Fostering in London, and foster care, in general, can seem like a roller coaster, but that does not mean your new foster child will be riding with you. There are many twists and turns that should be expected throughout it all.
With most birth children, such an event would have been planned for weeks, if not months, so that the transition would run smoothly. Foster care is a life-changing experience and your ride may take you through some unexpected routes, but with planning and some flexibility, the first week is likely to go much more smoothly.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Foster Child
When fostering in London, the very first week that you have your foster child in your home is a time of adjustment for both. It’s also a time of great emotional vulnerability, because you’re on the same learning curve as your new family member. The following is what to expect after you bring a foster child into your home.
The First Night
The first night is always going to be the hardest. It’s extremely rare that a foster child will come directly from a London foster care agency into your home and sleep well. In fact, you may struggle to get them to sleep in their new environment at all. You have to bear in mind that some foster children have issues with fear, both because of previous trauma and the chance of being removed, as well as the new bedroom itself.
If this is something you experience, there are a few techniques you can use to help calm their nerves. For one, many foster parents have found it helpful to keep a nightlight handy. In addition, sound machines can be lifesavers when it comes to blocking out some strange new noises that come with new surroundings.
You can also try establishing a bedtime routine starting from the very first night. This is not always possible, but again, it can be a big help. If the foster child is young, try giving them a bath or shower to relax them, brush their teeth, and send them off to sweet dreams with a calming story.
If you think it’s right and the foster child is willing to open up, you can even try to leave some time for some deep conversation. More often than not, children need to process what is happening to them, as well as let out their emotions. They’re feeling scared, sad, confused, and bedtime tends to bring those emotions to the surface. A fun conversation that calms them down and fills them with feelings of positivity should make all the difference.
The very first week usually entails multiple contacts with social workers. If you go through London foster care agencies, then they will most likely have their own social worker that will pay you a visit. This is not something to fear, in fact, it’s great as it allows everybody to make sure they are on the same page.
School and Daycare
If your foster child is school-aged, then you’re going to need to address their school as soon as possible. Get in touch and change contact information, and let them know that you are now their guardian. In most cases, the school should already be aware of the placement from the London foster care agency. If so, great! It makes things a lot easier on both ends.
If you’re a foster parent to younger children, then you’re going to want to get daycare set up, again, as soon as possible. If they are already enrolled in a daycare centre, then we suggest you don’t change it. There is already enough change going on in their lives, and you don’t want to be the person to add to it.
Clothing & Basic Necessities
When it comes to clothing, it can get pretty interesting. Some children can come to you with just what they have on. Others, well, they may come with entire carloads full of belongings. More often than not, a foster child comes with a bag of hastily collected clothes. Sometimes, they can be in pretty bad shape, so be prepared to get out on a shopping trip within the first day or two.
Basic supplies include things like toothbrushes, and other toiletries like children’s toothpaste, combs, a hairbrush, and some children’s soap or body wash. If possible, maybe even ask them what their favourite food is, what they like to do, and run out and bring some ingredients and fun activities to make them feel at ease.
Your first week as a foster parent is sure to be a whirlwind of emotions. You’re definitely likely to see some interesting behaviours from your new foster child.
The first, and most common, is somewhat like a honeymoon period. During this time, your foster child is likely to behave well, and will be somewhat reserved. As time goes on and they begin to get comfortable, you’re going to see their true personality come out. With this, you may experience behaviour issues like tantrums, crying, fighting, depression, anxiety, and a wide range of other emotions.
The second kind of behaviour comes down to routine. A lot of the time, these children have never experienced a good sense of routine, boundaries, and other things that provide respect. These types of foster children can be tough to deal with at first, due to the fact they are very independent. However, this can be easily fixed by implementing the routine and boundaries they have been missing out on -it’s important that a foster child, or any child in general has this in order to feel safe.
Final Thoughts on Your First Week with a New Foster Child
Your very first week as a foster parent in London foster care is sure to be a rollercoaster of emotions for every single person involved. Fostering in London can get busy, it can get frustrating, but you need to make sure to work in space, and take as many little breaks as you both need in order to recharge.
You may even get to a place during the first week in which you think this is just way too hard, to the point that you start to wonder why you signed up for this in the first place. If this is how you’re feeling, don’t be afraid to give us a call and let us help you.
Apart from that, trust us, it’s worth it. Things will get easier, and you’re going to end up with such a beautiful relationship together. Just keep moving forward, and don’t forget to breathe.