Parenting is not all created equal. Foster parents need to understand that their role is different.
One thing I have learned over the years as a foster parent is that I must be flexible. To be sure, I never know when a child will arrive or leave my home, as there is often very little notice in either regard. In the past few months, I have seen the number of children in my home go from six to nine and then down to seven.
As I write this, we currently have 11 children in our home; three biological, three adopted, and a sibling group of five children from foster care. Now, if you believe we are a group home, this is not correct. Emergencies crop up, waivers are signed by both the state’s child welfare agency and my family, and my wife and I simply have a difficult time saying no. Fortunately, the addition of several of these is for respite purposes.
As you can imagine with 11 children, it seems that all my wife and I do is clean, wash, and supervise. The cooking is nonstop, the washing of dirty clothes is around the clock, and the supervision is often done with one eye towards one group of children while the other eye is watching out for the others.
Is it pandemonium in our house? Perhaps. Is it a house that is never fully clean? Without a doubt. Is it a house full of love? Absolutely! At the moment, my wife and I seem to be burning both ends of a candle stick right now, and we are a little tired. Just a little, mind you.
Yet, as exhausting and as grueling as it can be with so many children in our home, and with so many emotional issues and challenges, one thing we have to be consistent in is with supervision. It seems that the supervision of our foster children takes up most of our time, energy, and efforts. Whether it is a newborn baby or a teenager, our foster children are just like other children; active and seemingly into everything!
Supervision of your foster child is a must at all times. Make no mistake about it; you will be held responsible for your foster child’s whereabouts and safety at all times. After all, he is not your child; you are simply caring for him and watching over him. As he is placed in your home and is in your custody, you may be held accountable if he should come to any harm. Therefore, it is not only important that you know where your foster child is at all times, it is essential. You must know the whereabouts of your foster child; you must know where he is each moment. Whether he is in your home, at school, or at another location, you need to know where he is, just as you would for your own children.
As a foster parent myself, I simply do not allow my foster children to go to another person’s home without me or my wife accompanying him, unless of course it is to a home of another foster parent, or to a biological family member that the social worker has not only approved of, but requested that the child visit. I do this quite simply because I am very cautious, careful, and concerned where my foster children go to and who they spend time with, just as I am with my own children.
Yet, there may be times when you decide that your foster child is able to do otherwise. If your foster child should wish to visit a friend’s house or another home, it is imperative that you do a thorough check of who lives there, the environment he will be in, and the level of safety and supervision he will be under.
Be sure to call the parents of the home he wishes to visit and spend some time talking with them; not only to ensure that the environment is a safe one, but to express any concerns about your foster child you might have with them. If you feel that the friend’s home environment is not a safe one, do not be afraid to say no to the foster child. To be sure, he may argue with you about it, and complain that you are not being fair, or that you are not allowing him to have any friends. Again, you are trying to ensure that he is safe and free from harm. Now, remember, you are not invading this family’s privacy or spying on them, nor are you passing personal judgment upon them. You are simply trying to ensure that your foster child will be safe, free from harm, and protected; you are being a smart and responsible foster parent.
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