Suddenly Mummy is a single adoptive mum, and also a foster carer. She’s put together these Handy Tips on Preparing to Meet Your Child as a two-part piece. This week you’ll see it’s about meeting the foster carer…
Part I – Meeting the Foster Carer
Although it can be daunting, meeting the foster carer is a vital step in preparing to meet your child or children, so it’s important to approach the meeting positively so that you can get the most out of it. Here are a few suggestions that might help to make the meeting a success:
1. Make sure you know where you’re going! It sounds like a simple thing, but the last thing you need on this important day is to be driving round in panic, lost and late!
2. Decide on a few questions in advance. The nature of these will depend on the age of the child or children you are adopting, and also their backgrounds and any issues you are already aware of. Think about practical things such as routine, feeding, naps, bedtimes, etc. and clothing/shoe size, favourite activities, toys, books and so on. Ask about washing powder/fabric softener so you can start making your house smell like the foster carer’s house. You will also want to ask questions about medical needs and/or educational/developmental/behavioural needs, depending on your child’s profile.
3. Allow the conversation to flow freely. It’s important to ask questions to get the specific information you need, but at the same time you are trying to build up a rounded picture of the child and their life with their carers, so don’t be concerned if conversation strays from your prepared questions as you might be able to learn unexpected and precious details this way.
4. Be aware that the foster carers may not be able to answer all of your questions. Sometimes foster carers simply don’t have the information you are looking for – they may not even have all the information that you have been given. Sometimes, things that are important to your lifestyle will not figure in the foster carer’s lifestyle, so they may not be able to answer questions about that. For instance, if you are very outdoorsy, you might want to know whether your child enjoys digging in the mud, but this might never have come up in the foster family.
5. Ask to see plenty of pictures that the carers have taken. Of course, you want to see pictures of your child, but also take special note of what is happening in the photographs. Try to see what your child is doing in the pictures (playing with trains, looking at books, playing with the water, etc.) and make a mental note of what you see – this will be useful when you are preparing your introductory materials.
6. Offer the foster carer your email address. I like to swap email addresses with adoptive parents so that I can email them about things I may have forgotten, and send new photos periodically to keep that contact going while we all wait for matching and introductions.
7. Relax! Although it can be downright scary meeting the foster carers, remember that they are not your competition. Foster carers work hard to prepare children for adoption and, although we do get attached, we know that there is great joy mixed with the sadness when we hand our charges over to their forever families. Of course, the foster carer’s ways of doing things might be different to what you have experienced and planned, but be assured that they will want the adoptive placement to be a success and will aim to work with you to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Part 2 looks at Preparing Introductory Materials, something that many adoptive parents approach with trepidation. Be sure to check back next week.
And, if you have any knowledge to share like this Handy Tips post, please do get in touch.