I have had a while to think about what is coming in the near future. As I stated in my last post, I have been going through the official process of becoming a Foster Parent since last May (almost 11 months now). The longer I wait for the next step, the more scenarios I think of and the more questions I have; especially when it comes to my two bio children and the impact on them.
Initially, I was set at the age range of 4-7. It is a small range, but I need a school aged child since I work full time outside the home and I had wanted a child younger than my youngest to keep the birth order (my youngest is 7, turning 8 in July; my oldest just turned 10).
However, the more I think about it, is it really that important to keep the birth order and only take in children younger than my youngest? Some say yes, it is very important, while others have said they did not limit the ages to keep the birth order and have not had any issues. Also, some say older children may have the maturity/development of a younger child, so age really isn’t as important as other factors. How do I prepare my children and how do I decide the best age range to accept?
In my training and when I asked about this on our last night of training at the Panel Night (we had foster families and children who had gone through the system talk and answer questions) the answer was always the same, “it depends on the family and the children.” It seems like a lot of questions that you have before fostering can only be answered by experiencing the scenarios. Some families have done well with kids of all ages, others say they need to stick to younger children because of their bio children.
I think training should touch more on having bio children already in the home who have to welcome new children and the impact to them. I feel unprepared. At my next Home Study Assessment appointment (coming up in a few days) I plan on discussing this more with my worker and finding out if there are resources available such as additional training that covers bio siblings or groups I can join. Once I am a foster parent there are resources available, including a foster parent mentor, but until then do I just try to make the best decisions without the resources?
One of my thoughts is that I may try respite care at first with a wider range of children and see how my own children react to different age groups. However, I am not sure if this would give a good idea as it is just respite and they would know it was only for a few days.
Some things I am wondering about are:
(feel free to comment if you have experience with this! Keep in mind I am only fostering at this point, not fostering with a view to adopt)
- How much say should my bio children have when it comes to placements?
- Right now they are excited and want children their age to play with, but I think having children the same age might cause more conflict (and competition between siblings)
- If I receive a call about a potential placement, should I include my children in the decision to accept or not or just fill them in with information once I accept a placement? (I have a feeling this could cause issues if I give them too much control, but want to include them to some extent)
- Should we keep the birth order and limit our openness to only younger children?
- If I do not keep the birth order and accept older children, how do I mitigate any issues this may cause?
- Are there support groups or mentors I can contact who have bio children who can discuss their experiences?
- If my child, or both children, do not enjoy fostering do I give it up, or is there a transition phase expected?
- I am worried about my son deciding he doesn’t like it, or causing stress to him. He is a very sensitive child and I worry about his reaction to some aspects of fostering.
- Are there additional resources for bio children to help them become prepared for welcoming foster children?
- I am thinking of opening up to sibling groups – how will this affect my bio sibling group?
Basically I want to know: How can I better prepare myself and my children to accept foster children?