Ways to Honor Your Child’s Birth Father

 

Although there may not be a day each year designated to honor your child’s birth father, it is still important to consider how to incorporate him into your child’s story. Understandably, we give a lot of attention to birth mothers. There could be a number of reasons why birth fathers are not as involved in the adoption process. Perhaps he is not known by the birth mother or maybe she does not want him to know about the pregnancy. It is also very possible that he simply does not desire to be involved in the process or there is a reason contact should not occur with him. Even if little is known about the birth father, though, it does not mean he does not exist. He, just like your child’s birth mother, is a member of the adoption triad and there are several unique ways to honor him no matter how much (or little) you know about him.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Try to gather as much information as you can about the birth father. Take note of his interests, unique physical features, and personality, as these can be things you share with your child eventually. If you have an opportunity to meet him, take it! Ask questions that help him feel seen and valued as an individual. If you are not able to meet him in person, try to gather this information from others that know him—whether that is the birth mother, a relative of his, or an agency representative.
  2. If the birth father is active in the process, consider how he may feel appreciated or honored. It is common, of course, for adoptive families to give a gift to their child’s birth mother upon placement. Maybe you could also consider giving the birth father his own special keepsake at the hospital, such as a framed photo of him with your child, an engraved piece of jewelry or leather, or a collection of some of his favorite items.
  3. Speak considerately of your child’s birth father in your home, even if you do not know who he is or there are parts of his story that are difficult to explain to your child. This does not mean you should make up information about him or try to hide the reality of his situation. There are ways, though, to still display respect towards him when talking to your child. It may be a challenge for adoptees to not know much about their birth father. Although it may not ever be possible to get more information about him, inviting your child to wonder and ask questions about him and simply acknowledging him when talking about your child’s origins may go a long way.
  4. Develop a plan with the birth father for ongoing contact, even if it is different than the one established with your child’s birth mother. It is possible that a birth father may desire more contact than a birth mother, and it is important for his voice to be heard in this regard. Consider writing a separate letter to him with updates and photos so that he, too, feels like he has a place in your family.
  5. Consider choosing a day around Father’s Day each year to do something to honor your child’s birth father. If you know him and have contact with him, consider reaching out to him in a unique way. If he is unknown or there is no contact with him, you could consider doing a special activity with your child instead. Perhaps you could help your child make a craft they could put in a keepsake box or take them to do an activity you knew their birth father enjoyed.

It is not as common to hear directly from birth fathers about their experience of placing a child for adoption. Here’s one birth father, though, that wanted to share some of his thoughts with others: Zachary | A birth father from Georgia – BraveLove. Although this is not representative of every birth father, it provides a thorough glimpse into his experience through the adoption process and also highlights the importance of incorporating your child’s birth father into their story in some way.

How Can the Community Support Foster Families?

 

As National Foster Care Awareness Month comes to a close, we wanted to highlight some ways everyone can get involved with the foster care world. We know not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but we believe everyone is called to do something.

  • The easiest and most accessible way to support our foster families, children, biological families, and staff is through prayer! The world of child welfare is often full of spiritual warfare and hard situations and prayer is an important way to support everyone we work with.
  • Money, time, services, and more! There are many ways you can give support to our foster care program.
    • You can donate directly to Nightlight here or through one of our other many ways to help
    • You can give Christmas gifts during the holidays through one of our local Christmas gift drives, or reach out to the local offices about giving birthday gifts for foster children throughout the year.
    • Foster and biological families could also often benefit from services given such as house cleaning or yard work. There is never a shortage of ways to give!
    • We are always in need of spaces to host events and training and businesses willing to donate food, dĂ©cor, and more.
  • While not everyone is in the position to become a foster parent, there are many other ways to directly serve children and youth in care.
    • You can become a trained babysitter or respite care provider and provide a much-needed break to foster parents.
    • If you are a good cook or baker, you could make a meal or treats to bring to a foster family. Even a meal once a month goes a long way when families are juggling visits with parents, therapy appointments, court, and more.
    • Do you have another skill or talent you feel could benefit families or children? Are you an art teacher who wants to host an art class for our children or a retired teacher who can offer some tutoring sessions? Let us know!
  • We are always looking for others to share the message and the need for more foster and adoptive parents.
    • You can help advocate for our children in the care by helping to host informational meetings at your church or in your community, sharing posts on social media about the need for foster parents, and talking to those around you about the need. The more people who are aware of the need, the more who will step up to meet it!

 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can support Nightlight’s Healing Homes Foster Care Program you can reach out to your local Nightlight office today!

Why Foster Teens?

 

The attitudes. The cell phones. The hormones. Are these things that come to mind when you think of teens in foster care? It’s true — all teens, whether in foster care or not, can be challenging. Being a foster care parent to teens is hard, but it is also incredibly rewarding.

Plus, teens also come with great perks:

  • Teens are independent.
  • You can sleep in on weekends.
  • Date nights can happen without a babysitter.
  • Teens can babysit.
  • You get to teach valuable adult life skills.
  • They love structure.
  • They get to see a healthy, loving family.
  • You can help stop a cycle.
  • They’ll remember what you did for them forever.
  • You can help them rebuild trust in adults.
  • You get to help them envision a positive future.
  • Did I mention the extra sleep?

If you’re considering fostering teens, you’ve probably got a lot of questions, uncertainties, and fears. You may feel unprepared. That’s normal and it’s OK. What a teen in foster care needs most is love, acceptance, and grace — they just need someone to show up for them and a place to feel safe.

Here are a few tips for fostering teens:

  • Make boundaries, expectations, and rules clear from the start.
  • Meet them where they are, not where you think they should be.
  • Offer gentle nudges in the “right” direction.
  • Give them their own space to unpack, process, and feel things.
  • Always be honest and keep open communication.
  • Allow them to open up to you in their own time.
  • Don’t take things personally.

The need is great for foster families who are willing to say “Yes” to a teen. More teens need a loving and stable home than any other age range. These teens need and want a place to call home, a consistent place to celebrate holidays and milestones, and a place to feel safe and wanted. Many teens have to stay in a DSS office while a home is found for them, often missing school or other important events while they wait in limbo. Will you see the value in these amazing young adults? Will you step out on faith and say “Yes” to making a world of difference in the life of a teen?

If you aren’t quite ready to welcome a teen into your home long-term, there are many other ways to help, such as:

  • Offer emergency and short-term placement in your home.
  • Become a mentor to a teen in foster care.
  • Support a teen by becoming a Guardian ad Litem (GAL).
  • Initiate a fundraiser for local foster care organizations.
  • Volunteer in a group home for teens.
  • Provide meals for foster families.

The possibilities of ways you can help teens in foster care are endless. 

Every teen is unique and has individual needs, strengths, hopes, and fears. But each teen is worthy of love and worthy of the chance to bless your family. If you’re ready to find out more about how you can support teens by fostering or through other ways, your foster care community is here to support you every step of the way.

Compassion Fatigue in Fostering

 

It’s ok to say no…

 

People make the decision to be foster parents for many different reasons.  Many of those reasons come back to one core reason, the desire to help a child.  If you’ve made the decision to foster or are considering fostering, chances are good that you are compassionate.  That compassion is what drives you to step in a fill the gap in a child’s life.  It drives you to provide a loving, nurturing, and stable environment for the children in your care.

 

Despite the complexities of caring for children from tough backgrounds and the frustrations of dealing with the red tape of the foster care system, it is likely that you love what you do as a foster parent.  I’ve heard it said that foster parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love and in my own experience that is 100% true.  It is a tough job (one of the toughest), but that compassion keeps driving you forward.  But, without learning to set boundaries and say no, that compassion can drive you right to compassion fatigue.

 

Compassion fatigue refers to an identifiable set of negative psychological symptoms that caregivers experience as a result of providing care while being exposed to either primary trauma (experiencing the trauma firsthand) or secondary trauma (rendering care to those experiencing trauma).  -Charles Figley

 

When we experience compassion fatigue we can’t care well for ourselves or the children in our care.  As a foster parent, you can’t go home and leave the worries of your job at work. Your home is your place of work, caring for these children is your job.  A study conducted by the University of Bristol’s Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies found that with appropriate support and regular “time-outs” foster parents are less likely to experience compassion fatigue.

 

Simply stated, it’s ok to say no!  Say no to the placement that you don’t think your family is equipped to care for.  Say no to the placement when your family needs to grieve the loss of the child that recently left you.  Say no to taking a placement when you feel you need a few days to regroup from your last placement.  Say no when your kids need a few days with you all to themselves.  It’s ok!  Your Nightlight Foster Care Advocate understands.  You need to be healthy and refreshed.  Your cup has to be filled or you will have nothing to pour out to your foster kids.  Just say no and give your family and your future foster kids the best you!

Self-Care for Foster Parents

 

If you are a foster parent, you have the innate desire to care for others. If you did not have that desire, you would have not have spent months going through several interviews and preparing your home to care for a child that you have never met. It is such a gift to have some many wonderful individuals and families opening up their homes to provide love, safety, and security to children in need. Children in foster care have experienced various kinds of trauma and often have several needs. Your foster child may have a doctor’s appointment today, visitation with a biological parent tomorrow, and therapy the day after that. Schedules can get busy and things can be hard to juggle. As a foster parent, it can be easy to neglect your own needs in order to make sure that the needs of your children are met. While taking care of your children is important, it is important to prioritize yourself and your needs as well. Here are some tips to help you practice self-care as a foster parent.

  • Find a Hobby: Find activities that you enjoy and make time to do them every day, even if it is just for a few minutes. Maybe you can take a quick jog around the neighborhood, read a book, journal your thoughts, or do a craft project. The possibilities are limitless. Find what re-energizes you and make it a priority. When you take time for yourself, you will be able to care for your children better.
  • Take Care of your needs: You are probably already running in several directions and have several appointments that you have to keep track of for your children, but make sure that you are making time for your needs as well. Do you have an appointment for yourself that you have been putting off? Do you desperately need a haircut, but you do not feel that you have any time for that? Make your needs a priority and give yourself permission to care of yourself. When your needs are met, you are better able to provide for the needs of your children.
  • Use Respite Care: Take a night or weekend off. Find trusted friends or family members that are willing to watch your children for a few hours. If you are married, take a date night. It is important for you to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse. If you are single, take a night to yourself or go do an activity with your friends. Having a few hours to regroup, can be helpful to your emotional well-being.
  • Ask for Help: It is okay to ask for help when you need it. Find people that you trust, and let them know what you need. Several people are willing to help, but do not know what to do. Whether you need someone to watch your children for a couple of hours so you can go to an appointment or need help finding a good pediatrician or child facility, do not be afraid to ask. Also, make sure that you are communicating with your foster care worker. Let them know about your questions, concerns, and frustrations. Your foster care worker is there to help and support you.
  • Join a Support Group: Find a foster care group and join it. Several churches and community organizations have started groups specifically for foster parents. If you are a Nightlight Foster Family, our offices plan specific groups and events for foster parents as well. Contact your foster care advocate for more information. Groups are a great opportunity gain additional support and to connect with others that are going through the same process.

Being a foster parent is not always easy, but it is very rewarding. When things get hard, take a breath and remind yourself why you do what you do. Take time for yourself, take care of your needs, and ask for help and support when you need it. As a foster parent, you are doing great work and the love and compassion that you have for the kids in your care does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all that you do for the children that need you.

How the Beauty of Easter Reflects Adoption

 

During this Spring season, we see flowers blooming and everything that was dead during the winter months sprouting to new life. For Christians, it is also the time of surrender and sacrifice through the reminder of Easter and the weeks and traditions leading up to it, such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Palm Sunday. But what does this time have to do with adoption, and how can we think of adoption in the terms of the cross?

What does scripture say?

In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because of the cross, and Jesus sacrificing His life for our sins, we are able to be born again and are given a new life. In adoption, children are also able to begin a new life as a child in your family. Adoption is a picture of how brokenness on earth, and our humble beginnings, can be made beautiful and used for good.

We are reminded again in Psalm 37:18 of God’s provision and care; “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.” Through adoption, children receive an inheritance on earth. Through a relationship with Christ, we have all received an eternal inheritance and life with Jesus.

What does this mean to me?

With this in mind, Easter can be a time of celebration; a celebration of warmer weather, of Christ’s resurrection and of your child becoming a new part of your family, whether their adoption occurred weeks, months, or many years ago. One way to honor your child during this time is through pointing out the consistencies in their own stories with the story God wrote for us as believers in Jesus and his death on the cross.

For those of you who are still waiting for your adopted child, who are currently fostering, or maybe you are just about to begin the process, Easter is a beautiful reminder to all of us of our worth and the freedom we have in Jesus because of his resurrection. Because of Him, we are all accepted into a forever family in heaven. That alone is a reason to celebrate with a heart full of gratitude.

 

I want to end this with a section of a poem by Deborah Ann called Abba – My Father;

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I could be . . .

 

An heir to salvation,

a daughter of light

a child that brings

to Him great delight.

 

I’m no longer an orphan,

I’m no longer a stray

I’ve inherited a room

in His mansion I’ll stay.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I can be free . . .

 

Free from the guilt,

of my wandering ways

free from the darkness

that once filled my days.

 

The adoption became final,

that day on the Cross

when Jesus died for me

and all those who are lost.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I might see . . .

 

See His glory,

in the middle of my pain

see His grace fall

like sweet drops of rain.

 

The inheritance is mine,

I’m claiming my right

and now I have privilege

to His power and might.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family,

I willingly flee . . .

 

Reference

Ann, Deborah. “ABBA My Father.” CHRISTian Poetry, 31 May 2013, https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/abba-my-father/.

 

By: Paige Burch

Introducing: Adoptions from Anchored in Hope

Becoming a parent and raising children is a shared dream of many individuals and couples. Throughout history, adoption has been one way to realize that dream. Nightlight Christian Adoptions has provided many paths to reach that goal. Domestic infant, embryo and international adoption services have seen thousands of children find permanency in loving homes. Our foster care program offers a way to help children who have been removed from their biological families find temporary care, love and stability until a long-term plan can be established. Many of those placements end in adoption.

 

A new program has been created to help children in foster care find an adoptive family when the way home has been closed. These are children who do not have the option of returning to their biological family, but must find another couple to call Mom and Dad. This is no small task for the workers of child welfare agencies who are given the job of finding adoptive homes for these children, most of whom are the age of 8 years and up and sibling groups who want and should be together. We felt it was time to help.

 

Anchored In Hope is the program designed to bring adoptive families to a child or children whose most basic needs of love and the security of family remain unmet.  We are looking for families who desire to be that Anchor to a child whose heart and future needs Hope. The children are available now, and their biggest hope is for someone to be their family.

 

There is honestly some apprehension felt by many about adopting an older child—what kind of history have they been through?  What kinds of behaviors will I have to deal with?  What if the child does not attach?  What if…what if…These are questions that can at the least give us pause, and at most paralyze our willingness to make a decision to step out and open ourselves and our homes to a child.  Here are some facts to consider:

  • The need is great. There are about 400,000 children in foster care across the United States.
  • Approximately 117,000 children are legally eligible to be adopted and are waiting for permanent homes.
  • Children who need adoptive homes are on national websites such as AdoptUSKids and state websites. You can determine what your preferences are and look for potential matches.
  • There has been tremendous growth in research regarding the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma on children, and as a result, many new successful ways of addressing behaviors are evolving. Adoption competent therapy has been developed to help counselors recognize the important issues related specifically to adoption.
  • Nightlight will do your home study and become the liaison between you and the child welfare system who has responsibility for the child.
  • Nightlight provides pre-adoption education to families preparing to adopt an older child. We also have a Post Adoption Connection Center to assist families who need education, support, referrals or resources beyond the adoption finalization.
  • Monthly subsidies are available from the placing states for the continued care for children
  • Medicaid or the state equivalent is also available to help with the financial costs of caring for children. This can include counseling services.

 

The rewards? For families who are committed to helping a child find a new life, the possibilities are endless. Children of all ages, even teens-especially teens, need to be loved unconditionally, given steadfast security, helped through the healing and Anchored in Hope. Learn more at https://nightlight.org/afcc/.

 

Are you willing to be that family?  No one ever outgrows the need.

Parents Education Beyond Required Training Hours

Fourteen hours… That is the number of training hours that the state required of my husband and me before adopting our first child from foster care. In fourteen hours we learned why children come into care and how that experience may manifest in the behavior of the child. We learned that there is loss, grief, and trauma in adoption and we learned about A LOT of policies and procedures.  What we did not learn was how much we didn’t know.

 

Thirteen years later I can assure you that fourteen hours could not possibly have adequately prepared us for the job of parenting, particularly parenting an adopted child.

 

Those fourteen hours did not prepare me for the tough questions that always seem to come from the backseat of the car. They did not prepare me for knowing when and how to share the tough parts of his story. They did not prepare me for the identity issues he would face as a bi-racial child living in a white family. Though they taught us about trauma, they did not prepare us for it to manifest years later or how to explain that to others. They did not prepare us for handling the effects of prenatal exposure that did not manifest themselves until adolescence and puberty. And NO training of any kind for any parent could adequately prepare you to parent through puberty and the teenage years! (Oh the smell of teenage boys!)

 

Fourteen hours gives you just a glimpse into your journey as a parent and most importantly lets you know that you still have a lifetime of learning ahead.  There is no easy path and no magic manual that spells it all out for you, however, there are a few things I have learned over the last thirteen years that have helped tremendously.

 

  • Find your community. From day one of our adoption journey we have been intentional about surrounding ourselves with other adoptive families. Some of these families have privately adopted and some have adopted from foster care. Many have children in the same age range as our son and some are farther along on their journey. We have learned from each other and supported each other. Sharing resources, having an ear to listen, and a shoulder to cry on have been some of the biggest blessings of finding our adoptive community. They remind me that I am not crazy and I am not alone.
  • Every age and stage is different. As our adopted kids grow and mature, so do their questions. Not only do the questions change, but our responses have to as well.  What my son could understand and emotionally process at age five is very different from what he can understand and process as a teenager. Educating yourself about the emotional development of children will help you know what to share and when. It is their story and they have a right to know, but sometimes they need just enough for right now.
  • Trauma is real. As beautiful as adoption is, the reality is that there is real grief and loss. Even if your child came to you as a newborn or infant, they have experienced great loss. To be the best advocate for your child, adoptive parents need to understand trauma and the effect that it has on their child. Educate yourself about trauma!
  • Give yourself a break! Don’t reinvent the wheel. Parenting is hard!  None of us have it figured out. Read, read, and read some more. Find blogs that you connect with. Find print or online magazines that share both professional and personal articles about adoption. Follow adoption agencies like Nightlight. Glean from those that have been there.

Fourteen hours… That is how long it will take you to figure out that this journey will be a lifelong learning experience.

Why Do Foster Families Quit in the First Year?

With more than 430,000 kids in out of home care each year in the United States, we often hear about the need for more foster homes. You might be surprised to learn that the biggest challenge facing the government-run system is not recruitment, but retention of qualified families. Research shows that one- half to two-thirds of foster parents close their homes within a year of getting approved.  This can be attributed to several factors including lack of support, inadequate education, and a general feeling that very little value is placed on input from foster families. Nightlight is striving to rewrite the script. Part of our mission statement is to prepare and support families to be committed and effective parents. Our team understands that caring for kids from hard places is especially challenging and having a strong support system in place is crucial.

One of the best ways to ensure success as a foster home is to thoroughly research agency options at the beginning of the process. Look for an agency that provides adequate education as well as access to real, ongoing support services. With smaller caseloads and more focus on the family as a whole, a private agency like Nightlight is better equipped to provide high level post-placement support. Nightlight understands that easy access to a wide range of support services is essential. We view our foster families as partners. In addition to a high-quality initial education, we offer mentoring, round-the-clock support, community, counseling, relevant ongoing education, a lending library of resources, and much more. Foster parents report that they often feel isolated and alone in their struggles, so staying connected can make all the difference.

You will also want to look beyond your agency for those around you that are willing to help out when you need it because respite care on a regular basis is absolutely vital to success for a foster family. Research tells us that more than 1/3 of Americans have considered fostering or adopting. Although some may not be quite ready to take that step, we know that we are surrounded by people looking for opportunities to get involved in other ways. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many churches have adoption and foster care ministries in place that provide a wide range of services from lawn care, to meal deliveries, to parents’ night out. The Nightlight team keeps a running list of these resources for families in the areas we serve. Take advantage of opportunities for respite and take time to recharge. Burnout happens fast and is one of the biggest reasons that so many foster families decide to close their homes. You can be proactive and do your best to prevent this by making a list of respite providers in your area so that you have options for quality childcare whenever it’s needed. If possible, ask a supportive family member or friend to attend trainings so that they can become educated on the specialized care that is required.

Being intentional about self-care and making it happen on a regular basis will go a long way toward avoiding becoming overwhelmed and ready to call it quits. Spend time each day doing something that makes you feel good. The reality is that some days there just isn’t time to read a book or go for a run. But something as simple as listening to relaxing music or drinking a warm cup of your favorite beverage can help you recharge. Sprinkle in your favorite sports, playing with pets, listening to a podcast, or journaling throughout your week. Spending time with your Heavenly Father each day is without a doubt the very best way to refocus and fill your heart with hope and joy. This doesn’t have to happen as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.  He is there on your commute to work, and when you’re washing your toddler’s hair, and while you’re heating up leftovers for the second time this week.

Just as important as selecting the right agency and making time for self-care is having realistic expectations. The world tells us to steer clear of hard things, but the Gospel tells us something different. Know that this is going to be hard, but don’t forget that it’s also going to be worth it. There are social worker visits, medical and therapy appointments, court hearings to attend, ongoing trainings, and meetings with the biological family. The reality is that these requirements are time consuming, but they are also necessary. It is important to be both prepared and flexible. Look for ways that you can make the most of these requirements and use them to your advantage. Doing your best to develop a positive relationship with a child’s biological family whenever possible will make a huge difference in your experience at visits. Your comfort level with the family will also serve to build trust with the child and nurture your relationship. The same is true with social worker visits. A good relationship with your social worker will make home visit days something you can actually look forward to. The Nightlight team is here to walk beside our families through it all, keeping our eyes fixed on goal of securing loving homes for waiting children and in doing so, bringing glory to God.

 

By: Leesa Del Rio

How to Become an Advocate for Foster Children in School

Children in the foster care system already have a difficult time adjusting to their new setting. This is especially true if they do not feel they are welcomed into their new school environment or find themselves experiencing new levels of trauma in what should be a “safe place”. It is important to understand that not every child who is in foster care has experienced the same type of trauma and that specific trauma experiences can lead to difficult/hard to handle behaviors. This can lead them to be withdrawn in the classroom, defiant towards caregiver, and struggle academically.  

Children in foster care have already suffered from the trauma that led them to be placed into the foster care system and what are schools doing to prevent more trauma from occurring in the schools? Fortunately, many schools are creating an atmosphere that allows foster children to feel safe and understood in their new school settings. Schools are beginning to encourage teachers to take trauma informed training, allowing them to have a better understanding of trauma-based behaviors and how this can affect the overall functioning of a child. It is important for teachers, and mandated reporters in general, to recognize the signs and symptoms of a child currently experiencing trauma or that has experienced a trauma in their past. Trauma can affect children in a variety of ways and it is important for a child to know that supportive adults are there for them. They need to know you will advocate for them in any way possible, allowing them to feel safe and comfortable with you in a world that has been so frightening at times.  

One can become an advocate for a foster child who has experienced trauma in their school by:  

  • helping the child find counseling services to review their feelings towards the incident that occurred in the school  
  • providing the child with choices  
  • making an “out” plan if the child begins to experience unwanted feelings due to the trauma they have experienced or just in general  
  • Being their shoulder to cry on or someone that will listen when they are ready to discuss what happened to them  
  • Communicating with school counselor on the different behaviors a child may be exhibiting  
  • Allowing a child to know that they are safe with you and creating a safe environment for them in / outside of your home or classroom  
  • Communicating with social workers as well if you see a difference in their behavior 
  • Promoting trauma informed individualized programs in their school  
  • Understanding that the child may not have all of the answers for their behaviors or feelings but supporting them anyway  
  • Allowing for mental health days if a child does not feel comfortable going to school / needs time to think  
  • Letting them know that they are supported by you and others around them  
  • Allowing them to ease into a new environment and not pushing them out of their comfort zone  
  • Not sharing their experiences with others unless they give permission