The practical requirements to foster adopt in Shasta County are mostly straightforward. You must be at least 21 years of age, must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States, must be physically able to care for a child, must have a stable and adequate income, must have reliable transportation, must have space in the house for the child, and must have a safe and sanitary home. While the last one–keeping a clean home–may be a kicker, these requirements are usually easier to determine and reach. Some other qualifications are not as easily seen, but are just as important.
A stable income helps, but more than that, a foster child needs a parent (or two) that is able to provide emotional stability. Most foster children have experienced trauma, abandonment, or abuse, and many have wildly fluctuating moods or get easily upset. Parents that are able to create a healthy emotional environment and bring peace and comfort to their lives are invaluable in the healing process of these children. Adoption offers even more stability, since the child knows that this is now going to be his family on a permanent basis.
Foster children have experienced substantial upheavals in their lives. Parents who establish routines, consistent chores, and loving discipline create healthy patterns of behavior for these children. A good home will have certain house rules that everyone is expected to follow (i.e speaking without shouting, all toys picked up by 9 p.m., and so on). It’s important to introduce the child to the expectations of the house when they arrive at your home (without overwhelming them with a long list of rules). Consistency is also important in your behavior. For instance, if you say you are going to pick them up at a certain time, follow through. It’s also extremely beneficial to be consistent with rewards. Children respond well to positive reinforcement.
If you’ve already been a foster parent, you already know that flexibility is automatically part of the foster care life. Unexpected events can range from unpredictable behaviors by the child to the birth parents flaking on visitations to placement uncertainty. Since the goal of foster care is reunification with the birth parents or birth families, the whole process to foster adopt is uncertain. You’re third or fourth in the lineup–after the birth parents, birth relatives, and existing foster family. You may have a child in your home that you are expecting to adopt, only to find out after a year that the birth parents have now cleaned up their lives and have been granted custody again. With that, you lose the child and start the process with another one.
Stability, consistency, and flexibility go a long way toward helping a child. When you foster adopt in Shasta County, you’re signing up for a lifelong commitment. Yes, it will require a lot from you, but it is also hugely rewarding.
Author: Children First FFA