Deciding to be a foster parent is a big deal. If you’ve never dealt with the foster care system, you might have tons of questions about how to become a foster parent and what it’s like to welcome a foster youth into your home.
But let’s be real, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings out there that prevent awesome people from changing a child’s life. That’s why we’re excited to share a new video featuring Adam Rodakowski, Director at Foster Plus. In the video, Adam tackles the most common misconceptions about fostering and paints a clearer picture of what it’s really like to be a foster parent. Watch the full video below.
Wondering if you’re eligible to care for a foster kid? Read on to see Adam’s answers to the biggest misconceptions about who can and cannot become a foster parent.
I can’t become a foster parent because…
There is a real need for more foster parents here in the state of Oregon. And too many good people take themselves out of the running because they think something about their personal history or current situation would disqualify them from becoming a foster parent. We want to help set the record straight.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions we hear from people who doubt whether they can become a foster parent.
1. I can’t be a foster parent because I’m too young — or too old.
To be a foster parent, you do have to be 21 years old. But aside from that, there’s no age restriction. We work with foster parents ranging in age from their 20s all the way up to their 80s.
2. I can’t be a foster parent because I’m single.
Not true! Being married or in a relationship is not a requirement for becoming a foster parent. We welcome single parents and have a great team that can offer support to you and your foster child, and help accommodate your schedule.
3. I can’t be a foster parent because I’ve never been a parent before.
This isn’t a problem at all. Foster Plus agencies provide training and support to help teach your parenting skills, making sure you feel equipped and confident to care for your foster child.
4. I can’t be a foster parent because I’m not a homeowner.
You don’t need to own a big home in order to foster. You can rent your home or live in an apartment — what really matters is that you have a safe place for your foster child to live, as well as a dedicated room that they can call their own.
5. I can’t be a foster parent because I’m too young — or too old.
This is not true, and it’s an important misconception to address. LGBTQIA+ youth are over-represented in the foster care system, and we need more homes that can provide safe and affirming care for them.
6. I can’t be a foster parent because I’m not a U.S. citizen.
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to be a foster parent, but there’s a bit more complexity to this answer. We’re happy to talk with you about your individual status and connect you with a local agency to make sure you’re able to move forward as a foster parent.
7. I can’t be a foster parent because I have a mental health diagnosis.
Having a mental health diagnosis does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster parent. Foster parenting can be stressful at times, so we do take the time to assess each parent’s ability and readiness on a case-by-case basis.
Depending on the diagnosis, you may be asked to provide a letter from your medical professional indicating you have no barriers to foster parenting.
8. I can’t be a foster parent because I have a criminal record.
All prospective foster parents are required to pass a background check, and there are some crimes that are immediate disqualifiers. But having a criminal record in general doesn’t preclude you from becoming a foster parent. It depends on the nature of your prior convictions. We’ll talk with you about the crime, where you were in your life then compared to where you are now, plus what you learned and how you’ve grown.
Are you ready to start your foster parenting journey?
Hopefully debunking some of these common myths about foster care has given you more confidence about your ability to become a foster parent. If you’re ready to open your home and your heart to make a difference in a young person’s life, we’d love to talk with you. Visit fosterplus.org/get-started to learn more about the process and get connected with one of our amazing partner agencies.