ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

My Thoughts about Being Foster Parents

Updated on August 31, 2012

My wife and I started thinking about being foster parents around 1996. When our son was born in 1994, my wife's health precluded having a second child. We had originally wanted to have several children, so since we were "restricted" to just one, we had the idea that we could still have several children by fostering.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, fostering is a service where an adult, or pair of adults, takes in children who cannot live with their birth parents. The idea is to give a traumatized child a safe, temporary home until he or she can move to a safe place to live permanently and grow up. This is supposed to be a short stay, maybe 6 months, or up to 18 months at the longest. During this time, the foster parents raise the child as their own, with all the love, care, support, and assistance you would give your own flash and blood. We saw it as our chance to give love and make a difference in the life of an less fortunate child.

But that’s not how everyone sees foster care. It has a very, very bad reputation in some areas. The bad reputation is so pervasive that if a novel or movie wants to start a story about a child with a rough life, the first thing they do is put them in a foster home. Even J. K. Rowling used that stereotype when she had Harry living with his aunt and uncle in a cupboard under the stairs.

However, the actual role of a Foster Parent is a very positive, important and beneficial job. Here is what it really is: A child has been taken from the only home they've ever known. They are scared, unsure, angry, and alone. Usually they were removed because one or the other parent has done something bad enough that the state authorities feel that the child is in danger. So, they either put the child in a group home, which is today's version of orphanages, or they find a foster family. The child is usually traumatized and without their normal possessions; so there are going to be challenges, such as therapists, extra doctor visits, getting a complete wardrobe, and other extras. This is going to affect the budget of the family fostering them, so the state provides funds to help with those costs.

And that is where the problem lies. The money is to pay for food for the child, to buy clothes for the child, to pay for the gas to go to medical appointments, and all the extra costs that a foster child brings. The ideal is this: A well informed and educated foster parent who cares about and for children will take in a child who has been traumatized. Through the care and loving attention, the child is nurtured and recovers from their trauma. If they have mental scars, they are given therapy to help them deal with their experiences and learn to face and interact with the world in a normal, safe, and appropriate way. Eventually the child will move into a permanent home. Either back to their parent(s) who have learned safe and appropriate parenting skills, or to a new family who will adopt them.

Making that ideal come true costs money, time, and effort. Very few people can do that. All too often, the new foster parents take in their first child and realize they are not prepared for the task. They become overwhelmed and do one of three things.

  • They quit.
  • They become hardened and stop caring and stay in it for the money.
  • Or, they step back, realize they need to put on their adult boots and take this seriously and start learning and doing the best they can, trying to improve and learn every way they can.

The first result, quitting, is the reason that the state (any state) has a constant need for new foster parents. It's a very high-turnover job. When we started, there were 12 families in our training class. By the time we complete our training and were certified to be foster parents, there were only 5 families left. 7 had quit and dropped out. And this was in TRAINING before we even actually had a child to care for!

The second result is the scariest. These are the homes that give rise to the horrible reputation. They don't care a whit about the child. They look it as a j. o. b. and just collect the money. They spend the least possible on the child's clothes. Don't pay for the extra therapy and specialists the child is supposed to have. And don't do anything above the bare minimum to stay certified. In fact, once they become this hardened person, they usually get greedy in addition to heartless. They get certified for as many children as they can, and then it becomes a money machine where they have money coming in, but nothing much at all going towards the children.

The third result is the goal. These are the parents who don't quit. They don't change and become hard hearted. They stay the same loving, caring parents they were. But they become more serious and start educating themselves. They change from the innocent people who believe that enough love can magically cure any ailment, to the streetwise expert who knows exactly just how bad their fellow humanity can be. They know how depraved, dangerous, perverted and downright evil adults can be towards innocent children. They know how lasting the harm inflicted on a child can be, both physical and mental. And when the day is over, and the last word has been said, they still stand tall and put the health and wellbeing of that child first and keep courage enough to continue fostering.

My wife and I were the third kind. We fostered several children, one or two at a time, over the next several years. Each had a story. We fostered a child whose father was a member of the Mexican mafia. His mother was testifying against him and the child was in our home to keep him in an unknown location, uninvolved, until the trial was over and she started a new life in another state. Then he was sent to join her.

Another child was in our home because her mother was in jail for prostitution to feed her drug habit. The baby had been born with crack in her system. Imagine going through withdrawals while still wearing diapers and drinking from a bottle. She eventually went to live with her Grandparents, who truly loved her and had cut off their own daughter in order to help this little girl avoid the life her mother had followed.

There were children who had been sexually abused and would act out in unusual and graphic ways at the most unexpected times. There were children so mentally scarred by their originally families they would duck below the window whenever they saw a police car drive by. Imagine a child who had eaten so poorly and so inconsistently, that they would gorge at every meal and stole food to hide in their room so they would have it if they didn’t get food at the next meal. Even months after they start getting 3 solid meals each and every day, you still find cookies and bags of chips hidden between their bed and the wall because they’re still afraid there won’t be a next meal.

So, I decided to dedicate some of my time and efforts here to pass on my experiences and knowledge in the hopes that I can help other foster parents. Maybe someone who reads these essays will decide to become a foster parent and make a real difference in the life of a child in need. Maybe someone who is having a rough time will find some relief in shared experiences and be able to keep going. And, maybe, someone will think twice before they make a thoughtless comment or insult about the child who flinches every time she hears a shout.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • peeples profile image


      6 years ago from South Carolina

      belleart, all due respect but over 90% of foster children have mental issues or behavior issues. I say this as a previous foster child who went through 32 homes because foster parents were shocked that I wasn't a great behaved child. The majority of foster children aren't and shouldn't be based on their backgrounds. Foster parents should go into it expecting the worst so that they don't end up letting down the children who don't live up to their expectations. Maybe in other countries they are paid more, but here in the USA the average foster parent is paid $375 per month. Barely enough to cover food and certainly not enough to provide toys, clothes, or school supplies.

    • belleart profile image


      6 years ago from Ireland

      Peeples needs to get their facts right! The biggest mistakes prospective foster parents can mistake is assuming all foster children are horrible, trouble making monsters. I was put into foster care by my father who was sick, my mother had abandoned us at an early age. After a year of being in care my foster parents started making accusations to social workers about our real family. after a year of court we had to stay with them and for the next 11 years, we got nothing from them. from 15 I had to work to pay for school clothes and books, trips and anything else I needed.

      In the end they made over €82,000 for the whole time I was there!! horrible people who wanted nothing more than money.

    • Clark-Savage-jr profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      I will always support and encourage foster parents. It's not always an easy job. But the biggest disservice anyone can do is to set up foster parents for failure by not telling them what to expect. The more prepared they are, the better the children can be helped and healed.

    • adawnmorrison profile image


      6 years ago from The Midwest

      Very objective and honest, with an encouraging message. Thank you for your concern for children in crisis.

    • peeples profile image


      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Foster children are almost never easy to handle. The biggest mistakes people can make are to assume the children will all be sweet and grateful. The second biggest mistake is to think the amount of money the state provides is enough. It never is. Voted up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)