Single Parent Fostering: What You Need to Know
In California, is single parent fostering possible? Can a single person become a foster parent, or is foster care only for couples? If you’re a single woman or man who is interested in helping foster kids in California, then here’s what you absolutely need to know.
Can I Be a Single Foster Mom or Dad?
In short, the answer here is yes. Any qualifying adult in California can be certified to house and care for foster children or teens, regardless of whether or not they have a significant other or live with a spouse.
“The foster system is no stranger to single parents. Even when a spouse is home the task can be a stressful…and daunting one. But being a single foster parent is completely possible,” writes foster parent Brittany Wassmer.
In fact, AFS has successfully worked with dozens of single people over the years, and we continue to support many single people in their fostering and fost-adopt journeys.
Regardless of couple or married status, all potential parents looking to care for foster youth need to pass state-mandated criteria. Their houses must be in order, and they need to clear the approval process and undergo specific training. For more information about the application process and what’s involved, head to this webpage: afs4kids.org/become-foster-parent.
One Parent Foster Families: What to Expect
Any single parent, couple or family can attest that taking care of children and teens come with a lot of responsibility. Caring for any child, whether biological or foster kids, is truly a full-time job. Before anyone decides to work with foster youth, it’s critical to make sure they are comfortable spending time and supporting the child or teen as a dedicated caregiver.
“Living the single life can be so freeing. The freedom and independence we, as single people, have is so joyous—being able to do what we want at the drop of a hat. Honestly, I’ve loved that part of single life. All I’ve really had to focus on is my schedule and what I felt like doing. I never had to feel the weight of someone else needing me. Enter foster parenting. One day it was FREEDOM and the next, a tiny human attached to me 100% of the time. Guys, it was a hard switch. Doing this thing alone is not easy. Without a spouse, it’s all me,” writes Jillian Kellenberger, who is a single foster parent.
But, just because someone does not have a spouse or significant other does not mean that they lack support options. For starters, everyone who fosters or adopts through AFS has a full support team available to them including case workers and social workers. In addition, respite care is available to all resource parents. Many single parents also have their own community they can turn to for support and assistance, especially friends and extended family members.
“Even if foster care fits seamlessly into your life, there will be times (many of them) when you’ll wonder why it is that you signed up for this. People who declared unending support for you might ghost [you] when you have real, middle-of-the-night needs. A placement you were told needed a forever home might leave you in two-hour’s notice. And every kiddo will need every bit of your patience and love and consistency and grit, and then some,” notes single foster parent Hallie Graves. “There aren’t right or wrong answers to these questions. We’re all human, and I think most foster parents have a mixture of motivations. I want to help children in need, and I also want to be a parent. But having a handle on why you want to foster can help drive the rest of your process and illuminate if foster care is right for you and your family.”
Can A Single Parent Adopt a Child or Teen?
Yes! In California, the approval process for everyone looking to foster or adopt from foster care is the same–this is why they are called resource parents in California and not just foster parents. For many single people, this is an ideal way to start a family.
Of course, when looking to adopt, parents need to know what to expect. Anyone interested in learning more about adopting from foster care can head to https://www.afs4kids.org/services/adoption-services/ for more information.
Is Single Parent Fostering a Worthy Journey?
While being a foster parent comes with its own set of challenges, for many it is a highly worthwhile journey. In fact, 95% of parents who adopt foster youth said they would make the same decision again.
“I can’t say that I knew what I was getting into when I chose to start fostering as a single parent. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to really know what it’s like to foster or parent without doing it. Like many other things in life, it’s part preparation and part figuring it out as you go along. But even with the challenges, I would still say yes a million times over,” Kristy O’Neal, who is a single foster parent, wrote on Adoption.com.