Last time we talked about possessions/gifts going with the children when they go home to the biological family or to another foster home.
Today I’m going to talk about additional things you might want to consider sending when a child is reunified with their family of origin.
Now, we all KNOW that reunification is the plan from the outset of the case. At least in 99.99% of cases it is. But that doesn’t mean there is no attachment between the foster family and the child. In fact, it’s the attachment which will often help the child in his healing from trauma.
Attachment being what it is, it can sometimes be very difficult to consider sending a child back. You, as the foster parents, will have a difficult time but the child will as well. And since your priority is the child and helping him to emotionally cope through the transition, I want to provide a few suggestions of additional items you might send with the child to make it go as smoothly as possible.
In addition to things purchased with DCS funds and gifts given by the biological family, you might also consider sending along some of the following:
• All the clothes that still fit, and maybe even a few in the next size up
• Comfort items (stuffed animals, blankets, etc…as close to the ones they might use in your home, or the actual items themselves with a spare to boot)
• Favorite toys (if you know before Christmas or a birthday that reunification is on the horizon, ask for duplicates of a child’s favorite things so one can stay with you and one can go with the child)
• Book or toy which can record your voices for the child to play when he is really missing you
• Paperwork for doctor appoints, therapists, school, etc, as well as contact information for all of them
• A letter with the child’s typical schedule and a list of his favorite items, foods, activities, etc.
• A few of his favorite snack foods, just to get bio parents started; this would be especially kind and generous if finances might be a struggle for the family.
• Photos…both a photo book of the child with people from the foster family (could also include extended family, family friends, etc), but you can also send loose photos only of the child for his bio mom to do with as she sees fit.
• Your phone number or email address, I have never personally done this because the opportunity has not presented itself; but, I know other foster parents who have. This gives the biological family some extra support and they might be willing to ask you for help with childcare as they have need. Now, I know this is not for everyone. But, it is a way to support the parents, and also continue a relationship with the child you have grown to love…and allow that child to still have a relationship with you. (more on this topic next time!)
This is clearly not an exhaustive list. As you go through your foster care journey specific placements will need different things; you’ll be able to tune in to each child to discern what might make the easiest transition.