Posted September 23, 2016
Everyday TBRI®Connecting Principles: Merging Families
A few weeks ago, we talked about the managing of expectations as parents while we are anticipating the placement of children. Let’s take this idea one step further, putting aside the idea that children are joining your family and instead, envisioning that you are in the process of blending together with another family. Imagine yourself (well hello again, healthy and functional adult!) and, if applicable, your spouse or partner. You are established in your home that has been decorated by you or maybe your mother-in-law (she’s got an eye for good bargains!), you are most likely established in a career, your friend group, and your routines. It’s easy to imagine that the process of foster care and adoption will be just like folding children into what you’ve got going on already. Don’t worry if you fall into this category of parents. We’re just out to re-educate. There’s no shame in our game!
Most kiddos in care have the ability to recognize being separated from their family of origin. They will have memories of their families, their homes, their pets, and their own routines. Even in the most abusive and neglectful situations, children will find strengths in their families and cling to those. How do we, as foster and adoptive parents, make space for our children and
their families within the lives we have already established for ourselves? Here are some ideas:
Try and learn as much as possible about a child’s biological family prior to placement. Make a list of strengths.
Talking about biological family members can be triggering for children who have recent trauma. However, as kids begin to feel safe, foster and adoptive parents can add compliments about the biological family into conversations. For example “Your mother taught you how to make biscuits? She must have been a great cook.” Or “Your grandfather loved you very much. He couldn’t offer to take care of you because of his age and health, but that does not mean he did not love you.” Finding strengths also helps foster and adoptive parents manage their own challenging feelings, since it builds empathy and compassion.
After placement, allow children to frame pictures of their families. If they don’t have any and want some, let’s work together to make this happen.
Talk with your children about special routines they had before moving. What can you recreate? Special songs? Meals? Family activities?
What made holidays special for children? What pieces would your children like to bring to your home, and how can you honor those?
Got other great ideas about merging families? Leave them in the comment section below!
Tune in each Friday for more Everyday TBRI®
What is TBRI®?
TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.
TBRI® is designed for children from “hard places” such as abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Because of their histories, it is often difficult for these children to trust the loving adults in their lives, which often results in perplexing behaviors. TBRI® offers practical tools for parents, caregivers, teachers, or anyone who works with children, to see the “whole child” in their care and help that child reach his highest potential.
Want to know more? Visit TCU’s Institute of Child Development http://child.tcu.edu/.