Waiting Children: Who They Are and How You Can Help

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Waiting Children: Who They Are and How You Can Help

Maybe you know there are 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. But did you know 115,000 of these children are considered “waiting children”?

Who are waiting children?

Most often you’ve heard “waiting children” called “foster children” because they are currently in foster care. However, waiting children are children who will not be returning to their biological families. In fact, waiting children wait in foster care until they are adopted or they age out of the foster care system.

When do foster children become waiting children?

Similar to other children in foster care, waiting children were placed in foster care due to abuse, neglect or death that left them unable to reside with their biological family. But after a series of court hearings and attempts towards stability, the biological family’s parental rights were taken away so the child does not reunify with their biological family.

Who can adopt waiting children?

Most adults (single or married) who are at least 21 years-old can adopt waiting children. The list of requirements vary by state but you don’t need a large amount of cash or a big house, just a caring heart and stable home.

Want to learn more?

  • Read profiles of children who are waiting for someone to step up and adopt them.
  • Ask someone you know about their family’s foster care adoption story. If you don’t know anyone personally, ask around and look on social media. Learning from another’s lived experience provides insights you might not learn anywhere else. 
  • Read and listen to stories of other families who have adopted through foster care to gain inspiration.

Author's Bio

Marcy Bursac is an adoptive mom of a biological sibling pair and is passionate about finding and coaching forever families for the remaining 115,000 U.S. children who are waiting to be adopted through foster care. To learn more about Marcy, you can follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

How to Prepare Your Home for the Arrival of a New Foster Child

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

How to Prepare Your Home for the Arrival of a New Foster Child

Getting the news that a new foster child is going to enter your home is always exciting. It gives you an incredible opportunity to have a powerful impact on that child’s life. That starts by making them feel as “at home” as possible. 

If you’ve never had a foster child in your home before, the task of preparing your home can feel a little daunting at first. But, don’t let it worry you. By focusing on making your space inviting, safe, and fun, you can create the ideal environment for the child (no matter their age), and help them to feel welcome right away. 

As a foster parent, it’s okay to need a little help and advice sometimes. The more you’re willing to learn about what you can do, the better. With that in mind, let’s cover a few simple ways you can prepare your home for the arrival of a new foster child.

Keep Things Clean and Organized

When a foster child first walks into your home, your goal should be to make them as comfortable as possible. That’s easier when your home is decluttered and organized. A messy house could make them feel stressed and as though they’re walking into a situation where they aren’t welcome. 

Keep in mind, however, that a clean house doesn’t mean there should be a “no touching” policy in place. Don’t make things so stark and perfect that the child feels like they can’t interact with things or move about freely. You should let them know where things are, so they have easy access to items they can play with. Setting up organized play areas can also make a big difference in how comfortable they feel. Consider transforming your basement into a playroom by: 

  • Putting away any potentially dangerous items
  • Securing furnishings
  • Adding cushions to the floor
  • Decluttering items to create a more open space

Most importantly, make sure the child’s bedroom is a clean, organized, and welcoming space for them. When they see that it’s decluttered, they’ll feel like it’s a place of their own, rather than a room they’re “invading” with a lot of stuff in it. It’s so important for foster children to have their own little safe haven within a home, giving them time to get used to things. A clean room makes that easier.

Make Safety a Priority

Preparing your home for a new foster child doesn’t just mean changing the layout or cleaning things up. It means adjusting things to fit the needs of that child. If they’re younger, for example, that might mean locking up any medications, cleaning supplies, or other potentially harmful substances they could get into. 

It also means learning about them and any extra steps you might need to take to keep them safe and comfortable. For example, if they have food allergies, make sure you know about them ahead of time. Having a basket or bowl of “safe snacks’ in the kitchen will let them know they can grab something freely whenever they’re hungry without worrying about it. You can also adjust the meals you make accordingly. 

Improving the safety of other areas of your life can also make a difference. For example, if you’ll be driving the child to school and extracurricular activities, make sure your car is well-maintained and has a few essentials in it, in case of emergency. Some of the most practical safety supplies include: 

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • First aid kit
  • A blanket
  • Water
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Winter gear

Having a doctor or nurse practitioner at the ready should also be a priority. Many foster children don’t have regular doctors they visit. Being able to take them to a family nurse practitioner if they get sick can ensure they’ll stay healthy and safe under your watch.

Be Yourself

At the end of the day, don’t stress too much about over-preparing for a new foster child. If you truly want them to feel at home in your care, be yourself and make sure they know that when they’re with you, they’re part of the family. 

By making a few adjustments in your home, whether it’s adding more safety measures or setting up special play areas, you’ll create a welcoming environment for a child who truly needs it. That will go a long way in helping them feel like they belong – and that’s what really matters.


Author's Bio

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

Helping Older Foster Children Gain Job Skills

Helping Older Foster Children Gain Job Skills

Parenting older children is difficult. During adolescence, teenagers’ brains struggle to self-regulate as they experience greater highs and deeper lows. At the same time, your child faces more environmental stress as they make major life decisions while moving through periods of great physical change.

Helping your teenager regain a sense of control during this stressful period is important. One way to help them navigate this combination of hormonal fluctuation and environmental stress is to plan for the future by developing job skills. 

However, talking about jobs with your child can be frustrating. As parents, the best way to move through this frustration is to be positive and proactive. Research shows that positive interactions between parents and children will improve your child’s overall competence and lead to better outcomes for you both. As such, it is vital that you listen to your older child, and try to offer gentle guidance. 

Here are a few positive ways you can help your child gain essential job skills without stressing them out.

Build a Great Resume

Before your child can start applying for jobs, they need to create a great resume. However, the first resume is always the most difficult. Your child likely has little or no work experience and will find the idea of selling themselves awkward. That’s where gentle parenting and resume writing experts come in. 

First, remember that employers don’t expect young applicants to have much work experience. Instead, focus on points that help your child stand out from other children. For example, have they given presentations at school? Did they feature on a sports team of any kind? Have they played an instrument in front of an audience? If they do have any unique experiences, be sure to use a template that foregrounds them. 

Resumes are typically one or two pages in length. However, filling two whole pages may be a struggle for some older children. If your child’s resume looks a little empty, select a new template that will fit their experience. If you get stuck, consider adding sections like “skills”, “interests”, or “hobbies”.

Autonomy and Choice

You must give your child the autonomy they need. As adults with professional careers, it can be tempting to take over. Instead, allow your child to drive the decision-making process, and try to give helpful feedback without being overbearing. Of course, that’s easier said than done. So, if you know that you’re likely to take over, consider the following tips: 

Present Your Child With Options

By presenting your child with options, you can gently introduce career paths that you think might suit them. For example, if your child gets on well with their peers, they might enjoy a career in HR, where they could become a Human Resources Specialist. If they prefer to work alone, then a career in software engineering might be perfect for them. By presenting your child with these options—rather than prescribing career paths to them—they’ll discover a career path that suits them best and will be motivated to succeed. 

Think Traits, Not Careers

Job markets are always changing. Industries with great job prospects today may be over-saturated in 10 years. Additionally, only 27% of all college graduates go on to have careers related to their major. This ever-changing job landscape means that it is best to think in terms of traits instead of potential careers. For example, if your child struggles to voice their opinion, you can guide them towards public speaking programs or drama clubs. If your child is commanding and overwhelming with their peers, then perhaps a sport that requires teamwork will help them value others. No one knows which skills will be in demand in the future, but helping your child become well-rounded will always serve them well.

Helping Your Child Grow

By giving your child gentle guidance, you can help them regain a sense of control that sets them up for future success. You might also find that they can handle more responsibility, as many older children crave the ability to determine their own path in life. Regardless of your child’s future career, taking positive steps now will relax your child and give them an authentic sense of autonomy.


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

How to Model Emotional Intelligence for Children

How to Model Emotional Intelligence for Children

Every parent or caregiver wants their child to grow up healthy, happy, and successful. And in trying to bring that all-important goal to fruition, we tend to focus heavily on education, equipping kids with the knowledge and skills they need to build a secure, stable, and prosperous life. But raising healthy and successful children is about far more than cultivating their intelligence quotient (IQ). It’s also about nurturing their emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). And that comes both from what you teach your children and what you model for them.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Children aren’t born with a natural ability to understand their emotions, let alone the knowledge to process and express them. In fact, emotional intelligence refers to a set of specialized skills that many of us enter adulthood never having completely mastered. Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, emotional regulation, self-expression, active listening, empathy, and problem-solving. 

Each of these skills, fundamentally, links to the individual’s ability to nurture both their own well-being and the well-being of others. Helping children to cultivate these skills early facilitates habits that serve young ones well across all domains of life, from their relationships with peers to their experiences at school and the way they function at home.

But it’s not only in childhood that emotional intelligence matters. It’s also a critical component of adult success. In higher education and the workplace alike, emotional intelligence helps people balance the myriad challenges of “adulting,” from negotiating the obligations of home, work, and family to navigating the inevitable hopes, fears, and frustrations of adult life. Adults with high EQ, in other words, are more likely to succeed across multiple aspects of life, from pursuing advanced educations to building rewarding careers to sustaining happy families.

Teaching and Modelling Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger it gets. But it takes time. And one of the first and most important things to remember as you seek to support your child’s EQ development is that what you do matters even more than what you say. You are your child’s most influential role model, and they’re always paying attention, whether they show it or not.

A good place to begin cultivating children’s emotional intelligence is in high-pressure situations, where EQ skills can be used to facilitate coping. For example, as the holiday season approaches, adults and children alike are faced with the particular challenges of the season, such as disrupted daily routines, chaotic schedules, and the simple overstimulation of so many people, so much noise, and such unrelenting activity.

Taking the time before the holidays arrive to develop a self-care plan with your child is an ideal way to cultivate their EQ. For example, you can work with them to develop a strategy for managing the season’s festivities without becoming overwhelmed. Talk with your child to help them plan for rest breaks. Help them identify times and situations in which they are more likely to feel anxious or upset, and come up with a solution for dealing with those moments. You and your child, for example, might select a quiet room where they can go when they need a break, a calming piece of music that they might listen to, or even a discrete signal that the two of you can privately share to let you know when your child needs some support. In this way, you are helping your child learn to identify, label, and manage their emotions, which is a cornerstone of EQ. 

Another important aspect of this is helping your child learn to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is particularly important in combatting anxiety and depression because it requires the person to ground themselves in the present, to focus on both the external environment and internal responses, from feelings to physiology. Through mindfulness, for example, children can learn to notice their breathing and heart rate and to use these to alert themselves to the fact that they may be getting anxious. Once they know how to spot the signs, you can give them tools to help them self-regulate, such as deep breathing exercises or playing with a worry ball or other stress-relieving toy.

Of course, EQ isn’t only concerned with self-care. A high EQ also prioritizes empathy and relationships. And this is, perhaps, where modeling plays an especially important role. Your child doesn’t just need you to teach them how to take care of themselves. They also need to see you taking care of yourself and others. This includes, for example, having open, honest, and age-appropriate conversations with your child about your feelings, including “negative” ones, such as fear or sadness. They should also be able to see you practicing self-care, such as using the “quiet room” yourself when you need it.

In addition, having frequent conversations with your child about other people’s emotions and experiences will help them to develop empathy. For example, allowing your child to see you engage in active listening and small acts of kindness toward others can be a powerful tool for modeling EQ. Likewise, even very young children can begin to learn to practice compassion and to build relationships through sharing and helping activities, from helping Mom feed the dog its breakfast to brushing baby sister’s hair at night.

The Takeaway

Emotional intelligence isn’t just some soft skill that’s nice to have but relatively inessential to life today. Rather, emotional intelligence is fundamental to the well-being of children and adults alike. And that means that teaching and modeling emotional intelligence is a vital responsibility of every parent and caregiver.


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Mental Health Struggles

How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Mental Health Struggles

There is nothing better you can do with your life than to open your home and your heart to a child in need. But doing so is both a profound gift and a profound responsibility. No matter what your child’s experience, whether it is the death of a biological parent or a court-mandated removal from the birth home, your foster child will inevitably have experienced trauma. 

And that means that there will be an adjustment period not only for the child but for the entire family, particularly if your foster child is one of the nearly 80% of children in the foster care system to experience significant mental health struggles.

A History of Trauma

In the majority of cases, children often enter the foster care system because they have experienced significant and prolonged abuse or neglect. They may have experienced parental addiction and housing insecurity. And they likely lack the familial and social connections they need to provide them with a sense of stability, security, and safety in their lives.

And that kind of history is a lot for little shoulders to bear. Children reared in such volatile environments are likely to experience significant anxiety and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may be restless, fearful, withdrawn, mistrustful, or hypervigilant.

On top of the burden of the past, children in foster care are likely coping with feelings of guilt and shame, especially as they begin to bond with their foster family and to enjoy the new and more stable life their foster home provides. They may blame themselves for “abandoning” or “betraying” their birth family by entering into this new life without them.

What to Expect and How to Cope

Separation Anxiety

The history of instability at home that foster children often carry can lead to significant separation anxiety, especially as their bond with their foster family grows. Your little one will need lots of patience and understanding to help them feel more secure. This is going to mean reassuring your child that you will be back for them and giving them a time frame for understanding when, exactly, you will return for them. 

Because young children don’t usually have a clear understanding of time, you can use daily benchmarks to help them know when to expect you (i.e. after snack or nap time or when Sesame Street comes on), You can also create quick little rituals that you and your child share before you leave and when you return to pick them up, such as a quick fist bump or a heart hand signal. 

It can also be helpful to give your child a transitional object to hold when they begin to feel anxious or to miss you, whether that be a stuffed animal, a book, or, for older children, a more discrete item such as a keychain.  The more predictability you can build into the routine, the more reassured your child will feel and the more readily the separation anxiety will dissipate.

Mood and Behavioral Disorders

In addition to a troubled personal history, your child may also experience a range of risk factors for the development of mood and behavioral disorders, from prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol to insufficient nutrition and pediatric care. Such personal and physiological factors can significantly increase children’s risk of major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and PTSD. In addition, these children may experience substantially more aggressive and disruptive behaviors.

If your child is experiencing a mood or behavioral disorder, the diagnosis can have a ripple effect across the entire family, leading to stress, conflict, and depression throughout the household. For this reason, it is important to pursue strategies not just to care for the child, but for the entire household.

For instance, creating safe spaces throughout the home for your child or other family members to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated can go far to defuse potentially volatile situations. Best of all, when your child sees you, and their siblings, taking a time out when needed to decompress and self-regulate, they’ll learn to emulate such behaviors themselves, both at home and in the bigger, louder world outside.

Another highly beneficial strategy is to bring a pet into the home. There’s already a mountain of evidence supporting the mental health benefits of a companion animal. Petting an animal has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and promote an overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. Plus, the love and care of a pet can be a wonderful way for the family to bond and for the child to build self-esteem and a sense of belonging and unconditional acceptance and love.

The Takeaway

There is perhaps no greater gift than to open your home to a foster child, but it is important to be prepared for the mental health challenges that may accompany this process. Learning to care not only for the mental wellbeing of the child but also of the entire family is the first step in building the beautiful future that your growing family deserves.


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

How to Help Your Foster Kids Pass Their Developmental Stages with Flying Colors

How to Help Your Foster Kids Pass Their Developmental Stages With Flying Colors

According to ego psychologist Erik Erikson, all people go through eight specific stages of development. These psychosocial development stages help to determine self-actualization later in life. 

As you might expect, healthily going through those stages is important for all children. For foster children, however, it becomes even more imperative. Foster kids have often gone through traumatic experiences or may not have experienced a real “home” until recently. 

How can you provide a support system for them in your home? How can you help them pass their developmental stages now, so they can be more stable and secure as they eventually transition into adulthood? 

Let’s take a look at Erikson’s stages and what you can do to help your foster kids through each one. 

Developing Stages Through Relationships

Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development are: 

  • Trust versus mistrust
  • Autonomy versus shame and doubt
  • Initiative versus guilt
  • Industry versus inferiority
  • Identity versus confusion
  • Intimacy versus isolation
  • Generativity versus stagnation
  • Integrity versus despair

If you take a look at that list, you’ll see that all of the “positive” sides have one thing in common – they can all be achieved by forming a healthy relationship with your foster kids. To encourage them, you have to build trust. From there, you can work with them through each additional stage. 

One way to earn that trust is to make sure they know they’re in a safe environment. They might have experienced trauma or even abuse in the past. When they know they’re safe and won’t be harmed, they’re more likely to open themselves up to learning and growing in different ways. Keeping them safe and comfortable every day is important, but it’s also crucial to have emergency preparedness plans in place for your whole family. If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters like storms or flooding, incorporating your foster kids into your safety plan will further assure them that they are loved and cared for. 

Familiarizing yourself with Erikson’s stages of development can help you better determine where your foster kid currently is and where they might need help. Trust versus mistrust often begins at infancy, but it can “start over” when they are somewhere new. If you have a preschool-aged child, you can focus on initiative versus guilt. Adolescents often need guidance through identity versus role confusion, and young adults can struggle with intimacy versus isolation if they aren’t taking the right approach. 

So, what can you do to help your foster kids through these developmental stages? A combination of research and experience is the best way to work through them. There are plenty of resources available that can help you to guide your foster children at any age. But, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember what it was like to be a child at that age and think about how you were feeling, where you were struggling, and what your own parents or guardians did to help you through. You have more existing knowledge than you might think. 

Helping With Roadblocks

There will be challenges along the way. That’s true with every child. But, for a foster kid who has already had a hard life, it’s normal to expect roadblocks. Learning how to navigate them and how to keep moving forward will be an important key in helping them pass their developmental stages. 

They might have emotional delays due to what they’ve been through. Trauma impacts everyone differently. In some cases, your foster kids might benefit from professional mental health help. 

Everyday “roadblocks” can also become a problem. You want your foster kids to feel comfortable in your home, but you shouldn’t let those creature comforts keep them from growing. For example, you might have a child who loves playing video games. But, too much gaming can cause problems like

  • Emotional suppression
  • Anxiety
  • Social disconnection
  • Relationship issues
  • Decreased motivation

Make sure the comfort and fun you’re giving your foster kids aren’t hindering them in other ways. It’s about striking a healthy balance and finding ways to make them feel safe, secure, and happy while encouraging them through each developmental stage. You have a unique opportunity as a foster parent to make a big impact, no matter how old your foster kids are. Take advantage of that as much as you can, and take pride in knowing you’re doing something beneficial for the future of those children. 


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Princess for a Day 2021

13th Annual Princess for a Day

It is important for children and youth to know how special they are, and AFFEC has put together many events to do just that, one of which has been put on for 12 years. Upcoming on August 15th is the 13th annual Princess for a Day event!

This royal event will be hosted at the Valley River Inn in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday August 15th, 2021. A Family for Every Child will be providing this event as an opportunity for children from foster care and the community to be treated royally and make special lasting memories. It will be held from 10am to 5pm, with delightful royal activities including meet and greets with princesses, a red carpet photoshoot and a royal tea party. Princesses will have the opportunity to get their hair and makeup done, and get dressed up in a gown with a tiara and accessories to enjoy and take home.

How to Be a Royal Volunteer

This event involves a lot of volunteers to orchestrate a wonderful experience for all of the princesses attending. There are many ways you can volunteer to help make this a great day!

Volunteers age 18 and older can volunteer at the event itself in many different areas:

  • Time Checker/Room Monitors
  • Tea Party Room
  • Photography/Social Media
  • Decorating, Set-up and Take-down
  • Face Paint, Hairstyling, nail painting
  • And more!

You can also help without even attending the event! Visit this link for more details on ways to help. You can also donate dresses and accessories (such as shoes, jewelry, and boas) or help purchase needed items on the online AMAZON wishlist.

If you’d like to personally sponsor a princess, you can learn how to do so on our website and check out this sponsorship packet

How to Register a Princess

Do you know some princesses who would like to attend this special event? You can register them through the online form. You can also visit the office to buy a ticket:

1675 West 11th Avenue

Eugene, Oregon 97402

General admission is $50, and foster children receive free admission. Princesses must be registered in advance for this event, so don’t delay! Last year hosted 350 princesses, and we are hoping to celebrate with just as many children this year! 

 

For more information about this event and how you can volunteer, visit the website.  You can also contact AFFEC by calling 541-343-3856 or e-mailing events@afamilyforeverychild.org.  

How to Identify Signs of Trauma in Children

 

Image Source: Unsplash

How to Identify Signs of Trauma in Children

It’s estimated that nearly 35 million children in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event in their lives. Children involved in adoption or the foster care system may make up a large percentage of that, as many of them come from traumatic circumstances. 

Some of those children might be struggling with symptoms of trauma without even realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to understand what those signs and symptoms are. The more you can recognize some of the physical and emotional “tells” of trauma, the sooner you can ensure a child receives the help and support they need. 

If you’re a parent or caretaker, you can be better equipped to take care of children, especially foster children, if you pay attention to the possible signs of trauma. With that in mind, let’s cover a few of the common signs and how you can help to ease trauma responses.

The Most Powerful Signs

Children respond to trauma differently. Some may even repress it and have to deal with it later in life, as an adult. But, there are often signs you can look for that can hint at traumatic experiences. Some of the most powerful and important signs of trauma in children are

  • Physical effects like rashes, insomnia, or severe pain
  • Reactions to triggers, including flashbacks and anxiety attacks
  • Disassociation
  • Attachment disorders or difficulty building new relationships

Stomach and digestive issues are also often associated with trauma. Conditions like GERD and other acid reflux problems can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety. If a child in your care seems to have a sensitive stomach or is constantly sick, it could be the result of an underlying, unresolved sense of fear from trauma. 

Again, some children might internalize the effects of their trauma. That makes it difficult to notice physical signs that they could be in distress. So, keep your eyes open for other issues that might arise. For example, trauma often impacts a child’s self-image. If your child starts to struggle with their esteem or develops body image issues, it’s important to get to the root cause as quickly as possible. 

What Should You Do?

It’s important not to jump to conclusions when it comes to identifying trauma signs. But, it’s just as crucial to be diligent if you’re concerned. One of the best things you can do is reach out to experts. Counselors, caseworkers, and even pediatric forensic nurses can all be wonderful resources in confirming trauma symptoms and giving you support as you ease the effects of trauma for that child. 

When it comes to easing trauma responses, the best place to start is creating a safe, nurturing environment for the child. If you’re a foster parent or new adoptive parent, keep in mind that your child might be coming from a situation that wasn’t safe or comfortable. They might feel as though they need to keep their guard up, so they might not open up right away.

Keep your home as quiet and as soothing as possible, and be consistent in the way you talk to your child. Earning their trust is a great way to eventually initiate conversations about what they might be dealing with. But, don’t force them to talk before they’re ready, or you might end up driving a bigger wedge. 

If you’re worried that your child might be struggling with the effects of trauma and the symptoms are severe, use your resources. Don’t wait to get your child the help they truly deserve. It might not be easy for anyone, at first. But, providing a comfortable environment and utilizing professional help are great ways to help your child ease their trauma experiences and start living a happier, less anxious life. 


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Stephanie and Chris’s Adoption Success Story

Stephanie and Chris's Adoption Success Story

Hi, we are Stephanie and Chris, from just right outside of Houston, Texas. My husband and I have been married for eighteen years and have adopted three amazing children and are awaiting the finalization of our last two. Chris is an accountant by day and a grilling expert by night, and I have been blessed with a flexible job that allows me to work from home and walk the kids to the bus stop and pick them up every afternoon after school.

Our two eldest boys were adopted as infants through private adoption, and we have been blessed to watch them grow into exceptional young men. Our first was a private international adoption when he was an infant, he is now sixteen and a joy to be around. Our first foster placement was about four years ago and lasted ten amazing months. While we were happy the child was able to be reunited with their family, our family came to realize the hardships of fostering. This experience taught our family about trauma and opened our eyes to the number of kids in the foster care system. Even at infantile ages, the hardships of being in the foster care system takes a toll. Although fostering had its difficulties, we are grateful we got to be foster parents to amazing children and were able to be in their lives, although it was only for a brief time.

 

Our 13-year-old daughter was placed with us when she was 10 and had experienced foster care for over 9 years . She has grown into such a wonderful young woman and has come a long way from when she first arrived. She enjoys spending time running with her dad and is constantly exploring new interests.

After going through our highs and lows of fostering, we enrolled in the Matching Assistance Program with A Family For Every Child. We eagerly filled out our family profile, submitted our home study, and by that night our adoption worker called with a match - a boy and girl. While we are still waiting for the adoption to be finalized, we have been fortunate to spend quality time with our newest additions, since they moved in with us in April of last year.

During this pandemic, our household has rarely had a quiet moment. We have had loads of outdoor time exploring different parks and hiking trails, riding scooters and bikes, and spending socially distanced time with family. We have also taken up YouTube dance and art parties for nights in. Chris and I thank God for these blessings, and for giving us the courage to work through the hardships. We are so grateful for the amazing family we have found through this journey!


You can read more success stories from AFFEC's Matching Assistance Program on our website here.

Interested in adoption? Visit this link to learn more!

How to Make Your House More Welcoming To Foster Kids

Image Source: Unsplash

How to Make Your House More Welcoming to Foster Kids

There are currently over 400,000 kids in foster care, all looking for loving homes. As a foster parent, you’re doing something wonderful to provide a stable and caring environment for those kids as they wait to get adopted. So, if you’re looking into the foster care process, take pride in knowing you’re providing something truly special to children who need it most. 

Unfortunately, many kids in the foster care system have come from unstable environments. Some of them may have experienced traumatic events and have issues with separation anxiety, anger, or depression. Others have been in the system for years without finding a forever family. 

Therefore, it’s incredibly important to go above and beyond for your foster kids when you bring them into your home. Little changes can make a big difference.

So, how can you make your house more welcoming to foster kids as you take on this new chapter?

Give Them Their Own Space

You will always want your foster children to feel like they’re a part of the family. That means including them in everything you do together. But, it’s also important that they have their own comfortable space – a place of their own. They might not be used to it, but it can provide an incredible sense of security. 

Set up a bedroom for your foster child that gives them enough privacy while still allowing you to check in on them. A comfortable bedroom that feels safe and secure can give your foster child a sense of peace. It can even allow them to sleep better at night if they typically struggle with the effects of trauma and have a hard time feeling comfortable. Poor sleep and depression can be cyclical, with one fueling the other. If your foster child is struggling within that cycle, better sleep habits can help. That starts with an environment that fosters peace, comfort, and safety. 

If you’re having a hard time putting together bedroom ideas, don’t be afraid to look online for inspiration. Keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Allow for flexibility
  • Combine function and fashion
  • Don’t get too specific with a topic
  • Ask your foster child about their favorite artists, movies, etc., and get posters framed

The design of the room you put together is less important than the room itself. As long as it’s comfortable and feels like a positive environment, the bedroom itself can help your foster child start to learn how the power of positivity can change their life. 

Share Your Personality

It’s important for your foster child or teen to feel connected to you. That doesn’t always happen right away. Some foster kids won’t even speak to their foster parents for weeks. When you let your personality shine, you’re automatically creating a more welcoming environment that doesn’t feel so stiff. 

One way that you can overcome this common feeling of distance is by sharing something personal about yourself. Are you a closet Star Wars collector? Show them your stash. Do you know how to play the guitar? Bust out a song for them. Show off your personality through interior design with a mismatched living room made of different colors and patterns. 

When you’re willing to open up and be vulnerable, they’re more likely to do the same. They might start to tell you more about their favorite things, their interests and hobbies, and even what they like to eat. Once you’ve broken the ice with them, you can incorporate their likes and wants with your everyday activities, like cooking together or getting them involved in family game night. 

 

Bringing a foster child into your home is an exciting experience, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By making a few changes around the house, you can create a wonderful safe haven for a foster child of any age. 


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn