Goodbyes are always difficult, especially with a child that has had a long placement in your home. The transition is almost always a mixture of bittersweet moments of letting go and saying goodbye. Typically, there are three different reasons for a child to transition out of your home. 1. From Foster Home to Forever (Adoptive) Home, 2. From Foster Home to Return Home, 3. From Foster Home to Foster Home.
Here are some things to remember when a child is transitioning out of your home. It doesn’t have to be a forever goodbye. If everyone involved is open to it, you are still able to keep in touch if you have an especially strong bond with the child. If all parties are on board you can ask to see the child on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, over the summer, etc.
There are several ways to increase the likelihood of a smooth transition from your home to the next.
Talk with children about the transition.
Talking with the kids is one of the most important steps you can take in preparing them to transition. This keeps the conversation open for them to ask questions and express their fears. Help your younger children understand what it means to be adopted if they are transitioning to an adoptive home. Many older kids may have additional questions about their biological parents and what it means to have adoptive parents. Many children, regardless of age may feel torn or conflicted because they are losing one family to gain another. Keeping an open dialogue about adoption can help them feel comfortable talking to you about their feelings and fears (Morse).
Plan for pre-placement visits.
If you are helping a child transition from your home to a forever home, one option is to plan visits with the adoptive family at their home. This is to familiarize the kids with the space and help them get to know the adoptive family before they transition (Morse). This can look like going over to the adoptive home for dinner or play dates or game nights if the child in care is older.
Create a book of the child’s history.
Another tool for a smooth transition is creating a book of the child’s history. This can be a photo album or a book you both spend time creating about the child. This helps them develop a sense of history. Before the child transitions make sure the book is updated and includes details about their life in foster care as well as any information you learn, and they feel is important. This book will be important to the adoptive parents and will give the child a sense of history with you and their other foster families (Morse).
This is certainly not a comprehensive list but hopefully it will spark some ideas and begin conversations on how to smoothly transition your child to a new home.