by Rachel Kuhr
May is National Foster Care Month, so let’s start with an inspirational quote from one of the loudest and most profound voices in the world of Foster Care and Adoption, that of Dr. Bruce Perry: “The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”
Then let us consider what President John F. Kennedy said about the goal of reaching the moon. He was not just speaking about going to the moon but implored us to “do other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” These two quotes just about sum up why we do foster care, and why you should consider it, too.
Being a foster parent is not easy. It is to step into the life of a child who has learned, through abuse and neglect, that parents and other adults are not trustworthy. It is to meet their needs even when the way they act and what they say triggers all your feelings of inadequacy, fear, forgotten slights from your own childhood, and doubts about your skills. And it is to do it for the best of reasons, because this is how children heal from their own abuse.
It is to do it at the highest level of Tzedakah, according to Maimonides, to help a person become self-sufficient. Because through healthy, stable relationships, children can grow up to be loving, caring adults and parents and keep their own children out of the foster care system.
Foster parenting is not for everyone. It can change how an individual lives their life day-to-day. And the need is greatest for older youth, over the age of ten, so foster parents must like and enjoy teens. But helping a child grow into an adult who can be independent, loving, confident and moral is a powerful gift to society.
Foster parents need to have a sense of humor, flexibility, a good support system, and a place for the child to live. They must complete thirty hours of training with this agency, provide documents required by the state, take part in interviews and home visits, and show they do not have a violent criminal history or child abuse past. And they must have the passion and desire to change the world.
If this sounds like you, and you are interested in learning more, please fill out the form on the JFS website at www.jfsofhbg.org/services/foster-care/ or call us at (717) 233-1681 and learn more about becoming a foster parent.