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Fostering: Am I Ready? Am I Enough?

How do you know when you are ready to foster?

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

How long have you been thinking about fostering?  Is this a new idea or something you’ve considered for some time?

This is often the first question I ask folks, and the answer is almost always the same: years.  But they weren't sure they were ready.  They weren't sure they are enough.

They've spent years picturing what it would be like to prepare a room for a child, of the things they would do with a child or youth, of how family traditions would change with the addition of a person to their family, of dropping someone off at school, of doing homework together…

They've spent years picturing the scary parts, too…Fears about working with biological families who may be angry, or frightening behaviors they may have never encountered, of big feelings directed at them, and of how it will feel to say goodbye…

Nearly every foster parent was once in those very shoes, grappling with these hopes and fears, with finding the balance, with deciding if they are enough.

There are no perfect answers, no absolutes that say “Yes, now is your time.”  There will always be a reason to say no.

There are some common threads, though.  Parents who are ready are steady.  They have handled a challenge or two and have come out on the other side. Parents who are ready are sure of who they are.  They know that they are strong and capable.  Parents who are ready can ask for help and can accept it.  Parents who are ready are okay with big feelings.

There will always be a young person waiting who wasn't ready.  They weren't ready to sit in a strange social worker's car, wondering where they are going.  They weren't ready to sit in a molded plastic chair in an unfamiliar office, swinging his legs in the chair, slumped down and wary of everyone.  They aren't ready to live in a group home.  They weren't ready to change schools and friends and beds and pillows and routines.  

If you’ve been preparing to foster, know that you will never be fully prepared, you will never be 100% ready; but you might be just enough as you are.

If you’ve been preparing to foster, reach out.  We’re here to help you decide when the right day will be to start your journey.

@JRISocialJstce

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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.