When you first welcome your foster child into your home, you want them to feel as if they have always lived there and that it is as much their home as it is yours. It can be difficult to transition into his or her new life and the more that you can be accommodating the better.
The best thing that you can do is to create an environment that is welcoming. You can do that by being friendly but also by giving your child the chance to take in his or her new surroundings. Don’t worry if he/she does not call you “mom” or “dad” right away. It could take some time before they are comfortable enough to do that. You can offer a few different options on how they can address you and leave it at that for now. Let the other members of your household introduce themselves and stick to first names. When your foster child settles in, they will most likely begin to address their new family members as “sister” or “brother.”
Be sure to show your child where they will be staying, including their new room. Make sure that you show them where the bathroom is and where to fix a snack or anything else that they may need to know. It’s a great idea to create a “welcome” book that could include things such as photographs of the family and even information about your family. Put the name of your child on the front of the nook to make them feel even more special.
Your foster child will notice all of the things that you do to make them feel welcome and at home. Even if they seem quiet or distant at first, be patient, and they will gradually warm up to you. It is a really big transition, and it will take some time to adjust.
You should also put together a basket of things such as clothing, books, small toys and even an empty photograph book that can be filled with new memories. This will give them a few things that they can all their own. Offer some comfort foods such as warm cookies or a pizza. Food can calm down an anxious child. It is important for families to eat a meal together so make sure you have a special dinner together on your first night.
It is also a good idea to go over the house rules and any expectations that you have. This is a good time to go over any rules or expectations that the child has as well. Be sure to include the child’s input in any plans and family activities. This will make your foster child feel as if they have a say in how things are done and will make him/her feel empowered and valued. Give your child plenty of love and let them how every day that you are there for them. Be patient and watch them grow and flourish with your love.