March 04, 2007,
K. asks from Oklahoma City, OK on November 10, 2006
What Should They Call Us?
My husband and I have been foster parents for alomost 9 years. We always introduce ourselves to the kiddos by our first names. Most times, they are calling us 'mama' and 'daddy' by the end of their first day with us. We do not want to take the place of their biological parents and will remind them that they can call us '?' and '?'. Well...my mother constantly tells the kids that '?' is not your mother (referring to me), and '?' are not your sisters (referring to our adopted daughters), and '?' are not your brothers (referring to our biological sons). Are we wrong for allowing the foster children to call us 'mama' and 'daddy'? Is she wrong for telling them this? All we want is for the foster children to feel a sense of belonging to a family. What would you all do?
A.M. answers from Oklahoma City on November 10, 2006
With children in foster, as I'm sure you know, they usually have suffered somesort of trauma. Allowing them to come up with a special name for you and your husband is a good idea, as long as that name is nice. If they are old enough to comprehend, this allows them ownership in the family without necessasarly having them call you momma and daddy and them feeling conflicted with their feelings of betrayal to their biological parents. You may find they still want to call you mommy and daddy, but allowing them choice is the key issue. I would seriously consider limiting the time spent with your mother if she continues to tell these children they are not the siblings of your biological and other foster children. That is abusive to the children. You need to set boundaries to protect these children and that my require limited contact with people who are negative. Good Luck.
B.E. answers from Oklahoma City on November 10, 2006
I have been fostering children for almost 2 years and my foster kids always call me momma. My parents are very supportive and always refer to me as momma when talking to the foster kids. I've only had little ones age 2 and under, but the ones that can talk call my biological son Bubba and I refer to him as their brother.
I agree with you that they need the feeling that they belong to a family and if they are constantly told that this is not their family that will make it even harder for them to create bonds and could harm them in the future when they are trying to form relationships of their own.
I recently got a bunkbed for my son's room and I'm thinking of taking a school age boy. If/when I do, he will be welcomed to call me mom or B.. I think it's the child's choice and what they feel most comfortable with.
I guess I'm lucky to have a really supportive family. They buy Christmas presents for my foster kids and everything!
J.M. answers from Bloomington on March 04, 2007
My family has had adoptive children prior to the adoption (when we had them they were wards of the state). When the child wanted to call us Mom and Dad we stated that we were interim, until the Lord figured out who would be the best Mom/Dad. We then told them it was okay to call us by our first names but with that little bit of extra respect as "the parental unit". So, for me, it was always Momma Jes (even though I am white). It had a nice twang and a nice feeling. And what was better is when I became just Mom.
D.L. answers from Oklahoma City on November 11, 2006
Foster parents deal with children coming from such a variety of backgrounds, trauma, and situations that some may want to call you mom and dad and some could be offended by that. I would give them the choice since it is their childhood and you are there to help them. If you don't allow them to call you mom or dad when they want too they could feel like you want to keep a boundry between you and them or that they are diferent, not a true family member. For the children who don't want to call you mom you should have another name that is respectful but not too formal.