Sometimes people think that when they sign on to be foster parents, they are not able to have any say in the type of placement they take. But that is simply untrue.
When you fill out your paperwork, you have the opportunity to go through an extensive list of behaviors and experiences you can choose to refuse to accept into your home or have the opportunity to ask questions about.
In addition, you will also be able to tell your licensing agency (presumably Children’s Bureau) the age range, gender, and number of children you are able to care for, based on what you believe will work best in your current home and family.
Ethnicity is another area in which you can make a choice. This is a hot-button topic in our world and at the risk of ruffling feathers, I must tell you that it is something that foster parents can make a choice about. Ideally, it wouldn’t matter; however, ethnicity does make a difference to some foster families.
For instance, I have a foster mom friend who has shared with me that she chose to only take children who share her same ethnicity because of some of the overt (and admittedly ugly) racist attitudes of some of her family members. And while she is willing to foster ANY child, she knows that being in foster care is difficult in and of itself and she does not want to bring additional difficulties on children in her care. I personally commend her for looking out for the child and for avoiding that which might cause additional hurt.
There’s a lot more which could be said on this topic, but that was not the point of my post; the point is that as foster parents, you have a great deal of say about what you believe would be the best fit in your family.
However, sometimes we think we know what would be a good fit, but we overestimate what we can handle. Or, we get into a situation and realize it’s simply not working in the way we’d anticipated. This happened to us when we began our foster care journey. We gave our parameters and the agency we were with (not Children’s Bureau) asked us if we would consider a placement that had one of the children outside our preferred age range. We discussed it and because I really wanted to take a placement, we said yes.
Unfortunately, we quickly realized this was more than we should have bitten off. So, we took some time to regroup after that and adjusted our boundaries to something more manageable for our family. It was at that point that our son-to-be arrived at our home, and that would probably not have happened if we’d stuck with the original parameters.
All this to say, don’t be afraid to adjust your “settings” as necessary…it will make things better for both you and the children in your care.