? For now, I am going to enjoy the child we have (or in my case, the ‘borrowed baby’), I will be sad when they go, and will deal with that when it comes. Talking about it now does not make it any easier.
“What’s the story with the parents?” This question I get way more often than you may think. People do not say it with any ill-intent. Even complete strangers ask this question. Humans are curious by nature, some more than others. This information is confidential, and should be made available on a need to know basis. If there is a concern that caregivers or teachers should know about, than information should be shared, but for the most part it should remain confidential.
“Is there anything wrong with the child?” Again, this is confidential and it would not be fair to the child to go around sharing their personal information with strangers. There are certain circumstances that this information needs to be passed on, but generally we need to respect the privacy of the child.
“Let me adopt them!” This is not the worst thing to say, but I still want to mention it. I have babies in my home, and one day, yes, they might need adoptive homes. For now, for whatever reason, they are not up for adoption. Even if they were up for adoption, I don’t have a say in who gets them. I strongly encourage people to apply to become an adoptive family. There are many children waiting to be adopted (in BC, you can learn about adopting BC’s Waiting Children here). As an adoptive parent, I can tell you it is a very rewarding opportunity.
“Is it hard to become a foster parent?” This can be taken a few ways. For this scenario I am going to take it as related to the application process. Again, this isn’t really a bad thing to ask, but I love the idea of sharing this answer with as many people as possible. There is a LOT of paperwork, interviews and educational courses involved in the process of becoming foster homes. For this I am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL! I want all children to be safe and thorough screening is important to ensure that this happens. For detailed instructions on the application process I encourage you to head to your local Ministry of Children’s and Family Development or Social Services Website. For information for BC residents, click here.
I appreciate you taking the time to learn a little about fostering. I hope that this post provides you information on ‘foster etiquette’.
Please also read and share my post on “What Not To Say To An Adoptive Parent“.
I would love to hear from any foster parents out there! Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this post!