House Rule Changes for Soon-to-Foster family? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 06-14-2012, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I are in the midst of our training class to become certified foster parents.  Last night the main focus of class was sexually abused children, and the woman speaking (who has been a foster parent for 13 years) listed several rules of the house that should be maintained in fostering homes to protect children who may have been abused and help them feel safe, as well as other children in the home in case an abused child 'plays' innappropriately.  These include: 1. always closing bathroom doors, and only 1 person allowed in the bathroom at once, 2. bedroom doors must stay open if anyone is in there whose room it is not, 3. always knock on bedroom doors before entering, and ask permission to enter regardless of whether the door is open 4. never lay or sit on a child's bed. 5. never allow a child on your bed. 6. Always walk around fully clothed or in a bathrobe.  7.  The rules should be the same for everyone.

She suggested that if those are not the type of rules one lives by currently, one should change prior to any foster children arriving so that other kids will not consider any changes that they don't like to be the new kid's fault.

I can totally understand and agree with the logic of these rules, but they are SO NOT US!!  We are very relaxed about semi-nudity, going about in underwear at bedtime and mornings (we are not pajama people), seldom close bathroom doors (I can't hear what mischief the kids and/or animals are getting into if I do), often all wind up in there at the same time and noone cares, and our 2 year old sleeps with us. So these will be fairly significant changes to our lifestyle at home. 

Has anyone had to make these types of changes in preparing to foster and do you have any advice on how to go about it, or really how to change the mindset?  It just feels very against my grain!  There is no possible way we will stop co-sleeping with our boy before he is ready though, so I guess we'll be breaking rule 7 from the getgo...   

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#2 of 15 Old 06-14-2012, 01:06 PM
 
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If you can't comply with the rules, then you should not be a foster parent.

 

A sexually abuse child will not perceive semi nudity or open bathroom doors in the same way as your kids who were not abused. Do you really need to add to the stress that the foster kids are under? Plus, imagine is someone of them complain about you to the authorities?

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#3 of 15 Old 06-14-2012, 04:18 PM
 
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I would not consent to that list of rules, ever, under any circumstances.

 

Specify that you are only interested in placements where the child has no known history of sexual abuse. 

 

And then, ignore the hypercontrolling social workers and run your home as healthy homes are run.

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#4 of 15 Old 06-14-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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 I completely agree with Smithie, except you can't always rule out sexual abuse.  I am not sure what ages you are looking at, but it is impossible to have just one person in the bathroom is you have little ones.  I would suggest you think about the semi-nudity issue.  "Not being pajama people" isn't really a deep rooted philosphical viewpoint.  As a foster parent you are role modeling acceptable behavior.  Kids who have been neglected can't really get the fine line of at home and in public behavior.  I personally think you might want to invest in some pj's now. 

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Specify that you are only interested in placements where the child has no known history of sexual abuse. 

 

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#5 of 15 Old 06-15-2012, 06:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Alenushka - I guess I wasn't clear - with the exception of not stopping co-sleeping, we are planning on adopting those rules.  My difficulty is more on the how, especially with regards my DS who is 2.5.  For instance, I asked him to leave the bathroom while I was using it today, and he just didn't get it, since it has never been out of bounds before.  So how do I explain these changes to him, when its nothing I believe in personally, has never been the rule in the past, and without bringing future foster kids into the explanation, and yet not just be arbitrary?  We try really hard not to be arbitrary with the kid!  

 

Smithie - I appreciate your comments, especially since I have seen a lot of your posts on these forums and I know you to have a lot of experience in these realms, which I obviously do not.  The only trouble with specifying we do not want children with known abuse histories is that there is still the whole population of foster kids with not-as-yet-known histories of abuse.  The woman who spoke with our class stressed an 'assume the worst' philosophy until you get to know the kids better.   We are planning on having only young children not older than our DS, so maybe that mitigates the possibility a bit (although sadly not entirely)?  On the other hand, it would be hard to turn down older siblings which opens it up again.  

Still confused.

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#6 of 15 Old 06-15-2012, 08:58 AM
 
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It's possible that you'll get a child with an unknown history of sexual abuse - although I think that we tend to overestimate the chances of that, and underestimate the chances that kids who are in care landed there due to plain old neglect.

Nonetheless, if you are looking to take in a preschooler, then you need to plan on being in the bathroom with him and sitting down on his bed. You are going to close doors, including sometimes bedroom doors, when you want privacy to communicate with your husband, your son, or your foster kid. And you are sure as heck not going to keep any of your small children off your bed. The person running that training was suggesting measures that are appropriate for a therapeutic home, or a group care facility. She is being unreasonable, and you should just put it out if your mind.
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#7 of 15 Old 06-15-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ma Cactus View Post

Alenushka - I guess I wasn't clear - with the exception of not stopping co-sleeping, we are planning on adopting those rules.  My difficulty is more on the how, especially with regards my DS who is 2.5.  For instance, I asked him to leave the bathroom while I was using it today, and he just didn't get it, since it has never been out of bounds before.  So how do I explain these changes to him, when its nothing I believe in personally, has never been the rule in the past, and without bringing future foster kids into the explanation, and yet not just be arbitrary?  We try really hard not to be arbitrary with the kid!  

 

 

I think at 2.5 you can't start an explanation of people wanting privacy for private things such as using the bathroom, changing clothing, etc.  Show him public bathrooms and explain how the stalls are in a building with walls and each stall has it's own walls and door because people like to have privacy to use the bathroom.  I don't think it's that tricky of a concept for the average child to pick up and understand eventually at some level.  Obviously he won't understand the first time you mention it, but if you start now it should take too long to take hold.  I would have to work on it too since we generally use the bathroom with the door open around here too!  I've been realizing a need to start working on it with my 3-year-old though because she likes to open the door on me when we have company over and that's just not going to work (none of the doors in our house have locks except the master bedroom where we added one, it's a 100-year-old home).


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#8 of 15 Old 06-15-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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If co sleeping is the only guideline you think you can't shift away from (at this stage) why don't you chat with the social worker about it and see what s/he says about that?
 


 
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#9 of 15 Old 06-16-2012, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for the input!  Especially you Smithie - you really help me keep things in a more realistic perspective. I think the 'no closed doors' rule is actually for children - kids can't close their door with anyone else inside, but only if they want to be alone in there in private.   I think we'll try to start with the easy stuff - PJs and introducing bathroom privacy concepts seem pretty doable and I'll talk with our class teachers about the rest next week.  

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#10 of 15 Old 06-16-2012, 11:42 PM
 
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Personally i wouldnt ask the sw about any of this. The info in that training sounds like textbook stuff that doesnt really work in actual families. Plus, even if a child was sexually abused, it doesnt mean that you shouldnt ever sit on their bed for petes sake. Children need to learn that those types of things can happen in a healthy way (mom helping you in the tub, mom sitting on your bed reading you a story) and nothing bad happens...obviously if you appear to be triggering trauma you deal with it then, but otherwise it seems very unnatural and might even send the WRONG message to a child.

 

I dont allow my kids to have a shut bedroom door when two of them are in there for the simple reason that usually they brew up some kind of trouble when they do. winky.gif but that doesnt have anything to do with foster kids. And obviously when a child is new, you want to pay esp close attention to make sure everything is appropriate.

 

I think its been like 15 years since i've been able to shut the dang bathroom door every time im in there...just today i was just trying to poop for petes sake and had two four yr olds pestering me. Such is life. If you routinely walk around half (or completely) nekkid you might want to cover up because you will be having a "stranger" child in your home (i know when my daughter first moved in at age 8 i was a lot less likely to be half dressed than i am now two years later) PLUS....you never know what innocent thing is going to be conveyed to your worker by a child in your home and you want to reduce the chances of things being misconconstrued.

 

Frankly i wouldnt worry about any of this. Take your classes, pass your homestudy, and once a child is placed with you you will have a better idea of any changes you'll need to make in your home to accomodate that child. And if you are planning on kids under 3 anyway, it will apply even less. All three infant/toddler foster kids ive had were not abused and im not even sure were even neglected. One came into care at birth due to siblings having been removed years before, another due to a sib being born with a positive tox screen, and the third due to criminal actions on the part of a bparent having nothing to do with him. Two of those three i adopted and they are both still in my bed(sigh.)

 

oh and the "only one person allowed in the bathroom"...my third foster child moved in at 16.5 months old when my first foster (by then, adopted) son was 17 months old....i bathed them together and still do at age four. That rule totally wouldnt have worked for us at all.


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#11 of 15 Old 06-20-2012, 03:06 PM
 
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You could foster only infants. In my county there is a high need for foster parents of the teeny tiny ones under 6 weeks. That's because under 6 weeks can't go into daycare. Maybe your county has something similar? They take a lot of work and you would have very low chances of adopting one, but it's an option. And you really won't have to change any of those house rules to care for an infant. Plus, if you ask a lot of questions before you accept the placement, then getting an adoptable child is more likely... just ask the right questions and be patient... you'll just have to wait it out for 1-4 years, but they'll probably stay in your home that whole time.

 

Another option is to change the rules, but just be practical about it. Obviously, toddlers need help in the bathroom. Everyone knows that. It's perfectly acceptable. That trainer was probably only thinking about older children.

 

Also, remember that each kid will change the house rules a little bit. For example, you'll find yourself adding extra safety devices or quiet times or whatever in order to make everything work. The main thing about being a good foster parent is to be flexible.

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#12 of 15 Old 06-28-2012, 09:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alenushka View Post

If you can't comply with the rules, then you should not be a foster parent.

 

A sexually abuse child will not perceive semi nudity or open bathroom doors in the same way as your kids who were not abused. Do you really need to add to the stress that the foster kids are under? Plus, imagine is someone of them complain about you to the authorities?

 

Ita !!!!!!! having a sexualy abused child, or ANY foster childin the home is a whole new ball of wax, it really changes things

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#13 of 15 Old 06-29-2012, 02:51 PM
 
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Not in the way that you might think. The rules suggested by the OP's trainer are most certainly overkill for most foster children. Remember, MOST foster children come into the system because of simple neglect. I'm not saying don't close the bathroom door, I'm just sayin', don't turn your house into a 1950s television set. That's a guaranteed way to stress out ALL the kids the house. 

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#14 of 15 Old 06-29-2012, 03:23 PM
 
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I found the biggest adjustment in our lives, when i was fostering, not to be the children themselves but the agency. Often they operate on a different planet than reality. Rules might be made at a state level or county level, or just something someone at the agency thought sounded like a good idea, without any regard for what it is actually like to live with children. And how one interprets those rules might vary even from person to person.

 

I went to an orientation for a different agency, and one of their new rules was NO locks on the outside of ANY (indoor) door. Obviously, you dont want to lock foster children IN their rooms. But one of the parents asked about the parent's room...she was going to foster older kids and she wanted not only those kids but her own to be kept OUT of her room and her private stuff (of course she would allow access for the worker when the worker visited)...the worker said, nope not allowed, i dont want to see any locks. Now, personally, i would just forget about that rule and just take the lock off when the worker isnt around, because its a stupid rule. They decided how awful it was that some foster child might be locked inside their room and made a blanket rule that applies to everyone including good parents just wanting to lock up their money or personal belongings. That rule wouldnt have worked for us because i allowed my daughter to put a latch on the outside of her door to keep her brothers out of her room when she wasnt home.

 

But its those kind of pesky little rules that dont seem like a big deal until they start feeling very intrusive that make fostering kind of annoying at times.


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#15 of 15 Old 07-04-2012, 10:07 AM
 
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Although I was told no cosleeping with foster kids, and totally got the reasoning behind it, my foster daughter (6 when she moved in) could NOT sleep alone. Yes, she had been sexually abused, although it had nothing to do with beds. Although I started with her in her own bed, before long, I was waking to find she had crawled into my bed during the night. There was really no practical, loving way to keep her out. Feeling guilty and afraid of getting caught, I tried on and off to get her to sleep in her own room. In the end, I gave up, and accepted that she would want her own space when she was ready, just like the bios, each on their own schedule. It was the only way anyone got any sleep. When kept from my bed, she would silently sneak around the house all night, getting into all sorts of dangerous, messy trouble. And her daytime behavior was off the charts when she didn't get enough sleep. I had one crunchy social worker to whom I hinted the solution we had found, and she just shrugged in silent understanding. Otherwise, LittleGirl had her own room for all to see, and no one directly asked who sleeps where.

 

When I had an infant, with night feedings especially, I had a crib in my bedroom to meet the requirements, but no night time inspector ever came to see if I used it!

 

Regarding the other rules, we loosely followed them. I have never been a pajama kind of person, but found that sleeping in a t-shirt and undies worked well for all the family. Keeping the bathroom door shut was a new skill for all of us to learn, but no big deal. There were other rules I ignored. We live right at the state line, and I was supposed to have written permission to take the foster kids out-of-state. Please, are you serious? Our metropolitan area spreads across, and I should get permission for a ten minute drive for an errand or activity? "Don't ask; don't tell" became a way of life for us.

 

My experience was that I needed to show that I understood the rules. Supervision was tighter at first, but over time, as the kids were clearly thriving in my home, it relaxed and we pretty much got on with life.


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