There’s a lot of misinformation about foster care floating around that makes it seem scary and undoable for a lot of people. But the truth is, foster care often gets a bad rap. Today, we’re breaking down a few of the myths surrounding foster care:
MYTH 1: Children are in foster care because of their own juvenile delinquency.
Many people mistakenly believe that children are in foster care because of their own bad behavior or juvenile delinquency, but that’s just not true. Children enter foster care through no fault of their own; they enter foster care because they’ve experienced parental abuse or neglect.
MYTH 2: People with full-time jobs can’t foster.
If you work outside the home, that will not prevent you from becoming a foster parent. Your licensing agency can advise you on childcare options.
MYTH 3: I’m single, so I can’t be a foster parent.
You do not have to be married or have prior parenting experience to become a foster parent. You just have to be willing to be a family for a child who needs one. Christy, a single foster mom, shares why she decided to become a foster parent: “I have lots of extra time, money and freedom, and yes, it is fun to have all of that,” she says. “But I want [my time and freedom] to stand for something.”
MYTH 4: I won’t have any control over or choice about the types children placed in my home.
You do have control over which children are placed in your home. However, the broader your parameters, the more quickly you’ll receive a placement.
MYTH 5: I don’t own a home, so I can’t be a foster parent.
Home ownership is not a requirement, although there are rules about how many children you can foster based upon the number of bedrooms in your residence.
MYTH 6: I’m too old to be a foster parent.
If you’re an empty nester, you’re not too old to become a foster parent. In fact, older adults with prior parenting experience often make great foster parents (although prior parenting experience is not required). Lance and Paula, from Dallas, are in their 60s with three adult children and have been fostering for 17 years with no intention of stopping. “I think what keeps us doing it is the same reason we went into it,” Paula says. “We really saw a need and we could fill that need. We felt like we could do a good job of filling that need.”
MYTH 7: I could never say goodbye to child whom I’ve fostered.
It’s never easy to say goodbye to a child whom you’ve loved and cared for, regardless of whether they’ve been in your home for three days, three months or three years. But children in foster care need parents who are willing to care for them and love them unconditionally, all the while knowing they might have to experience the pain of them leaving one day. “Some would advise, ‘You should be careful. Don’t completely open your heart. Protect yourself from what will inevitably come.’ But I can’t,” shares a Buckner foster dad. “I can’t live life with him and be what he needs and not fall completely in love with him. To be honest, I think to do less than that is to cheat both him and me. As bone-jarringly bad as it hurts, I wouldn’t trade it for the world ... I will cherish the short time I’ve had with him always and hold those memories tight.”
May is National Foster Care Month. To learn more about how you can become a foster parent or support foster families in your community, visit buckner.org/nationalfostercaremonth.