Monday, November 17, 2014

Blending Your Foster Kids and Your Bio Kids: Part 3 When Jealousy Rears Its Ugly Head…


By John and Diane

When I first started doing foster care I knew it would be a growing and learning experience for my whole family. If you read Parts 1 and 2 of this series, you can see that the growing has been painful at times, but there have been countless blessings as well. My daughters have met all different kinds of people during our family’s journey through foster care, and some of the children touched our lives and hearts in positive ways.  Sometimes the relationships evolved in unexpected ways.

When I asked my oldest daughter, now 21, to reflect on some of the children that crossed her path, she thought about one girl who really illustrates this point”

“We had a girl that was a grade under me in school move in, her name was Sandy [name changed] she was fun to have around at first.   I really took her in, as my sister I helped her decorate her room, and gave her some of my stuff.  She would sleep in my room sometimes.  It was like having a constant slumber party.
  She quickly became jealous of me and everything that I had; she wanted to be just like me.  She started destroying my stuff. Just little things,  like once I caught her putting gum in a tie blanket my mom had made me.  We started getting in arguments and things would get pretty hostile.  Then one day I went to school and came home and she had been moved out.  I was told that apparently she threatened my life so my parents had her removed from the home.”

We thought it would be a good idea to have a foster child around the same age as our own for the following reasons:
1.     Our child would have a friend to keep her occupied
2.     They would grow up and be best friends and be supportive of each other
3.     They would be going to the same school so they could share transportation and activities
4.     They would be like real siblings and could share clothing etc.
5.     The foster child would need us to love her/him and provide the things she/he wasn’t getting in the first place
6.     We would provide family structure that she lacked in a previous home

What we found was that the age of the child was less important than the child’s history and experiences. In this case it was young girl who had a troubled life, she was the type of child that acted out in school, had very little social skills and we later learned she both lied and stole. 

The caseworkers told us that she just needed to be loved and to have a strong family structure to keep her safe. 

My wife took her in and took her shopping for new clothing to help her feel and that she was a part of the family.  We did not attempt to dig into her past as we thought that they had professionals dealing with those issues and we would just let her start fresh with us.

 As time went on we felt as though she was manipulating us and making demands of us, often saying that we were treating her differently then our biological children. 

No matter what we would provide for her we could not fulfill her need to belong “to” us.  She was also still involved in the court system and having visitation with her bio mother, which did not help the situation. 

It is a balancing act that foster parents have to do between the foster children and biological children. You must make sure that your own children feel loved and the foster kids do not feel like they are being treated differently.  We tried to compensate our bio kids for the lack of time given to them with more gifts and monetary things, and spent more time with the foster kids, thinking they needed and wanted more nurturing and attention.

So all the good intentions that we had fell through, it wound up that this child wanted to be in our family so badly that she wrote a letter stating she wanted to get rid of our bio daughter so she could take her place. This resulted in her immediate removal from the house. 

I would suggest simply getting foster children who are younger than your bio. kids. This way some discrepancy in the way they are treated can be attributed to age differences.

So, here are some tips on dealing with jealousy issues between your bio kids and foster or adopted kids:

·      Be sure they know there is enough love to go around.
·      Try to spend time with each child separately. Have a “date” time with each kid or a special activity you do with each child once a week or once a month.
·      Play family sports or games and have the all the kids be on the same team where they can work together to bond. Give them a chance to work together and not to compete against each other.
·      Treat children within the home equally, shower all of them with love and make them all follow the rules.

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