March 23, 2012

5 Things Foster Alumni Wish Foster Parents Knew


By Greg Eubanks
Buckner International

I recently visited with some alumni of the foster care system in our Buckner office in Lubbock.  We had lunch together and talked about their experiences over pizza.  Here’s the advice they wanted me to share with you:

1.  Acknowledge that my history has forever changed who I am. “The day I was removed [from my family’s care] made me a completely different person,” said one alumnus. Become experts on helping kids and youth through trauma, loss, fear and loneliness. Expect that we’re not like ‘normal’ kids. We have messed up backgrounds. When you sign up to be a foster parent, understand that you’ve signed up to help us work it out.

2. Be ready to commit! Understand the type of child you can best parent. How much attention and supervision are you willing and able to give? Once you accept me into your home, be ready to stick with me, no matter what comes. [Buckner staff can be a great support here!]

3. Think about older kids!  People often think about younger kids when they talk about foster care. “We need families who can parent us older kids, too, even though we may not always say it,” said another alumna. You don’t have to have all the answers. Even young foster parents should think about us, because they can relate more, are more active, and have more energy.

4. Have a good marriage. We need you strong to help us manage the challenges we face. Also, we learn from what we see.

5. Let us make some of our own choices. “It lets us practice making decisions, and we can learn from both good and bad ones while we have you there to keep us safe, comfort us when we are hurting, and help us get back on track.”

Greg Eubanks is the Buckner Area Vice President for National Operations, and lives in  Dallas. As an adoptive parent and an adoptive uncle, he is passionate about how Buckner ministries throughout the U.S. help to build strong families, whether through foster care, adoption or a host of other services that prevent families from ever having to separate. He has been with Buckner since 1994.

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