Last week, the foster baby that we had been taking care since he was born four months ago moved to another home, where he was placed with his older sibling. This young one came to us weighing only four pounds, and on a heart monitor. To say that our lives were changed would be an understatement, as my wife and I spent a great deal of time taking care of this little one, getting up at all hours to feed him, and give him what he need the most; love. My wife and I had begun the discussion between ourselves of adopting him, as we had come to love him as our own. When he left last week, my family was grief stricken at this loss.
When you bring foster children into your home, it can be a difficult time for your own biological children. Take some time to sit down with your children and remind them why you chose to be a foster parent. Share with them the information they need to know about your new foster child. If they are too young to understand why a child might be in foster care, do not burden or confuse them with this information, they will simply not need more information or details. Your older children may be curious as to why the foster child is coming to live with them. Share with them what you know, and remind them that the foster child is probably hurting, frightened, and may reject your family in the first few days and weeks. Tell your children that it will take time to form a relationship with the foster child. Your own children may have concerns. Perhaps they are worried that they will have to share you with their new foster sibling. They may resent that there is a new person joining their family. Ask them to share their feelings with you, and listen to what they have to say. Reassure your own children that you will always be there for them. You will also want to plan on setting aside some special time for just you and your own children, as they will need time alone with you during your fostering.
Being a foster family can be challenging emotionally, physically, and mentally. Children in foster care often demand much of your attention, and your love, which they so desperately need. It can be easy for your own children to feel neglected during this time. A little extra attention from you, their parents, will go a long way towards them and your entire family.
-Dr. John DeGarmo