Taking the decision to foster affects everyone within the household. At FCA Scotland, we welcome foster carers from a range of backgrounds, including those with birth children still living at home. In fact, a busy family environment can be the right home solution for some foster children. What is important is that everyone in the family is prepared for what fostering will mean.
It’s not unusual for you to have children as a foster carer
Official statistics don’t exist, but from our own experience, we can tell you that a considerable number of our foster carers have dependent children. Careful thought will be given to the matching process, to ensure that your family are matched appropriately. In fact, we often find that it is children themselves who play a vital part in enabling the foster child to settle quickly into the family.
The decision to foster needs to be a family decision. Your children will benefit from being closely involved in the decisions and the entire process on the journey of fostering. So how can you include them?
Listening and patience
Two of the most important skills you will refine as a foster parent are listening and patience. Taking time to discuss the nature of fostering and its impact, as well as how a child feels, is crucial.
Remember that children don’t have the same context that you do. Fostering may be an entirely new concept for them. It may throw up challenging questions about the nature of their security within their family, or a deep sense of compassion for children less fortunate than themselves, or even jealousy.
Taking the time as a parent to work through this process with your children is vital.
An excellent fostering agency will then further support this process. From the first time you are visited at home, FCA Scotland will talk to your children and listen to them about their thoughts and feelings.
When you are sure that you wish to become a foster carer and begin the process of becoming one, we will then also speak to your children independently. This means talking to them separately from yourself, or their siblings. This will ensure they fully understand fostering from a child’s point of view and ensure that they support the family’s decision to foster.
Becoming part of a fostering community
Becoming a foster carer welcomes you into a new and unique community. This community of other foster carers will prove to be an invaluable support on your journey as a foster carer.
This is also the case for your birth children. You should expect that the support for your children as being part of a foster family continues through each and every placement. Your social worker should take a dedicated interest in your children, ensuring they have an avenue for expressing any concerns.
Additionally, at FCA Scotland, we organise special activities and events for birth children where they have the opportunity to meet other children in the same situation as them. This provides them with a unique resource of support. They are unlikely to come across other children in their position at school on a regular basis. Therefore, having this structured opportunity to meet is invaluable.
Fostering with birth children
Fostering with birth children is a whole family decision. It will affect your children. However, in our experience, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It’s generally beneficial to have a reasonable age gap between birth children and foster children.
As parents, it will be important to make time for your own children still and ensure their wishes are considered. In the process, they will develop skills in empathy, patience, and compassion.
Foster families have something incredible to offer children in foster care. Your children can be part of that.