Our kids know the routine. New kids, rules stay the same, but they still challenge the rules EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is frustrating to no end. We keep reassuring that they are not being replaced, that the rules will remain the same, and things will still be okay. Yet, they've lived very uncertain lives and their experience tells them otherwise.
Still, we keep on. Until recently, the kids that came to our home were here for a week or two, sometimes only days. So, the kids didn't get too attached. However, our newest additions will likely be with us for some time, if not for always. So, this is a new and scary thing for them.
They are enjoying having a big brother and a new little brother to spend time with but are frustrated with the younger one's lack of abilities and the eldest's tendency toward being a loaner (he's 16). They don't know what to do when they don't know if it is permanent.
They want to trust but it is so hard. They have had their trust broken so many, many times.
Sometimes I wonder if we're doing enough, if we are neglecting anything important, or if we are missing crucial moments. It is hard. We jumped into being instant parents with both feet and it is not an easy task.
We are doing our best though and I hope that one day they will realize that.
Our best suggestions for how to deal with a change like this are, to remain consistent. Try not to change the rules or routine when new children arrive. Ultimately some change is inevitable. Make sure they know that change is possible. For us, new kids mean new social workers, CASA workers, adoptions workers, family visits, doctor's appointments, etc. This makes having a consistent routine difficult but we try anyway.
Make sure everyone gets attention. Yes the new kid is probably grieving and having a hard time with adjustment, but everyone in the household deserves attention. Don't forget your kids' needs.
Create bonding opportunities. Take a field trip, go camping, go fishing, go to the park, do a project together, anything to create a bonding experience for the whole family.
Take time for yourself. Caring for children is hard work, especially if you home school, and particularly when you know they may move in to another placement one day. Find a good sitter, an activity you can drop them off at once or twice a week, or let a trusted family member or friend take over for a weekend. Make friends with other foster parents and take turns watching one another's kids. Then do something for yourself.
Most of all, treat them like they are part of the family, because they are. No matter their bio-family or situation, blood isn't what makes a family, love is.