First day advice

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Hi all,

I'm hoping there are some foster carers out there who could give me some advice. We have recently been approved for adoption and an opportunity arose around an unusual situation which would have meant that the child (12 months old) would have gone straight from it's mother to us (the prospective adopters) rather than via a foster carer (A foster for adopt). During the interview we were questioned about how we would handle the fact that the probably traumatised child would be handed over to us directly. We talked about comforting the child and playing with them to try to encourage a bond and calm them down but were ultimately rejected in favour of a couple with a child already as we were deemed too vulnerable around the handover.

Other than materialising into Mary Poppins and waving a magic wand over the child to make everything better how do foster carers handle young children who have just been separated from their parent(s), you obviously can't explain the situation to a 12 month old? We'd like to be sure we have a better idea if this ever comes up again.

Many thanks for any suggestions.


13 users have supported this.

I've never been in that situation and I'm not a foster carer but I think you can explain things to a 12 mth old - at a very simple level - by repeating for example - "you're safe here" - "we will look after you" and verbalising what you are doing as you do it "we're going to eat now". Your voice will help calm them and it will give some support to the routine and help with language learning. Think of them as a very small baby. Cuddling them as much as possible if they will let you - or the nearest you can get to that - sitting on your knee with a story for example. I think also remembering they are very scared - whatever they have been through - and that providing reassurance and calming activities is the most important thing. Having said that my son was just 14 mths when he came from foster care and didn't display any overt anxiety so you might find this type of response but try to remember they will still be feeling this even if they do not show it in any obvious way

9 users have supported this.

I have found that a sling is useful for that acute distress that is inevitable for this age of child on separation form a parent. the last bubba I had looked fine for about 2 hours, looking around, curious etc and then when I settled him for tea all hell broke loose and he became completely inconsolable through holding or rocking. so I put him into a sling and went for a long two hour walk around the village with him, screaming all the way. but I spoke quietly to him, much as safia above said but also just general stuff about what was going on around him and all the while stroking his back through the sling. took two hours for him to stop screaming but the sling definitely helped, particularly me, becoz he wasn't being shuffled from one arm to another or trying to escape from my offered comfort becoz there was no way to escape it.

the main thing is for you to be calm, for me walking keeps me calm so I walked with him. and be prepared for this to go on a long time, he started again the following day. but also be prepared that some babies don't scream they with draw but they still need the same comfort even if they look 'ok' becoz they aren't crying. and a sling is invaluable at this point becoz it frees your arms up to offer comfort and also means you can hold them close even when they are resisting to that.

i'd also add that i'd be very low key to start with, I often don't bath tehm the first day (unless its really dire and I've had a couple who were covered in vomit so needed bathing), and avoid hair washes until absolutely necessary. if possible keep them in their own clothes from home (if they have any) even if you don't like them. make sure they have their dummy/comforter from home even if very smelly.

its a really hard, and heart breaking thing to do to take on a distressed child like this. there is no simple one size fits all package of comfort, but I've always thought of slings as the closest thing to that as a solution!

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All great advice from safia and loadsofbubs so wont repeat.

I am fc and just adopted littlest fc who has complex needs and came to us from hosp where his mother had been with him 24/7. He was a yr old and with his needs has little understanding( even now 2yrs later ) so it was v hard at first and there was no way to explain anything to him in a way he could understand .

We found it took a long while for him to settle properly and form a bond and he was distressed a lot of the time at first . It was heartbreaking all round but we persisted and he now has a v strong bond with us. One other thing that really helped us was establishing strong routines and keeping things consistent and as low key as possible at first (not v low key to be fair as we have a house full) .It is something that can take a long time to resolve and i dont think there are any quick fixes .

Anyway hope you have better luck next time and dont take the decision personally. Hopefully your little one is with you soon .Good luck.

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