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What do you tell an adopted foster child?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Can anyone suggest good reading material for parenting a child with this background?

 

How do you talk to them about why they are living with you?  What about why they can't go home?  How do you deal with the teen years without having the relationship of the toddler years?  This little guy is just 4, but 4 is a lot of time to see a lot.  (I don't know exactly what we'll be dealing with, as I am not privy to that info at this point.)

 

Ftr, I am not a foster to adopt parent, nor have I done any classes.  Actually, in our state, I can't foster because we already have 5 children in our home.  We aren't even sure the state will allow us to adopt him for the same reasons.  Before we get really involved in the process, I just feel we need some help thinking things through.

 

I'm very much a "working with" type of parent, and intend to assure him that I will help him find them as soon as I am allowed.  That it won't be until he is a grown up, but that I know how much his mama loved him, and he loved his mama.  (He talks about her a lot, and talks about going home.)  I don't want to vilify them, but rather teach him to see them as people who need people just as much as the rest of us do.  Is this a bad plan? 

 

I'm willing to listen to anything and everything anyone has to offer about raising this little boy.  I have 5 children, but this is totally new territory, and, before I commit, I want to be sure we are truly best for him.   

post #2 of 9

To answer your first questions:

A life book is a good place to start. A life book is a book about the child. It includes as many pictures as you have of the child's biological and former families. It's sort of a history scrap book. You include other little details too like where they lived (city, state not address) and what they liked to eat and their pets etc. And the book transitions into your home and includes photos of you, your family, your home, your pets. You read this with the child if/when they are little and then give it them when they're older. (It's best to make a back-up in case they go through a phase when they destroy it.) You can google the term "life book" and learn more. There are even companies that will make it for you, all you do is give them the pictures and info and they make it cute.

 

Your instincts are right: don't paint the former families in a bad light. The child identifies with them. Anything bad you say about them will be interpreted as negative about the child as well. So just don't do it. Explain things in terms that are age appropriate, true, and kind. For example, if someone has a drug addiction or mental illness you can say "they are sick." If they're in prison you say "they made mistakes." etc.

 

I suggest you read some books about fostering/adopting and if you can take the classes then take them. I know in my area you can take the classes even if you can't be certified. They are free classes and they offer valuable information on how to be a guardian for children with troubled pasts. There are also lots of inexpensive online classes you can take too.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

 

I suggest you read some books about fostering/adopting and if you can take the classes then take them. I know in my area you can take the classes even if you can't be certified. They are free classes and they offer valuable information on how to be a guardian for children with troubled pasts. There are also lots of inexpensive online classes you can take too.

 

Thanks for your advice and comments (in both posts).  Do have any suggestions of books/classes that you found particularly helpful?

post #4 of 9
My county offers free classes for prospective foster parents. They expect a certain drop-out rate (as families learn how complex fostering can be), so there is no obligation to become certified to take the classes. I would recommend www.fosterparents.com - they have online trainings and a discussion forum. The standard answer I have used is, "Your Mommy couldn't keep you safe, and it is very important that children are safe". That basic answer covers most situations, without blame, and without discussions of drugs/alcohol/prison etc before they are ready. I had some kids where I didn't know the whole history at first, but over time, the child related memories that tied in with this explanation. Over time, as the kids got older, I might share details, as they were ready, as they asked. But some discussions are better suited to the therapist's office. I knew this explanation hit home when, at Thanksgiving, we were all going around the table, expressing what we were thankful for. LittleGirl (foster daughter, then age 6, had been in my home 3 months) said, "I am thankful that you keep me safe".
post #5 of 9

I would recommend the book "Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past" by Betsy Keefer. 

 

Is this child legally free for adoption yet?

 

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your suggestions.  I'll be looking into them and am always happy to hear about more resources.  I'm an information junky, and totally believe the more the better. :)

 

As far as the kids...I'm not really comfortable talking about them much online at this point, and would rather keep the conversation focused on what I need to do to be ready for them.  Thanks for understanding...

post #7 of 9

There are some great children's books about fostering and adoption. Search on Amazon and you will find many. I can post more later when I have more time. Keep the conversation open. You are doing a great job!
 

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

My county offers free classes for prospective foster parents. They expect a certain drop-out rate (as families learn how complex fostering can be), so there is no obligation to become certified to take the classes. I would recommend www.fosterparents.com - they have online trainings and a discussion forum. The standard answer I have used is, "Your Mommy couldn't keep you safe, and it is very important that children are safe". That basic answer covers most situations, without blame, and without discussions of drugs/alcohol/prison etc before they are ready. I had some kids where I didn't know the whole history at first, but over time, the child related memories that tied in with this explanation. Over time, as the kids got older, I might share details, as they were ready, as they asked. But some discussions are better suited to the therapist's office. I knew this explanation hit home when, at Thanksgiving, we were all going around the table, expressing what we were thankful for. LittleGirl (foster daughter, then age 6, had been in my home 3 months) said, "I am thankful that you keep me safe".

This...
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

I would recommend the book "Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past" by Betsy Keefer. 

And this...

I would be cautious about painting the parent as "sick." At least, I wouldn't leave it at that. With my kids, we (and their therapists) talk about brains working differently and their birth parents not being able to care for themselves well enough to properly take care of their children.

It's important to have the tough conversations before the children hit puberty. That's why the book QJ recommended is so valuable.
post #9 of 9

My oldest's bio dad is not in the picture because of selfishness and alcoholism/drug addiction.  I have always said that some grown ups just have a hard time being grown ups.  That her dad loved her but couldn't take care of her because he needed extra help taking care of himself.  Or something like that.  I always tried to make sure that she knew that he would be there if he could but he couldn't.  I am pretty sure I never said sick.  She now barely asks.  She did ask a few questions last year- and I told her a little more.  I have always made sure it was age appropriate and she could handle it.  We never ever say anything negative about her dad.  

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