Adopting my foster-neice. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 10-24-2012, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I are in the process of adopting the seven-year-old foster daughter of my SIL. She has been living with SIL for 1 1/2 years, and according to the adoption worker I spoke with today, can be in our home as early as March, 2 years from when she was placed in Foster care. 

 

I don't even know what questions I came here to ask, but I wonder if anyone has any advice for me.  I'll give you a little background:

 

She's the youngest of three siblings, with an older brother and sister who do not want to be adopted and are old enough to say no. They will remain in the foster system.  Bio-mom and dad are addicts, live in the same city, and she is presently still seeing them weekly. She is deaf, although hears very well with hearing aids. She is very attached to her bio-family, but they are destructive and unhealthy for her. 

 

I guess I'm wondering how to develop attachment while honoring her relationship with her family. She loves us, and we spend a lot of time with her, so I'm not worried about that, but I feel like the attachment is pretty superficial and that she is very peer oriented and needs to develop some roots in our family. 

 

Book ideas?  Advice?  Words of wisdom?  I don't know, I'll take whatever I can get!

 

Thanks, in advance.


"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Ulrich   To make my mark I familybed2.gifnovaxnocirc.giffly-by-nursing2.giffemalesling.GIFhbac.gif waterbirth.jpgcd.gif adoptionheart-1.gif, among other things,  and try to live a sustainable, natural life. My brood includes DD1, DS1 2 and 3, and expecting another in Aug 2014. 
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#2 of 17 Old 10-24-2012, 05:39 PM
 
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I have an adopted daughter with three older siblings and one younger sibling. We weren't able to adopt the one other brother that she lived with in foster care but we have visits periodically with him and his adoptive mother. My advice is to gather as much info as you can and as many photos of her life before she came to you. Our daughter consistently asked about when she was a baby or when she was three or four. Her foster didn't take any photos but because we met some of her bio family we were able to get some photos and a copy of her original birth certificate. 

 

For attachment we actually treated her somewhat like a baby. We fed her, slept with her and carried her. It may have looked weird to other people but it seemed to really helped.  I even cut up her food for about a year.

I read: Parenting the Hurt Child : Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow, Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents, 

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, Raising Adopted Children, Revised Edition: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent and a bunch of blogs from people who had been in foster care. I hope this helps.

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#3 of 17 Old 10-24-2012, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is extremely helpful, thanks!
 


"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Ulrich   To make my mark I familybed2.gifnovaxnocirc.giffly-by-nursing2.giffemalesling.GIFhbac.gif waterbirth.jpgcd.gif adoptionheart-1.gif, among other things,  and try to live a sustainable, natural life. My brood includes DD1, DS1 2 and 3, and expecting another in Aug 2014. 
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#4 of 17 Old 10-25-2012, 12:26 PM
 
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Our adopted daughters were in foster care with my parents for 3 yrs (the oldest - 8 when adopted) and 2 years (the youngest - 6 when adopted).  We had no other children so that helped.  We see their 2 younger sibs as often as possible.  We talk about being adopted, about their heritage (we are white, they are mexican), etc.  For the first few years we did EVERYTHING as a family. We took them with us out to dinner on Valentines Day, anniversaries, etc.  We included them in everything.  I think adopting them together helped a lot.  Make sure EVERYTHING is open conversation.  Always let her talk to you about anything.  My girls haven't seen their bio family other than sibs since 2003 (adopted in 2005).  Read, read, read.... And read some more.  Theres a wealth of info on the internet... :)  Ask us any questions that you can think of...


asl.gifWife to my amazing hubby and best friend since June 2002... Mommy to three angels ages 16, 14 and 4... Two adopted from FL Foster Care and one surprise baby.weadopted.gif

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#5 of 17 Old 10-26-2012, 08:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Kay, I thought of a question.  What do your children call their bio parents? I mean, she's seven, and her mom and dad have been such for seven years.  I want her to call us mom and dad, but what should she then call them?  Is it Mommy Rachel, or just Rachel, or what?
 


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#6 of 17 Old 10-29-2012, 06:06 AM
 
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They always called their bio parents by their first names, we are mom & dad.  Now, my 15 year old (adopted at 8 yrs) likes to refer to them as her sperm donor and egg donor...lol  :)  But, from my experience with my parents doing foster care for years, normally they call bio's by their first name.


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#7 of 17 Old 10-30-2012, 12:09 PM
 
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All of our foster kids have called their moms by a mom-name. And me by a mom-name. It has not proved to be an issue. Even with our current placement who happens to have been brought up using the same mom-name as my biokids, I am "Mom" and she is "my mom" and there is no confusion within the family about who is being referenced.

I always thought I'd care a great deal about the mom-name, but at least for now, I don't. If I were adopting a child who already knew me as Aunt So-and-So, I think I'd just switch my own pattern when referring to the bioparents (saying "when you lived with Lucy" instead if "when you lived with your mom") and see where the child takes it from there.
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#8 of 17 Old 10-31-2012, 03:39 PM
 
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Our FOSTER kids always called us by our first names and their parents were "mom" and "dad" because their case goal is to be reunited with mom and dad.

 

Our adoptive child came to us as an infant, but having had older kids in the system, I would probably not push this issue right off the bat.  She is old enough to understand what's going on and that will be traumatic.  It's certainly appropriate for you to tell her that you and your dh will be her new mom and dad.  But be sure not to pressure her too much on a title.  It's a power situation that she doesn't need to be in the middle of.  Let her transition.  You have a lifetime with her, and surely at some point she will feel the urge to call you mom and dad on her own.  I would make sure she understands that you and your hubby will now be her mom and dad, but then let her adjust on her own timeline... kwim?  Especially since you have known her through your SIL & family gatherings as something OTHER than mom and dad.

 

Hope that doesn't come across as snippy because it's not written that way.  Congrats to you!!!


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#9 of 17 Old 10-31-2012, 06:26 PM
 
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Everything Heatherdeg said.  Older kids will decide for themslevesduck.gif

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#10 of 17 Old 11-01-2012, 06:13 AM
 
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My daughters were adopted at 6 & 8 years old and they both started calling us mom & dad right away.  My friend adopted two girls from foster care at 11 & 13 and two years later they still call her by her first name but refer to her as "my mom" (she adopted as a single mom).  All 4 of the girls (my 2 and my friends 2) have called their bio parents by their first names for years (my parents had all 4 in foster care before they were adopted, so I have known them for several years prior to adoption.  You will just have to let her do what she feels comfortable with.  At her age, she will probably call you mom & dad pretty quick because all of her friends call their parents mom & dad and she won't want to stand out as being way different.  Good luck!


asl.gifWife to my amazing hubby and best friend since June 2002... Mommy to three angels ages 16, 14 and 4... Two adopted from FL Foster Care and one surprise baby.weadopted.gif

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#11 of 17 Old 11-01-2012, 04:21 PM
 
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 At her age, she will probably call you mom & dad pretty quick because all of her friends call their parents mom & dad and she won't want to stand out as being way different. 

 

I think that naming conventions are incredibly subject to peer pressure, especially with young kids. My first two foster placements were short-term, one went to a kinship placement and one went to reunification. They used the "mom" and "dad" titles because it was what the other kids around them were doing. One of them called me "Miss Mom" which I thought was both sweet and appropriate. But I am fairly certain that he is now calling his cousin, who plans to adopt him, "Mom" with no modifiers.

 

Our current foster son was on concurrent planning before he was even placed with us, and we were specifically chosen because we were able to offer a permanent home. We introduced ourselves by our first names, described our role as "the mom and dad of this house" and left it at that. He is quite a bit older than our previous placements, but still did not even attempt to address us by our first names. Nor does he ever speak of his biomom by her first name. As I said above, it's just not confusing or problematic - although in a kinship situation, it might be. 

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#12 of 17 Old 11-01-2012, 08:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

I think that naming conventions are incredibly subject to peer pressure, especially with young kids. 

 

I think this really depends on the kids.  Some of them are FIERCEly loyal to their birthparents--especially the younger ones.  Sounds like this one was very attached to the birthparents.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

Our current foster son was on concurrent planning before he was even placed with us, 

 

Most states are on concurrent planning for all cases.  They don't always have the good fortune of landing in a foster home that would adopt them, but there is usually the concurrent plan of "adoption by a non-relative".  They do their best to put kids in foster homes that might keep them if it goes that route.  Of course, the states don't make this common knowledge and often tell this to foster parents to get their hopes up about the possibility of adoption.  Sorry... pet peeve I have with "the system" and a chunk of their workers.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

We introduced ourselves by our first names, described our role as "the mom and dad of this house" and left it at that. 

 

This is what I would do and then just wait it out.


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#13 of 17 Old 11-02-2012, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Awesome suggestions, ladies.  I don't think she will have a problem calling us mom and dad (with an occasionally Jenny and Jared in there, since that is what she knows us as now) but I like the suggestions to just let her find her way to describe her bio-parents.  To be honest, I'd be more comfortable for her to eventually call them by their first names, but don't want to push that. I suppose I can just refer to them as that, and let her go with it where she's comfortable. 

 

We've got our first visit with the social worker on Thursday next week!!!


"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Ulrich   To make my mark I familybed2.gifnovaxnocirc.giffly-by-nursing2.giffemalesling.GIFhbac.gif waterbirth.jpgcd.gif adoptionheart-1.gif, among other things,  and try to live a sustainable, natural life. My brood includes DD1, DS1 2 and 3, and expecting another in Aug 2014. 
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#14 of 17 Old 11-02-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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My oldest calls her biomom "my mom" or "my birthmom" and when talking about her i use her first name or say "your mom"..with the younger two one calls his bmom "my birfmom" and his bdad "my daddy" and im ok using those terms too. Other son doesnt mention a bdad and calls bmom birthmom.

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#15 of 17 Old 11-03-2012, 06:22 AM
 
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"Most states are on concurrent planning for all cases. They don't always have the good fortune of landing in a foster home that would adopt them, but there is usually the concurrent plan of "adoption by a non-relative". They do their best to put kids in foster homes that might keep them if it goes that route. Of course, the states don't make this common knowledge and often tell this to foster parents to get their hopes up about the possibility of adoption. Sorry... pet peeve I have with "the system" and a chunk of their workers."

I share your peeve. My state doesn't do automatic concurrent planning, and while I think that automatic concurrent planning is usually good for kids, I agree that workers can and do use it to mislead foster families about the probability of adoption. greensad.gif
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#16 of 17 Old 12-04-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, just an update on my adoption journey:

 

Last night we met with the social worker and foster worker in charge of my nieces case (I have already met with a government adoption worker who will be in charge of the adoption approval) and they were super supportive of the whole thing.  The social worker is the one who will eventually decide on who she will be placed with, and when, and she pretty much said that we could have her in our home as early as February!!!  She was super eager to get it done quickly.  So, we have to do government training in January, then our home study in February/March, and then everything else... but, the social worker said we could have her in our home before the home study was complete as long as we understood the risk that it was not official until it was official.

 

Anyway, we are super excited as it looks like it may all happen.  We can't wait to get things moving and get her in our home. 


"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Ulrich   To make my mark I familybed2.gifnovaxnocirc.giffly-by-nursing2.giffemalesling.GIFhbac.gif waterbirth.jpgcd.gif adoptionheart-1.gif, among other things,  and try to live a sustainable, natural life. My brood includes DD1, DS1 2 and 3, and expecting another in Aug 2014. 
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#17 of 17 Old 12-07-2012, 06:37 AM
 
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Great news! I am so glad that the social workers in charge of this child are supportive of this "fictive kinship" placement. It is so lovely that this foster child will not have to transition to another extended family. 

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