Have you been thinking about the possibility of opening your heart and your home to foster children? While there’s a need for foster parents, there are some often negative perceptions about fostering. Here are five foster care misconceptions set straight.
1. Foster parents do it for the money.
Stories about a rotten apple or two ruining the whole bunch proliferate but the idea that the responsibility of fostering children is done for financial gain, is just untrue. Yes, foster families get paid, but they are paid to cover the costs of caring for the child, such as food, clothing, and supplies, including diapers, wipes, toys, and all the other things that go along with having children in your home. Most foster children do not arrive with many belongings. Often the clothes on their back are their only possessions. Anyone who has experience with children knows the expense involved in raising a child. More often than not, a foster family will spend more than they are paid in order to provide for the child in their care.
2. It costs a lot of money to adopt a foster child.
If you’re hoping to adopt, but you don’t have the financial ability to do it privately, foster care is an excellent avenue to pursue. Of course, you must prepare for the very real possibility that a child you foster will not stay with you, but if adoption becomes an option, foster families are generally the first ones asked if they’d like to adopt. Once you make that choice, it costs very little. For one family I know, the adoption cost was only a few hundred dollars and the state even reimbursed some of their attorney’s fees.
3. The process is strenuous and invasive.
As one foster parent put it, “DHHS (The Ohio Department of Health and Human Services) isn’t trying to find fault with you, your house, or your parenting. They need you more than you need them, and they don’t want to drive foster parents away.” Foster parent training and the home study conducted to certify a home as being safe and appropriate are free and fairly easy processes, and in normal situations, a social worker won’t be invading the privacy of your home to check up on you too often.
4. Foster parents have no say in who they foster.
If you’ve considered doing foster care, but have worried that every time the phone rings you’ll have to say ‘yes’, rest assured that isn’t the case. If the timing isn’t right, you can always decline without hurting your chances of getting a later placement. You can also tell DHHS your preferences in terms of the age of the children you foster. Often work situations as well as factors including the makeup of your family (ages and genders of biological or adopted children) need to be considered.
5. “I could never do foster care. I’d love them too much to give them up.”
This comment could be a bit insulting to any foster parent. Foster families don’t have a special switch they can flip on and off to control emotions. Friends who foster children love these children as their own and it is heartbreaking when a child leaves their care. But foster parents don’t do it for themselves. They open their homes for the children who need them. Foster care requires a selfless love that can make you emotionally vulnerable, but when balanced against what is being provided for that child, it makes the potential heartache worth it.
For more information about foster care, contact the Lucas County Childrens’ Services Board at 419-213-3200 or visit lucaskids.net.