Tuesday, August 05, 2008

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN?

We are coming up on a difficult explanation or time, I'm not sure what to call it.
The Boy thinks of TheBabyGirl as his sister. When he was in daycare, they called her, his sister, when talking to him. So he will sometimes refer to her as his "sister". This weekend he come to tell me, his sister was awake and wanted out of the crib.(just not in that many words) more like,"siser, out crib". I know he doesn't understand "relationship" at his age. But what he does know is she has been living in the same house as long as he can remember. She has been with us over a year. So that would have made him 18 months old when she came to live with us. She was 6 months old. She has been visiting with relatives who are interested in adopting her for a few months. The have all their relative foster care "stuff" out of the way, home study, back ground check, ect. So the time is coming in the near future that his "sister" will be leaving us. I am not sad because these people will be a great family for her and they love her. But how am I going to explain that to a nearly 3 yr old? One day she just isn't going to come home from one of her 3 hour visits. How is it going to effect him? Will he miss her? Will he think one day he will go somewhere, not to come back too? (that thought breaks my very heart)
When the 6 yr old boy left 4 months ago, he asked about him once or twice and then all was forgotten. But cognitively, he will mature and realize children are coming and going in our home. But he will still be too young to understand the concept of Foster*Care.
I think he is going to miss TheGirl more than the 6 yr old. He's older now & I think he will know she is "gone".
I think this will hurt him when she leaves and I will have no way to explain to him why his "siser" left.
I'm not sure I know how to handle this.

5 comments:

Mindy said...

We dealt with this once. One of our foster daughters reunified (more than once--she was in and out of care a few times) between the time that my oldest was 2 1/2 and 4.

She asked for her every day for about six months, each time the other child left. It WAS heartbreaking. But we kept explaining that although the other little girl was only staying here for a short while, Girly would always be with us. We had to repeat it often. She did experience some confusion. But eventually she came to understand better as she got older, and although it's cold comfort in the interim, my daughter didn't suffer any long-term effects of the separation.

It's why we never did any other fostering after that, though, and when we decided to add to our family again, we adopted Baby via domestic infant adoption.

Just keep affirming for him that it's OK to be sad when he misses her, and reassure him that he's never going to ever have to leave you. Unfortunately, there's not much else you can do. I wish there were an easier answer, but the likelihood is that he'll grieve for her a bit. Maybe her relatives will allow some contact, though, and maybe that would help him to see that she hasn't disappeared off the face of the earth.

Maybe close to the time she leaves, it might be a good idea to have a mom/son talk about how she is really a good friend who has been staying for a while until she can go live with her new family. And make sure he has a fair chance to say goodbye to her. Although I don't believe that kids his age need "closure" necessarily, it might not be the healthiest thing for him to experience her just disappearing, y'know?

Keep us updated on how things go so that we can pray for his little heart.

PeWee said...

I have no experience to offer, but Min has a great suggestion to start talking to the Boy about it now before "sister" leaves.

Man!! Why do we all do this to ourselves! Are we martyrs?

Perri said...

I have waited to try to come up with something wise, but truthfully, what Mindy said pretty well echoes my experience -- and why we decided to adopt rather than ever foster again.

Susan said...

When Lily left, we all agreed (new mommy and daddy and honey and I) that it was best for both girls if we stayed in contact. We transitioned her really slowly, even though she was "officially" living at their house, I did "respite" for them several times each week for about six weeks, less and less every week. We still see them pretty often and we meet at the park or beach or whatever at least a couple of times each month. It has really let Lily transition with no fallout and Ella get used to the idea that Lily didn't live here anymore. For the first 6 weeks or so if Lily would ask for us, new mommy would bring her over or call me to stop by there. It was huge for Lily to have the security of knowing we were just a phone call away. It helped a lot that we live pretty close together. New mommy did respite for Lily from the time she was a baby, but living there full time at 2 years old could have been a traumatic move. I am really thankful that new mommy and daddy were able to really put here needs first and move slowly.

The Lewis Brothers said...

We, too have dealt with this. Ages 2 and 3 seem to be the worst because they really don't understand. By 4 and 5 you can remind them throughout the foster care experience that, "the baby is just here for a while". Susan's plan was really superb. The less loss and pain for everyone, the better! Slow transitions are best....if you can manage them.
Just remember that you're the Mama. You'll get him through it!