A challenging time in fostering children is during the transition home period. Usually, if the children have been in foster care for at least quite a few months, then extended visitation usually precedes the return home. The children will begin by spending a night or two over the weekend with their parents. The foster parent still has the major portion of responsibility for the children. If the children are in school, then the foster parent will continue to make sure they attend and do their homework. Foster parents will continue to make appointments for the children and take them to the appointments. However, the children begin to view their parents as the people in charge of them and may refuse to obey the foster parents or follow their rules. The children may begin to act out, mouth off, cause fights, or be overly emotional. If they are young, then the foster parents will probably see an increase in temper tantrums.
While all of these things are normal, it can make parenting the children quite challenging. It is a very confusing time for the children and they are trying to make sense of it all in childish ways. For older foster children, you can suggest that they write in a journal during these times. It will help them process what they are going through and get it off their chest by writing it down. Younger children need extra attention, hugs, and rocking.
Our five-year-old foster daughter has begun coming into our room and sleeping on the floor next to my side of the bed every night. I have almost stepped on her a few mornings, not expecting her to be there. I know she is feeling insecure and it helps her to be close to me. I imagine that she sleeps with her mom during overnight visits as well. Her meltdowns, that had become almost non-existent, have become a regular daily activity again.
Photo Credit: 2008 Julia Fuller.