You’re a new foster parent and, if you’re being honest, it’s scary. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve prepared. You’ve read all the books, you’ve taken a bunch of trainings and you’ve done your online research. But once that little girl walked into your home, backpack slung over her shoulder and eyes to the floor, all of that research and training went out the window. You need help, but even more than that, you need someone who understands.
You need a foster parent support group.
Support groups for foster parents are organizations of people who are, or at one time were, resource parents. These meetings are a safe space for foster parents to share their personal experiences without fear of judgment. They are not only a place where foster parents can learn new skills to help cope with their seemingly unique situations, but also somewhere they can feel understood because many others will have gone through similar experiences.
In New Jersey, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) holds Connecting Families community based meetings throughout the state for all open licensed resource homes.
If you’re feeling isolated because of your fostering situation, these meetings are a place to discover you are far from alone. New and veteran foster, adoptive and kinship parents share their personal experiences and offer advice and guidance to those who need it. Here, foster parents learn and develop coping skills for the myriad of concerns they may encounter during their journey.
Just as importantly, feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety aren’t greeted with judgment at these meetings. Instead, these feelings are often validated as legitimate emotional responses to difficult issues. By offering a safe space for parents to express negative feelings, support groups like Connecting Families help parents move towards a positive resolution. Other parents have been through a gamut of emotions at different points in the fostering process, and they can help you understand how to navigate through turbulent times.
Consider connecting today!
If you’re a licensed resource parent with an open home in New Jersey, please come out to a nearby Connecting Families meeting.
Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.