I'd like to start by saying, I've seen the question, How can we prepare our child for the arrival of adopted siblings and although I have not looked at every linked resource thoroughly, it looks like a wonderful resource, but my question is a little more specific.

My daughter is seven and has wanted a younger sibling for ages, so all of the links on that other question will be relevant and helpful in regard to the part where my daughter thinks this sibling is explicitly for her - and she will definitely need to learn about space (I imagine her thinking she gets to direct everything the other child does and being disappointed when her new sibling isn't interested in the same things she likes) so I am glad to see the question at least partially already here.

For this question, I am referring more to the "fostering" portion of what we are doing.

Concern number 1: There is a very good chance we will have children in our home who simply need short-term care and who are not available to be adopted, while the child we eventually will adopt is being matched up with us. How do I help both children when it comes time for "good-bye," and how do I help my daughter understand good-byes will likely be part of the process?

Concern number 2: Helping my child fully understand why the children who need fostering, need fostering while respecting the foster child's privacy and rights while also helping our biological child develop empathy and tact. She'll know, at least on some level, that these children are in our home for what are often likely nefarious behavior on the part of a birth parent (or both).

I would love to hear from parents that have had personal experience with this, psychiatrists or social workers. Thanks so much in advance.

  • This sounds like two distinct questions. Split them into two posts? Jan 3, 2014 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


On the first point, unfortunately there isn't a good way to soften the blow ahead of time. Children that age live day to day. You can tell your daughter it's probably temporary, but it won't really hit her until it actually happens. What they told us in our class is that it's better to try to form an attachment even knowing you'll lose it, than to be afraid to form an attachment at all, which leads to a cold and distant relationship. Our kids still ask to visit foster kids who haven't lived with us in years, and I don't think that's a bad thing. They miss them, but it's not a painful loss anymore.

On the second point, our permanent children were too young to care. Curious children we met around your daughter's age would be satisfied with, "They're living with us while their parents learn to be better parents." Honestly, you don't have to worry about young kids. They are naturally open and accepting. It's adults who are persistent about that question. What we tell adults about why our son was in foster care is, "That's his personal business, and we will let him be the one to decide to share it or not with whomever he wants, when he is old enough to understand the ramifications of his choice."

If there are specific behavior issues to explain, the great thing about children is they're usually satisfied with simple, somewhat vague explanations, like "She's scared of knives because someone tried to hurt her with one before, so she came to live with us so she could be safe." Don't act like you're trying to hide something, just be matter of fact about whatever you can share.

  • This is probably really good advice, but in regard to the vague answers - I have a kid that won't be satisfied with that and who has a highly sensitive and empathetic nature so she may need a little more pressure not to persist in asking questions - The "that's his buisiness part" followed with a "and he can share when he chooses, but it is rude to continuously ask" (or something more refined) would probably become the broken record refrain though. :-) Jan 4, 2014 at 2:26

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