Every Wednesday, FAFS posts “A Foster Parent Asks,” a feature on Facebook dedicated to asking the questions of prospective, current and former foster, adoptive and kinship parents.
A foster parent asks, “We’re thrilled to be adopting our ten-year-old foster daughter next month! When we first told her we were adopting her, she was so happy, but lately, she’s been acting strange. She’s throwing temper tantrums, screaming and crying, and she’s getting harder and harder to calm down. She has never acted out like this before, and she’s been with us for almost two years. When we try to talk to her about it, she says nothing is wrong, but something obviously is. We’re thinking that, now that it’s almost here, maybe she’s feeling guilty or sad about the adoption, but she won’t open up. Has this happened to anyone else who adopted and what did you do?”
Stephanie Flood: The state of NJ will pay for post adoption counseling. Refer yourself now so you can get on the list. I had to wait about a month. It’s great bc it’s in-home family therapy (at least ours is).
Linda Meyer Kalt: Sounds “normal.” She is going through a loss. Is she in any counseling? If not, you might want to see if you can find any in your area. Sometimes it is easier for them to open up to a stranger than to us.
Marcia Reid Smith: Perfectly normal. Happened with both my adoptions. It’s how they deal with the changes.
This week, our question comes from a kinship parent. A kinship parent asks, “I’m a grandma. I took in my three-year-old grandson when my daughter got into trouble. She’s had issues since she was young with drugs and with depression – she gets better for a while and then she relapses. I don’t want my grandson to go into foster care so I’m getting licensed to take care of him, but DCP&P says I can’t let my daughter visit him outside of scheduled times. She calls me all the time wanting to see him though! She even comes over asking for him, but they say I have to tell her no. It breaks my heart, because she’s my kid and I love her and I hate to see her so sad. I don’t want her to hate me, but I have to do what they say to keep my grandson safe with me. How do other grandmas in my position deal with this guilt?”
Lisa Karrer Thomas: Is it court ordered your daughter cannot see your grandchild? If so, you must follow that order, as the judge feels its best for the child. Sadly because you are mom, its harder for you because you love both of them but if you agreed to care for this child, you must follow the court order and put your mother feelings aside. Maybe the strictness of the situation will give your daughter the will to fight her addiction and become a healthier person.
MaryAnn McKinney: My husband and I have adopted 3 of our grandchildren through DCP&P. We supervised our daughter’s visits, but luckily we were not restricted to times. At one point, they encouraged daily visits. Only restriction was she could not spend the night. This is a very hard situation for you. I would keep reinforcing that you all need to follow their rules and if she complies with them, she can work towards more visitations. I feel for you.
Jessica Cancela: That is super difficult but just make sure you remind her that if it was your choice you would but you are doing these so you BOTH don’t lose her!
Andrea Zivari Giannoglou: Trust DCPP. They do know what’s best in this case. Do what is best for your grandson.
A foster parent asks, “I got my first placement – a 7 year old boy – 5 months ago. When he has visitation with his bio mom, he’s always glad to see her. He’s always glad to see me too when the visit’s over, at least at first. But later on in the day, usually before bedtime, he will throw a temper tantrum over the smallest thing and nothing I do seems to soothe him. He’s usually pretty well-behaved, but this is becoming a pattern, so I’m starting to worry. Should I? I’m wondering how other kids act after they have visits with their bio parents.”
Rachel Weissenburger: I found my little guy (same ageish) had similar responses. I would give him space because I know he was very confused. Bio parent was fun but structure and comfort were part of his time with me and he desperately needed that. A favorite dinner, and early downtime in bed with a favorite book helped him settle. They are so churned up and they dont have any way to understand, conceptualize or express the feelings and emotions of the situation.
Bridget Louise: From me experiences with 13 kids over the past 3 years, I would say that that is extremely common. What we always tried to do was spend extra time that day talking about the visit and processing how he/she was feeling. It was often the case that the child just had many questions and was uncertain about what was going on. For some kids, they also relive whatever was going on in the house before they were removed.
I would also let case worker know your concerns. If the visits are supervised sometimes there are good resources to help this type of situation.
Sherry Parmley: They are right, it is very common with many ages. If they are upset you can always wait until their storm is over and talk to them about it, most times they are confused and frustrated. The situation is hard for them to understand. But we do favorite dinners and if they’re little a popcorn and movie night while we snuggle, it gives them the reassurance they need, reminds them they are safe and most of all loved.
A prospective foster parent asks, “I’m 50 and I’m thinking about becoming a foster parent but I’m afraid I might be too old. What are your thoughts on how old a foster parent should be?”
Dawn McMullen Eberhardt: We just adopted our third child who just turned three and we are both 53. If you are in good health and have the energy… then you can give a child a safe home until they can return home or an adoptive home can be found if you do not want to adopt. Good luck!
Renee Bickert: I am 50 and didn’t become a foster parent until I was 43! The oldest child placed with me was 3!!! I have had all infants and a set of twins. Trust me, you will know what you can handle and how much you can do. You are never too old to give a child a safe home!!
Evelyn Hopkins-Robinson JW: Our PRIDE Trainer recommended that we first know and acknowledge our ‘limitations’ before embarking upon this life long commitment. Taking into account your preferences, objections towards styles, faiths, cultures, gender, behaviors, etc; also taking into account your own health limitations. I have always wanted to foster and I am happy to say I now have a 12 year old, 5 yr old and soon to adopt my 2 yr old ….and I wl be 58 at years end. I truly enjoy the company of my children and appreciate this privilege!
Jeeyah Sharif: I’m 35 and soon to be 36 but my husband is older than me. This post & your comments gave helped me a LOT. Thank You All ♡
Do you have a question you’d like answered in embrella’s “A Foster Parent Asks” feature? Comment below or message us on Facebook and check back every Wednesday to see if your question has been chosen!
Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.