I wanted to do this post because I think it’s really important to take some steps before deciding to become a foster or adoptive parent. First, you really have to be on the same page with your spouse or significant other (if you have one) or with immediate family members in your home (like other children). Preston and I always knew we wanted to go through this process, but we had to talk about a lot of factors going into it to make sure we were both ready to move forward.
Second, I would say consider the emotional aspects of fostering and adoption. Although we don’t have much experience in fostering yet, we have learned so much from others. These children are abused, neglected, and/or unwanted by their families. Their situations aren’t the standard scenario you would expect for a child, and they act as such. It’s important to know your “triggers,” or what could cause emotional stress for you. For example, one of my triggers is abuse, especially towards my animals. Therefore, I probably won’t take in a foster child with these behaviors.
Thirdly, do your research. I’m a huge science nerd, so of course I did a lot of reading on fostering and adoption, especially in Iowa. Each state is so different in terms of rules, regulations, qualifications, and steps to become licensed. There are classes (called TIPS-MAPP in Iowa) that you have to take in order to become licensed, however, I would really recommend doing your research prior to signing up. Either do some reading online or reach out to someone you know or a support group. Listening and learning from other people’s experiences really helped us decide on an age range, taking sibling groups, etc.
Lastly, the financial considerations. This wasn’t really something we thought of until after we had started classes, but it’s definitely important to consider. Yes, as foster parents we get stipends or reimbursements for having children in our care. I will be doing a foster care myths and FAQ post soon, but let me tell you, this reimbursement doesn’t BEGIN to cover costs of caring for a child. I’ve heard from other foster parents that the stipend is about enough to cover gas to travel to and from biological family visits, although I don’t have enough experience yet to put in my two cents. Either way, being a foster/adoptive parent means being financial responsible for children when they are in your care.