Adoption Counseling as a Foster Parent
As I’m writing this post, I have fostered 21 animals (19 dogs and 2 cats). Although, I foster failed on my 3 personal dogs (Bambi, Haylee, and Nadia), I was able to get homes for the rest. To my knowledge, they have been successful. I actually keep in touch with a handful of them via text or on social media, which I love!
I truly believe that adoptions are more likely to be successful if proper adoption counseling is done in advance. I’m sharing the process I go through as a foster mom and based on my experiences adopting out my foster animals. I hope it helps! (Not a foster parent yet? There’s a section for you at the bottom of the post if you are interested in fostering!)
The Screening Process
Most rescue groups will do the initial screening of the adopters. They will call the applicant’s references, the vet, and reach out to the applicant for an initial interview. Generally, once they are approved the foster parent arranges a meet and greet. This would likely be different if you foster for a group that does regular adoption events or has a facility.
When I am sent an approved adopter, I reach out to them via phone call. I explain the information I know about my foster based on my time with them. Typically this includes the history, their personality, and what they would likely need in a home. Then I have the adopter ask me questions if they have any. From there, if they are still interested, we arrange a meet and greet.
One of the most important things you can do as a foster parent is be honest about your foster’s history, personality, and possible quirks. This is one of the best ways to set your foster and their family up for success. I know that you likely want to highlight the great aspects, so they can find a home. You can share all the great stuff, but you also need to be honest. For example, if you have a foster with a bite history, you know they do not like other animals, or they have potty training issues, then you need to express that.
You may worry that it will deter adopters away from your foster. I have found that my honesty is actually appreciated. Typically people who adopt from a rescue are understanding that the animals will not necessarily be perfect. If it ends up that the adopters decide to not adopt your foster, then that is good they say “no” now versus returning the animal later.
I do not want someone to adopt one of my fosters just because they feel bad. I want them to be confident in their decision and that it is a good fit for all involved.
The great thing about adopting an animal that has been in a foster home, is the foster parent can learn so much about that animal. This helps adopters get an idea of what the pet is like inside of a household, around kids, around other animals, etc. Those are things that can be hard to know about an animal directly from a shelter environment. If you have a foster for a while, then you really can learn so much about them.
Since you have all this valuable information, it’s important to be thorough about your foster. I talk about a lot of this stuff when I call the adopters the first time. Recently, for most of my fosters (especially the long timer ones), I will type up information in different categories to give to the adopter. I typically try to do this before I hand the foster off to them. It also helps if after they’ve read it, you speak with them to elaborate or answer any questions.
Some things you will want to think about including:
-explaining the decompression period
-routine: feeding schedule, potty schedule, sleeping, crating
-what the pet enjoys
-how to properly meet new people or other animals
-food and treats
-any medical concerns (which they should already be aware of anyway)
Meet and Greet
Normally for a meet and greet (for dogs at least), should be done at a neutral area if there are other dogs involved. However, I personally do not think that is required. There are some dogs I have had that did not need that. I’ve had some adopters come to my house, I’ve met some at parking lots, parks, or their house. You really just have to gauge it based on the dog and what you know about the adopter’s other pets (if they have any).
Most of the time I meet adopters at a park just because we try to meet somewhere neutral in the middle of our houses. If I am meeting the adopters at their house, I typically have them meet my foster dog first. Then after a little bit, I would have them bring out their other dog. In most of those situations, we still introduce the dogs outside on a walk.
Introducing dogs to other dogs is the most challenging thing to me as a dog foster mom. I really did not have that much fear before, but unfortunately that fear has grown due to an incident (outside of fostering). I do tend to lean on the cautious side when introducing dogs. Overall, you want to look for good body language. Additionally, if possible it’s not a bad idea to bring another person with you. They can be an extra set of eyes and opinion to judge how well the interaction went.
I have also had situations where I have had my foster dog meet the family a few times before they make the decision to adopt or not. I think this can be helpful if they have other dogs so they can get acquantited.
I would say any good rescue is available for questions or concerns that may arise after a family adopts an animal from their rescue. As a foster parent, I really emphasize that if they have any questions, concerns, or emergencies to reach out to me. I will always try to do what I can to assist my former fosters and their families. Of course, I also tell them how much I love updates and pictures. The happy updates are the best part of fostering!
Periodically I will check in with the adopters too. Generally I reach out within a few hours after dropping of my foster, then the next day, and then in about a week. You don’t want to be the hovering type of foster parent, but that first week is pretty crucial. Plus, I like to know if I am going to end up getting a foster back before getting another one. Typically people seem to know within a week.
Again, it should be a rescue’s policy that their animals need to come back to them or they need to be contacted before re-homing. I stress that point even more by telling them that I will personally take my fosters back. I even offer to petsit if needed in some cases. My former fosters are my babies and have a special place in my heart, so I just want their story to be a happy one!
Adoption Success Stories
Adoption success stories are so heartwarming especially when you know the backstory of some of these animals. These are the steps that have worked for me in placing my fosters. I hope that you found what I shared to be helpful!
What do you do to be sure your foster gets placed into the right home?
Foster Parents Needed!
Fosters are always in demand for rescues and shelters. If you are able to foster or want to give it a try, please do! It is such a rewarding experience and you literally are saving lives in doing so. Please reach out to me if you are interested in fostering and I will help you find a rescue.