Questions Couples Should Ask Before Becoming Foster Parents

Two children on the floor playing

Suppose you're considering becoming a first-time foster parent; great for you. With so many children needing a home, becoming a foster or adoptive parent and opening your home to children in foster care is one of the greatest things you can do. Unfortunately, the United States sees a 2% yearly decline in foster care and adoption parents.

However, a lot goes into such a big decision, and hopefully, we can help you navigate it. Let's go over the ten questions couples should ask before becoming foster parents or adoptive families and what to ask before your first foster placement.

Ten Questions Couples Should Ask Before Becoming Foster Parents

Before we discuss what to do once you're fully committed, let's ensure you're on the right track. Here are some important questions to ask yourself before contacting an agency.

1. Do We Fully Understand the Responsibilities?

First, it's important to understand the full responsibilities at hand here. This is one of those ideas that may sound doable at first until reality sets in, so give yourselves plenty of time to answer this question.

Start by asking yourselves how you handle your current living situation. Do you find it easy to keep up with bills, chores, work, and personal obligations? Are you confident that you can not only take on more responsibilities but base your entire life around a child's life and, therefore, a new set of responsibilities?

If you are not up to that challenge, that is okay; it does not mean that you will make bad parents or you should dismiss the idea entirely; it may just mean that right now may not be the right time.

2. What Are Our Motivations?

What are your true motivations, or in simpler terms, why do you want to foster a child?

Is it because you cannot conceive or have children of your own? Is it because the adoption process is too long? Is it because you want to provide a child who needs a home with a loving and safe one? What other reasons do you have for wishing to become a foster parent?

Whatever your motivation, it should not be for the stipends from the state, to cure boredom, to fulfill your curiosity, or any reason that doesn't have the prospective child's best interest at heart.

3. Are We on the Same Page?

Maybe you're on the same page in wanting to foster a child, but ponder if you are reading the same book; that's a more important question to answer long before a child lives with you.

A good way to discover this is to answer these questions separately by writing them down. Once complete, you can share your answers with each other and see how your values, motivations, parenting styles, and more coincide.

4. Can We Manage Financially?

Yes, foster care does give you a small stipend to help cover some of the costs associated with raising a child. However, costs can quickly outweigh this stipend, and you will be left to pay out of pocket. Make sure that you're financially stable before agreeing to such a commitment.

5. How Will We Prioritize Our Relationship?

This answer requires real ways that you can stick to. Don't say to each other, "we'll go on four vacations a year, just the two of us," if you don't currently go on four, or don't plan on engaging in three date nights a week if you don't currently engage in three date nights a week; spending time with each other is important, but you also need to ensure your relationship can exist while providing the appropriate care and time to your new child.

6. What Do We Expect?

Do you expect to fall in love and adopt the first child that enters your home, or do you expect your first placement to be temporary? What types of challenges do you anticipate, and how do you expect to deal with them?

7. What Are Our Parenting Styles and Preferences?

This is one of those issues that's rarely discussed ahead of time, which can lead to conflicts when the time comes. Discussing how you both want to parent is essential before committing to parenting together.

8. Do We Have the Support We Need?

Beyond finances, there are other support-related questions you need to consider. Some of these questions include access to backup care, like a babysitter: do you have it?

Furthermore, do you live in an area with access to pediatricians, quality schools, and more? Do you have transportation and other means for supporting this prospective child? Do you live near friends and family who can support you and act as your support group or backup?

9. Is My Space Suitable For Children?

Is your current living space suitable for children, or could it be with some minor work? Do you have pets that may be hostile or act dangerously toward children?

While it may be tempting to wing it and move into a bigger space, later on, remember the potential financial strain a child may carry.

Also, you should find out if you're eligible to become a foster parent, as certain disqualifications exist beyond your living space.

10. When Is the Right Time?

Finally, ask yourselves when the right time to do this is, is it now or sometime in the future? It's impossible to know exactly when it will be, as life can change dramatically overnight at any time. Still, it's important to sit down and figure out your timeline for pursuing this major step in your life.

What to Ask Before Your First Foster Care Placement

So, you are both ready and thoroughly prepared to be foster parents? Great, but there is still a multitude of questions to ask and to consider.

Talk to your fostering agency and ask as many questions as possible. Start learning everything about becoming a foster parent before officially making the move.

Once matched, then you'll need to ask a lot of questions about the child, including:

  • Medical history
  • Family situation and history (their birth parents/ biological parents, any past trauma, etc.)
  • How long they've been in foster care
  • Special needs
  • Personality
  • Age and gender
  • Temperament
  • Their hobbies and interests

The list goes on. The more you know, the better prepared you will be as a new parent.

Make Your Move When You're Ready

Remember, there is no deadline for you to make this decision. Nobody is counting on you to contact an agency, so take your time and ensure it's what you want to do.

Remember always to stay updated with our latest tips for foster parents, and don't hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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