Marriage and the Foster Parent

The decision to take in foster children is a very noble one. These children typically have behavioral disorders and need all the love and attention you can give them. Be sure your marriage is rock solid before you make the commitment. These kids have been pushed around and many have lived with several foster parents, don’t make the same mistake mine did by thinking that I’d be so grateful that someone wanted me that I wouldn’t cause any trouble.

My foster parents were several years apart, the May-December wedding, if you will. My foster mother was only 27 (I was seventeen) and my foster dad was almost 60. I don’t know how much the age difference had anything to do with my situation, but I do think that they decided they shouldn’t have any kids of their own and the best alternative was fostering.

The first thing I can tell you about taking in a foster kid-no matter what their age- is that they’ve probably had to fend for themselves for awhile, and even the youngest often resent someone telling them what to do. By this time they’ve learned not to trust adults, and even with the best intentions going in, you had better think about family counseling from the gate.

Most of all please make sure this is something you want before you start the paperwork. If you are romanticizing the idea of an instant family with mom and dad and the kids at the park, wake up. These are sweet kids, but they have a wealth of problems-I have every right to say this, I was a foster kid from the time I was 13 to age 18, when the state stopped giving them money for me and I was asked to leave. So I ask you, what is your motivation for becoming a foster parent? If your marriage is in trouble and you think taking in a baby will fix it, please don’t even bother. Most foster kids aren’t babies, they are between the ages of seven and thirteen, usually, and they’ve probably been in at least three foster homes before yours. Both of you want to be on the same page for this, and your true feelings need to be taken into consideration. Giving into a spouse who wants to foster kids when you don’t feel you can do it will lead to arguments that these kids don’t need to see.

If you have a strong marriage, good values, and a strong constitution for troubled kids, please, we need you. If you can be consistent, caring, tough, and fair, the foster care system could really use you. Contact your local DSHS office to begin the procedure for taking in foster kids, expect several home visitations, and get into family counseling. If you are sure of what you are doing and your motivations are true, you will be changing the lives of kids. That is the greatest gift you can give, is of yourself.