Written by a current CAFS Foster Carer
If I had the time, I could have written this as, “600 Mistakes I’ve made as a Foster Parent.” I’ve messed up a lot however, what keeps me going is knowing there is a significant need for foster parents and how much more important that is than my ego.
Ask any child welfare professional and they’ll tell you that they aren’t looking for perfect parents, they are looking for ordinary people willing to give foster parenting a try. Here are some of my mistakes that I’ve aimed to grow from:
- I didn’t believe that I’d actually be given a foster child — so I failed to prepare.
Even though I participated in the foster care training, background screening checks and assessments and everything else I had to do to prove I was a suitable carer, there was something quite unbelievable that an organization would be dropping off a baby at my doorstep. In general, it is hard to prepare for having your own child, let alone caring for a foster child. It was only after my first foster child returned home that I starting connecting with other carers. I’ve met my closest friends there and their support and encouragement has been invaluable to me as I’ve fostered four subsequent babies.
- Not keeping my own records.
Even though I was told in the foster care training it was a good idea to keep a journal or a diary, I didn’t, I didn’t think it was practical! But….it was a lesson learnt and now I make sure I’m organised and document the day to day care of a child.
- I failed to keep my cool.
I thought I was the queen of cool. However, nothing has pushed me emotionally like foster parenting has. For me, the children have been the easy part, it’s the disorganisation, last-minute demands, and scrutiny that have done me in. Last minute changes to a child’s access visit with family really pushes my buttons.
- I didn’t take people’s offers to help out seriously.
After feeling so overwhelmed with my first foster baby, I decided to follow my own advice and accept help. With each new foster baby I’ve reached past my pride and articulated things other people could do, to help me have more time to focus on the kids. It’s hard, but I remind myself of how much joy I’ve gotten from helping other people in the past. I also found it easier to show people my “to-do” list and they could choose something if they wanted. Just knowing people and the case practitioners were available to help if I needed it was a giant sanity saver.