One thing I have learned over the years as a foster parent is that I must be flexible.
To be sure, I never know when a child will arrive or leave my home, as there is often very little notice in either regard. In the past few months, I have seen the number of children in my home go from six to nine and then down to seven.
As I write this, we currently have eleven children in our home; three biological, three adopted, and a sibling group of five children from foster care. Now, if you believe we are a group home, this is not correct. Emergencies crop up, and my wife and I simply have a difficult time saying no. Fortunately, the addition of several of these is for respite purposes.
As you can imagine with eleven children, it seems that all my wife and I do is clean, wash, and supervise.
The cooking is nonstop, the washing of dirty clothes is around the clock, and the supervision is often done with one eye towards one group of children, while the other eye is watching out for the others. Is it pandemonium in our house? Perhaps. Is it a house that is never fully clean?
Without a doubt.
Is it a house full of love?
At the moment, my wife and I seem to be burning both ends of a candle stick right now, and we are a little tired. Just a little, mind you.
Yet, as exhausting and as grueling as it can be with so many children in our home, and with so many emotional issues and challenges, one thing we have to be consistent in is with supervision.
Supervision of your foster child is a must at all times.
You will be held responsible for his whereabouts and safety, and may be held accountable if he should come to harm.
It is not only important that you know where your foster child is at all times, it is essential. If your foster child should wish to visit a friend’s house or another home, do a thorough check of who lives there, the environment he will be in, and the level of safety and supervision he will be under. Be sure to call the parents of the home he wishes to visit; not only to ensure that the environment is a safe one, but to express any concerns about your foster child you might have with them. If you feel that the friend’s home environment is not a safe one, do not be afraid to say no to the foster child.
After all, you will also need to be certain that all after school functions he participates in are closely supervised, as well, before giving him permission before he takes part.
The supervision of your foster child is also necessary in your own home, as well. Like many children, it might be unwise to allow him to play unattended at any one time. If he is in his room playing or even napping, make sure that his door is open, if just a little bit. From time to time, check in on him, and make certain that he is okay and not doing anything that you would disapprove of. If he is in the back yard, make sure that he will come to no harm out there by stray animals, sharp objects, unwelcome visitors, or by simply wandering off by himself.
Again, you will wish to periodically check in on him from time to time, while he is outside. If he is rather young, you will want an adult out there with him, at all times.
Whether he is inside your home or outside, make certain that there are not too many places where he might hide himself. Some children might escape into a world of imagination and fun by hiding, while others might hide in an attempt to escape the harsh realities they have faced, or do so out of anger and resentment towards an adult. Make sure you know the locations of all the places your foster child might hide, and try to eliminate as many of these as possible.
Sexually active children
You may foster a child that has been sexually active in the past, due either to his own choices, or one that has been sexually abused by others. Perhaps the child is currently sexually active, or is one who has been exposed to sexual behavior prior to his placement within your own home.
Whatever the scenario, you must take extra diligence in protecting yourself from false allegations and possible accusations from the child.
Whenever you are in the same room with a foster child who has sexually related problems, it is imperative that you have another adult in the room with you, at all times, or at the very least, nearby and within listening distance.
This will not only protect you as a foster parent, but it will protect your child from making any false accusations.
Disturbingly, those children who have been previously abused sexually are more likely to become a victim of sexual abuse again. If your foster child should make a new allegation that he was sexually abused, take these seriously, and report them to your caseworker immediately, and without hesitation. Even if he has a history of making false accusations, it is your duty and responsibility as a foster parent to protect him from harm. By reporting all accusations from him, you are also protecting yourself, as well.
As a parent, you have your own approach for disciplining your own biological children.
These methods may have to be different, though, for your foster child.
When disciplining your foster child, you may have to come up with different methods of discipline, in order to protect yourself.
Quite simply, you are never allowed to use any form of corporal punishment on a foster child.