We have a complicated family situation, but I think that we may end up with my nephew living with us pretty soon. Nephew's dad and DH are brothers. His mom said that she wasn't interested in parenting when he was a baby, and he's lived with BIL since then. He's 4 (today!). About 2 weeks ago, BIL and his live-in girlfriend (not nephew's mom) broke up. BIL and nephew moved out to live with nephew's step-grandmother. Two days later, BIL was arrested on an out of state warrant. (Yes, this is a great situation all around.)
BIL is currently being extradited to another state where he's expected to be in jail for 6 months - 2 years. Step-grandmother has nephew but will keep him only until January 9. Mom has absolutely no interest in him living with her, but she wants to retain parental rights. We live in a different state pretty far away, but at this point, no one in her family wants nephew. None of DH's family lives near them. The two parents (actually just one - and technically BIL according to their state's laws) can sign over limited, temporary guardianship to us without court or social services involvement. The process is simple, and all of the forms are available online from the state's health & human services department, so I'm thinking that's what we will do. We have 19 days.
So...here are my questions.
How should I expect a transition period to look? Nephew apparently (we don't know him well) has an explosive temper and has been kicked out of several daycare centers. (He will be home with me during the day.) He also has some pretty serious delays, but we're not sure if they're from his living situation or not. He's taken care of, but I don't know that there's a lot of interaction. A sippy cup is easier than teaching a child to use a cup. Those are the kinds of delays that he has. BIL and his girlfriend are pretty much in the "screaming louder means my discipline will be more effective" category.
What is the most important thing for us to do wrt integrating him into our family? We are not routine-heavy, but we do have school, work, dance classes, soccer, etc. DD and I have a loose routine during the day. I work as a freelance writer, so this routine is necessary so that I can get my work done.
How did you talk to your children about fostering? We will have some added expenses from taking nephew in. I don't know that it will be significant, but it probably will mean putting off some things that we were considering. I also expect that nephew will take a lot from us emotionally and energetically for quite a while.
Some things to expect when having a foster child, albeit a relative (I had a foster brother for 13 years)
Give him time to adjust.
Have a list of the general rules (if he's a reader yet, probably not though)
Speak with him, show him love and love and love
When he acts out and is aggressive teach him that in this house, that is not allowed and not ok.
I would check out some positive discipline (I'm sure there's some for foster/adopted older kids who've been through a lot. There is an online forum that you can join easily).
Expect a transition from your kids, explain as much as you can in an age appropriate way and validate their concerns (not as much attention, especially in the beginning, not as many toys for them - whatever their hot button things are)
It sounds as if this kid has some shell shock from being yelled at all the time and not having a stable home life from day 1, I would look into counseling for him so he can work on his aggression issues which stem from an inconsistent home environment.
Best of luck and that's wonderful that you're taking him in!
Loving wife to DH mama to DS1 3/13/09 , DS2 4/20/11 and DS3 1/12/13 Professional and attempting to while
Bless you for your willingness to take in your nephew.
Our newest son came to us through foster care at age 3 with an explosive temper and many delays. He has only been with us for 9 months, but he is improving every day. He was brain damaged by what happened to him in utero and with his birthfamily, so there are many things that are more than just delays for him. The first week he was with us, he had bitten me and my three other children so hard and so many times that we were all bleeding. We think the reason his guardian wanted him moved was he was about to get kicked out of daycare for biting other kids.
I think our family is a very good, strong family, but we do nothing magical. Just being around normally functioning people who care about him unconditionally has helped our son to improve by leaps and bounds. He still has a long way to go, but we see progress. Part of your transition might be to keep in mind how he's doing by weeks and months, not day by day.
A friend once described my schedule as being on "gypsy time." I am the opposite of a rigidly scheduled person. I float by on a whim, yet when workers started talking to me about how important a routine is for kids in foster care and I started to think about how things really work in our family, we have much more of a routine that I realized. Bedtime isn't strict (anytime from 10 p.m.-midnight for the bigger kids), but there is a bedtime routine, as an example. We spend time as a family, put on jammies, brush teeth, read, etc. Even that is much more routine than many kids coming into care have ever had. Just the fact that Daddy goes to work every morning, then comes home for dinner every night is more routine than our son had experienced before. Heck, having dinner is more routine.
You mention talking to your other children about some things you'll need to put on hold as you'll have expenses associated with caring for your nephew. If you are going through the foster care system, you should be able to get reimbursement for his care. At least that's how it works in Michigan. If you're just taking him in without going through "the system," then you wouldn't. Here, I believe you would be named his legal guardian while you completed some foster training, then you could get foster stipends that help pay for his care.
I wonder roughly how old your other children are. Their ages might affect how I'd talk to them about caring for your nephew.
1 me + 1 hubby + 4 kids + 5 goats + 3 pigs + 3 dozen chickens + 6 ducks = 1 crazy place
We just wrapped up our first placement, so I don't have a ton of experience, but I was amazed at how our little 5 year old with developmental delays (and his 2 year old brother) was able to differentiate his behavior between our house and his own (I had the... pleasure... of supervising several visitations.).
He had delays, mostly due to what you described. We suspect he had some drug exposure before birth, but mostly he was neglected and just didn't learn things when most kids do. (i.e., didn't potty train till put into early ed.). He was accustomed to getting his needs met by tantrums and whining, and was rarely told 'no'.
We are a pretty structured house; we have a morning routine, make a schedule for the day, and lots of routines to complete tasks (mostly for my own son (3), who has a pretty sensitive temperament). J. took to the way our house ran and acted pretty much like a 'normal' 5 year old; he would whine a little, but otherwise, could control his behavior. However, during visits, he reverted back to all his ultra-hyperactive behaviors; whining, begging, running on the furniture, baby talk, etc. It was incredible to watch. Every so often he would make eye contact with me, and then he wasn't sure how to act!
Of course, that was our situation, and I am sure everyone is going to be different. I agree with organicviolin; don't assume anything. Explain how things work in your house and what is expected. In our house we simply say "We don't xyz in this house" followed by consequences if xyz continued (in our house, it is a short time in your room to calm down, with a chat with us about how to 'try again') but just be ready to teach behaviors directly, even if your bio. children seemed to get those 'rules' naturally without that sort of teaching.
Oh, on talking to kids; we told our son that we would start having 'friends' come live with us when we started prepping the bedroom. We told him these 'friends' would come to our house and we would help take care of them. He really bought into the idea of helping other kids and added 'our new friends who will live with us' to his list of people he's praying for. Our first 'friends' just moved out and he is excited for new ones to move in.