This post is the last in a series of guests posts about being a single foster parent. The rest of the series includes posts about what people wish they had known before becoming a single foster parent, the benefits of single foster parenting, the struggles of single foster parenting, and how to balance a career and foster parenting. To finish up the series, I wanted to know what misconceptions these foster parents commonly hear. As someone who often answers questions from potential foster parents, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t adding to the incorrect stereotypes they’re having to deal with. Reading their answers reminded me that I should speak more openly about the NEED for single foster parents and make sure people know you don’t have to be a perfect parent to be able to care for a child from trauma.
If you have additional questions you think would be worth addressing in a series like this, feel free to email me about them!
(I have done some minor editing as needed, but I haven’t changed any of the content.)
What is the biggest misconception about single foster parents?
-As a single parent the biggest misconception I held was that I had to be able to do it all and that asking for help would be seen as weakness. I know this is not truth and that it is actually healthy to acknowledge the places I need extra supports and ask for that support. I think there is also a misconception out there that single parents can be viewed as a less desirable placement option. I am privileged to know several single parents who are sought out for placement because of their abilities to work with behaviors and provide an environment where children thrive. The other advice I would offer to single persons thinking about foster care is to carefully consider placement preferences and realistic expectations for what you are able to work with in regards to age, quantity, behaviors and health needs. Also self-care is REALLY important, it is also the first thing to be neglected when caring for others. I am not able to be the parent that I want to be, if my physical, emotional and spiritual energy is tapped out.- Jami, Nebraska, 4 years, 6 kids
-I haven’t received this a lot personally, but I think a big misconception is that a single person is fostering from a place of deficit – i.e., the person was lonely or desperate for children so became a foster parent. I say this because a few other older single women have asked me about fostering as a way to become a mom. I think it’s possible some people do sign up for that reason, but if they do, I can’t imagine how they survive. I believe most people, single or otherwise, sign up out of an abundance of love to give rather than a need to receive.- Heather, North Carolina, 1 year, 2 kids
–I think the biggest thing I heard (that I wished I didn’t) was that I was some sort of super human person for being able to manage it all. I felt like because I was a single foster parent people put me on a pedestal. There are a lot of single plarents who do the same time and more every day. I guess I just want people to understand that most people I know who foster do it because they enjoy it. I may not enjoy every aspect of it, but I do enjoy fostering. That is all. I really enjoy doing what I do. Some days are easier than other but all days are rewarding.- Becky, Nebraska, 5 years, 6 kids