There are a lot of hoops to becoming a foster parents. 30 hours of class, multiple home visits, interviews, background checks and recommendations to name a few. At times, we wondered if we would be approved.
Which is good. It should be hard. I think becoming a foster parent should be an intentional enough decision that you put some skin in the game before they put a child in your home.
But I do have a few ideas about things I would add or subtract from the process. For instance, the state-mandated blueprint-like fire escape plan displayed right beside the exit. It’s fairly impractical to think that a child, or any human being, would look at it rather than opening the door to escape.
I realize in some instance somewhere the map might be extremely useful, but unfortunately, the state has so many rules and regulations that often it becomes more about checking boxes than focusing on vetting and preparing individual families to begin caring for children in the midst of trauma.
The process becomes about proving you and your home can do it, rather than about preparing you and your family to do it. Both are necessary to building the best homes for these precious kids.
A dozen foster moms have created a beautiful blog named Dropping Anchors. In one post, each names something they wish they’d known before beginning foster care. Something they wish a class or a caseworker or another friendly foster parent had shared.
I found myself nodding at nearly every entry. But to name my own, I would say don’t be scared of how this will change you. The deep sadness of devastating stories. The secondary traumas of caring for kids who spit in your face. The complicated joys of loving kids who come and go. In the midst of our first placement, I felt lost. My easy smile gone. My world changed. And I did lose myself in many ways, but eventually through it, I found a better self. With a slower smile and a bigger world.