How To Implement A Transition Plan In Foster Care

The Honestly Adoption Podcast - Season 9, Episode 80

We know that the goal of foster care is reunification. But how do you successfully transition children out of your home and back with their families when your heart is breaking and you’re attached?

In today’s episode of The Honestly Adoption podcast, Mike and Kristin interview blogger, speaker, and foster care expert, Jamie Finn on the importance of having a transitional plan in place, and how to establish one that helps the children in your care transition as smoothly as possible.

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Notes and Quotes:

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The Real Mom Podcast

“We are trying to be real together.”

“What has been most beneficial to me as a foster and adoptive mom?  It has really been living life with other foster and adoptive moms.”

“We all need true community around us.  You can only do so much if it’s not there…you may not have your girlfriend that you can sit across the table and talk to, but you can listen to me talk to mine and hopefully have that same benefit of moms growing together, learning together, and talking life…this unique life.”

“There is a wealth of information from foster parents…we are the ones who live this life…it’s just the experience of this journey that in some ways makes you more of an expert than the experts.” – Jamie Finn

What’s important in implementing transition plans in foster care?

Part of what is hard about talking about a subject like this is that it is so varied from case to case, but the general idea is that we are looking to create transitions that limit abrupt transitions.

“Deborah Gray said that ‘Children describe sudden moves as equally or more traumatizing than being sexually abused.'”

We are looking to try to create plans and a culture of space for working with parents, social workers, therapists, and doing everything we can to put the breaks on so that there are not sudden moves.

We want to do everything we can to push the case in the direction of no sudden moves.

How do you care for your children in the middle of the transition plan?

  • Talk all along about the most tangible things.
  • Share what you do know.
  • Share general things.
  • As transition gets closer, get more specific.
  • Share hope.
  • Don’t drill them with questions.  We expect too much from them in this area.
  • It should be 80% declarative and less than 20% us questioning them.
  • Create space for conversations and a space for them to share without pressure for them to communicate with us.
  • In talking to teenagers, remember that their maturity and understanding of things may be younger than what you think.

How can we help prepare our “forever kids” for the transition?

This will be different for your kids depending on if they have a secure or insecure attachment.

Be sensitive to adopted children, who may have an insecure attachment, when you have a “fluid” family.

Our adopted children need to know that they are “forever” and that is different than foster.  They are all treated the same, but we must be sensitive when kids come into the house:  “I’m so glad we get to love them {foster children} now.  You are my daughter forever, forever, forever.”

“I want them to go through some of these hard things…It’s not just ‘well we do it in spite of the effects on our children.’ I think part of the reason we do it is for the effects on our children: that they learn compassion, they learn that the world does not revolve around them, they learn that love is costly.” – Jamie Finn

  • Talk with your “forever kids” intentionally: Saying goodbye is hard.  It is sad, but it is not bad.
  • Your kids will often mirror the way that you talk about foster care.
  • Let your kids see and hear your tears, but not hear your fears.
  • It helps our kids understand that hard things can be good and learn to trust that God can carry them through it.

“Transitions are hard.  It is hard and it is going to take a toll on you.” – Mike Berry

How can you prepare for and take care of yourself and your kids after a foster child transitions out?

  • Think correctly from day 1.  God creates families and puts children in families.
  • This isn’t about being the “better” family.  It is about bringing families back together if at all possible.
  • You need to grieve.  No one can tell you how to do this.  Allow yourself space to grieve.
  • Then transition from the heart to the mind.  Take your thoughts captive and hand it to Christ.
  • Don’t allow yourself to worry, imagine, or daydream. Don’t listen to the emotions and thoughts, compared to what you choose to tell yourself.
  • Write out what you know is true. 

Resources and Links:

Foster the Family with Jamie Finn
The Real Mom Podcast with Jamie Finn

Question: What did you learn from Jamie in this episode? What questions do you have? Share them in the comment section below this post. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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