Fostering is undoubtedly hard work but it is one of the most rewarding things someone can do. But what do foster carers get out of the process and why do they continue to do what they do, even when the going is tough?
#1 Extended family
A family is what you make it, a collection of people who come together because they are either related or choose to welcome others into their midst. For many foster carers, their foster children are a welcome addition to their family, something that continues long after foster children grow into adults in many cases.
#2 Tears, love, laughter
Alongside the tears and the trauma comes laughter and love. Your home will be filled with all kinds of emotions but surely one of the best is the laughter. And there is nothing quite like helping a child, traumatised by their past, to learn to laugh again.
There is a whole community that grows around a foster child and their foster parent. From the scaffold of support offered by the placing agency, to the support offered by external agencies, education and health organisations, there is a myriad of people and organisations who can and do help to support both the child and foster family.
#4 Helping birth parents
Foster children are looked after by adults other than their own families for a number of reasons. Some parents are unable to provide the care and support a child needs because they are locked into fighting their own battles. Foster carers are instrumental in helping birth parents to heal, one of the many reasons to foster – and one that make a big difference.
#5 Never a dull day
If you have energy, drive, commitment and passion for life, then fostering is for you. There is never a dull day, because every day brings new challenges and rewards, new opportunities and situations to explore. But every day a foster child is with you is a step in the right direction.
#6 Great for your own children too
Some would-be foster carers are worried about the effect of fostering on their own children. How will they cope with potential difficult situations that come with foster children? The good news is that they do cope but they do more than that – they thrive, just as foster children thrive in foster care.
Fostering comes with all kinds of support, including training on many issues and topics, as well as specialist tools such as therapeutic fostering. As a carer, you will never stop learning! If you are naturally curious and want to make a difference then, like most foster carers, you will find that expanding your skill set becomes one of the many reasons to foster.
#8 The ‘feel good’ factor
The world in which we live can seem chaotic, dark and uncertain, a place where everyone is in it for themselves. Fostering is a process that over time, builds a deep feel good factor. How amazing is it to know that you are making a difference not just to the child or children you look after, but to you too, your own physical and emotional well-being?
#9 Unending rewards
It is a ‘difficult job’, a task that can be beyond tough at times. But it is a process that just keeps on giving – the smiles, the laughter, when they reach out and hold your hand, when they make you a cup of tea, when they tell you they like living with you or when they come to you because they are scared or they need someone to soothe their fears. Small rewards grow into big ones.
#10 Fostering works
Of all these reasons to foster the best one is surely this: foster care works. Trained foster cares opening their lives, homes and hearts to children who need them most is the foundation from which a child can deal with their past, learn to live now and look forward to the future.
There are many reasons to foster, but the pay off between challenge and reward is unlike any other. Find out more with Fostering People.