When a child cannot be parented by his or her legal parent, either because the parent is unable or unwilling to parent the child, someone must be appointed as the child’s legal guardian. Sometimes a family member or close friend of the family is able to step into the role of guardian; however, in other cases the child ends up a ward of the State of Tennessee. When that happens, the State will try and place the child with a foster parent. If you have room in your home and your heart you may wish to consider being a foster parent yourself. A better understanding of what it means to be a foster parent may help you decide to pursue the idea further.
Children in the foster care system are typically in a state of limbo. They have typically been taken away from their biological parent because the State determined their parent(s) is currently unable to care for them. This may be because the parent has a drug problem, is battling mental illness, is incarcerated, or is financially unable to provide for the child. The goal, however, is to reunite the child with the parent when possible. Therefore, the parent has not has his/her parental rights terminated, meaning the child will still typically have visitation with the parent but cannot live with the parent at this time. Understandably, this can be a difficult, and often confusing, time for both the child and the parent.
As a foster parent your role is to be a temporary guardian for the child until either the parent is able to be reunited with the child or the parent’s parental rights are terminated and the child is placed for adoption. One of the most difficult aspects of foster parenting is knowing that the child will have to leave at some point down the road. The length of time a child stays in your home can vary from mere hours when it is an emergency placement to years when the biological parent struggles to do what needs to be done to regain custody of the child.
While you have a foster child in your care you will function as the child’s parent, providing a nurturing, loving home for the child. You will also work closely with caseworkers and other officials to ensure that the child is handling the situation as well as can be expected. Ultimately, the child will either be reunited with his or her biological parent or placed for adoption. If you are able and willing you may convert your role as foster parent to adoptive parent should the child become available for adoption.
If you have additional questions about foster parenting contact the Tennessee family law attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.