Getting into foster care or adopting a child is a stressful process. Mostly because there is. So. Much. Paperwork. So many guidelines, so much legal stuff to be taken care of, and the extremely frustrating establishment that is the foster care system. And so with all of this going on, the part where the child will finally arrive is the last thing on your mind. Which means you forget to do some of the more obvious things. So while you’re going through an overwhelming (yet totally worth it) experience, you might want to make sure you’ve done the following:
Take Parenting Classes
This is probably the more obvious one on the checklist, but when you’re bringing a child into your family, you will have to take a parenting class. It doesn’t matter how old the child you’re adopting or taking into foster care is, and it doesn’t matter if you already have children. You need a refresher course.
It will also help if you do a bit of volunteer work with foster families to see how they work. Many times the kids you will be taking care of won’t come from the most ideal of circumstance. Some may have been abused, some neglected. Some may have never celebrated their birthday, some may have never been to the zoo with their family. These are some stats from Lovin’ Adoptin.
So, you will need to take all the knowledge necessary from your volunteer work and classes to prepare yourself to be not just a material provider for them, but an emotional one, too.
Child-Proof Your Home
You might want to child proof your house depending on the age of your foster child. If they are still toddlers, you’ll need corner protectors, door stoppers, and safety gates. You might also want to keep things like medicines and cleaning fluids in higher cabinets.
However, if your foster child is older, you need to proof your house in other ways. You will need to put parental control on television and your internet connection. And then of course, you’ll have to make sure that they’re laptops, smartphones, tablets (or whatever device you plan to give them) has suitable safety precautions, too. Take a few tips from this infographic by Kaspersky:
Check their Room for Essentials
Have you adequately stocked their room? Is the bed in place? Do you have the right books on the shelf? Do you have comforters and cushions? What about bathroom supplies? Did you get them their own toothbrush and slippers and robe?
Some of things on the list might sound silly to you now but trust me, you’re going to kick yourself later when you realize you’ve forgotten something like a nightlight or warm bedding. Some parents wait for the foster kid to arrive so that they buy things like storybooks or toys according to their personal preference. But you should keep the essentials at the ready nonetheless.
Have ‘The Talk’ with Family and Friends
Remember, you’re bringing a child into your family. All of it. This means your relatives and friends that come to visit often as well. And of course, they’re going to have a lot of questions about the new entrant. So, it might be wise if you talk to your family and friends about the foster child before they arrive into your home. Tell them about the birth family, and tell them a little bit about the kid. Most importantly, tell them not to ask questions about their birth families or their circumstances when they are around. It should help if you write an email to the people that visit your home or the relatives that you go to visit, too. Your foster child should be brought into an environment that is inviting and comforting.
Once you have these things off your checklist, you can breathe a little bit easier. But you have to keep in mind that while these things are a few things that will help you get things in order, these are just the tip of the iceberg. The actual responsibility of the upbringing is going to be far more challenging, but also far more worth it.