The goal of foster care is to temporarily care for a child, keep them safe, and meet their ongoing needs until it is safe to reunify them with their birth parents or other family members. Sometimes this can take a week or two; sometimes it can take a few years.
Setting realistic expectations from the beginning is imperative. The initial goal of fostering is almost never adoption.
What foster care is:
- A temporary arrangement
- A safe place for a child to continue to grow
- A stable environment for a child to cope with their complex feelings and trauma
- An encouraging influence to participate in healthy activities and counseling
- Time to let a family heal
- A family decision
What foster care is not:
- A cheap or easy way to adopt
- A permanent arrangement
- A way to fix a broken child
- A way to make extra money
Fostering with the goal of adoption is unrealistic and can lead to disappointment. Some families have agreed to become foster parents because they truly want to adopt and may have heard that fostering will make that process easier. Families who come into foster care with this expectation are generally setting themselves up for heartbreak. Foster families need to be able to work within the system to help the birth family work toward reunification. They should always remember that foster care is temporary!
Being open to the possibility of adoption is very different from having adoption be the motivation for fostering.