So, you have decided to add to your family through foster care or adoption, and now you're probably wondering how best to prepare your children for the new addition. There are several things to keep in mind as you prepare to provide foster care while continuing to parent your children. Here are a few lessons you can teach your child before your first foster care or adopted child walks through your front door.
- Teach your child to give space. Make sure your kids know that the new foster or adopted child may be upset when they first enter your home so to give them space and lots of understanding.
- Teach your child to not ask questions right away. Let your child know not to ask the foster or adopted child a lot of questions about their birth home life and experiences.
- Teach your child the importance of confidentiality. They should not tell anyone about the foster/adoptive child's birth family and situation.
- Teach your child the importance of role modeling good behavior. Let your children know how their example will be a great teaching tool.
- Teach your child about good touch and bad touch. Make sure they know what is appropriate and not appropriate behavior. Some foster children may act out sexually or physically. Your children need to know how to say, "no" and get away from any uncomfortable situation. In the case of young children, you will need to maintain supervision at all times until you are comfortable with the new child. I don't know if there is any magical amount of time of when one should be comfortable enough. I prefer to keep a watchful eye at all times.
- Teach your child that you will listen to concerns. Let your children know that it is safe to talk with you about any concerns they may have about fostering or adopting. Let them know to come to you if they hear or see anything that upsets them. Utilize family meetings to get concerns out in the open early.
- Teach your child that you will keep things as fair as possible. Let your children know that the new foster/adopted child will have the same rules and chores so that there are no hard feelings. Establish the chores with the new foster child within the first week of being placed in your home. This gives the child time to adjust, but quick enough to let him/her know that he/she is a part of a working family.