Deciding whether or not to foster is already a huge decision, but if you also have kids, the weight doubles. What if your kids don’t get along? Does having kids affect your application? These are all questions you need to answer before you start your foster application.
Can You Foster When You Already Have Children?
Having children shouldn’t affect your ability to become a foster parent. Although it’s important that they’re on-board with your decision to foster and fully understand what it entails – it’s a big change for your family, after all.
Having said that, there are lots of families out there who are enjoying the experience together, and fostering can bring so many benefits to biological children. Children can gain so much knowledge and understanding of different backgrounds, as well as how to be compassionate towards those less fortunate. They can also build strong bonds with foster children, some friendships lasting through to adulthood.
You do need to consider whether it is right for you and your family, though. If it is, fostering can be an extremely rewarding experience for all.
Top Tips for Fostering When You Have Kids
If you decide to foster when you have biological children, there are some tips and tricks that will help you manage better and help reduce any potential tension within the household. Here are five that you need to know.
1: Talk to Your Children First
Your children need to know what’s happening, so talk to them about fostering and make sure they feel part of the decision. Explain how it works, why you’d like to do it, and how things may need to change in the home to accommodate a foster child. Your fostering agency or local authority will be able to help you with these conversations and answer any of their questions too. Not only will this help ensure they know what’s to come, but you can also gauge how they feel about it during that conversation.
2: Start with Short-Term Fostering
You don’t need to jump into the deep end with long-term fostering. Short-term fostering refers to fostering that lasts between a day and two years. It’s often a good idea to start with this. Although, it is crucial to keep in mind that your biological child might feel hurt and confused when your foster child leaves your care. Again, this is where a conversation is important.
If you want to learn about the difference between short-term and long-term fostering, Fosterplus has plenty of information.
3: Create a Comfortable and Loving Home
A comfortable home for everyone is essential. Make sure your biological kids and the child in your care have their own rooms that are comfy and spacious. You should also make sure the rest of the home is accommodating for their age and interests.
Great additions to any home with children include:
- A quiet corner
- Plenty of toys
- Comfortable furniture
Provide plenty of entertainment and comfort and encourage lots of open dialogue around what’s going on and how everyone is feeling, and the chances are all your kids will feel happier.
4: Spend Plenty of Time with Your Kids
As both a biological parent and a foster parent, you need to make sure neither child takes up the majority of your time. You have a responsibility to both, after all, and you don’t want someone to feel left out! While it’s understandable to give your foster child lots of attention when they first arrive (to get them settled), it’s equally important to make time for your biological children too. After all, they might not be handling the change as well as you think.
5: Temper Your Expectations
You might have the perfect vision in your head of your foster and biological children getting on swimmingly from day one. Relationships take time to build, particularly for a child who may have gone through a lot of trauma. Be patient, encourage time together as a family, but don’t expect too much too quickly. Remember that your version of ‘family life’ may be very different to theirs. It’s up to you to provide a stable and caring home – not to create a perfect family image.
Fostering is undeniably challenging, especially if you already have kids, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Many children who grow up with foster children grow into more empathetic, emotionally mature, and culturally aware adults. That is because they have seen and heard about experiences outside of their own.
On top of that, fostering gives you a chance to grow your family. By fostering, you give your kids somebody to play with – something that many kids appreciate and enjoy!
If you have any concerns about fostering children when you already have your own, you can always talk to your social worker or fostering agency. There is plenty of advice, guidance, and help out there for these situations. You’re not the first to do it, and you won’t be the last!