Opening your home to a child in need of love and guidance is a genuine gift of compassion. However, this process can be challenging. Paperwork, years of waiting, and unforeseen struggles can deter the best of us. Many do not know what to expect or how to navigate the process. But the forever family you create is well worth the hurdles along the way. Here are 8 simple tips for your new family.
1. Do your research/make an informed decision
Before you start your process of adoption or fostering, discuss it with your family. Listen to their advice and concerns and take their suggestions into consideration. Also consult with experts who will be able to help you make the best choices when deciding to foster and adopt.
2. Work in partnership
Develop relationships with the children, birth families, agencies and community to help establish your child’s permanency in your family.
3. Honor your child’s roots
Foster and adopted children come to new families with a story. Help them to learn and understand it.
4. Communicate effectively
Use and develop communication skills. Be an active listener. Give clear messages, listen, and monitor your tone of voice. Children who may have been abused or neglected in the past may feel insufficient and may think their emotions are not worth sharing. Encouraging your child to share their feelings and listening openly to what they have to say will help build positive self-esteem and encourage positive communication in their future relationships.
5. Get to know the children
Fostered and adopted children may have encountered physical and mental abuse that could have a lasting effect on their lives if left unaddressed. Know your child’s past so that you can help them overcome any issues they may need to address.
6. Build Self-Esteem
Every child needs someone to help them build a positive self-concept. Be sure to praise your children for their positive behaviors and accentuate their strengths as often as possible. Encourage them to be proud of who they are and remember to stay positive about yourself also. Your example makes a big difference.
7. Assure Health and Safety
Your foster and adoptive children may need to visit doctors and/or therapists. As with any child, make sure they are receiving the adequate care and guidance that may be different in every unique circumstance. It is also important to ensure that the children feel secure and unthreatened in your home.
8. Keep Expectations Realistic
This is true for any parent. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of what your child may achieve or become. (As a foster parent, it is important not to expect your foster child to become a permanent member of your family.)
Being a foster or adoptive parent is a very rewarding experience that impacts children in an extensive and positive way. If you are interested in fostering a child or learning about our adoption program, please visit our website.