Becoming a foster carer is a noble calling,  looking after a child who, for whatever reason, cannot live with their birth family. But fostering isn’t without its challenges. If you are considering opening your home, family, life and heart to a foster child, you need to ask yourself some tough questions.

Why are you really interested in fostering?
There is no right or wrong answer to this, and everyone’s response will be different. But essentially, you need to be clear that you are not trying to plug a gap in your life or use fostering as a means of righting the wrongs in your childhood.

Fostering is first and foremost about the foster child. If you know or think you have unresolved issues or difficulties that need to be acknowledged and worked through, do this before you apply to be a foster carer.

Are your relationships in good shape?
Welcoming a foster child into your family is incredibly rewarding. You will have a new outlook on life and a relationship that is mutually beneficial. In fact, many foster children stay in touch with their foster parents, long after they have left their home and embarked on adulthood.

But the challenges can be deep and painful. If your relationships are not in great shape, you may find the pressure of fostering causes them to break down.

Do you think you are a successful parent or have the outlook to be a great parent?
Whether you are parenting your own children, step-children or foster children, being a parent is tough at times.

There are arguments and disobedience, there are concerns, there are highs and lows. No parent who welcomes their children into the world has a ‘how to be a parent’ manual. Every parent feels their way along.
Foster carers may be trained with the skills they need, but their attitude to parenting success must hit the ‘right’ spot too. Do you have an outlook where, no matter what, you will love and nurture a child in your care?

How good are you at interacting, engaging, advocating and talking to professionals?
A foster child doesn’t land on the doorstep for the social worker to then skip off into the sunset.
There will be many professionals involved in helping the child to overcome the trauma of their childhood and to move on.

You may also look after children who are waiting to be adopted, and you will be the person who does a lot of their life story work with them.

They may have medical issues or speech and language difficulties. As well as liaising with medical professionals, you might also be heavily involved in their education.

Counsellors and therapists of all kinds could be involved too, and some of these professionals may choose to visit the foster child in their foster home.

It can feel intrusive. How do you think you will cope with that? How well do you think you can stand up for your foster child, even when your opinion may be in the minority?

Do you have the personal resources to handle difficult behaviour?

The child is not at fault but when everything seems to be crashing about your ears, the pressure is on, your temper close to boiling point – what happens?

Foster care is not an isolated activity. There is a myriad of support available to you. And then there are your family and friends.

Deep down you know you can be the foster carer that a looked after child is in need of. A safe, nurturing and warm home where they are loved and treated as equals.
Foster Care Associates Scotland are looking for people just like you to offer safe, loving homes to foster children for both short-term and long-term basis. Give them a call to find out more.