Just three days ago, he and his brother came back into our home, as their current foster mother is having surgery. The wounds on my wife’s heart were re-opened as she grappled with the her grief, and my children were thrilled to see their tiny little brother once again. That same night, three more children were also placed into our home, as their foster parents took a well deserved vacation together, while we served as a respite home for these three boys. This addition of five more children brought our total to eleven children in our home. Indeed, it was a change of pace in our home, and one that we were both excited and nervous about.
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Fortunately, our own children once again became somewhat of a life saver for my wife and me. With the extra laundry, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and other household chores that came along with a large family, my wife and I would have been quickly overwhelmed by it all, after a hard day at our day job. It was the help of our children that eased this load. Changing diapers, feeding babies, doing dishes, and even reading bed time stories; our children were invaluable to us. If for at one moment our children rebelled at the thought of having more children in foster care placed in our home, my wife and I would have had a much more difficult time of it.
When you bring foster children into your home, it can be a difficult time for your own biological children. Take some time to sit down with your children and remind them why you chose to be a foster parent. Share with them the information they need to know about your new foster child. If they are too young to understand why a child might be in foster care, do not burden or confuse them with this information, they will simply not need more information or details. Your older children may be curious as to why the foster child is coming to live with them. Share with them what you know, and remind them that the foster child is probably hurting, frightened, and may reject your family in the first few days and weeks. Tell your children that it will take time to form a relationship with the foster child. Your own children may have concerns. Perhaps they are worried that they will have to share you with their new foster sibling. They may resent that there is a new person joining their family. Ask them to share their feelings with you, and listen to what they have to say. Reassure your own children that you will always be there for them. You will also want to plan on setting aside some special time for just you and your own children, as they will need time alone with you during your fostering.
Being a foster family can be challenging emotionally, physically, and mentally. Children in foster care often demand much of your attention, and your love, which they so desperately need. It can be easy for your own children to feel neglected during this time. A little extra attention from you, their parents, will go a long way towards them and your entire family.
-Dr. John DeGarmo
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