What to Call Your Foster Parents

Submitted by PeterAKenny on October 20, 2020

What does your new foster son or daughter call you? Names are important. His initial reaction offers a window to his world. The way he refers to you will stem from the experiences he has had with those who came before you.

First, listen to what your foster child says, how he or she sees you at the start. Does she call you mommy? You may want to accept that role, at least for a while. Many children of divorce today have two mothers and fathers. The only reason to object to that name would be if it offends the birth mother. You don’t want to begin your fostering in competition with her.

Does he use your first name? I would question that. Sharing first names suggests an equality of friendship and roles that does not exist. You might suggest that he preface your name, as the black community often does, with “Miss” or “Mr.” “Miss Mary, may I have a cookie?”

Or you might gently suggest an alternative, that he address you as Mr. or Mrs. Jones. Frankly, I think that sounds far too formal.

Another “family” possibility would be to assume the role of aunty or uncle. Let him know he can call you Uncle Jim. Or Aunt Mary.

Individual families may have a variety of affectionate “pet names” for one another. So long as these do not cause conflict or confuse parent-child roles, they can be useful.

If your child has not already called you mommy or daddy, adoption offers a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the transition. It’s now official. “Call me Mom.” “I am your Dad.”

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