Breaking The News That You'Re A Foster Parent: Telling Family
How to Tell Your Family You Are Now a Foster Parent
Here are some simple ways to help with the concept that you are now a foster parent and would like the children in foster care living with you to be welcomed into your family and friends' circle.
Foster and adoptive parents are all fantastic people, and it is a privilege to work with them daily. Seeing how the children and youth who have been through so much child abuse or neglect start to feel safe and secure is fantastic.
When a family wishes to bring a foster child into a family member's home, some planning is always good. A child in foster care will be nervous about the first visit, just like any child in foster care or just visiting a stranger for the first time. Taking them from your foster home to a family member must be successful. First impressions are important for vulnerable children, and caring for the child while the visit is taking place is critical. Here are three tips for licensed foster parents from our team of family services specialists; we hope it helps.
1. Be proactive versus reactive
Don't wait until you show up at the next family cookout gathering or church service with your new foster child to say, 'hey everyone, here's my new daughter or new son!' That surely may garner plenty of confusion among your family members (and peers).
Once you've decided to become a foster parent and you're in the process, that is the time to start having those talks with your family members about this life-changing decision that you've made to change a child's life by fostering. This way, when the child comes to live with you and begins to go on outings with you, everyone will already be prepared for it.
2. Try to answer any questions they would have ahead of time
You know they're going to ask specific questions, so go ahead and answer them ahead of time. Tell them your WHY...why you decided to make this move towards fostering. Please explain the process to them so they can get an imaginary picture.
Tell them how you feel about the process and what's to come. Let them know that once you get the child that the child is now your child. This will hopefully eliminate any possible funny looks or comments, even if innocent (FYI-The child can not only hear their whispers, but they can also see and feel the funny looks). Then take questions from the audience :)
3. Be transparent
If you're a little nervous, say so. If you know you may need to rely on them as a part of your village, then say so. The faithful villagers that know they are a part of it will surely step up. This is undoubtedly a time when help is always welcomed, and inserting your transparency early may help them understand why you've made the decision.
Whether they agree or not, it is your decision, and they will have to accept your decision to foster. They will need to respect and treat them just as reasonably as they would your biological children. It will likely take some adjustment for all, but usually, everyone comes around. Educate them!
You are hoping that them watching your decision and actions of becoming a foster parent will even encourage some of them to follow in your footsteps and want to learn more about the process! Always remember that the main reason to foster is that we want to help these children thrive in a safe, stable home and environment, so tell your family, and allow them to be a part of your journey!
Foster children and the foster care and adoption process are designed to give prospective foster parents the skills to help in the journey. Your local department of social services or your child placing agency will be happy to provide you with more guidance concerning introducing these fantastic children to your family. Don't be afraid to ask; that is what we are here for.