Hi Recycled Moms and other kinship caregivers. The Christmas season is only a few days away and we know it brings a lot of stress to some people and is an excuse for others to party their lives away. This time of year also brings upheaval in families. Many children are torn from the only environment most of them know and are placed in foster care or kinship care. Sadly, many suicides or attempts happen also at this supposedly cheerful time of year.
I myself took custody of my own grandson at Thanksgiving many years ago. I thought it might be helpful to compose a checklist that people can use to help the child settle and ensure their physical needs are taken care of. It will vary of course depending on each individual circumstance. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who is taking the giant leap of love and welcoming a child or children into their home.
- Get some sort of custody order if the parents have simply left the child with you otherwise they could take the child at any time and nothing could be done to prevent it from happening. If DSS is involved, they will take care of that issue.
- Inform DSS that you have the child and request assistance.
- If possible, get birth certificates, social security number, immunization records, medical information, etc.
- Get the child’s insurance information if possible. If not, apply for Medicaid for the child or add him/her to your policy if resources allow.
- Schedule a medical checkup with a pediatrician, dentist and optometrist. Consider psychiatric counseling especially if the child has been abused in any manner.
- Enroll the child in school if they are old enough. If possible, keep him/her in the school they are already attending. The less upheaval the better so the child can adjust easier. A private school allows the child to receive attention that is more individual and some states offer vouchers to make it affordable
- Seek resource assistance such as Food Stamps, Daycare vouchers, etc.
- Join a support group. Many of these kids have lived in homes where alcohol or drug abuse was a daily, normal occurrence and they will have been neglected or abused. A support group with a good children’s program will help all of the new family dynamic to feel normal instead of different.
In The Home
All children need stability and security. Our precious Recycled Kids need these even more desperately and will thrive when they are provided along with gentle care and lots of love.
- Set up a bedroom for the children if possible or designate part of an existing bedroom as their own personal space. Hang a curtain for privacy if they must share. Give them a dresser, bed, desk and any other furniture they need.
- Take the child shopping and ask their opinion when purchasing clothing. This is critical for older children because it helps restore ownership and empowers them to make decisions for their life.
- Set aside time to talk with the child privately every day. He may or may not confide in you, may even blame you for taking away the parents. Allow him or her to talk and take mental notes. Let him or her know you may have to follow up on some of these revelations but will not ever hold the child accountable for the actions of grownups.
- Do not react outwardly to revelations of abuse and many of these kids have been abused emotionally, physically or sexually. Try to express acknowledgement without condemnation or horror. The child WILL think you feel that toward them.
- Never cast aspersions on the parents. These uprooted children tend to be very protective toward their absent parents and will not take kindly to any words of anger or blame.
- Answer questions honestly but briefly. A personal example as when my grandson asked if his “birth mom” was dead. I simple said, “I do not know Buddy. I hope not.” Then I redirected him to another subject. Kids require very little information and are content with a yes or no most of the time. Older children might ask for more details. Again, keep it simple.
There is so much more. I could write a book. (Actually, I am writing a book.) I hope this information is a foundation to get someone started on the path to being a Recycled Mom. I pray for all of you and wish I could meet every one of you and personally commend you for what you do.