The primary goal of foster care is to find a way to eventually reunite children with their biological parents, but there are times that this is deemed unsafe and parental rights are officially terminated, making the new objective to find a permanent placement through foster adoption. Once a child is past the baby stage, they will be fully aware of what’s going on and are likely to have a lot of questions and emotions about the whole adoption process. Even if they’re grateful to no longer be a part of the foster care system and to have a stable environment to call home rather than enduring the inconsistency of moving from place to place, at the same time it can be very difficult for them to make the transition into a forever family. Below are a few ways that adoptive parents can help make things much easier on the child during this time.
Take it Slow
In most situations, it’s probably best to take things slow at first. Give the child ample time to adapt to their new surroundings, especially if they haven’t already been living in your home under foster care. Take care not to force the issue of having them call you “mom” and “dad,” take part in your specific family rituals and traditions or completely separate them right away from activities, people and belongings that are familiar to them and can offer some comfort. If they are coming from another foster family where there is a history of good rapport, it may be beneficial to allow them to continue having visitations for awhile until they become used to being a part of your household.
Maintain Communication About Their Birth Family
Despite coming from an unsafe or abused background, it’s natural for many foster children to still grieve the loss of their birth family. It’s important to be as understanding about this as possible and maintain positive communication about their previous life and biological parents. The more comfortable you are talking with them about this, the more it shows how much you truly care about their feelings and well-being. Shying away from the topic will only serve to make them more inquisitive and possibly resentful that you are trying to make them forget about where they came from.
Learn How They Identify With the Concept of “Family”
Come up with activities that will encourage your foster adopted child to explain to you exactly what the concept of family means to them. This will not only give you a good idea of whether or not their beliefs are misconstrued, but will also give you the opportunity to paint the picture of what they can expect being a part of this new family. Make it clear the kinds of things you do together, your house rules, etc., which opens up the discussion to talk about differences in all the places they’ve lived and accept that they are now moving forward from where they’ve been.
Find Ways to Make Sure They Feel at Home
One of the best ways to ensure the adoption is a happy event for the child is to make them feel like they really belong. Including them in family photos and placing them around the home is a good place to start. Include them in decisions about dinner so they’re able to enjoy some of their favorite foods. Get them involved in hobbies and recreation that they’re interested in, and let them decorate their room however they choose.
There are also plenty of support groups and literature out there to assist you and the newest member of your family with the transition from foster care to foster adoption. Keeping these tips in mind should help things go smoothly.
Author Bio: Gina Ponce is an avid writer from Northern California and is actively involved in helping to change the lives of children in her community for the better through foster adoption. Having many years of experience in child care, she understands the sensitive nature of dealing with children who have come from difficult backgrounds.