10 Ways to make the holidays special for your foster child

  1. Share your traditions. Tell them about what your family does for the holidays (or what traditions you loved as a kid). Include them in your traditions.
  2. Ask them about their traditions. Is there a food they liked? Or things they did? And try to figure out what Santa does at their house.
  3. Make new traditions. See if there is anything they have always wanted to do.
  4. Decorate your house. Not only should you decorate your house but you should have them help. Maybe they can make something or they can help you pick something out. This year all my decorations were things the boys could play with.
  5. Buy them special trinkets. At my house we all have stockings with our names on it so I make sure foster children have them as well. I also buy them special ornaments as well as a family ornament with all our names and years.
  6. Take lots of pictures. These will help you remember your holiday together. But they are also a special memory for your children.
  7. Read books. Books are magically. They make children excited and they can teach them what to expect.
  8. Make art work. I love holiday art work. You can make things to decorate your house with and keepsakes for both of you.
  9. Keep it small. Last year I broke my mom’s heart into a million pieces when I told her I wouldn’t be going to their house for Christmas morning because I knew Diva would be overwhelmed and I wanted to limit her time in a crowded space. It ended up working out really well but it was a hard thing for my mom to accept.
  10. Try not to have too high of expectations. If the child is older the holidays could be a huge trigger for them. Try to play it by ear andhave them tell you what they are comfortable with.

10 things other foster parents say that piss me off

I am part of a lot of country wide foster parent group (with thousands of members) and some of the things people say on there make me wonder if people foster for the right reasons. I try to assume positive attention but sometimes it’s hard.

  1. They ignore what former foster youth have to say. This one makes me so furious. If they are saying something is offensive believe it.
  2. They talk bad about the biological parents. No just no! You don’t know what they have been through so save the judgement. Your role is to take care of the kids not judge the biological parents.
  3. They complain that they can’t hit foster children. If the only form of discipline you can think of is to hit a child then you shouldn’t be a parent to begin with:
  4. The celebrate termination of rights. I understand that this child has probably been with you a while and you want to adopt them. Go right ahead and celebrate the adoption. But the termination is a sad moment. A parents heart is breaking and we should never celebrate the breaking apart of a family even if it means your family gains a member.
  5. They call foster children brats. Nope!!! No child is brat. They just haven’t been properly taught.
  6. They act superior to the biological parents. You have no idea what their childhood was like or even their adult life. Don’t judge.
  7. They complain about visits on holidays . I get it. However the kids want to see their family on holidays too. Just have the caseworker pick up the kids where ever you were planning on being.
  8. They act like there bond is stronger then the biological parents bond. You both have a bond and there should be no comparison. Even if you have had he child since birth their parents have a special bond through dna and that should be nurtured.
  9. They complain about having to do extra for the parents. I get that you don’t want to go above and beyond constantly (I don’t either). But if it means your foster child will be happy, then do it.
  10. They don’t support other foster parents. I know I just complained about other foster parents. Though I hate when they say this I don’t yell or insult them. I try to educate and help them grow. We should all be there for each other.

10 things to do the night before court

Tomorrow I have a big court date for one of my kids. Court dates make me very nervous when I am unsure what is going to happen. This is what I do the night before court to help me get through.

  1. Email the caseworker, casa, and anyone else involved and update on the child. I usually do this a week before so that they can include any new information in the court.
  2. Asks questions. My big problem with tomorrow’s court date is no one has the same information and that is why I’m so stressed out. Don’t be afraid to asks questions and make sure things are clarified.
  3. Ask caseworker to call you after court. If you are like me and cannot go to court talk to the caseworker and ask her to call you after. My caseworkers have always been great about it.
  4. Make sure all of your notes are updated. I’m going to make a post about this eventually but I keep an updated calendar showing when doctors appointments and visits are as well as notes on health, behavior, and developmental milestones.
  5. Update their life book. You don’t know if they are going home or not so make sure everything is updated and they have every pictures and tidbit of information you want them to have.
  6. Cuddle your babies. Give them big hugs. They have no idea that someone they have never met will be making decisions for them tomorrow. But you do. So hold them tight.
  7. Spend the night at home. We are always so busy. Tonight we are just going to stay home and spend time together as a family instead of going out and about.
  8. Pray. I pray every night that what is best for my children happens. I don’t pray for a certain outcome because only God knows what is best.
  9. Relax. Do something to get your mind off of everything going on.
  10. Go on with life as planned. The hardest thing I have had to learn is that you cannot worry about things that you can’t control so just move on.

10 ways to take time for yourself

I always feel like I never take enough time for myself. Here are some things I love to do to relax. 

  1. Go to a movie alone. I always thought this was weird but when I have some time to myself (like once a year) I sneak out and watch a movie by myself or go to dinner by myself.
  2. Paint your nails. I don’t know about you but when I’m stressed the last thing I think about his my nails (right now they are super long and I should probably take care of that). Once I have my nails all painted I feel so much better. 
  3. Drive somewhere with a pretty view. I have even done this when my kids are asleep in the car. It is calming and relaxing. Sometimes you need peace and quiet.
  4. Watch an old movie. I have no idea how many times I have watched Greece and Dirty Dancing.
  5. Have a dance party. Not only is dancing relaxing but it can also be a family activity
  6. Get a babysitter just to have time for yourself. Sometimes I get a babysitter so I can just be alone for an hour. It’s not often and I sometimes feel guilty about it, but I definitely need it. 
  7. Work out. Though I don’t go to the gym enough it is a great way to relax and do something healthy. They have child care so that’s a big bonus.
  8. Take a really long shower. Okay sometimes the only alone time you can get is in the shower.
  9. Blog. I love blogging because it fixes me time to sit down and write things. I don’t care if no one reads it. I can get my adult thoughts out. 
  10. Cry in your car alone. When you are having a bad day like I’m having today just crying alone is refreshing. 

10 things to do the first month of a new placement 

Now that you know the child(ren) a little bit better it is time to take care of business. That first month is full of meetings and asking questions.

  1. Talk to a caseworker.  If after the first week you don’t hear anything, start calling the licensing worker and agencies office. Have a list of questions ready.
  2. Find out about the court case. When you do finally talk to someone make sure you are all caught up on how the first court hearing went and when the next one will be.
  3. Find out information about the parents. Are the parents together? Is there any other family they are close to and will be seeing? How will you communicate with the parents?
  4. Meet the parents. This might not happen in every case but if you have the chance jump on it. Introduce yourself, ask them if there is anything you should know about their child, and let them know you are there to support them as well.
  5. Set up visits.  In some states you make have to drive the child yourself. In Illinois we have a program that drives the child and monitor visits. I have to spend a lot of time on the phone though making sure the days work with the kids school schedule.
  6. Set up therapy. I am a firm believer that any child 3 and over in foster care should be in therapy no matter what. Children need as many positive adults in their life that they can talk to.
  7. Go to the doctor. In Illinois you need to set up a doctors appointment within 28 days. I would set it up as soon as you get a placement. I would also make sure you have a list of questions ready especially if it is a younger child.
  8. Get a health history. You might be able to ask the casewoeker for a health history or the parents. It is very important to know as much information as you can about a child’s health.
  9. Ask the child if there is anything that you can do for them. Is there a sport they want to join? Friends or family they are hoping to see? A church they are part of? Try to see what you can do to make this time for the child as easy as possible.
  10. Take time for yourself. That first month is exhausting and especially if it is your first time parenting it can be very overwhelming. Find some time for yourself even if it’s just eating Oreos while watching tv (my favorite pastime)

10 things to do the first week of a new placement 

The first week with a new foster placement is all about getting to know the foster child and allowing them to get to know you. It is an overwhelming week but these steps are crucial in starting the foundation for them feeling at home and loved. 

  1. Sign them up for school/daycare. This is always the first thing I do (during the school year). I take off the first two days I have a placement so that I can sign them up and then take them to school for the first day.
  2. Learn about any court dates and visits set up.  The caseworker or licensing worker should call you within the first week to let you know when they child will be seeing their parents. 
  3. Establish rules/chores. This is something I do very slowly. Everyone has their own way of setting down ground rules for foster kids. I prefer to just mention things as they come up. 
  4. Be patient with the rules. They are in a brand new house and probably have forgotten your name already. Gently remind them the rules in your house. These rules are brand new to them and will take time. 
  5. Go to the store with your foster child. Allow them to pick out food they like and clothing they like. Also maybe allow them to pick out a special toy. One time the day after I got a placement I took all my foster kids to a garage sale and let them pick out a toy. 
  6. Take lots of pictures. It is always nice to have pictures to look back at. However, the point of taking pictures the first week is to be able to put pictures of your new foster kids around your house so they feel at home.
  7. Allow them to decorate their room. I always let my foster kids pick out wall stickers to put around their room. They always love it.
  8. Find out what they like to do and do it. Even if it is something small like building a puzzle together, show them you care about their interests.
  9. Go on a family outing. It can be something as simple as going to the movies together. Just do something to make them feel like part of the family. 
  10. Know there will be some hiccups. Like finding out your new foster child only eats oatmeal for breakfast and you don’t have any in the house. It happens and you will figure it out.

10 things to do the first night of a new placement 

That first night is scary and overwhelming for a foster child. Here are some tips for making them feel at home or for you to not be a nervous wreck (though to be honest I always am anyways…but these tips help me calm down a little) 

  1. Breathe. After you hang up the phone it is a little nerve-racking. Take a deap breath and pray for the child(ren) you are about to meet.
  2. Prepare their room. I always have clothes for every age/gender I am licensed for so I can grab a couple outfits.
  3. Welcome them to your home. The children could be scared or they could open up to you right away. Have a movie going or toys out for them to play with while you talk to the placement worker
  4. Make sure to get all the information from the placement worker you need. In my experience placement workers are always rushed. Make sure you get the placement paperwork, medical card information, and ask any questions you might have. Also, always make sure you have the phone numbers you need.
  5. Introduce everyone in your family (including pets). I always have foster children call me by my first name as well as my parents. 
  6. Give a tour of the house. Show the child the whole house so they are familiar. This is also a great time to go over the rules. Such as, make sure you lock the bathroom door when you are in there or no one is allowed in my bedroom.
  7. Make a kid friendly meal for dinner. I always have frozen pizza and mac n cheese on hand and I let them chose what they would like to eat. 
  8. Get to know them. Ask them questions as long as they seem open to it. The first night I learned my first foster son loved the Seahawks which was my dads favorite team. My dad brought over a Seahawks blanket for him immediately and he still has it to this day even though he is no longer in my house.
  9. Have them get to know you. Allow them to ask you any question they want and tell them silly things about you. 
  10. Allow them to have control. I’m a strict believer in very few rules that first night. I allow them to watch as much tv as they want, eat what they want, and go to bed when they want. They are usually scared and unsure of what is going on. I feel it’s important to not expect too much of them that first night.