When you foster a child, you are adding a new person to your home. Plus, it is highly likely that this small person will have come from a very difficult or troubled background.
Many foster parents have concerns that their foster children will not ‘fit in’ right away to their home, and have concerns about issues with their other siblings. In almost all cases of fostering, you need to be patient, kind, and as informed as possible when you bring your foster child home.
So, what are some of the ways you can make your home welcoming to your foster child?
Learn About Them
When you foster a child from an agency like Foster Care Associates, you will need to learn as much as you can about them to make them feel welcome. If they came from a background where there was domestic abuse, it would be best for them if you did not raise your voice, even in a jovial way at first. It can also be a bit frustrating for new foster parents when their new child does not like being hugged or touched, which also, sadly is quite common if they came from a background where there was abuse.
In any case, learn as much as you can about them and do not ask them questions about their previous home(s), as this can also cause upset.
Give Them Space
Adults like their own space, and so do children. So, when you are fostering a child, try to get them involved in choosing the furniture that they will have in their bedrooms. If the bedroom is already set up when they arrive, allow them to pick out some toys and other items that they may want to have in their space. Also, if they want to be alone to read or play, let them. This will let them know that you respect their boundaries.
Many people love having a touch of personalization in their homes, such as initial ornaments and even signs on the bedroom doors. Children, especially those who come from troubled homes, like that too. It can help them to feel that they live and belong in your home. Why not even allow them to pick the sign or the ornament with their initials? You will be surprised at how much a sign that says ‘Fred’s Bedroom’, for example, can help them to feel more comfortable.
If you have other children, you will likely engage in activities with them each weekend or after school. Involve your foster child when you feel they are ready to engage. Be aware that at first, they may be clingy to you, so aim to then involve your other children in the activities that you are doing at home.
A photo album for your foster child is a great way to help them recognize you as their family and can give them a space to add their favorite photographs. Why not extend the photo album further? List people that they will likely see in their daily lives, such as teachers, neighbors, your family, and healthcare workers.