Children in Foster Care, Family Support, Foster Parenting, Make a Difference MondaysAug. 7, 2017

Make a Difference Monday | 6 Ways to Structure Your Life So You Have Time to Help a Child Heal from Trauma

You want to bring a child who needs a home into your family, but you know that your pace of life is too crazy to invest much time into that child. Unless the placement of the child into your home is an emergency kinship situation, I strongly suggest that you evaluate your lifestyle and restructure where you can.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are six ideas:

Remember Your Role
When you decided to foster or adopt, you made a commitment to that child. Part of that commitment was to help your child heal from their past. Part of that past most likely includes uncertainty. Your foster or adopted child needs extra time and a slower pace to process their environments and to feel safe.

One way to fulfill that commitment is to be fully present. That is hard to do if you are constantly on the go, working long hours, spending time taking your other children to many activities, and constantly on your mobile device.

Prioritize
It really takes rearranging your priorities, not just you as the parent but, again, the children too. That is why it is important that your biological children are all in on fostering or adopting. It impacts the entire family.

Either you or your spouse might need to take extended leave or even take a job with less demands. Securing attachment with your foster or adopted child is so important. That first six to 18 months they are in your family, regardless of their age, are crucial to you attaching to them. They need you to spend as much time as you can with them.

Postpone Big Changes
That job change or a move to another house can wait. Yes, it might mean getting passed over for a promotion or remaining content with the house you live in now.

We moved into a new home about five years after our son was placed with us. Even after that length of time, the change unsettled our son for a while.

Maintain as much stability as you possibly can.

Learn to Say No
The fact that you foster or adopt a child tells me a lot about you. You don’t shy away from commitments. You take on challenges. You are moved by compassion. And you might even think that you can conquer the world.

But you can’t do everything. No one can. Learn to say no to that volunteer position at church or school. Say no to the “only one night a week” sports league. You might even need to say no to bringing another child into your family for a few months or longer.

Remember It’s a Season
Just like anything, it won’t always be this way, unless your child has high needs. But even if they do, either physically or mentally, you hopefully will reach a level of stability and predictability so that you can begin to add some things back into your lifestyle.

After about a year, I began playing in a sports league again. I fully expect that Danielle and I will begin going on more mission trips again.

So when you do slow things down, it probably will be for only a season.

Recruit a Team
I am not sure why foster and adoptive parents tend to try to do it all on their own, but we do.

When CPS placed our son with us, they told us that it was for only a few weeks. So when different friends offered to get certified for respite care, we told them that we didn’t need them to do that. To this day I am not sure why that was our reply. Even if he had only been with us for a few weeks, we planned on fostering other children.

Put a team around you that includes those who are certified for respite care, those who will bring meals (even at the last minute), others who will go shopping for you, and so on.

The main objective is to create or maintain a pace that allows you margin to handle unexpected or challenging times. You know that they happen. You can’t control what your child is going through or how they will handle it. You can control, however, if you have the time and energy to be fully present with your child to help them make sense of their life and to heal from their past.

[Excerpt from Foster and Adoptive Parenting: Authentic Stories that Will Inspire and Encourage Parenting with Connection]

Kenneth Camp

I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family. Read more from Kenneth at KennethACamp.com.

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