Being a foster parent is a significant time commitment. It involves many meetings, appointments, and time helping the foster child with their needs and adjusting. It requires a lot of patience and conviction in knowing you are doing a selfless act. Bringing a foster child into your home, changes the dynamics of your family and you need to be prepared to support your birth children as they adjust to this change in family structure. Foster parents need continued support from other foster parents. New challenges will continue to arise and the most beneficial guidance and support is from other foster parents. Fostering is a relatively new concept in the Muslim community and people are still learning appropriate ways to support Muslim foster families. Foster parents play a vital role in educating their communities about foster care.
One of the responsibilities of being a foster parent is to work to ensure the foster youth is well prepared with skills needed to enter adulthood and independent living. This can be quite challenging considering many foster children have not met their age expectations regarding life skills and academics.
Foster parents receive a stipend twice a month depending on the age of the foster child to cover the child’s basic expenses. In addition to this, foster children receive an allowance twice a year to cover clothing. Travel outside of the state with a foster child, requires prior court approval, and travel outside of the country is very restricted.
Children in foster care are regular children who, through no fault of their own, had to be removed from their families due to abusive, neglectful situations, or war.
Because of their challenging experiences, many foster children can exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can manifest as bed wetting, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, anger outbursts, lacking trust of people, lying to avoid getting into trouble, among other symptoms.
A stable and loving home, as well as taking the foster child for counseling services provided by the State, can help them overcome their troubled past.
There are some significant differences between domestic foster care and refugee foster care:
Within the domestic foster care system, children maintain regular visits with their birth parent(s) and possibly siblings. Refugee foster children come to the US without their birth parents and do not have regular visits with family.
Domestic foster children range from newborns to 21 years old. Refugee foster children come to the US as teenagers, typically between the ages of 15-16 years old, and are usually boys.
Domestic foster children may be eligible for adoption if the rights of the birth parents have been terminated. Refugee foster children can not legally be adopted because the birth parents’ rights have not been terminated.
Refugee foster children typically lived in refugee camps in different countries around the world before coming to the US. When they come to the US, not only are they experiencing a new family, but they must also adjust to a new culture and new language. Refugee foster children have typically missed some years of formal education.