A few people have asked us what will happen to the stuff that the kids accumulate while with us. To put it simply, anything that is theirs will go with them. This is the requirement of our agency (and, I’m assuming, the State of Michigan). Obviously, their belongings should stay with them.
When S returned home, we sent back the clothes we had purchased for him and any toys that had been gifted to him (by us or others). S arrived with almost nothing. Just the clothes he was wearing, a back pack and some slippers. His placement in foster care was abrupt and unexpected. M & T arrived with lots of stuff, especially M. She had lots and lots of clothes, some toys and dolls. T had some clothes (not as many – he was, after all, just 14 days old). D’s sister & her family generously loaned us baby items – clothes, a car seat and bases, a swing, an exersaucer, a Bumbo seat and more. T used all these things but they will be going back to their owner – and they are going to need them!
We receive a clothing allowance for the kids from the agency every six months. I keep the receipts for all the items purchased with this money and turn it in to our social worker. All the clothes purchased for them with that allowance, anything we purchased specifically for them or that was given to them by someone else will go with them. Learning from our experience with S, we are keeping a few clothing items on hand in various childrens sizes as we continue to do foster care so that we will be prepared for new placements.
As for toys, we will definitely be sending the kids home with things that were given to them as gifts or things that they to which they may be attached. We’ve picked up things over the last few months that we knew M or T would especially enjoy. Many of you have given them gifts throughout their time with us and we want them to have those things to enjoy. Toys that we have in our house that don’t specifically belong to a child will stay and be played with by the new children that come into our lives over the years.
Although, clothes and toys are just things, they have been part of M & T’s life these past six months. We don’t want these six months to be lost in their story. Things were given to them and bought for them by people who loved them at a time when they could not be with their family. They will outgrow the clothes and toys eventually but, just like many of us, they may choose to keep some things as a reminder of when they were small. Besides these things, we have taken thousands of picture of them over the past few months. We are putting these in a photo book for them to have. It breaks my heart when I hear of kids (adopted or in foster care) who have these gaps in their history without pictures or things and are expected to go on in life as if that time did not exist. We want to make sure all the kids who come into our care know that there were people who loved them and enjoyed them during a difficult time in their lives.