There is no feeling quite as satisfying as knowing that you were there for someone in need. It is even more rewarding when that person is a child who is suddenly thrust from the world they’ve always known into the hands of virtual strangers. As a foster carer, you can be that light shining in their darkness giving them a much-needed sense of security. However, the rewards are not a one-way street. You, too, will be rewarded in at least five key ways that you never imagined possible.
1. Being There to Ease Their Initial Fear and Anxiety
As mentioned above, children placed in foster care are caught unawares. This most often leads to a great deal of fear and anxiety. One of the things that fostering agencies like Fostering People emphasise is in learning how to make the transition as easy as possible on foster children being placed in their care.
Even though they may have a brief placement until a longer-term foster care family can be found, they are still in turmoil much of the time. Your calm demeanour and genuinely loving smiles can reassure them that they are safe and secure in your care. What a great feeling it is to know you’ve eased a child’s fear.
2. Knowing You Helped Them Experience New Adventures
One of the things that every child loves, no matter how close to adulthood they happen to be, is going on an adventure. In fact, teens often enjoy adventures even more than younger children because they are almost ready to branch out on their own. They are already looking forward to the many adventures they will have as independent young adults, so they are prime for the adventures you can share with them.
Talk to them about all the fun you plan to have with them like visiting a theme park in the warmer months or going to a live football game, if tickets are available. You do, after all, have a generous allowance that will enable you to take them places where they will have new experiences you can share with them. How amazing would it be to know that you were able to help them experience things they might never have been able to enjoy in childhood?
3. Giving Them Stability During a Time of Uncertainty
Stability is an important element in the life of any child but foster children tend to have an even greater need. There are so many reasons why children have been removed from their parents’ care at this time, but stability is a major metric in the decision that was made. As a foster carer, you went through a process in which the suitability and stability of your home were closely examined, so this is definitely something you can provide for foster children.
Children need to know that there is a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothes on their back. Even by a very young age, children understand the necessities of life and if they are in an unstable environment, those needs are probably not being met. Knowing that you’ve given them a stable environment where they won’t wake up hungry with no food to eat and nothing clean to wear to school that day is a wonderful feeling deep in your heart. Once you realise that your foster children are no longer afraid to trust you to meet their needs it is a feeling like no other. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings on earth to have gained someone’s absolute trust.
4. Seeing the Joy on Their Face at Key Moments in Their Lives
Now imagine seeing the joy on their face when they pass an exceedingly difficult exam, for instance, or make the football team at their school. What about that birthday party that might have been the first ever in their young lives? It should be emphasised that it isn’t necessary to be judgemental as to why parents couldn’t let that happen.
Sometimes they live in such dire poverty that they weren’t able to meet all of the child’s needs. This isn’t a time to be judgmental but rather a time to have a relationship with the birth family to help them learn what it takes to reunify with their children. Not only can you see the joy on the faces of your foster children when they accomplish something important to them, but you can see the joy on the faces of parents who will now learn ways of coping and caring for their children that they’d never learned before.
5. Doing Your Part to Help Them Move Forward with Confidence and Hope
What an amazing feeling it is to watch as your foster children grow in confidence, giving them hope for their future. Some may come to you timid and too shy to make the acquaintance of family members or other children in the classes they will be attending. They may lack the self-confidence to excel in their studies or venture out to meet new friends.
Once they realise that it is okay to reach out in friendship, they blossom. Many children who had been wallflowers are now the life of the party. It will take encouragement and care to bring out all those intrinsic qualities they were previously afraid to express, but once you’ve helped them grow in confidence, that inner child will arise – the one they’ve kept hidden for so very long.
Fostering Is Give and Take in the Most Wonderful Way
As you can see, fostering brings as many rewards to you as a foster carer as it does to those children in your care. Whilst the whole thrust of being a foster carer is the commitment to serving those children in desperate need of a loving home, the whole process does come with its own rewards. Or in the words of that old adage, “It is far better to give than receive,” and in this case, the giving is the receiving. It truly is a two-way street.