Impact of fostering for a birth child
Foster care provides support, love and stability for the growing number of children in local council care, giving them a positive experience of family life.
To ensure this is successful, foster children need to be provided with consistent care from their foster family. This includes establishing positive relationships with the foster carers’ birth children.
Families are increasingly made up of various combinations of relationships, such as:
- half brothers and sisters.
Providing equal amounts of care and love as more traditional families, we often learn to adapt at a very young age, with people not necessarily linked to us by blood.
Benefits of fostering for birth children
When a family experiences the transformation to a family who fosters, there could be many changes in relationships and to everyday family life.
Most sons and daughters say they are happy fostering and recognise the benefits of the experience. There is evidence that some sons and daughters go on to become foster carers themselves or enter the caring professions.
Living with foster children and being aware of the difficulties others face provides a greater level of maturity and compassion. It also enhances:
- social understanding
- life skills.
"I am his brother, and we like to go on days out together, we share our toys." - Birth child
Many birth children also gain:
- a sense of self-worth in sharing their homes and themselves with children who can learn from them.
Some also report enjoying helping to look after a baby or toddler, or the attention of an older young person whom their family is fostering.
Birth children play a vital role in helping foster children adjust to their new environment. They can become a role model or form sibling-like relationships which help foster children to settle into their new home, school and to meet new friends.
Being a birth child within a fostering family may involve challenges and some experiences may be difficult to manage.
There is often pressure to act as a good role model for the foster children. Some sons and daughters may feel they lose a part of their own identity or have to make changes to their own routines or lifestyles.
In certain situations, they may feel that fostered children do not have to follow the same rules that they do, leading to feelings of ‘it’s one rule for them and another for us’.
By far the biggest challenge for birth children is the ability to ‘share’ their parents with other children who are not siblings.
Every foster child and each foster carer’s child is an individual. Their characteristics will influence how fostering is experienced and the relationship between them.
However, there are many ways to promote the experience for everyone involved.
As a foster carer, it’s important to involve your family in the initial fostering process, asking for your own children’s opinions and including them in family discussions.
Inform your children about the nature of fostering, for example, the positive and negative aspects to give them a full picture.
It’s important to balance the needs of birth children and foster children and, where possible, allocate special time for your birth children.
Talking openly and ensuring children feel comfortable discussing their feelings is key to a happy house and making it a positive experience for all.
When a foster placement is coming to an end, prepare your children for this as they can establish close relationships and find it hard to let go. Our fostering team offer specialist support for all birth children.
If you have been thinking about becoming a foster carer and would like more information about the impact this may have on your birth children, please contact us for a friendly, informative chat.