Fostering: Why there’s a need for it in Muslim society?
Sometimes when we moved into a new house, there might have extra rooms or bedrooms. Now what to do with that extra room? How to make productive use of this spare room? We say start considering fostering.
Fostering is always looked at a bit skeptically; taking someone into your home when you don’t know their background or their history might make some people uncomfortable or worried. But if it was an opportunity to help a child out there and give him a pillow to rest his head on at night, then why not? Would not that be a far more productive way to use of a spare room?
Seeking Islamic advice on fostering
The first thing you should have to look for Islamic advice on what was permitted regarding fostering and adoption.
Adoption involves transferring and removing the rights of the birth parents of the child to the adoptive parents whereas fostering provided a temporary placement for children. Having looked into it, just see that the Qur’an frequently makes reference to treating orphans with kindness.
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces towards the East or the West, but it is the true righteousness to believe in Allah, and the Day of Resurrection, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers, and to spend of your wealth for love of Him, for your kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, for those who ask, and to ransom those in captivity; and to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the covenant (contracts) which you have made; and to be firm in patience in times of pain (poverty and deprivation), and adversity, and in periods of panic (or violence); these are the people who are true, and these are those who are Allah-fearing (2:177)
Regarding this and many other verses of the Quran and Hadith, many Islamic scholars say that, as long as you did not give the child your last name and they retained their identity, then there is no problem in fostering. And in fact, our beloved prophet (saw) encouraged fostering saying:
“I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise (by showing his middle and index fingers and separating them)” (Bukhari)
With that in mind, why not use the spare room productively and help others?
From some experience, below some tips are provided that you can consider:
Be prepared for the process
There are strict regulations to go through before to be a foster parent. But if you endeavor and go through them, then the rewards are huge. Some people think fostering is an opportunity to get rent out a spare or extra room but it is so much more than that. Regulations in different countries may be varied, but do expect the process of getting approved as a foster parent to be lengthy, involving regular meetings and regular checkups.
Prepare your family
If you already have children, involve them in consultation and make sure you take their views into account. Talk to your children with time about the importance of sharing and making foster siblings feel welcome.
Alhamdulillah, our Muslim children enjoy having a bigger family, and feel that the whole fostering experience has taught them a lot about patience and compromise.
Treat foster children like they matter
Especially, if they are teenagers, you should try to treat them like adults. If they have been in care all their life, then the one thing that they want is control.
The most common complaint from foster children is: they can’t make their own decisions, and often they are not consulted about what decisions may best for them. They are moved from family to family, often separated from their siblings and so making a foster child feel like they matter and are capable of making their own decisions is crucial.
Be prepared for behavioral problems
This is always the main question: How do you deal with behavior problems?
The honest truth is to work on it and have patience.
On rare occasions, the patience of Ayub (peace be upon him) will be needed where you foster a child with significant behavioral problems. There will be occasions where the behavior problems are so bad that they cannot be worked on and it may be too dangerous for foster careers to carry on.
In tough situations, our advice is to work with the child to the best of your ability. Don’t kick the child out and force them to move on; but rather look at alternatives such as mental health services, referrals etc. engaging with the relevant agency.
Fostering within the Muslim community
We are going through crucial time where Muslims must now raise their profile of community work and help our fellow Muslims who are in need.
Most of the time, people are not aware of the process required to foster a child, therefore it is an urge to everyone who is able and has the ability and space in their house to look for the correct organization that can help them sponsor a child.
It is such a rewarding experience that can really make a productive impact on the Ummah.