The main focus of foster parents should be to aid the foster child in establishing a positive bond with them; and to allow time for the child to work through their emotional problems. Therefore this ‘process’ requires the following unique demands from the foster parents and their families:
- The emotional damaged all foster children suffered during their exposure to traumatic situations, causes them to unwillingly place extremely high demands on their foster families.
- Because of the emotional and physical damaged they suffered they have to be taken to frequent therapy (occupational, speech, trauma, etc.) and other medical/dental treatment. The foster parents should therefore be prepared to change their programs to make space for these appointments and therapies.
- Foster care has a major impact on your family. It is not uncommon for frequent challenges, problems, and crises to arise. The frequency of these challenges should diminish as you are able to start establishing a bond with the child.
- Most foster children demands the foster parents complete attention. Especially during the first year. Foster parents should therefore know that they will have much less free time available, and the little you will have leftover has to then be distributed between the the other children in the household (who are use to having all of your attention).
- Conflict situations may occur between the foster child and your own biological children.
- Bear in mind that the foster care grant in South Africa totals R850 per month, foster parents should therefore be prepare that the foster child will place a huge financial demand on their finances. The grant does not pay out immediately and doesn’t even start to cover all of the initial doctors, dentist, therapist, school fees, nappies, milk formula, etc..
- The foster household will be much more disorganised as usual, but will improve as a secure bond is formed between the foster parent and child.
- Additional house work will also impact the foster family (more washing, cleaning, etc.)
- The foster child will go through a period of mourning for losing that which was known to him. Even if the situation he was removed from was very bad, that was all he has known.
- The foster child’s biological parents are a unbreakable part of the childs life. Frustration is common surrounding visitation and contact between the child and his biological parents.
- The function of foster parents are not to condemn or judge the biological parents; that function is reserved for the Children’s Court. The foster parents function is to make the situation better for the foster child!
- Foster care is all about the child and not about the foster parents feelings, opinions, preconceived ideas, or personal needs. Foster parents should therefore ensure that they themselves are emotionally very mature and stable.
- Although it is extremely difficult foster parents should never take the foster child’s behaviour towards them personally! They should always try to keep in mind that the child has been hurt, damaged and neglected by other adults that he had trusted to protect and care for him.