Becoming a foster parent is not a decision to take lightly. It’s true that some foster kids come with destructive behaviors, aggression, and just generally bad habits. There’s a reason they came into care, and it’s often because of neglectful parenting, which leaves the kids with missing social and behavioral skills.
So when thinking about becoming a parent to these kiddos, it IS important to take into consideration how their behaviors might impact the lives of you and your family members.
When you make the choice to become a foster parent and choose to let the first foster child into your home, it’s important to remember that you made that choice and not the child.
Every time you have to put up with one of their behaviors, remember that you chose to deal with that. Every time you have to feed them, clothe them, or drive them to ten million appointments, remember that you committed to doing that before the first kid even walked through your door. When you have to wake up with them in the middle of the night because they have nightmares or they’re throwing up (even if it’s fake), you agreed to that.
Anything you’d do for your own child, whether by choice or by necessity, you also agreed to do for this child.
It’s not their fault they’re in foster care. It’s not their fault you have to buy twice as many groceries as you used to. It’s not their fault you have to drive them to therapy every week, even though they won’t say a word to the therapist. It’s not their fault they hate you. It’s not their fault they don’t like mushrooms. It’s not their fault your pets annoy them. It’s not their fault they don’t like your kids.
None of this is their fault. They didn’t ask for any of this.
And every single thing you do for them, you do it because you CHOSE to. Because you wanted to make a difference in the world.
You didn’t sign up for fostering because you wanted to be thanked and hugged every day. (Or at least, you shouldn’t have. You’d be an idiot to sign up for that reason because it rarely happens.) You also didn’t sign up for it with the expectation that these kids would recognize all the things you’re doing for them. (Again, you shouldn’t have. They have no idea all the things you’re doing for them because they’re kids and NONE of them understand all of what goes into parenting.)
You didn’t sign up for this because of you. You signed up for this because of THEM.
They won’t say thank you.
They won’t even know why they should say thank you.
And they really shouldn’t have to.
Your own kids wouldn’t say, “Hey, thank you for staying up all night to make this stupid ugly sweater for my Christmas party, which I chose not to wear at the last minute because it’s itchy.”
They’d be excited about it, put it on, and change their mind just like a foster kid would. And you wouldn’t have any resentment toward them for that. You’d be annoyed, but you’d do it again next time. You wouldn’t punish them emotionally for the rest of the day, and you wouldn’t try to make them feel small.
Foster kids should be allowed to act as normal and ungrateful and impulsive as every other kid on the planet does. Teach them to show appreciation for what they have, but don’t teach them that they don’t deserve the rights of a normal child.
Give them more than what’s required. Do more for them than the bare minimum. Love them with so much vigor that they’ll understand what relationships should look like when they go home.