December 26, 2009
Our experience has been that holidays with foster children are incredibly important and special. For the most part, our time with foster children has proven time and time again that children are just like adults and need to feel safe and loved. Once they feel safe and loved in a place, they open up and it is amazing!
This Christmas we were a little short on the fun! We have just transitioned two children home right before Christmas. It was fitting that they were able to spend such a special holiday with their birth parents - geminately back in their home.
The other foster child in our home, it made it hard for her to adjust. She was feeling a little lost without her entourage. She is still little and fully believes everyone is there for her enjoyment! But as soon as she saw the presents and our family at my parent’s home, she was over feeling lost. My nieces and nephews surrounded her with hugs and questions of what she had received that morning before coming over to Me-Maw and Papa's house.
Having foster children in your home for the holidays just means a few more mouths to feed. They need presents and stockings like everyone else. They need love and attention, naps and great food just like the rest of the family. The kids in our family do not know the kids that come in and out of our home are any different than themselves.
Holidays are a great time to teach the children in our home holiday traditions. In our home for Christmas we let the kids go first with their stockings and then presents. Once they have eaten lunch and go for naps the adults get to open our gifts and stockings. Once the kids are back up, Papa makes them home made chocolate shakes and then they eat again! Holidays at our house are surrounded by food, incase you did not catch that!
A way to make a child feel welcome during the holidays can be to ask a child to participate in the holiday preparations. When we had older children we carved pumpkins, help decorate the Christmas tree, bake Christmas cookies and pies, and general fun! We have as a family for three years now, gone up to Boone, NC to cut down our Christmas tree from a tree farm. It is a drive but well worth it. Usually another family from our church comes with us and our families laugh and have fun the whole day!
What better way to love on and make our foster children feel welcome than to teach them our family traditions and then love them back into their birth families home? God certainly has blessed my family this year and season. He has been gracious and good! We pray this Christmas season that your family will experience God's love and learn with us how God wants us to love those around us.
December 18, 2009
When you send a child home from your house you have to be prepared to get things together and help the transition the best you can. To help a family transition the best you can you have to think ahead and get as much together as you can. The below are just a few things you should consider before sending a child home to their birth parents:
- Get together the child's daily schedule and any medicine they might be currently taking.
- Get together the names and addresses of any doctors the children have been seeing so that they can continue to get medical care for the children. (Include any upcoming doctor appointments)
- Complete the Life Book that should come with every child who comes into your home to document their growth and big events! As well as putting together a type of scrap book within the Life Book to document through pictures their time in your home.
- Write down important information regarding the growth and milestones the child has accomplished while in your home.
- Put together a list of important people in the child's life so that the birth family knows who the people are the child will be talking about or the next few days or so.
- List anything the child may need, ex-the child is about to grow out of the pair of shoes they currently are wearing or they need more socks etc.
Most of the time you get the transition schedule and this allows you to prepare the children for their return home to their birth parents. The transition schedule will give you the time DSS will pick up the kids to take them to their birth parents and the time they will come back to your home. Usually a few visits are made for extended period of time to ensure the visits are going well before the Foster children will be permanently sent home. Once they are home you can ask for visits but we have found once they transition home it is best to let them reconnect with their family rather than interfere unless the child specifically asks for a visit once they are home.
It is hard to say good bye but if you think about why we are foster parents, we are here for the short term. We are trying to help families heal, get control of their lives and hopefully return their children to their home - which is more safe than when they left! We have a job to do and if we do it right and stand up for the children and their rights then we must trust that the courts will do what is best for the family!
While we heal after this trasition we have another opportunity to help another family in need. Hopefully this blog has brought some light onto the subject of Foster Children being Returned Home to their Birth Families!
And incase I don't get to tell you face to face; have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
September 7, 2009
The kids who have come into our home have not only changed us but those who surround us to support and care for us. My family is by far the most touched by these kids beyond my husband and I. My two sisters and my parents daily carry the burden of our hearts being touched by this phenom en called Foster Care.
My sisters pass clothing and tips, my parents help us babysit give us advise. All of my family has been extremely supportive and I know for a fact without them we could not do what we do for these kids. They also help us figure out nutrition, medicine, schooling, age appropriate behaviours and everything in between!
My parent are our rock! My mama comes and help with laundry (which never seems to stop), cook meals when I cannot get home in time to help, baby sit and support when the world seems to fall apart because a child's needs are greater than what we can help! My dad has been there in ways I cannot fathom for my husband giving him fatherly advise and helping my husband deal with me as a cry over a child I cannot help. (Even one that gets away is too many to us!)
To my family it means interrupted meals, bedtimes, teaching my niece and nephews that this little one's behaviour is not acceptable for him or anyone else but we are working with them. Not exposing my niece and nephew to behaviours that might hurt them or change their sweet spirits. Knowing that we have a little niece and nephews we have to be careful what kids we allow in our house and around them.
But overall my family's flexibility and ability to accept any race, sex or issue in a child has made our journey through Foster Care a lot more enjoyable! I know that Foster Care is not for everyone and is not for everyone who is licensed to be a Foster Care Family. But God has a plan for each and everyone of these kids.
If you are interested in becoming a Foster Parent or Family please leave me a comment and I will get you in contact with your local representative so that you can get the information needed to make an educated decision on if Fostering is the right decision for your family.
Being Foster Parents means so many different things; we must be strong, weak, capable, willing and able to laugh, defiant, defensive, flexible, able to easily laugh, cry, let go, hold onto, love, listen, talk straight talk, give our opinion only when it is asked for, network, create bonds with the unlovable, play by rules that are as foreign and Europe, deal with Judges and Social Workers who are stuck in the mentality of 1950, a doctor and a nurse, a teacher and a friend.
It means loving the most vulnerable in society and yet protecting them from themselves and their birth family if necessary. Hopefully - the system will receive enough out cry and changes will continue to occur to allow the laws to change to better protect the children they sought out to originally protect!
Foster Care for my husband and I has been exhilarating and hard. We have had good and bad social workers and Judges. We have had both good and difficult children in our home. We have loved every single child that came into our house and life! There have been a few that were harder to love than the rest. But for the most part these kids come to our house; scared, alone, hurting, feeling unloved, hungry, and very very unsure of their future.
We try with every kid coming into our home that we give them a space that is just theirs, room for their clothing no matter how little they bring with them we try and have extras at our house, food no matter what time of the day or night they come in, hopefully a bath depending on the reason they came in (if physically or sexually abused we may wait until the next day to bathe them), and always take pictures of the night they came in. Some of the kids are really in bad shape coming in and others look normal and healthy and just needed a place to be for the moment.