Some amazing friends of ours are going through the process of approval as foster parents at the moment. One of the things they were saying they’d been advised to create was a welcome book. As we were chatting about this I got really excited about the idea and offered to make it for them.
I started by looking for examples online and was really surprised to draw a blank. It seems like such an important thing I thought I’d blog about it in the hopes of helping out some other foster families in the future. If that’s you – I’m in awe of what you are doing and I really hope this helps a bit.
So, I think there are 2 main things I think this book can do.
- To give new kids the chance to find out about the home they are about to arrive in – this is the obvious bit.
- I also wanted to help my friends new children have an easy place to find out things about their new carers – if you grew up in a house you don’t need to ask where your mum was born or whether or not she went to university. I imagined what it would be like to have to always ask, and I thought the book could be a place to go and quietly look to find out, and it might feel a bit more like family more quickly.
I’ve taken lots of pictures of the book but I’ve put things over faces and names for the most part to preserve a little anonymity – though anyone who knows them wouldn’t have a tough time working out who they are.
I used basic scrapbooking techniques and materials, if you’ve never done scrapbooking but want to make a foster welcome book like this walk into any craft store and stock up on the off the shelf resources there – be warned there are so many pretty things and the cost can escalate!
If you wanted to do an inexpensive version of the same idea you could use a ring binder and plastic wallets – this is better than sticking stuff in a pre bound book as it a book quickly bulges as you stick things in.
You will need:
- Folder – I chose something gender neutral that I hoped a teenager would feel was ok because that suits the type of fostering my friends are doing.
- Plastic wallets
- card inserts to match the size of the wallets
- Lots of photos of things around the house and a few key people they will meet
- Some typed and printed bits from important people in your life – get them to write it for you
- glue/double sided tape
Front cover – a picture of my friends on the doorstep
Inside cover – whatever page they are looking at they can see this bit, it is really the statement from the foster parents to the kids to tell them why they are wanted, and why they are committed to this.
Page one – Our Address and Phone number – they are going to need to know and you don’t want them to have to ask. I wanted to write ‘Welcome Home’ but I know that this is a complex thing for a foster child, home might always feel like somewhere else, so I put ‘to our’ in smaller letters in the middle.
Pages giving basic information about the foster parents – I went for fun pictures rather than serious ones, then I made a list of likes and dislikes, favourite colour, hobbies, age and so on. I did two pages, one for each of my friends, the picture shows one of them.
Pages about the house – I took loads of pictures of the house so they can familiarise themselves with it before they come. I didn’t let my friends tidy up first as I thought it was important it doesn’t look like a fake show home – it is a real home, it is lovely but it is normal. I threw in a few facts like where my friends like to sit in the Lounge, who works at which desk and who is the king of the remote control! There were lots more pages but to the outsider, well it is just a house! This page is an example.
Bedrooms and Bathrooms – which room might be theirs and will they get to personalise it. My friends are long term fostering so we are going to redecorate according to the tastes of the kids. I included pics of the bathroom they will use – apparently this can be an anxiety area so it might help,
Meet the dogs – these pages are to introduce the pets, I wrote stuff about what each dog is like to help them be able to walk in and feel confident with them. But since they are all rescue dogs in some way it also shows that these are nice, caring, safe people.
House Rules – just a few so that it isn’t overwhelming. This was our list:
- We don’t say mean words about each other
- We tell each other where we are going and when we expect to be back
- When we go out the front we are very careful not to let the dogs out
- We look after each other
- We don’t go in each others bedrooms without knocking and being invited in
- We ask before playing with someone else’s stuff
- If you get something out you put it away
- When we get things wrong we say sorry
Friends and family – a few facts and pictures
Education – where the foster parents went to school and university.
Places we’ve been/places we’ve lived – this is just some nice background, it was fun making the maps look pretty and just fills in a bit of knowledge.
Food – this one is small but important, can they get their own food? What sorts of things might we eat? I added in my friends’ favourite food (curry and KFC!) and where they ususally shop – it just shows things will be normal and comfortable.
Family Tree – I made a really simple family tree to help put all these new people in context, I did one for each of my friends.
Holidays – My friends usually go to France on holiday, they have their own place there and this should make it less of a mystery (also it is awesome – lucky kids)
What will the week be like? – This is a basic run down of what happens in the family each day. Football and Church feature heavily in my friends’ lives, this gives a bit of insight into these sorts of things. I did another page about church/faith so that they know they can ask questions if they want to.
That’s about it – I really hope it helps.