Every child needs a loving family. Unfortunately, sometimes children experience serious neglect, abuse, or maltreatment and are unable to safely live with their family so they enter foster care. Children still need the safety and stability of a loving family as long as they are unable to return to their family. Foster parents can meet that need by providing children with love and care when their family is unable to safely care for them.
There are many reasons to consider welcoming a foster child into your home and family, but at the core should be the desire to have a lasting, positive impact on a child. If this motivates you and you can open your heart and home to a child, maybe foster parenting is for you!
Some people feel they have been given so much and want to give back by helping people in need. People who love children may want to give back by welcoming foster children into their home.
Many people cite their religious faith as their motivation for foster parenting. Many faith traditions emphasize serving the community and caring for the vulnerable. Some people say they feel that their relationship with God motivates them to love children unconditionally as God loves them. Some churches and faith-based organizations encourage people to consider foster care or foster care adoption as part of an orphan care ministry.
Other people become foster parents because they experienced neglect or abuse, were in foster care as children, and/or were adopted. For some, their positive experience motivates them to help another vulnerable child have a good experience as well. For others, they may have had a bad experience and want to turn this into something positive by helping prevent children in similar circumstances from going through what they went through.
Sometimes people become foster parents because they are unable to have biological children and/or want to build their family through adoption. Foster parents are often a great resource if children do need to be adopted, but it is important to remember that this is not always the case. The first goal of foster care is to reunite families and the majority of children in foster care do return to their families. Foster parents need to be able to support reunification when that is the goal for the children in their home. Though most children return home, reunification is not always possible and many foster families do adopt one or more of their foster children who need a permanent family.
If you don’t think you can support reunification for whatever reason, you can still adopt from foster care and provide a family for a child in need, but you could consider adopting a child who is already legally free for adoption. There are over 100,000 “waiting children” who are in foster care but are legally free for adoption. Virginia currently has over 900 children and youths who are waiting for forever homes.
Though there may be many different motivations for becoming a foster parent, many will tell you that they have found the experience more rewarding and personally enriching than they could have imagined!