Updated: May 26
In 2021 I created an animation to help children understand What is Foster Care, by explaining what happens behind the scenes in a court of law, how social workers and judges make decisions to provide for the health, safety, and well being of the child while supporting their families with their case plan, and showing the process by which a child is placed into a foster home.
Here are Some Tips for Telling a Child Their Story:
Don’t try to fix the pain in foster care. It's painful and they need your attention, listening ear and empathy.
Get comfortable with initiating the conversation about foster care.
Don’t lie to a child about the past or a birth family member. Do not paint the parent in a negative light.
Share information in a developmentally age appropriate way. Omissions are okay until age 12, then by adolescence all information is best to be shared.
Allow anger to be expressed toward a birth family member without joining in.
Consider asking questions instead of telling. “Do you have questions? What do you remember? " "Do you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about your birth family?" "Do you wonder about them? Now that you are older, I bet you have questions. Would you like to talk about that?"
It is highly encouraged a parent tells the story with a foster care competent therapist for support to relay the information.
If the child refuses or resists the conversation, they are not ready, try again later.
ASK PERMISSION FIRST before relaying information, so they feel a sense of mastery and control!
If the child expresses worry over the birthmother, speculating that she is dead, reassure the child that the birthmother is probably healthy and safe.
It is also important to reassure the child that the birthmother will not attempt to reclaim the child if there is fear—a common fear of children who were abused.
Even if children are not verbally expressing their thoughts and feelings, they are actively thinking about their adoption/reason for placement. This is normal for all children.
Relay the information, ANSWERING THEIR QUESTIONS in doses at a time. Observe-Watch-Listen then respond with: “How do you feel about this? “What are your thoughts about this?”
Depending upon their circumstance which led to foster care, help them understand the why anyone can… have mental illness or abuse or abandon their child, without relating it to their story. So they understand context first.
Only give as much information as the child wants, answer only the question they have asked, no further details, this will come later and can be added to the question box.
Place emphasis on the circumstance which led to being removed from their family of origin. Take the blame off of themselves.
´My List of Favorite BOOKS for Explaining Trauma, Death, Abuse and Emotions at: https://www.amazon.com/shop/jeanette-icallyspeaking
Please watch my FULL playlist of videos by Age Group Telling Your Child Their Foster Care and/or Adoption Story