Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Could Not Be a Foster Parent Without, 2

Since I wrote part 1, I thought of a few more to add, so here is part two of, "I couldn't be a foster parent, or at least not a very good one, without..."

Support from other foster parents
  • Blogging: On the hard days, on the joyous days and every day in-between there is a great support to be found by the readers of this here blog and therapy in the writing itself.
  • In-person support groups: I attend two different groups that are hosted locally for foster parents, sometimes they aren't super applicable, but it's great to form relationships with other people who are going through the same thing. Most agencies and counties offer some kid of foster parent support group, check with your social worker or local foster parent association.
  • Online support groups: There are some amazing ones, but since the whole point is to be anonymous, I won't say which ones I am a part of specifically, but they are great.

Books for kids
  • Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care is my absolute favorite and have read it with every one of my kids who were old enough to read from Bug (4 yrs) to Star (13 yrs). With every reading, I can see the kids visibly relax. It names all the mysterious people and events of the process and gives them a way to process it. In fact, Bug and Buddy requested we read it about once a month and every-time we had court (when things felt unsure again). It opens the door to talk about pretty serious things easily (like moving from foster care to adoption, or why the judge gets to make the decisions not you, etc).
  • Once kids are in my home, I like to get child-specific books, for what they are working through at that time. My favorite source is FreeSpirit Publishing, and man o man, I could spend all my money here.
Books for me
  • The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family, is still my favorite. I want everyone who works with foster or adoptive kids to read this book, every single one. In fact, I have read it in the middle of some pretty major behaviors with my kids, trying to gain perspective.
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook another one that should be mandated reading to understand a little of where our kids have come from and how we might help.
  • Lots of other books too, but they tend to be on what my current kid is dealing with (alcohol and drug exposure, add, ADHD, trauma, sexual or physical abuse, etc). Its impossible to study up on everything beforehand, but studying as they come has sure helped me and the kids.
Tracking system
  • Foster parent journal: I have to admit, I am bad at this one, but it is a good, good idea to track the highs and the lows with your kids. You can buy on here, or create your own document that helps to remember to document life as it unfolds with your foster kids 
  • Baby Connect: for the crazy tracking on the little ones, baby connect rocks my world. It is a phone app where you can enter wake/sleep times, when they eat, how much, diapers, mood, doctors visits, etc. Love, love it. Use it 500 times a day with Sweetie and Lil Bit.
And lastly, an insanely childproofed home, because who wants to be saying no all day?  I don't.  And so I have things out and accessible to my kiddos that they can actually play with.  All electronics are off the floor and out of reach of the little's.   And anything that I'd be heartbroken if ruined, is in my bedroom where kids don't spend time and that can be locked if older kids have issues with stealing (which mine haven't).

More things I Could Not Be a Foster Parent Without, 1.

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