Meeting foster family soon - top tips, please

(76 Posts)

Yes, I know my experience will be different to yours but want to get some ideas, please. Meeting foster family soon - top tips, please.

We are preparing a massive list if questions (at least 30) which we will have ready but let them talk and just fill in answers as they tell us stuff then ask only those items not asked.

So far have got things like favourite food/colour/toy/song/TV programmes
Things they are scared of
Bedtime routine
Bath time routine
Going swimming - what they like and do not like
Walking together, staying close or running off
Bedroom/what they will bring
Shy with new people
Weight and Height
Etc

Top tips, pm me if you want to say something personal/private.

A MILLION thanks.
wink smile grin thanks

13 questions not 30!!

Would 30 be too many things to try and find out!?

Middlesexmummy Sun 09-Mar-14 12:50:14

Hi Italian , looks like you have quite a comprehensive list already .... I would really look into their routine s with lo. What do they do at bath /bed/feed time , is there a particular structure he follows or not . How do they calm him down if he wakes at night or cries when he s hurt etc. Also does he still nap if so how long . Does he still drink milk etc . I know u have mentioned this already but sometimes it's the routine things that make them feel secure . Hope this helps xx

TulipsfromAmsterdam Sun 09-Mar-14 13:09:06

You may need to ask how lo interacts with other children if you don't already know. As you have a bd it would be good to know about sharing etc.
Don't worry about the amount of questions as the foster carer's will know lo far better than any SW. We adopted our lo after being foster carer's and a lot of the paper work we got related to when he was a lot younger so you may find this. They really won't mind all the questions smile

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Sun 09-Mar-14 13:11:52

Ask them which washing powder they use? We did this and switched to using it to try to make things smell more familiar. I think with bedding this is particularly important.

TrinnyandSatsuma Sun 09-Mar-14 13:21:12

You must be really excited. Meeting FC is one step closer to meeting your little one.

Our first question was "tell us what he's like". What followed were a series of gorgeous anecdotes and stories that really brought to life the boy we had seen on paper. Their faces were full of joy when they talked about him, it was lovely. In the course of the meeting, many of the questions we had, like yours, were answered. We exchanged email addresses which was also useful so we could ask questions like "what washing powder do you use" etc.

KristinaM Sun 09-Mar-14 14:43:38

Washing powder ,fabric conditioner very important. For smell as well as allergies

What kind of bed is he in
You need to know lots more about food. Find out why he has every day. Lots of kids are very fussy ie it has to be tesco own brand cornflakes and not kelloggs, green milk and not blue, in the Thomas the tank engine plate with a dessert spoon etc

Write down everything, you won't remember. It will be invaluable latet when he's having a meltdown over tooth brushing and you discover he likes the toothpaste in the dispenser with the blue stipe and not the red.

If he has a favourite blanket or bed set , they might give you it. You might need to offer to replace it . Ditto special cup, mug, crockery etc

You want to keep things as similar as possible when he moves to yours. I know this is really REALLY hard. Because you have all your own plans and dreams for him, your vision of his lovely room with the things you have chosen .but it's much better for him to keep things the same and change them gradually as he is able.

Imagine you were abducted by aliens - would you like to eat alien breakfast of what you had this morning? Would you find it comforting to have a scarf that smelled of your DD or your own duvet cover that reminds you of your DH?

Excellent, really good, thank you.

KristinaM Sun 09-Mar-14 14:49:50

I know the food thing is really hard because many adopters think that what the child ate at the foster carers is less than ideal . Setting aside the reasons for this ( usually rather unfair ) judgement , I think you should try as much as you can to give him what he is used to and change it gradually to more of what you eat as a family .

If you can keep these things -daily routine, food, bed and bath times, tv programmes watched etc - as similar as possible it reduces the stress on your son and helps him put his emotional energy where it needs to be -grieving for his Foster family and bonding with you.

Italian everything I start to think about, you have already done a thread about! It's fab that things are happening at the same time grin

KristinaM Sun 09-Mar-14 15:11:02

I know that the rules and boundaries things are harder when you have an older child. So you get the " why doesn't Johnny have to eat his vegetables when I do ? " thing.

Fortunately your DD is old enough to understand.though of course she will get annoyed and be resentful, you can't stop that I'm afriad. It will be good having her being part of the introductions , most FCers are great with older siblings, they will have lots of toys for her to play with etc

I would strongly urge you to make every effort to get on with the foster carers where this is humanly possible. I know that some of them ( a few) are a nightmare, usually because don't support the adoption. But if they do, Please keep in touch with them.they hold a large part of your sons past. They may even have a lot of information about the birth family which may be invaluable to your son when he is older. But they might not be wiling to share that with you until they know and trust you.

I have seen many unfair and derogatory comments on these pages from APs who seem to look down their noses at the foster carers and wish to write them out of their child's life. The main person who is hurt by this attitude is your child.

So please keep the long term in view and be prepared to swallow your pride a bit about being lectured on childcare or bossed around for a couple of weeks.

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:39:59

found this list ages ago and saved it for future use. Not all qu's will be relevant.

ROUTINE
Can they dress / undress themselves?
What boundaries have been set – reward systems / time out / naughty step?
What is their daily routine? Can you write it out for us?

FOOD
Any feeding / swallowing issues?
Are they good or fussy eaters? – Does it take a long time for them to eat a meal?
Are they having jars, if so which ones do they like?
Are they weaned, if so, when?
Do they have any allergies - food?
Do they have formula (what make?) or cow's milk (full?)?
How much milk do they have?
How often do they eat and how much?
What are their food likes and dislikes?
What do they usually drink?
What food do they usually eat?
What type of food are they eating, lumps or not lumps, finger food etc

BATHTIME
Do they like being in the bath or is it a stressful time for them?
Do they like brushing their teeth? Do they need help with this?
Do they like having their hair brushed, washed, dried?
Hairbrush or comb?
How do you wash their hair and what with?
What shampoo and bubble bath do they have?
When and how often do they have a bath, morning or evening?

SLEEP
Do siblings sleep in the same room?
Do they use a dummy either just at night or during the day too?
Do they have any other comforters either just at night or during the day too?
Do they nap, if so when and where?
Do they need a nightlight on?
Do they share a room?
Do they sleep soundly or does the slightest thing wake them?
How are they sleeping?
How do you soothe them back to sleep during the night if they wake up?
How do you deal with nightmares / monsters under the bed?
Is their cot in a particular place (near or away from window)? Do you have anything in the cot, toys, mobile, etc?
Is there any music used to help them sleep?
What and how many blankets / sleeping bag, etc used in cot / bed?
What is their sleep routine (time, stories, bath etc?)
Will they sleep in the buggy or the car or do they have to go to bed to sleep?

Hels20 Sun 09-Mar-14 15:40:16

Italian - is this the meeting before you go to approval panel?

A couple of things from my recent experience - your first meeting will be with social workers there, so answers might not be wholly truthful (I am not disparaging our foster parents but I felt they stretched the truth somewhat and I wondered afterwards if it was because their SW was there. Also - children will behave differently - so whilst apparently our DS was not cuddly, he actually is v cuddly. Is this because of us or because foster family had a different idea to what is cuddly? So use subjective questions and answers cautiously. Things like - what time does he go to bed? What washing powder do you use? What toothpaste? Have you taken him on a train? Answers should be pretty straightforward. But questions like "does he like swimming?", even "does he like baths?" - there is room for interpretation and also when he moved he suddenly might change (eg our DS apparently loved swimming with foster family, but he hates going with me...)

Most importantly, foster family might not be people you would normally be friends with (or they might be!) but it is so important to get on with them - as I am sure you know. I think our initial meeting didn't go that well, and our first 2 introductions didn't go that well but by the third day of introductions something shifted and I think their conceptions of us and our conceptions of them changed. They did things differently (eg McDonalds for breakfast) but it didn't mean they were necessarily wrong!!

Good luck!!

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:40:30

TOILET TRAINING
Are they toilet trained?
Do they need help with toilet, and washing hands etc?
Do they suffer from nappy rash & what cream do they use?
How did toilet training go?
What are they like having their nappy changed? Are they reasonably happy or do they hate it?
What is their nappy size?
What make of nappies do they have?
What nappy changing / bottom creams do they have?

BEHAVIOUR
Can you identify what their particular cries mean? (need food, changing, etc.)
Do they have any (rational or irrational) fears, e.g. flies, spiders, loud noises, water, smells, places, acitivites, beards, people with glasses, anything unusual?
Do they have any tantrums and what triggers them? How long to they last?
Do they react to pain / distress of others / you when they are with you?
How can you tell when they are angry or scared?
How can you tell when they are hungry or tired?
How do they cope with pain, do they have an overly high or low pain threshold?
How do they show affection? Are they cuddly or do they push you away?
How easily are they calmed?
How would you describe their behaviour and personality? (Calm, placid, fussy etc)
If they have any contact with the birth family, how does it affect them?
Is there any thing that triggers a particular feeling, e.g. anger, happiness, fright, distress?
Is there anything that especially delights them, gets them excited?
What do they use to comfort themselves, e.g. blanket / dummy / rag / toy?
What do you do to comfort them, e.g. cuddle / stroke / hold them in a particular way?
What is their general outlook on life?
What is their 'quiet space' / sanctuary?
What do they understand about their safety, e.g. not playing with matches, knowing how to dial 999

PRODUCTS
What air freshener do you use?
What perfumes / after shave etc do the FC wear?
What soap powder / conditioner / tumble dryer additives do you use?
Which baby products / toiletries do you use?

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:41:03

MEDICAL
Access to medical records?
Are their inoculations up to date?
Are there any upcoming appointments?
Are they a sicky baby?
Are they having any specialised care / therapy etc?
Are they teething?
Do they go to the dentist regularly and do they like this?
Do they have any allergies to products, e.g. washing powder, plasters, etc.?
Do they have any special needs?
Do they have dry skin / baby eczema? What products do you use? Are these over-the-counter or prescription?
Do they like calpol or do they prefer nurofen?
Has there been any grief work done with them?
Have they been screened for hep b/c, HIV?
Have they had any childhood illnesses, e.g chicken pox, glue ear, stick eyes, etc?
How did you handle teething, is there anything they liked / disliked?
How much do they weigh?
If they take meds, how and when are they given?
What are their heights?
What do you do when they are feeling unwell?
What happens when they are teething, e.g. rash, fever, lots of drool?
What is planned over the continued review of any medical conditions?
What was their head circumference at birth and now? These give a good indication of likely future growth.
When are their next medical / dental / opticians appointments? Are they up to date?
When was their last dental appointment?

DEVELOPMENT
At what stage of development are their speech and language skills? Are there any issues being or to be addressed?
Do they have any particular talents and attributes?
How do they compare in development milestones to a typical child of their age?
How is their intelligence / understanding?
How mobile are they?
What has their physical development been like, e.g. centile charts?

EDUCATION
Can they speak / read / write / draw?
Can we see any of the things they bring home from school?
Do they have a best friend at school / nursery?
Do they have any friends away from nursery/school that they may miss?
Do they have any specific skills or attributes, e.g. fantastic dancer?
Do they like going to nursery or school?
What was their last report like?

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:41:34

SOCIAL
Are there any other children in the foster care placement (siblings or other children) and how do they get on with them?
Are they used to playing with / having other children around?
Do they enjoy the company of adults or children more?
Do they get upset or anxious by strangers? Do they have stranger fear?
Do they have difficulty with hugs, eye contact, close proximity?
Do they like their / others birthday and Christmas and parties?
Do they play well with friends – are they leaders or followers?
Do you take them to any / many toddler groups?
How are they with new people?
Which adults are they closest to?

ANIMALS
Are there any animals they are frightened of?
Are they used to any pets or animals?
Did the birth family have pets?
Do they like cats / dogs / birds / farm animals?
Do you have pets?
How do they behave around pets or other people's animals?

ACTIVITIES
Can and do they swim?
Do they like dancing and singing?
Do they like playing in the garden, even on dull days?
Do they like sports and outdoor activities?
Do they like travelling in the car – are they good passengers?
Do they like walking?
Do they ride a bike yet? Do they have bikes?
Do they suffer from travel sickness?
Do you use a sling / baby carrier?
Have they been long distances in a car?
Have you taken them abroad on holiday? If so, where? (Passport?)
Have you taken them on holiday in this country? If so, where?
Is there any particular equipment you take with you when going out with them?
Seating arrangements, e.g. at table, in cars, at restaurants
What are their favourite indoor / outdoor games?
What are their favourite places to go?
What are their favourite smells, e.g. seaside or flowers
What are their favourite songs?
What are their hobbies and interests?
What child seats are in the car?
What kind of pram / buggy / pushchair are they used to?
What sounds / noises do they like to hear?
Where do they most like to go? (farm, park, swimming etc)?
Which make of car seat do you use? Do they have any toys mirrors etc on it?

CLOTHING
Are there any clothes that they dislike wearing?
Are there any clothes they particularly like / favourites?
Do they have a good range of seasonal clothing to bring with them?
What are their clothing sizes?
What clothing do they have?
What is the size of their feet?
What is their shoe size?

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:42:05

TOYS / BOOKS, ETC
Do they have any favourite toys / books?
Do they have any music / TV / film favourites?
Is there a particular theme to the toys / books / TV they like the most?
What are their favourite toys?

POSSESSIONS
Is there anything that they really like that they wont be bringing with them?
What clothing / toys / bedding / books / CDs / DVDs / photos / documents / other possessions will they be bringing with them?
Who gave them which possessions, e.g. birth family, other FC, etc? Which are significant or most precious and why?

GENERAL
Are there any photos we could take with us?
Do they have any nicknames?
Double check anything you have been told by SW or medical advisors, the FC has the most thorough knowledge, and it has been known for SW to miss out important info.
How are their religous needs being met? Do the birth family want them to be practicing their faith?
What is their legal status? What court dates are there? What is the likely outcome?
Where are all their legal papers / health records / personal papers / school or nursery reports / old birthday cards / old photos etc?
Will you be able to provide us with photos during their stay at the FC placement?

HISTORY / FAMILY
Are there any mental health issues with birth family?
Are there any other siblings? What is their status? How are they doing?
Did siblings have similar ante-natal experiences?
Genetic illness in birth family?
How premature were they?
Was there any substance abuse / smoking by birth mum?
What is their ethnicity?
What was their birth weight, length and time?

FUTURE
Can we call you to ask more questions in the future?
Do they think that there will be a lot of problems when they move on?
Do they understand about adoption?
Do they understand about their past and future? If so, how much have they been told?
Do they understand what has happened to birth mother and father?
Do you want to keep in contact?
Is there anything that you would like to know about us / need from us?
What and who do you think they will miss when they move on?
When can we give them something of ours, item of clothing or a toy for them to get used to?

ADOPTION PLAN
What contact with family, including siblings will be expected?
What is the plan for reducing contact with birth family (if any is taking place?)
What is their adoption plan?
Who supports their plan, e.g. Legal Advocate (GAL) / courts / birth family
What assessments have been undertaken and when? Medical / Sibling / Attachment
What reports have been produced and when? Medical / School / Nursery / Foster Carer / Sibling Assessments
Attachment specialists report / psychiatrists report. Check to see if the child is assessed as having secure attachments with the foster carer

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:43:32

And no, I don't intend using time out/naughty step, but in terms of comprehensiveness (is that a word?) I think it's a good list to cover a lot of bases.

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 15:44:32

Ooh... And I'm not proposing you ask all that at first meeting blush

I'll shush now. grin

2old2beamum Sun 09-Mar-14 15:48:54

The only thing I would add is to give Foster Carers a blanket/snuggler/cuddly to put in bed with your LO before they come to you so to have a mixture of smells.
Good luck with probably the most exciting/nerve wracking time of your lives.smile

namechangesforthehardstuff Sun 09-Mar-14 18:52:30

Wow Mrs BW that is an AMAZING list smile

If I PM you will you e-mail it to me?

MyFeetAreCold Sun 09-Mar-14 19:37:34

We used that list - I think it's from the Adoption uk boards. A lot of it you should already know (from CPR etc) but we found it invaluable.

Be ready for a lot of the answers about soap powder etc to be 'whatever's on offer' which is what we got. (And it threw us because since we first heard of this at Prep we were all set to change!)

I would also say don't worry too much about the routine routines (ie the every day stuff) because you'll do all of them during intros. Might be worth talking more about the non-routine routine stuff (what do you do if they're upset/having tantrum etc) which you might not see during intros.

Also be ready for a lot of it to have changed since the CPR was written. For example, our CPR said DS was dreadful sleeper. At this meeting FC told us he was sleeping through -- because 4 or 5 months had passed.

MrsBW Sun 09-Mar-14 20:09:25

Can't claim any credit for that list...as MyFeet has pointed out, I came across it months ago on AUK and though I'd keep it for future ref.

Great advice re focusing on the 'non-routine' bits.

Namechange Sure, PM me and I'll forward it via email.

holycowwhatnow Sun 09-Mar-14 20:11:04

When we travelled to see dd for her first birthday, 3 months before coming home, we brought a quilt for her and asked if she could sleep with it. They allowed her have it on her bed and we then got to take it home with us. So it had the baby home smell on it for dd. I didn't wash it until it was a real health and safety issue.

Also, when you're sitting down with the FCs asking your questions, ask if they would be ok with you recording the conversation. We did this in the baby home and it meant that we could relax and not worry about recording the answers.

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