If you’re thinking about fostering kids, check out this info from a dad of 12 biological and foster children. These tips for prospective foster parents is based on a Q & A with foster dad, adoptive father, and biological father Roger Thompson.
He explains how foster parenting works in his family of twelve! His wife, Kate, is the author of Is Eight Enough? (God Knows, But He Ain’t Telling).
“The need for foster parents is huge,” says Thompson. “But if more people opened their hearts to one kid, the world would be a different place.”
And actor Bruce Willis agrees, saying something very similar: “Too many children in foster care are falling through cracks. . . . Be a hero – take the time learn about adoption today.”
For more info on being a foster parent, read Success as a Foster Parent: Everything You Need to Know About Foster Care.
And, learn more about fostering and adopting children from Roger Thompson…
Thinking About Fostering Kids? Tips From a Father of 12
Roger and Kate Thompson are foster/adoptive parents from Atlanta, Georgia. They have four biological children and have adopted another eight. They wish to affirm that it’s not “Cheaper by the Dozen”!
Roger, do you keep in touch with your “old” foster kids?
There was one little kid that we’ve kept in touch with over the years, but not for the most part, no. Once they left our house, it was either back to the birth family, or to another foster family, and we tended to lose contact with them. It’s not really surprising because there were always another five or six lined up needing a foster home. Other families do keep in touch with the kids who left, however, and we know some families where the foster kids have become foster parents themselves because they appreciated the help they were given.
How has being a foster parent affected your marriage?
For us, it has been a huge strength. Perhaps because it was something that we both wanted to do, we found it gave us a new common purpose. It gave us something new to share, and it was something that we both enjoyed, so it was great fun, even when there were difficulties with the foster kids. And believe me, there are plenty of those. It’s a great feeling when do you manage to help some of these little kids, and you learn to get over it when you find there are some that you can’t help.
Does being a foster parent change your relationship with your biological kids? How?
Our biological kids were always supportive of fostering, and were readily prepared to be big brothers and sisters to the foster kids. If anything, it strengthened our relationship with our biological kids too. One point that’s particularly important here is that our youngest biological kid was 15 or 16 when we started, so all of our foster kids were automatically younger. That means that our biological kids helped set the expectations and routines for the foster kids. I could easily imagine that it would be much more problematic with situations where the biological kids are younger than the foster kids. You’d have to be very thoughtful if you’re thinking about fostering kids in a situation like that.
Do the foster children get along with your biological kids?
Just great, actually, but again, we had a pecking order established so it was easy.
How do you cope with fostering a child, then giving her or him up?
Eh… it’s not as hard as you might think. Sometimes you’re pleased to see the back of them. We didn’t want to foster at first for exactly that reason. We only wanted to adopt because we didn’t think we could cope with giving them back. It’s really only the first ones you get that are like that. There is so much pent up emotion involved because you’ve been waiting so long. The reality, however, is that it’s like thinking you can bump into a random stranger in the street and fall in love with them.
What advice would you give couples coping with infertility about fostering or adoption?
Become a foster/ adoptive parent as quickly as you can. With the kids you adopt, they are born in your heart, if not your womb, and it turns out there’s no real difference. Yes, they might not be perfect, and they might have a few issues, but guess what … your own kids aren’t perfect either. Not only that, there are many stories of infertile couples who foster or adopt a kid or two and suddenly get pregnant anyway. It’s like the pressure goes off and … voila!
Is there anything you’d like people to know about being foster parent?
Don’t be afraid of a broken heart. Theirs are already broken and they need you more than you need them. The right children end up being in the right place, so be open and enjoy the journey.
If you’re thinking about adopting kids, read For Adoptive Parents – 10 Tips for a Successful Adoption.
If you have any thoughts or questions on being a foster parent, please comment below…
For more information about Roger and Kate Thompson, visit The Adoption Thing.