Are you concerned about how your birth children might react when you welcome a foster child into your home? In this piece, we’ll look at the challenges facing birth children when a foster child enters their lives. We’ll also look at the benefits a relationship with a foster child can have on your birth children.
First, let’s look at the challenges facing birth children when a foster child comes into their life.
A new person in their environment
We’ve written before about how important it is to make your foster child feel at home – but what about your birth children? Their feelings about welcoming a new person into their home are valid and worthy of interrogation.
Prior to your foster child’s arrival, make sure to explain the new dynamic to your birth children. Let them know that you’re welcoming a person into your home and ask them how they feel about it. Helping them understand the importance of your undertaking will reduce the impact the change may have – if they understand the why, the how will be easier to accept.
A disruption in routine
Initially, things may be difficult. Your birth children are used to their routine and their home set-up. Introducing a new person into your established family dynamic can cause upset or hurt feelings.
As such, it’s a good idea to keep your routine as close to “normal” as possible. This helps your birth children feel anchored to their previous reality. It also allows your foster child to feel like they’re just fitting into the family routine – a great comfort to a foster child starting out, who may be feeling like an obstruction or a nuisance.
A reduction in attention
Your birth children may also feel that attention on them is reduced. This is completely natural and understandable – with any new arrival in a home, children can begin to feel ousted or ignored.
This can lead to challenging behaviour, which may make life uncomfortable for your foster child. This type of behaviour can be dealt with, or prevented, by ensuring you’ve prepared your birth children for the change in your lives.
One way to mitigate feelings of reduced attention is to enlist your birth children as helpers – let them know that you’ll need their help more than ever, now that there’s another person in the house. By couching the change as a positive challenge, you can help make your birth feel more involved than ever in family life.
Don’t worry – we’ve got training and support for that!
It is essential, then, to properly prepare your birth children for the arrival of your foster child. At Orchard Fostering, we offer birth children preparation training prior to commencing fostering, so that your family are ready to begin their fostering journey. This training helps your birth children understand the needs of your foster child and allows them to be involved in the process – reducing any feelings of being “left out.”
As well as training, the assessing social worker for your foster child meets with your birth children throughout their visits. This ensures that they have input into the process and are heard as part of the family.
Further supports include our birth children support groups and our Young Person Ambassador Board. In our support group, birth children come together for peer support and get help with any issues from our social care team. The YPAB is a mixture of birth children and foster children – they represent the voice of young people within Orchard Fostering and inform child-led policy and practice within Orchard Fostering.
As with all elements of fostering, the benefits outweigh the challenges when it comes to your birth children and foster care.
Teach your birth children to care for others
Exposure to foster care will give your birth children a deeper understanding of the importance of caring for others – an invaluable trait to instil in young people. It gives them a wider understanding of the world outside their home, allowing them to develop and mature into caring, charitable, and kind individuals.
Introducing your birth child to foster care can unlock the caregiver in them and lead them toward a lifetime of care and advocacy. Your birth child could become a foster carer themselves, or potentially go into social work. By bringing your birth child into the caring world, you are potentially furthering the cause for another generation.
Form a stronger bond through teamwork
As mentioned above, enlisting the help of your birth children and explaining the care situation to them helps them better acclimatise to the change brought about by welcoming a foster child into your home.
Involving your birth child in the process of foster care can help forge a stronger bond between you both, as you go on the foster care journey together. As you work together to support your foster child, you will likely find your relationship with your birth child deepening alongside your relationship with your foster child.
Perhaps most importantly of all, your birth children will get to develop a relationship with your foster child. Seeing your birth children interact with your foster child and watching their relationship grow and mature is immensely rewarding. As they get to know each other, you’ll be able to witness the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer and want to learn more about how it might impact and influence your birth children, contact us today.