In the past, we were blessed with the opportunity to take yearly vacations. We have enjoyed taking our children white water rafting in Colorado, visiting friends in Utah, and Disney World in Florida. We've taken trips to visit grandparents in Missouri and weekend trips to amusement parks in Oklahoma and Texas. Every time we venture out we take all of our children with us, whether they are our birth, adopted or foster children.
While many foster parents insist on taking foster children with them on the road, others insist on utilizing respite. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. What do you think on the subject?
I love Summer and its longer days and of course, fun in the sun! Remember, with that fun in the sun comes a few extra responsibilities for foster families.
Here is a quick checklist of things to consider, and as always, check with your foster care agency to be sure that you're not missing anything.
What do you have planned this summer with your children? Click "comments" below and share.
Photo © Carrie Craft, licensed to About.com, Inc.
As we're finishing up school here this week, and man did time fly, it's easy to want to just coast in to a summer of relaxation. But, while it may be the end of the school year, it's still important as a foster parent to help your foster child finish the year strong.
- Encourage your foster child to participate in fun end-of-the-year activities. Perhaps go as a volunteer.
- Attend book fairs and buy several books to encourage reading during the summer. Ask their teacher for recommendations or appropriate reading levels.
- Encourage your children to finish homework and get in any extra credit points, if possible.
- Collect last papers, pictures, and report cards for the social workers and birth mom and dad.
Is school almost out in your area? Are your kids excited for summer or going to miss friends. I have a mix here, one is excited, and the other is sad.
Author and foster mother, Cynthia Miller Lovell, contacted me about the book she wrote back in 1999, for younger foster children.
The story is about a child's first night in a new foster home. The child is scared, but is then comforted by a star in the sky.
I found her book, The Star and its handbook for foster parents to be a wonderful resource for fostering families working with children under the age of 8.
What other books have you found helpful in your foster homes?
(Cover art used with Cynthia Miller Lovell's permission.)
Many foster parents are surprised by the amount of paperwork foster parents are asked to maintain. We keep a child's medical forms, write daily or monthly logs depending on the agency's needs and specifications, and log mileage and medication We also are asked to write court reports.
This written documentation is so important yet, I feel that it is often overlooked in the training of foster parents. Since I'm so passionate about this topic I decided to create a e-course for foster parents to help improve the skill of documentation. Note: I feel that it's important for adoptive parents to continue with documentation even after the finalization of an adoption. I explain why in the e-course.
Do you document daily, weekly, monthly, or not at all in your foster or adoptive home? If you do, please share how it has helped your child or family?
Photo courtesy of Chris Chmielewski
It's been three years since I learned about the launch of a new magazine for foster parents and others who work within the foster care system. That magazine, Foster Focus, launched May 2, 2011, in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month, has covered amazing stories and participated in many events under the leadership of its owner and creator, Chris Chmielewski. Chris Chmielewski is a former foster kid who aged out of the system to become a success story. He is very passionate about the needs of foster children and the need to improve the foster care system that cares for children. I'm very proud and honored to call him a strong ally and colleague in this important work. Congrats Chris - keep going strong!
"Success for me has been measured in how seriously I have been taken by the hierarchy of the system. People really seem to enjoy the fact that the mag is run by a former foster kid, especially the CEO's. I think it makes them feel like they had a hand in the success story. Also getting to meet Jimmy Graham from the Saints is pretty cool too."
Photo courtesy of Chris Chmielewski
Suggested Reading/New Articles and Features:
It's not easy being the adoptive parents during an adoption reunion. I think it's especially true when it's a foster care adoption and you as the foster adoptive parent know about the abuse and neglect that occurred in the birth home.
I'm thinking about adoption reunions again as I've recently learned that one of my sons wants to see his birth grandfather who is dying. I understand this need to see his grandpa before he dies, but I also feel a bit nervous as I know the drama and games other members of his birth family like to play.
So, I'll ask the question again - where is our [adoptive parents] place in an adoption reunion?
Should adoptive parents have any part in an adoption reunion?
Some say that the adoptive family's expectations don't matter when it comes to birth parent reunions. I believe that it all rests on the adoptee and what he/she wishes to happen. Now that my sons are grown men - I don't feel that I have a place in their reunions. They share with me what's going on in their birth family's lives, but that's about it, and I'm okay with that.
What do you think? Click "comments" below and share your thoughts on this blog.
I noticed on a past blog comment a reader asked the following:
"My husband and I have been foster parents for one and half year. We are waiting for a fost to adopt, but the four kids we fostered have all returned to birth parents. We are with a foster family agency, but I wonder how long are we going to have to wait. We are not picky as we do want an older child boy or girl age 8-11 years old. I have heard there is a big need for adoptive parents for an older child. This does not seem to be the case with us. I wonder if we should change our agency since our agency is only foster and don't specialize with adoptions. Does that make a difference. Please we need some suggestions from people."
I felt the same way when we first became foster parents, heard there was a huge need, but then stood empty for a year. If hadn't been working in a children's home and saw the need first hand, we would have probably quit. Yes. There is a need, so don't quit yet. Fostering to adopt is often a long wait. It's also a difficult journey for those who take on the challenge as it requires that the foster parent be pro-family reunification, but then also choose to adopt the child if the family does not complete the reunification plan. Sounds like this particular foster family has done an awesome job maintaining boundaries and helping a family reunite.
I think it does make a difference if you're not with an foster agency that specializes in adoptions. What we have done in the past is work with our foster care agency for foster placements, but then we also submitted our adoption home study with another agency that specializes in adoptions and foster care.
It's a difficult question to answer when each State handles adoptions and foster care differently, but it may be worth asking your social worker for an opinion on the matter. It doesn't hurt for more than one agency to be looking for a child that fits in with your family.
What advice would you offer this reader? Should she switch foster care agencies? Ask more questions? Or give it more time?
Preparing to be a foster parent means more than having the right gear.
Photo © Carrie Craft, licensed to About.com, Inc.
May is almost here, which means National Foster Care Awareness Month is almost here. The purpose of the month long celebration is to the public to be aware of the need for more foster parents.
It is not uncommon for families, during the required training for foster parents, to decide that it's not the right time to foster, or adopt. Other people just want to know how they can better prepare to be foster parents at a later date.
No matter the motivation for joining a foster parent training class, most prospective foster parents can't help but think of all the stuff they will need as foster parents - stuff like beds, bedding, strollers, toys, and clothes. The list goes on. But, there is so much more involved to being prepared to foster than just the gear.
If you think foster parenting sounds like something you'd like to do, but want to know how to get ready for such a journey, then check out this article that was prompted by an email from a 19-year-old who is definitely planning for her future. A future that she hoped included foster children.