Dear Friends and Family,
As you know, we’re nearing the end of our foster parent training! Thank you for all of your support and love through this process. We are so blessed to have family and friends who have helped see us through to this point. Very soon the real work begins, and we’re going to need that love and support more than ever.
We know that our decision to foster will affect you as well, and we are hoping that this email will help to answer some of your questions and set us all up for success in helping these little people through this rocky patch in their lives.
We’ll tell you now that we’re sorry this is so long, and we’re sorry it sounds so bossy. We were trying to keep it as brief as possible, so it may sound a little “short” in some places. But know that we love you, and we don’t mean for it to sound “short.” If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask – we love talking about this stuff! Otherwise, we’ll let you know as soon as we get our first placement!
Placements to Expect
We anticipate being fully licensed and waiting for a placement by the end of next week. (OMG!) We are open to one to two foster kids, ages birth through five years old. We’re open to any gender or race. We could get a call for a placement the day that we’re licensed or it could be several weeks or even months before we get a call. The kids could be staying with us anywhere from a few days to several years.
When we get a placement we will of course share with you the children’s names, ages, birthdates, personalities, and other such details. However the family history, reasons for placement, medical status, and other aspects of the foster children’s lives are confidential and we will not be able to share these details with you.
DCFS policy is that pictures of foster children may not be posted online. We won’t be able to post or email pictures of the kids, and we’ll need your cooperation in not posting pictures that you may take of the kids.
Inclusion in Family & Gift Giving Policy
Other than confidentiality issues, we will treat these children as members of our family. We must insist that everyone respect this policy. The foster children will be treated equally to how our biological children are treated, especially when it comes to holidays, birthdays, or other gift-giving occasions. We never expect gifts for any of our children. But if you choose to give gifts, you’ll need to plan to give equally to all of the kids who are in our care at that time.
Behavior and Discipline
You may observe unusual or seemingly alarming behaviors from the foster children. Accordingly, you may also see us utilizing some unusual discipline techniques (varying from very easy-going to very strict). We ask you to remember that we’re working with a team of professionals on a behavioral and discipline plan tailored to each individual child. If you have concerns that you feel the need to discuss with us, please bring them up in private, away from the child. Comments like “Oh, can’t she just have the ice cream,” when said right in front of the child, can result in a major setback.
Also, DCFS law states that ONLY the foster parents are allowed to discipline the foster child. If you’ll be spending time with the kids, it will be very important for you to understand and adhere to this policy.
Holidays and Special Events
We LOVE seeing all of our friends and family for holidays and special occasions and certainly hope to be able to incorporate our foster children into these cherished events. However, some foster children may have difficulty with the stress of large groups, new people, new food, and higher expectations for behavior. We ask for your patience and understanding when we may have to miss an event, arrive late, leave early, or perhaps one parent has to stay home with a foster child.
What Do They Call Us?
Our foster children will have the option of calling us by our first names or “mom and dad.” We’ll invite them to address you with the same terms that our biological children use (grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, etc.).
What Do We Call Them?
No child wants to be known as “the foster kid.” We will refer to any children in our care as our kids, our son, our daughter. We ask you to please be sensitive to this, and do not refer to a child or introduce them as a “foster child,” particularly in that child’s presence. Feel free to refer to them as you would with our biological children (my grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.). Or, if that isn’t comfortable for you, you can refer to them as our child (my brother’s son, my friend’s daughter, etc.).
About Building Attachments
The question is sometimes raised with foster care if it isn’t detrimental to encourage children to become attached to their foster family. In fact, there was a time about 20 years ago when foster children were intentionally moved to new foster homes on a regular basis to avoid this attachment. We now know that learning to build attachments is one of the most important elements to living a happy and satisfied life. As children bond with us they gradually learn the joy that comes from bonding and how to trust safe adults, and it builds their sense of self-worth. If the child can learn to attach successfully, they can then repeat that attachment process with others throughout their life. This is a vital process, even if they are not with us forever.
The challenge is for us to bond, fearing the pain of losing the relationship when they leave. We expect that you may have this fear as well, but we ask for you to keep the children’s best interests in mind, and open your heart to them.