Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sharing with kids

So I need all of you experienced at saying goodbye to give me some advice! How/when did you share the information with your other kiddos??? We are pretty certain that Baby will be leaving, and want to prepare them, but I feel like now is not the time to tell them (2 months is a long time to a child). Children feel stress so much and one of my children in particular does not do well at all with change. He easily gets dysregulated and is a very anxious person. Unfortunately he is also the child with deepest bond to Baby! He is the one who has said time and time again.."I hope we get to adopt Baby" Now my kids "get" that with foster care sometimes you have to say goodbye...they know it's a possibility, but they haven't had to do it yet and neither have we. So....all you seasoned foster did you prepare your kids??? Especially those with anxiety issues??


Diane said...

Starting now, whenever one of the other children bring up the possibility of adopting Baby, say that his birth family (dad and/or uncle) are working very hard to get him to come live with them. Indicate it is not likely that he will get to stay. This will start to set expectations, but based upon when the other child is thinking about it. When visits start becoming longer (e.g. overnight), the other children will typically recognize something has changed. At that point, tell them the judge is going to decide soon where Baby lives forever and that it looks like he will go to one of his family members. I have always made the judge the decision maker in my discussions with the children, because it creates less animosity toward the case manager and others seen more frequently. Kids also can tangibly recognize a judge, more than the court, if they have watched TV. Hopefully a transition plan is put into place; if so, share the finality of the situation a week or two before the event. That's about all younger children can deal with.

Mama P said...

My son handles things very well and is very (seemingly) low anxiety, so I have no idea how I would do it with a high-anxiety child. Praying for you! Diane's advice sounds great.

I will say has been FAR worse for us adjusting to the boys being here because their foster mom did not explain in depth to them what was happening. They didn't even know they were coming here to be adopted until I explained it to them! It has been HELL working through their confusion. I would assume that no warning would work as hellish in opposite situation as well.

sheldonanddenise said...

I can totally relate. We only do respite care now because it was creating too many insecurities with our oldest adopted son (10yrs. old ~ moved in with us at age 3 almost 4). We tried every angle possible in explaining to him what to expect, but no such luck. It was so sad watching him struggle with the burden of "what if don't get to stay with my family". The thought that another adult can make the decision to remove someone we love from our home was too much. We have just recently found out that he has "adjustment disorder" so perhaps this magnifies the situation. Now, in saying all of this, we still choose to do respite because I want my kiddos to know that God wants us to help and love others even if it hurts. We can choose to live in a bubble and protect our hearts but we'll really miss out on knowing and loving some amazing little people. They're worth the pain and risk..... Tomorrow we welcome into our home and lives a 1yr. old little girl that our family was chosen for to adopt. Bio-mom thinks she may want her now so court has been postponed and the now the crazy journey begins (mom's been homeless for 14yrs. and has lost her other 4 children). Prayin' for your fam.

Susan said...

The "line" that we use with our kids is that we are keeping baby and taking care of him/her until their family is ready. God is still working things out. This way, it doesn't matter if baby goes home to parents, grandparents or a different adoptive family. We don't specify what "family" will look like.

When it seems likely that it will be time to say goodbye soon, we begin to pray each night (at bedtime prayers) for Baby's family. Along the lines of "whoever you are working on to love and care for baby, we lift them up to you. We pray that you would give them strength and patience and joy, etc." We can do this for a pretty long time (to a 3-4-5-6 year old) like 6 weeks or something. I start taking lots of pics of the kids together and start pulling for their books.

When it is pretty close (no more than 2 weeks) we start to have the kids help us make decisions about what toys or books baby should have at their new place, which pics of the ones I've pulled they want in the book and which they want a copy of for themselves. I have a little laminator and I often laminate a couple of pics back to back with "Buddies" or "Brothers in Christ 4ever" or something. My kids (especially the littlest) love to just carry those around (hence the laminate).

Susan said...

If it is possible and seems helpful, I make sure the kids meet the new fam. If I can make it work, we will do a joint park day (by day I mean hour) and take pics of baby with both sides so your kids have the memory of where baby is and how happy she is. If it is going to be creepy or awkward, I wouldn't do this. The LAST thing you want is for your kids to be worrying about baby and/or questioning your judgement in "allowing" baby to go home to creepy weirdos.

A few days before we plan a good-bye party for the last day/night. We have cake with a candle for birth fam, one for us and one for new fam. We blow them out and eat cake and celebrate what God has done. At the party, we talk about the kid's favorite things about Baby and remember silly or funny things. I don't usually mull over a lot of the hard things at this point, but we have been known to make jokes about a couple of things we won't miss (knocked over legos, tantrums, whatever the kids offer up) Two weeks is the absolute longest that my kids are aware that a move is in the works, usually less. A few days to a week seems about right for them to process the loss without rehearsing it and allowing it to be drama. After baby is gone we continue for another week or so to pray each night and after that as the kids lead. If the kids express concern after she's gone, I will help them think about what baby is doing right now. Eating lunch? What might she be having? Pancakes? Oh her favorite! Whatever. I let them draw pictures for her or the olders can write notes. If it is appropriate, I send them. If it isn't, I put them in an envelope (sealed so they won't easily come across them) and put it in the file I keep with baby's paperwork.

Over time the kids ask less and less, but mine still sometimes ask about kids we haven't had for years. I have contact with many of our babies (and kids now) that stayed with us for a while and that is awesome for my kiddos.

OK, maybe the most important is assuring your own kids that they will never leave you. This is a little tricky and you have to know your kids. You don't want to introduce a thought they aren't having, but kids worry if they will be the next to go! We frequently talk about the different ways God puts kids into a family and the different reasons for it. Like: "You're my birth child. God gave you me to raise. He wanted you in this family. You are an adopted child, you grew in someone else's tummy, but God's plan for you was our family! Baby is a child in our family for a while, God's plan isn't known yet, but we love baby and will enjoy every minute she's here and we will be so happy when we know!"

So now I've completely highjacked your comment section! This is always such a struggle for us and even my kids who were fine with the last move may need to really, really work through this one. It seems new every time and hard in different ways with each one.