8 Misconceptions About What It's Like To Be A Foster Parent, Debunked

by Alicia Hill
Lee Avison

Foster parents play an important role in helping children to overcome difficult family situations, yet there are many misconceptions circulating about what exactly is involved with fostering a child. While the day-to-day life of a foster parent is admittedly not always easy, families often discover the rewards are well worth the effort of helping a child in need.

To help dispel some of the misconceptions, here are some basic truths about what it's like to be a foster parent:

1. Foster children respond to love.

One of the biggest misconceptions about foster children is they come to a foster parent's home damaged from years of neglect or abuse. However, most families find that any issues resolve as the child develops a relationship with their foster parents. That's because these relationships are always built upon trust. These children just need a little caring to feel loved.

2. Single parents can foster.

There are many children in the world who need and deserve a quality foster parent, and marriage should never be a barrier to finding a child a home. Foster parents come from all walks of life, and a single person is always allowed to help a child in need.

3. Parenting experience is not required.

In addition to the misconception that a person has to be married to be a foster parent, people also falsely believe that it is important for a person to already have experience raising kids. Although it is important to enjoy spending time with children, foster parents do not have to have personal experience with childrearing.

In fact, many programs offer special training for foster parents. They are designed to teach basic child care strategies such as behavioral management and nutrition.

4. Foster parents do not have to be wealthy.

It is often said that people must be rich or have a huge home if they want to take in foster kids. However, it is not necessary to be extremely wealthy. You just need to have a steady income so you can provide for the child.

All any kid really wants is a caring home filled with love from their foster parents. Child welfare programs also make sure a child's needs are met, which means foster parents will usually only have to worry about spending money on the extras.

5. Paying for medical care is not a problem.

Sometimes, foster children arrive at a home with medical problems that require attention, such as a recent illness or injury that has still not healed. While it will be necessary to provide home care and follow all treatment plans to promote healing, foster parents are not responsible for the medical bills. This is true as long as a plan is in place with the agency to provide the child with insurance. Often, these are government, state or charity-issued health plans that protect foster parents from being financially responsible for a foster child's medical bills.

6. A wide network of support is available.

Foster parents are never alone in their duties. In fact, they are surrounded by a huge network of support that often includes a family lawyer, the foster care agency, community service providers, educators and others who care about giving children a healthy start in life. When there is a question or a problem, there is always someone there to give sound advice.

7. Foster parents can be any age.

It is also important to note that a person is never too old to help a child. In fact, empty nesters are sometimes the best foster parents because they have the extra space and still miss having a child in the house. Young foster parents can also serve as a mentor for foster kids to look up to, and anyone over the age of 21 is welcome to apply to a program.

8. Fostering can lead to adoption.

Some people worry about getting too attached to a child in their care, yet those who foster say it's worth the slight heartache when a child leaves. That's because they know they gave the child a safe and caring environment during a troubled time. In some instances, foster children do not go back to their biological parents, and a family lawyer can help foster parents adopt. Either way, the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child is priceless.

Dispelling the myths about foster parenting is extremely important. This way, we can ensure every child in need of a place to stay has open arms just waiting to provide him or her with comfort. Today, there are many children who need a temporary home, and foster parents are the perfect people to help them initiate the process of healing.