Raising a child is not easy, and if the child you’re bringing up is an adopted one, things can become even more challenging.
Foster parents seldom have the same experience with fostering; fostering children can vary from one parent to another. Even if they are twins or siblings, no two children are alike.
All foster children are unique in their personalities, experiences, and cultural backgrounds. Every child nowadays battles through different challenges. As a foster parent, you should keep an open mind and be flexible with each foster child that you care for.
Fostering children is similar to raising biological children. As with any other child, children in foster care require love, structure, discipline, and guidance. Similarly, they also have homework and need help, friends, and other after-school activities.
However, raising foster children poses a few unique challenges. To help foster kids thrive, foster parents need to know what challenges they may encounter.
So, if you’re planning to raise a child but aren’t aware of the challenges you might face, you’ve come to the right place.
Today’s discussion explores some of the most prevalent issues and obstacles that any foster parent might face. However, these challenges can significantly elevate if you raise an LGBTQ child.
Growing up is hard for anyone, but LGBTQ youth are especially vulnerable to issues like mental health crises, bullying, and homelessness.
LGBTQ youth are often at-risk, so counselors, foster parents, social workers, and other people working with them must understand and support the issues they face.
In fact, LGBTQ social work has paced for the last decade. We highly recommend you look up the most common problems this community might be facing to assist them better by learning to respect your child’s orientation and give them the privacy they need.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the most common issues that foster parents commonly encounter:
- Handling challenging behaviors
Children in foster care have a variety of needs and backgrounds. Unfortunately, some children manifest their need to cope with what they’ve been through by engaging in self-destructive or antisocial behavior.
Typical examples are violent behavior, sudden outbursts, self-injury, and running away from home.
To help manage their behaviors and overcome their difficulties, it is essential to consider their underlying issues, such as physical or mental health concerns, abusive relationships during their early development, or trouble adapting to a new situation.
- Visits to the birth family
Families and siblings of foster children may visit them if they are reunited with their birth families. Professionals may supervise the interaction in a neutral, supervised place.
In some cases, the events may happen at the birth families’ homes (especially when reunification appears likely).
The visitation schedule can disrupt foster families’ routines. Visits with birth families can last a few hours and occur more than once a week.
Foster families sometimes have to deal with irregular visits. For instance, birth parents who are mentally ill or addicted might not attend scheduled visits.
In other cases, they might show up only to be sent home because they aren’t in a healthy enough emotional or physical state for a visit. There is also the possibility of extended weekend visits.
Foster parents may find it hard to cope with the consequences of canceled or disappointing visits. Additionally, children may need assistance dealing with the emotional turmoil even when the visit goes well.
Transporting foster children to their visits may be the responsibility of foster parents. Visitation schedules can change frequently and without notice disturbing their overall plans.
- Living a life full of exhaustion
When caring for many children, burnout can be a serious issue. As a result of your generosity, you are likely to become overwhelmed when balancing your relationships, social life, and responsibilities.
Remember, you can’t provide the care and support a foster child needs if you are exhausted from caring for yourself.
So, give yourself some slack and take some time off. Do not hesitate to ask your supervisor for help if you feel unmotivated or depressed.
- Indeterminate Background
Child protective services try to gather as much information about a child’s history as possible, but there are often many gaps.
For example, there are instances in which birth parents are detained, abusing drugs, or are unwilling to share information.
Alternatively, a child may have changed caregivers many times, making it impossible for an adult to remember everything that has happened to them.
Birth mothers’ pregnancies are often one of the greatest unknowns. Sometimes, it’s unclear whether a child was exposed to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.
There may also be no development history. For example, foster parents may not know whether a child talked, walked, and reached other developmental milestones on time.
It is also possible to not know about a person’s genetics. It is often difficult to determine if a child’s family has a history of physical or mental health issues.
Sometimes, adults are unaware of a child’s history of neglect, abuse, or exploitation. Because of the information gaps, questions will likely arise about the attachment history of the child.
For example, attachment disorders such as reactive attachment may develop in children who do not bond with their primary caregivers.
- Managing time
Foster parenting requires good time management. Taking care of a foster child will require accuracy, planning, and many other responsibilities.
The child placement agency requires you to complete documents, attend meetings, and collaborate with social workers. You will need to keep track of all the appointments and meetings to stay organized and up-to-date with your child’s progress.
There is no doubt that foster families face many challenges that other families do not. As a foster parent, you must take a slightly different approach and be willing to work with a team to raise a child.
Even with those added challenges, providing a home for a child in transition can be quite rewarding. Foster parents are often satisfied with their ability to provide a loving and secure home for a child living away from their biological parents.