While I joke a lot about things I’m asked about foster care being so out there and offensive, there are a handful of frequently asked questions that are legitimate concerns and questions asked by foster care hopefuls and those who are around it pretty constantly. Some of these questions are definitely on a need to know basis, others are things I have no problem answering when away from my kids and there are a few that I don’t even mind you asking the kids their opinions on-after all they are the ones experiencing this first hand!
So for all those “maybe we will foster someday” people out there, I figured I would answer some of these questions that are burning in your brain.
“You get paid to do this…right?”
Yes and no. Foster care is by no way a “get rich quick” kind of job, especially if you are giving the kids what they really need in life. However, we are provided with a subsidy amount and in MA we receive dental and medical healthcare. Some children are provided with extra subsidy because of higher needs or more intensive home/outside the home care. We are given money, yes. But it’s far from being a great pay. The subsidy helps offset the costs of having extra children thrown in suddenly and while some families can function without subsidy, most foster families do need and use it to help their family thrive. This question sometimes come across as a negative, but knowing how you will financially provide for kids is an important aspect to consider.
Are You considering foster care adoption? Read here!
“Have you ever been afraid of the kids/bio family?”
I, and 99% of the people out there who have ever fostered, would be lying if they said they have never heard one of those stories about a biological parent attacking a foster family or a child attacking their family. While we have been extremely blessed with my children’s bio families(I have said this before and I will never stop saying it), I have seen on a personal level families and children who have been dangerous. Even just recently, I was reminded to keep an extra eye on a child who had been adopted while out in a large group setting because a biological parent would (and previously has) attempted to contact the kiddo.
There’s also always the fact that many children within the foster care system have suffered abuse, trauma, and neglect. These things don’t disappear just because their home has been moved. Kids will act out and sometimes…it’s scary. I would also be lying if I told you that fear does not take part in our decisions of which placements to accept and which to turn down. We don’t accept children with sexual abuse histories older than our current children. We ask, quite frankly, if there’s a history of violence against other kids. For us, our number one priority is to keep our forever children and ourselves safe. But I would also be lying if I told you that “worry” was ever big enough to not begin fostering.
“How much say do I have in the kids we have?”
All the say!! Seriously, you have the ability to choose what placements you do and don’t take, every single time. You also have the ability to dictate the children they contact you about. For example, as I previously mentioned we do not take placements with a history of sexual abuse. We also had ge limits(that were not followed but by choice!), a limit of number of kids, etc. And we ALWAYS had the choice to say no. A lot of the people who know me probably don’t believe we said no often…but we sadly had to and we did. I have shared the reasons why I would say no in a post right here.
“How hard is it to become a foster parent?”
This one is a tricky one for me, because I grew up in this lifestyle…so it’s really not outside the norm in my book! However, there is a pretty intensive training period, depending on your state and if you use the public CPS or a private agency. In MA we went through 30 hours of training and then home studies. Homestudies can be daunting if you’re not sure what they need/entail. The agency you license through should provide you with a list of the necessary changes to make to your home.
You can read further on How To Rock Your Home Study Here!
I have never heard of any office asking for an evaluation. We are given a pretty intense history packet to fill out about our familial history, medical history, employment history, etc. We also had to have our general doctors write off that we are physically and mentally capable of caring for children. But don’t worry-if you can function, they don’t usually refuse to allow you to foster because of a mental illness! I am proof of that.
“What are the rules about posting about foster kids on social media? Are they hard to follow?”
Each and every state and agency has their own rules. My general rule of thumb is not to show faces, legal names, or too many identifying features while a child is in foster care. Some states have simpler rules, others you can’t identify the kids as being in foster care period. It’s hard because you’re loving on a bunch of really adorable children and you want to show them off. But it’s not that bad to not show faces…in fact I think it’s harder to get five kids looking and smiling at the same time!
“Can I foster as a single/gay/non married/married person?”
Yes, yes, it depends on your state, yes! I know a few parents who foster as single parents, as those in non heterosexual relationships, as a couple living together but not married. There are a few states that will not allow couples to foster in the first few years of marriage for various reasons and some states make it harder on single parents and non heterosexual relationships. In Massachusetts though, I have found most our government agencies are very open to any and all situations for parenting.
Married? Check out this post on how we kept our marriage strong through foster care adoption.
Every state requires a criminal background check of those they license. Certain offenses will never allow you to be a foster parent(homicide charges, domestic abuse/battery, child abuse, etc.) However, if you have a twelve year old offense of a DUI, it’s at the discretion of your agency.
“What ways can I help foster kids if we cannot foster?”
Check out this post I wrote about ways to help with foster care even if you cannot foster! Your gifts could make a huge different in the life of those in foster care and waiting for adoption. Also, you can always pray! Here are a few weeks of prayers I have shared. Prayers For Waiting Children. 7 Prayers for Foster Care and Adoption. And 7 Prayers for reunifying families.
Foster care has been the hardest and most amazing part of my life. I highly encourage anyone who is contemplating doing foster care to contact me and ask any and ALL questions you have. If more questions come up, I will come back and answer any I can!
**Reminder, this is based off my knowledge of working within one state! Your state may be different or have guidelines we do not follow! Please contact your local offices to get specific rules and specifications for your area.**
If you want to know how to help friends and family going through the foster care and foster care to adopt system, you’re in luck! I wrote this post on how to help those families!