Family_silhouette_shadows_1The decision to foster adopt in Shasta County is a life-changing decision—both for the adoptive parents and the adoptive child. Getting through the adoption process can be challenging by itself, but then there are also ongoing adjustments that need to take place for a healthy and happy life together.

Grieving Losses

Foster children—especially older ones—may have developed attachments to birth parents, relatives, or previous caregivers. Because the foster care system keeps rehabilitation and reunification with birth families as the first plan of action, a foster child is only released for adoption after all attempts at reunification have been exhausted. This can be traumatic for the child.

The child’s initial euphoria over being adopted may be replaced with grief, confusion, or even anger over being separated from their birth families. After adoption, everything in your child’s life is different and final. Allow your child to grieve the losses. Grief is not a negative thing to be avoided—instead, it’s a process to be embraced and a sign that the child is capable of forming new strong attachments.

Adjusting to a New Family

Every family has certain habits, routines, foods, and expectations. Don’t expect the newest member of the family to know them automatically. If you’ve chosen to foster adopt a child from a different culture or ethnic group, allow time for them to adjust. Simple things, like cooking their favorite ethnic foods (or taking them to a restaurant with their ethnic foods) or adapting bedtime or mealtime routines that more closely resemble familiar routines, can make a world of difference to them.

Create familiar surroundings—perhaps with photos of their favorite people or with a memory book that connects the child with his or her history. Often, these types of things can help the child develop a greater sense of belonging.

Incorporating fun into your daily life is key for healthy attachments. All work and no play makes for a dull life! Establish good memories as soon as possible. This will create a healthier foundation for adjustment to happen.

Behavioral Issues

Many foster children have been neglected or abused, which means that they may act out their frustrations and pain. Additionally, an older child may have developed a number of bad habits. Because of his sensitive past, you will probably need to come up with creative and positive ways to reinforce good behavior. However, don’t expect your child to change every habit or behavior immediately. Choose one or two at a time to work on.

If you’ve made the choice to become a family for a child in need, there will be adjustments. However, you are not alone. If necessary, you can sign up for post-adoption support services, such as counseling, support groups, retreats, and more. There is a great need for foster adoption in Shasta County. Don’t let the challenges rob you of the opportunity to make a difference!

Author: Children First FFA

Published: April 20, 2016

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