There are many preparations you can make in regard to your own home and your own relationship with your new foster child to make them as comfortable as possible – but what about when other family and friends come into the picture? Especially if you have a huge group of loved ones, the idea of telling them about your new family member can be overwhelming – and even worrying for the child themselves.
So, how do you best tackle that?
- Go at Your Child’s Own Pace
You may be really excited to introduce your foster child to your loved ones, but it’s about the child and not you. How fast you introduce your foster child to those you know will depend on their own view on the matter. They may still be feeling overwhelmed by the foster process itself, so they may not want to suddenly meet a whole host of new people on top of that.
The most vital tip here is to speak with your child openly about it. Ask them if they feel ready to meet family and friends – and if they’re not, don’t force them.
- Use Their Name
There’s almost nothing more alienating for a foster child than being introduced as ‘the child you’re fostering’. Especially if you already have existing children, introducing your family as ‘my children and the child I’m fostering’ can make it an awkward situation. It’s much better to use everybody’s names during introductions – you’re under no obligation to explain who they are in relation to you or the fact that they are fostered.
- Avoid Any Surprise Visits
Taking your child’s viewpoint in mind, if they have openly said that they are not ready to be introduced, you then want to avoid any surprise home visits by friends and family. If they turn up unannounced and catch your child by surprise, you will have no choice but to explain who they are, and you will have forced their hand. This won’t be a pleasant experience for them.
- Ask the Foster Agency for Advice
If you’re feeling unsure, the official agency you’ve been working with – such as Orange Grove Liverpool and those covering other areas – can help with professional guidance and support on handling such a situation tactfully. They will know the child, so they should be able to offer tailored advice on how to manage the situation and how you can do so compassionately.
- Don’t Push the Matter
If your child says that they’re not ready to be introduced, don’t try to convince them or constantly nag them about it. You shouldn’t try to force them into the situation after they have said they are not ready.
- Avoid A Big Event
You might want to invite all your friends and family round to gather in one room and introduce your foster child as the guest of honor – this would save you time telling everyone individually, after all. However, this can unfairly put your foster child in the spotlight in a room full of new people, which can be very daunting for them
Bonus Tip: Inform Friends and Family Ahead of Time About Your Fostering Plans
Undoubtedly, you will naturally tell friends and family you’ve signed up for the fostering process, but being as transparent about it as possible will make it easier for introductions. You don’t want your family and friends to be blindsided if they spot you out in public with a new child, as this can lead to more demanding questions. If they already know you’re fostering, they can prepare for a more tactful introduction ahead of time.
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