Foster parenting classes may be called PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) or MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting). It’s usually about thirty hours, requires homework and while that is going on, you fill out loads of forms, have background checks run, fill out more paperwork, get references, pay stubs, more paperwork, evaluate relationships and judge the other potential foster parents when you are supposed to be networking. Everyone has their own reasons for signing up.
People generally either want to adopt out of foster care or they are there to foster only. If one wants to adopt, they can adopt a child or sibling group that already has there parental rights terminated and are waiting for an adoptive home. These children are generally older and have issues. There is the foster to adopt option. This is risky for the foster parent because they are expected to support reunification with the child’s biological parents or may face the child going to an unexpected relative’s house. Foster parents may fall in love and lose the child or children. This risk is drilled into you at the PRIDE/MAPP classes. By the end, the classes are not as full. We went from ten families in the beginning of those meetings to seven at graduation. I know of one other family who stopped fostering after their first placement (Foster Child) had to be removed due to behavioral issues.
Foster to adopt is more complicated than people expect. The number one reason people say they won’t foster is “I could never do that. I get too attached!” Yet, attachment is what these kids need. They are pulled away from the only family they’ve known, a life that is normal and they need to learn to trust again. As a foster parent, you are there to help them heal. Isn’t that more important than the heartbreak you may go through. I’ve survived a lot of heartbreak, and I can do it again for this little person.
There are others who are there to simply foster. They may be older adults, families with space in their houses and their hearts, people who want to give back and even a few who want a few dollars. (On a side note, there are tons of easier ways to make money! The tiny stipend they provide does not cover the adequate care of a child never mind leave enough for a profit!) They aren’t in it for adoption or growing their family, but want to help families heal. At least two members of different families in our classes were former foster children themselves.
We wanted a family, but were absolutely willing to support reunification. As a foster parent, you have a can have a strong role in teaching the biological parents better ways. Some may say you foster the whole family.
We bought bunk beds, fire extinguishers, special locks, and prepared our house, and ourselves. Joe was working 70-80 hours a week and I was doing 50-60. I figured I’d do all the errands and we’d figure it out.