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What To Do When Your Foster Child Comes Out As Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender

I will admit that I am not a Christian or Muslim. I do not believe that straight is the only 'right' sexuality. And I respect others who have different opinions. But I believe when a child comes out as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender- there's only one appropriate thing to do...

Celebrate: Yep, be so so so happy for them! Because love is a beautiful thing, and it comes in all shapes and forms. Let them know that they are absolteuly beautiful the way they are, and you are ready to help them come out to the rest of the world as well.

Get them involved in support groups: There are support groups for all kinds of people, and attending them can open your child's eyes to the amazing SIMILAR people around them. It can give them a sense of self-worth and pride. So attend them- together- and let your child know who they are is a-okay.

Attend LGBT events: There are Pride events all across the country, and they are so so much fun! Not all are child-friendly, so contact the organizers ahead of time and ask if there is an age limit. Find one appropriate for your child and attend an event together.

Talk to your case worker: Let your case worker know as soon as you can. This can open up opportunities for support groups and appropriate therapy. If your child is transgender, it can help develope a plan for their chosen lifestyle- where they can be who they are with the help of you and others. Telling the case worker, also lets them document this for future foster homes. If your child is moved out of your home, your case worker can make an effort to find another home fit for an LGBT child.

Why My Teen Foster Children Have Cellphones

One of the first things I'll give a foster child over the age of 13, when they come into my home, is a cellphone. A prepaid one, with at least $10 in minutes included. And a lot of people ask why I feel it's so important that each of my teenage foster children have a cellphone- and why I make a point to buy each of them one.

First and foremost, it's the social norm. Foster kids shouldn't stand out of the crowd simply because they're in foster care. That isn't fair. Having a cellphone connects them to their friends and social life. They can text and call people. They can stay connected with friends from other schools they've attended. They can be a part of the 21st century teen life. A cellphone seems to be a staple of that, and I don't want any of my kids being left out.

My hidden agenda amongst it all is the fact that cellphones also allow them to stay safe. If they ever find themselves in trouble, they have a tool they can use to call 911. That is extremely important. I want my kids to be independent and to experience things- but I also want them to be safe.

Cellphones also allow them to stay in contact with me. In case they ever need me- whether they're at a school event, a friend's house, or even a birth family private visitation, I want them to be able to call me at any point when they may need my help or even a ride home.

Speaking of birth family- I want my foster kids to be able to continue to have good relationships with their siblings. A few phone calls or text messages can help keep kids in contact, and that is so so important in terms of keeping the family connected and together.

Amidst all of these things, a cellphone also promotes responsibility. They're made aware of the fact if it's broken- they need to earn another one. And if it's lost, the same rule applies. They need to be careful and responsible with it, or else they'll be busting their butt for another one.

And last, but not least, my kids have to work towards gaining more minutes. They can earn minutes by doing chores, getting good grades in school, doing positive actions, being involved in community and non-profit activities, and just generally showing poise. Cellphone minutes are a great way for me to encourage my kids to set goals and work towards rewards in life.

Bottomline: I basically give my kids cellphones for the same reason many birth parents do. They offer up a sense of security and motivation to work towards minutes. And they're just generally a good gift that my kids can appreciate.
 

How To Welcome A Teen Foster Child Into Your Home

As a teenager, being placed in a foster home can be overwhelming and stressful. And as a foster family, bringing a teen into your home can be very nerve-wracking. They're much more aware of their circumstances than younger children are. And making them comfortable amidst all of their stress can be difficult. But having a good first impression can truly make a big impact on your teen foster child. So, how do you go about doing that? First of all- follow your instict. Do what works for you! And what seems right at the time. Here's the schedule I usually stick to:

Introduce Yourself: First thing, I introduce myself with a big smile. I'm typically really excited to have a new addition in the family and it's difficult for me to hide that excitement. But it seems to make me approachable and I appear kind. So it seems to work!

Show Them Around The House: I do a quick house tour. I give them a basic tour of each room. In the livingroom I show them where to find the TV remote. In the kitchen I give them a quick idea of where they can find everything (but also let them know that they can dig through and find things as they need them). I make sure to show them other bedrooms- and to literally go through every room of the house. I try to end at their room.

Bring Their Stuff To Their Room: I always offer to carry the kid's things for them. Often they want to hold it themselves- so that's fine. But I do show them that I'm willing to help. When we finish with the house tour, I'll leave them at their room. I'll show them around quickly. And then I'll let them settle themselves in, without my snooping eyes.

Allow Them To Unpack, Get Comfy: I always let me child know, that if they feel like unpacking that they can. I let them know that everything in their room is theirs and that they can use whatever they need to. I also usually have a welcome basket, that I will give the teens with basic necessities. You can read Teen Foster Child Welcome Basket Ideas for more information on my welcome baskets for teens.

Bring In A Snack: After about an, hour- I'll knock on their door and ask to come in. Sometimes (very rarely) I'll get a "no". But most of the time I'll get a "yes". At this point I offer them snacks and sit down to talk a bit. If they say "no" I wait it out and come back a little later. When we talk, I basically tell them the truth. I give them the facts on what their case worker told me. I let them know all of the information I have regarding their placement. I let them know my plans for them, and that they can come to me if they need anything. And then we talk a bit about their interests. Do they play any sports in school? Is there anything I can get for them to make them feel more at-home? Is there a certain hobby that they'd like to participate in (video games, arts and crafts, etc) that I can buy items for?

Invite Them To Participate In A Small Activity: Once we've talked a bit, I'll invite them to a small activity. 99% of the time, the activity is making a meal. Usually dinner. We'll cook together and talk while we do so. I'll teach them a new recipe and then we'll sit down to eat.

Invite Them To Come To Meals: If you're child is not being so willing to participate, privacy is important too- and let them know that it's okay for them to be alone for a while. But make a point to always invite them to EVERY SINGLE meal. IF they don't come- bring food to them. Don't leave them left out.

Let Them Know Your Plan For The Week: At some point within the first day, sit them down and just give them a basic run-down of your plans for the week. Usually you'll have a doctor's appointment to attend, you'll need to enroll them in school, you might need to go shopping for necessity items for them- whatever you need to do, plan it out with them. Let them know what your plans are for the next week, so they know what to expect. It will give them a sense of ease knowing exactly what the next and hardest first transition days entail.

July Foster Parent Bucket List

Watch Fireworks on the 4th of July: Don't forget to experience the 4th! Fireworks are fun entertainment for people of all ages, and typically are free for most parts of the country. Find the perfect seat and make a point to sit out and enjoy them with your kiddo.

Visit A Local Aquarium/ Sea Life Center: Not all areas have these nearby, but if you do- make a point to visit one this month. They're a great way to teach your child about aquatic creatures and get them positively involved in marine biology.

Visit A Local Amusement Park: This is a bit of an investment, but one day at an amusement park can instill 100 new experiences in a child. From their first roller coaster ride, to trying new candy and foods, to playing a new carnival ride- it's so worth the investment. It will give your kiddo all sorts of new and fun experiences.

Attend A Soccer Game: Soccer isn't a huge sport in America, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth attending a game. Little league games often have free admission and will give your kid a chance to cheer on some of their local friends. Professional games are fun too- although they are a bit more costly.

Have A Movie Night: Take one night this month and dedicate it to movies. Make popcorn, buy snacks, set up a huge pile of pillows in front of your TV and let your kiddo(s) pick a flick or two to watch. It's a fun and great way to relax in the heat of the summer.