Your birth children's experiences of fostering(7 Posts)
We have three children ages 6, 3 1/2 and 24 months. We only take very young children, under three years old. We also only take one at a time with up to only moderate special needs. If we were on our own, we would have very different criteria, but we were thinking about the current schedule and lifestyle of our family and the general needs and interests of our children. Consequently, we are only on our second placement. The first one was with us for 9 months, from the time he was 17 months old. Our current placement is 17 months old now and has been with us for about 2 months. Our children love both children who were/are placed with us and they still talk about D (1st little boy) and remember the funny and quirky things that he did. They did not want him to leave, but we were very clear from the beginning that his mother was very sick, but getting better. We were taking care of him for her so that she could get better and that we would NOT be adopting him. In that situation, the relationship was good enough that we had our kids call his mom Aunty, which helped her feel secure and they felt better about the little boy leaving to someone who was sort of close to them. We took a 6 month break to travel and regroup as a family without D and everyone was ready for another round. This time, I'm a bit more worried. This little girl is a perfect fit for our family and she has settled in extremely well. She and our youngest are 'best friends' who wake each other up in the morning and play together until they go to bed. (Yes, they argue, but usually they enjoy each other.) The older two are very tender toward her and she herself is joy personified. It's unbelievable how sunny and fun she is. The longer she's with us and the closer she feels to us, the more of this amazing personality comes out. Her parents have 10 more months (I'm in a state in the US that gives parents 12 months for under 3s, then they're put up for adoption) and they have not started their case plan and don't keep in touch with the caseworker. She might not go home, but there's still 10 months to work with. We're very careful to not let our kids know the danger she would be in if she does go home (any recovery would be short lived, I think. They're deep in denial about the depth of their substance abuse and how it severely limits their ability to be safe parents.)
My DD was 4.5 when we started fostering, she excepted it as part of life, now 3 years on she is a stronger little lady and for 'most' of the time enjoys the lo's staying with us. its not to say she does not get frustrated, annoyed and bicker with the others, she just stamps her feet and goes off to have 5 mins peace and quiet! Then back in to the thick of it!
We do try to find time just for her as this is important in our eyes.
We do have to fight her corner to SS, to get things changed, so things do not overtake her life, she makes massive changes to her routine, to accommode these children.
My ds is 10 and my dd is 6. We have been fostering for 3 years. Most of our placements have been teenage girls or young sibling groups. I find my kids prefer the older girls. We've been lucky in that they have got on really well with any of the children we have fostered. We are very open with our dcs about fostering and encourage them to talk to us if they have any questions or issues with it. If the sw contacts us about a potential placement we discuss it with our children first and make sure they are happy with it.
The only time we have had a problem is last year, we had a sibling group of 3 very young children and my dc were a bit overwhelmed with it. There was a lot of noise and general chaos for the few weeks they were here. My dcs had no time alone with me and dh and they struggled with that. It was a lesson for us and we have agreed to have a max of 2 children at a time now.
Our current placement is ending in August and we have decided to take a break for a couple of months as we have had placements constantly for the last 3 years and I think its important for my own dcs to have memories of holidays, days out etc that are just with us and dont involve any other children.
And you were right in what you said about your childrens needs not being considered by sws. They wont be. ALWAYS put your own children first. We ended the placement with the 3 children as we found our own dcs were just too upset by it. I want them to look back on fostering as having been something positive, not something they will grow up resenting.
I do know of foster families where their own children have been injured by foster children or had allegations made against them by foster children and in all cases the social workers have put the needs of the foster child first. But thats their job. You are the only person your own child will have fighting their corner so its important they know you will be there to do that.
Thank you for your replies. Would love to hear anymore experiences and thoughts?
Thanks, LSL x
Hi. I have a DD who is 12 and I have the same feeling as you. Everytime I ask my DD she just shrugs her shoulders!!!! I think her main worry is spending less time with myself.
When we started fostering our DS was 4 and DD was 16. That was 9 years ago.
DD was old enough that she wasn't bothered by the foster dc. She interacted if she wanted to and went out if it all got a bit much.
Our first placement was a 6 year old boy who was extremely disturbed. He had a FAS, aspergers and a severe attachment disorder. He was often violent towards everyone in the family. He made huge improvements during his 3 years with us but eventually we ended the placement. It was clear that living within a family wasn't the best environment for him. It was a heartbreaking and very difficult decision for us to make but we had to think of DS.
Foster DS moved to an independent carer and we are still in touch with him. Since then we have fostered around 40 other children. We now have two long term foster dc and have adopted another. All are younger than DS and the four of them are very close.
Experience taught us that boys older than DS were more likely to be violent towards him. In 9 years he has been physically assaulted three times, always by older boys.
To deal with that we will now only take boys who are at least two years younger than DS.
I often have a chat with DS about his feelings towards fostering. He says he is happy we do it. We wouldn't have had any more birth dc after him so (although not how we planned it) he now has three permanent siblings.
I think it's only experience that will help you decide what works for you. We used to foster from birth. However, taking babies and then seeing them go was devastating for the other children so I stopped taking under 5s. Our third foster child is now usually a teenage girl. I found I could work well with them and really enjoy dealing with the issues they have.
I think fostering is a very positive experience for birth DC. I would agree SS are not great at taking your own child's feelings into account. You need to talk to them yourself. Make sure they have quality time with you (hard to manage, we do it while foster dc are at contacts). As for risk management, you need house rules. All our dc have their own rooms and entry is by invitation only and doors must stay open at all times. Different dc need different rules.
Good luck with it
I have been lurking and reading for a while, and I just wanted to say hello and thank you to all. Reading your experiences and advice has been fantastic!
We are currently in the assessment process with LA and have 2 young daughters aged 7 and 8. We are planning to foster 0-5 years initially, whilst our children are still young.
I've read a few posts recently (I have been going back through old ones) about birth children being physically hurt or put at risk because their family is fostering. This is worrying me, and I wondered if any of you could share your childs experiences of fostering, both good and bad! I am getting the impression from our SW that my children's needs are not considered by the social workers placing the child, just the needs of the foster child. How do we manage and minimise the risks to our children?
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