The post "WHO FOSTERS" received a comment from a young mum (I assume young, she said her children are 4 and 11). The post was signed "Ari" - and by the way I'm also assuming Ari is a mum, but there's no reason why not a dad, it would be old-fashioned to conclude a gentle caring soul is most likely a woman.
Anyhoo I'll go with Ari being a young mum just to save myself from writing she/he all the time.
She's thinking about becoming a foster parent. We've all been there, thinking about becoming a foster parent. Her quandary is that fostering might jeopardise her own children's childhood.
So I'd like to talk to her in this post, but invite other comments from other foster parents and for that matter non-foster parents, to help her.
It's a somewhat lonely place, thinking about fostering. Let's help Ari.
The first thing I did was think about my own children's specific personalities. Every child is different (and how). Each of mine had individual traits unique to them, some went in the positive column some in the negative column. Ari, you might do the same. Anything standout in the negative column would be the thing to focus on, asking yourself if your child's present and future happiness might be threatened by the arrival of a foster child. Some children are more vulnerable than others, but Ari; I doubt yours have any enduring problems as you've come this far. In fact my guess is your children are pretty solid, you're a highly competent parent, and that's something you'd like to share with other children.
Next thing; Blue Sky met our children. It was agreed that maybe certain foster children might not be right for our family during our start-up period. Ari have you had any assurances along those lines?
Of course we had concerns for our children, but, without sounding cold, if fostering starts to cause problems for the foster parent's family, the plug gets pulled. No-one is expected to sacrifice their family's wellbeing.
We even had to rationalise an irrational fear; that one of our children would suddenly confront us, not now but in ten or twenty years time and say something like; "You ruined my life by fostering!"
Once we started to edge towards giving it a go we talked to all our wider family (as did Blue Sky), but specifically we talked to our children. A lot. Achieving approval to foster takes several months and we would bring it up at the table or watching TV or driving around. They started to feel on board and develop an interest in the idea. We talked about whether they'd feel jealous or intruded, and whether they'd enjoy feeling pride in helping children less lucky than themselves.
So; we tried to bring our own insights into our children into the thinking, we tried to give them a sense of ownership, and leave them in no doubt that there was a way out if anyone found it too much.
Ari, I wonder how your own two children engage with each other? Your eldest is 11 and your second is 4. Eldest will need to be pretty accommodating to adjust their games and interaction to knit with youngest. Accommodating is good. Soon eldest will start to strike out into an independent life and youngest will experience shades of only child syndrome, which has it's plusses as well as minuses. You'll know their emotional intelligence inside out.
You always get a good profile of the foster child you're being offered and time to chew it over, thinking about the fit. You can, and should, if you think a proposed child is wrong for you, say No.
All that said, I think you should proceed with the approval process. It's seriously useful as a tool for being the best parent you can be, never mind about the pride in qualifying. We underwent our first approval process in 1985 but didn't begin to actually foster for several years. Why? Because the day we got the letter saying we were approved was the very same day I found out we were expecting our first child and we decided to put fostering on hold until our own family were ready.
Those are my thoughts Ari.