Session 2/15Page 3/4: Topic introduction: Topic A and Topic B
Topic A: How can the values in our family life become foundation of our work as a foster family?
The purpose of this exercise is that all members of the family engage in the process of becoming (or being) a foster family.
A foster family offers its best values and practices, and it is paid to do so. As a foster family you are not only expected to be professionals, but also to become aware of what you already have to offer in a long term care for a foster child: A family life. This exercise will help all family members share and know the values you can offer to a child in foster care.
What is it that makes your family special:
Find an afternoon or evening where you as foster parents and your own children (if you have any) can talk for a while without being disturbed. Turn off your cell phones. If you have a very good family friend or a grandmother or grandfather who is important for your family, you can invite them too. If the first questions take a lot of time, perhaps you may have to spend two afternoons or evenings.
Take a piece of paper and take notes (If you have children of your own they can make drawings).
- Work together to describe one day in your family’s life where you would all say that this was the best day you ever had – a day where you appreciated and loved each other, laughed a lot together and had fun. Or you may choose a day where you all managed to meet a challenge together and support each other in spite of stress. Please describe this day to each other – what did you do that made this day so good?
- Find three things each family member values most about your family life. For example: We have such good talks at the dinner table, we can work together when it is necessary, or we are proud of who we are. Note your basic values.
- Make a list from what you have talked about: these are our competences as a family and as a foster family.
- Ask each family member: How can we use your qualities and competences to make good care for the foster child we are receiving or have already received?
Topic B: Preparing your local network: Identify support persons
Write a list of people in your social network who are likely to meet the child or may become important to it: this may be a shopkeeper next door, neighbours and their children, friends or relatives, the local kindergarten or school.
When you talk to people in this network you can use any social occasion for bringing up the subject of your decision to work as a foster family. Perhaps when you meet people you know in the street and talk about your daily life.
It is a good idea to be very frank and open from the start that you have made this decision, and that you think this is a good thing for your family’s development, that you look forward to care for the foster child. You should demonstrate that you think a child in foster care is not a subject of shame, but that care for children without biological parenting is a natural social duty.
If the people you talk to have reservations or prejudices about foster children, don’t start a conflict – just listen to them or say that you understand and that this may change when they meet the child.
THE LIST OF RESOURCE PERSONS IN THE NETWORK
After doing this for some time, make a list of the people you think have positive attitudes towards your foster care situation. Ask yourself how the resource persons may help your work in the future.
This list can help you identify the future resources in your social network, and you can concentrate on making even better relations with the positive people.
If there are people with negative attitudes towards foster care or with prejudices against foster children (“How can you have a Roma foster child – they will just steal from you!”): ask yourself how you can minimize the influence of these people, or how you can work to give them a more positive attitude through social occasions where they meet you and the foster child.