Considering single-foster parenting

Imposter! Thoughts that overwhelm your mind while considering single-foster parenting
Posted on 03/08/2024

Picture this, I’m walking my dog and everyday I see a billboard from the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) asking for foster parents.  I think to myself, “What would this look like as a single woman? Should I do this?  Can I do this?  I decide that if I am still thinking about it a year from now, I will go to an information session!”  I message my best friend and asked her to hold me accountable.  I’m so glad I did!

After attending an information session, I left feeling like becoming a foster parent would be both rewarding and incredibly challenging, but I felt I could do it. Growing up, I always envisioned that children would be a part of my life, the role of “mom” was something that meets my strengths and temperament.  My neighbours next door were active foster parents, so I witnessed the benefits of providing a stable and positive environment for a little one.  Although I decided to move forward and trust in the process I still had my worries and doubts.  Mostly I worried about being seen as an imposter. 

 Navigating the bureaucracy of the foster care system was overwhelming, but the training provided a lot of great lessons, and things to consider.  CAS staff were excellent at answering my many questions and provided additional information or suggestions for reading.  In addition to training and networking within CAS, I also have a network of supportive family, friends, colleagues and a connection with a retired foster parent who provided great mentorship along my application journey.

Shortly after becoming an approved foster care provider, I was placed with a 10-year-old boy.  It’s been wonderful with a balance of some not so great moments. While I’m new to fostering, I've learned valuable lessons about the application and assessment process, that have shaped my experience:

  • Support of family, friends and colleagues- this could not be possible without all of them.They hosted me a “foster shower”, to ensure my apartment was set up to accept a little one as soon as I was approved.I put items on like, bed linens, multi-age toys, stuffies, colouring books/paint, reading books, children’s medicine, humidifier, alarm clocks, etc.Recognizing the age I had applied for was very broad, I created bins in storage so that I had supplies regardless of age.
  • Considering impacts when in a rental- I informed my landlord that this was happening, and received permission to paint, install locks on cupboards, add the required smoke detectors, add a fire extinguisher, and started to purge my apartment to make space for storage and in the little one’s bedroom.
  • Conversation with my employer- This was a new experience for my office.While many people have taken parental leaves, I’m the first in the office to consider foster to adopt, and that created a few misunderstandings at the start.Given my age range (4-12) it was not necessary for me to take a parental leave from work, as a child would be attending school. So, I started engaging my supervisor early (shared updates from information sessions, training, and took questions to my assessment worker on behalf of my employer).I also connected with my HR Consultant to explore options of flexible hours, short term leave if needed based on behavioural challenges when a child first came into my care, what would additional benefits look like, and how I could map out my vacation to meet the needs of summer break and PD days, etc.
  • After School Child Care- this is difficult to find due to wait times.Get on a list now, when you’re considering to apply, learn your school catchment area, and apply to many schools.I would suggest booking a meeting with your school principal that you are zoned for, as well as London’s Children’s Connection.Unfortunately, I applied in summer as I moved through the assessment process, and now in February I’m still on a waitlist.
  • Keep on Learning- find podcasts, books, and additional CAS training programs to help you feel more confident and comfortable in subject areas.For example, I needed to learn more about raising an Indigenous child, as a white settler, and what my role is within that.
  • Consider Family Relationships:While my family and friends understood the concept of fostering, they didn’t understand the nuances of the process.I brought them along for the journey, and started setting expectations for how we would engage with each other, what my foster placement would call my family (i.e. grandma, papa, etc.), and the limits of confidentiality.It is also paramount to consider the relationship you will develop with the child or youth’s family.As a part of the child or youth’s team you will have contact with birth family to varying extents. This relationship is important to children and must be honored.
  • Be Ready- When I was finally approved and had my transfer meeting between my Assessment Worker and Resource Worker, they joked by asking if I was ready.I said yes, and they asked, “if I called at 3pm today, would you be ready?”.Naively, I thought this was hyperbolic, however, sure enough, 2:20pm I received a call from my Resource Worker saying she had a situation she wanted me to consider for a placement.
  • Self-Care & Wellness- I was proactive and started looking for my own counsellor as soon as I knew I was moving forward in the application process.The home study assessment process can feel invasive and could bring up old feelings and trauma that may not have been on your mind in a long time.I also wanted to start talking to someone about attachment, and understanding reunification, as I knew with a small family, the connection between me and a child would be quite intimate.Talk to your employer about benefits you may have through EFAP, as there are some excellent resources.


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