Getting the call for a placement comes with a wave of emotions. The moment you see the worker’s number come up on your phone, you’ve already got butterflies about what she will tell you. Will this be the call that changes your family, where you’ll end the conversation knowing another child will be coming into your home? It’s a big moment for sure.
Particularly, if it’s the first call, your brain may be swarming with so many thoughts that you forget what you’re even supposed to ask about. Instead of just jumping in with a yes out of emotion, it’s important to slow down and ask some questions. Gather your thoughts. Evaluate. Make an informed decision based upon conversations you’ve already had as a family.
Do you have guidelines as a family for what placements you will take? I’m talking about basic guidelines at this point like age range and number of children. These are important to set beforehand so that you can automatically rule out placements.
- If you already have children, is birth order important to you? What’s the age of your youngest child?
- If you don’t have children, are you okay with fostering any age, or are you drawn to a particular age? Do you have experience with any particular age?
- If you’re working full time, is daycare an option for you, or do you need to set parameters that only include school-age children? Would you be able to take time off work for a newborn?
- Can you afford to have some sleepless nights, or do you need to be able to jump right back into work?
- What is your capacity as a family?
- Do you have the physical space in your home and in your vehicle?
- Do you have the emotional and mental space to parent a particular number of children?
- Are you able to logistically navigate multiple children—including if they have different visitation schedules or appointment needs?
- Is your schedule able to be flexible to differing needs?
Beyond these two basic questions—age and number of children—you can be as detailed or as minimal as you desire, which again, is based on what is important to your family.
If your family has two working parents, your questions might be different than if you have one working parent and one stay at home parent. Your questions might also be different if you are a single parent.
Are you able to adjust your schedule, or are you locked into specific working hours?
This might affect whether you can take a case in another county if you desire to be present on court days. It might also determine whether you take a child with particular medical or behavioral concerns that would require you to miss work to transport them to therapy or appointments.
What does your schedule look like in the evenings? Do you have commitments that you cannot change?
Asking about medical or behavioral needs will be important if you operate on a tight schedule. Do you have events or activities on the calendar that are important to you or necessary to attend? If your lifestyle is on the go but you have children who will need to be at home with a parent, you may have to say no to the placement. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
Do you have other children in the home? Consider what their needs are before bringing in another child. How do they interact with other children?
Maybe you have pets—is this child afraid of or even aggressive towards animals? If you aren’t willing to give up the pet, then consider this before jumping in.
Rules or guidelines might feel like a burden, but in actuality, they are so freeing. By having the conversations now about what is best for your family, you can simply go through your checklist as you talk with your worker. Gather the facts, as best as the worker knows.
Be gracious and kind in your fact-finding though, as workers are doing their best to place children in safe homes as quickly as possible and may not have all the information you desire. Determine what information is critical to you and what information would be good to have but you could still make a decision even if you don’t have it.
Above all, remember to breathe. Don’t rush into a decision just because your emotions are telling you otherwise. Ask good questions and respect your family’s guidelines.
We’ve started a list of questions for you. Download this freebie today!
Print it, cut it, and hang it on your fridge or save it on your phone for your first call.
Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.
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