If we take the situation of concurrent planning and the constant adjusting to visits to see birth parents and then back to the foster home then we are talking about big feelings and big losses for the child, that will need to be managed by the foster-adopt parent. This is not an easy task for either the child or the parent as the foster-adopt home is often a recent home for the child and not yet a secure place to be and the reminder of the loss of the birth parents and siblings can be immense after each visit. It is, emotionally, like going through the rapids on a raft that is breaking up.
How the child got there in the first place is not clear. Where they are going to end up is not clear. And worst of all the adults involved can not give answers that make sense to a child. So, what does make sense at these times? How can you help the child negotiate the rapids?
Here is a list of things that I have found may help, and I know that each child is unique in what works. What is important to know is that the child needs somewhere to land (physically and emotionally). He needs reassurance in the present moment, as the future is uncertain and you, the foster-adopt parent, can not guarantee. the outcome of placement yet, even though you may want to do so. Present time, feel good, familiar sensory input will be more helpful than talking through the confusion and big feelings at these times. This will give some of the sense of security and safety needed at these times to be with the big feelings and confusion. There will be time for making sense of the situation later.
- It is best if you, the foster-adopt parent can be a calm and neutral presence as much as you can be at these times.
- Empathic responses are more helpful than joining in a story line with the child.
- Give hugs and respectful reassuring touch
- Avoid power struggles
- Remember to not compete with birth parents
- Remember to not bad mouth or criticize the birth parents
- Express empathy and understanding for any big feelings the child expresses
- Stop any unsafe expression of big feelings
- Maintain a Structure and routine
- Stay open to listening to the child when driving places.
Draw with color on a big sheet of paper in large strokes and little strokes
Pound clay or bread dough
Make food together
Plan together to cook the child’s favorite nurturing meals/food after the
Physical exercise; rhythmical movement
Make time to relax or run off the excess emotional energy.
Stay strong in what you know about yourself; your parenting style and your own ability to manage and survive loss.