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Foster Care – How to Include Your Extended Family

Caring for foster children is a wonderful thing. You’ll change their lives, while also enriching your own. Fostering can also have benefits for other members of your household, such as any biological children that you might have, helping them to develop skills like empathy, and giving them a chance to make important relationships. But have you considered how fostering could affect your extended family? Extended family members and especially close family, such as grandparents, have an important role to play in welcoming children into the family and filling their stay with love, affection, and joy. Here are some of the ways that you can include extended family in your fostering journey.

Speak to Them Before You Apply

Hearing that a loved one is fostering can come as a bit of a shock. When we have biological children, our family have nine months to get used to the idea, but a foster child could seem to come completely out of the blue. Before you apply, speak to your loved ones. Explain why you want to foster, and any changes that you’ll be making to your home and lifestyle to welcome a child. Direct them to your agency, such as Fostering People, if they have any questions or want to learn more about fostering.

Keep Them Involved in the Process

The fostering process can take time. There are many different phases, and things can change quickly. Whether you have just applied, or you are starting to make changes ready to welcome a child into your home, make sure you keep your loved ones involved and up to date. Speak to them about what’s happening, how you are feeling and what you need to do. A great way to make them feel included is to ask them for help. Simple things like helping you to make changes in the child’s room, or going shopping with you, can help them to be part of the experience.

Take Your Time When Introducing Children

Your loved ones might be keen to meet your new foster children as quickly as possible. But their enthusiasm can be overwhelming. Give the child time to settle into your home, telling them about the people who will also be a part of their lives, and answering any questions that they might have before rushing into a meeting.

Visit Them at Home

The first time you introduce your children to your extended family, try to visit them at their home, instead of inviting them to yours. This way, you can leave if your foster child is feeling overwhelmed.

Make Plans That Suit All Ages

Once they’ve met, encourage a natural relationship by inviting extended family members to dinner, days out and other events. Try to visit places that appeal to all age groups involved so that everyone has fun together.

Spending time with children can have many benefits for grandparents, helping to keep them active, alert, and young at heart. It could even improve their quality of life, health, and life expectancy. The children that they spend time with don’t have to be blood relations, and spending time with foster children can be just as advantageous.