Today’s post is about earning the trust of foster care children. Because believe me, this is a completely different bag of cats than raising your own biological children. Marie and I were told this when we were getting our foster parent and adoption certification in Oklahoma so that we could adopt Brandon and Emma. Looking back, I am quite certain we didn’t truly understand what they were talking about.
You see, when you raise your own biological children there is a natural, innate sense of wanting to please the parents. It’s kind of nature’s payback for all the loving care provided by the parent in those formative years.
But with a child from the foster care system it’s completely different. By the time a child has been through foster care they have seen and experienced too much to easily trust adults again. At least for the short term. This isn’t just Marie and I’s experience. You can easily look up the psychological reasons on all this;
- Adults have hurt them.
- Adults move them from place to place.
- Adults say one thing and do another.
- Adults give them things and then take them away.
- People who say “I love you” may then neglect you.
I could go on and on.
John Maxwell likes to say that there are three things any person asks themselves when deciding on what leader to follow;
- Do they like me?
- Can they help me?
- Can I trust them?
If this is true for adults wouldn’t it also be especially true for children?
Building trust with anyone means creating a relationship and then delivering on the promises, both spoken and expected, without fail. This requires patience, willingness and care on the part of the foster or adoptive parents. After all, these children have been “tricked” or disappointed before.
I really wish I had a step-by-step approach to building trust with these very special little people. Yet, relationship, time and patience are what I keep coming back to again and again.
It won’t be easy earn the trust of your foster care children. But I promise you it will be worth it.