– As a foster mother of many children, I know that most of children’s problems are solved in a strong family, – said Maria Lvova-Belova, Ombudsman for Children, opening the forum. – For me, the realization of this forum is not only a professional story, but also a personal one. I myself am a foster mother of five children, I know firsthand that a foster child is a special world, it is not always easy to establish contact with him and build a life path. For this reason, the issues of raising foster parents and children raised in foster families are of particular importance today.
The All-Russian Online Forum of Foster Families gathered a record number of participants this year – almost five thousand. More than 28,000 people watched the broadcast of the forum. The event lasted four days and three nights, and parents and specialists had many questions.
“In order to answer everything, we would probably need two weeks,” jokes the organizer of the forum, director of the Center for the Development of Social Projects, author of the website “Adopt.ru” Armen Popov, “but we try to respond to all current challenges. and discuss the issues that we parents, not just adoptive parents, face in our lives.
The forum has been held for the tenth time and every year it gives the floor to the best specialists and grateful listeners – the adoptive parents. In recent years, the forum has been held online, and every year it brings together more and more participants. The large-scale event is held with the support of presidential grants. The broadcast, which takes place on the Adopt.ru website platform, is viewed from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.
This year, the forum did not accidentally open on Student’s Day: its theme was the education of foster parents. By presidential decree, 2023 has been named the Year of the Teacher and Mentor, and every adoptive parent, according to the organizers, turns out to be both a teacher and a mentor. On the other hand, every adoptive parent needs a mentor.
The participants were able to discuss many sensitive topics. Do the close relatives of the tutors need psychological and pedagogical support? Do you need changes to the foster parent school program? Should prospective adoptive parents be more informed about childhood and adolescent trauma? Do schools and families need a conciliation service? How to share an adopted child if the parents decide to separate?
Taking into account that adoptive parents are prepared to study day and night, the organizers of the forum have devised a format of night meetings for them.
– This time, during evening meetings, another sensitive topic was born – the issue of relations with blood children in a foster family, – says Armen Popov. – How to prepare blood children? How to build relationships? The decision to adopt a foster child is made by the parents. But let’s take a simple situation. The blood child is 10 years old, we explain that there is a girl or a boy who can be helped, the child agrees. And after two or three years the child comes and asks: why do I need all this? Mom is now not just my mother, but the mother of about ten children who live with me in the same apartment, and in general I want everything to be as before. This happens very often. And our own child can become our helper, or he can become a time bomb in family relationships, from which the heart sometimes breaks. How to prepare for this? We will try to do a cycle of webinars on this topic.
Armen clarifies that this problem does not concern only foster families. When the youngest children are born, the older ones are not always happy about this event. The same questions arise when a family has children from the first marriage, and then common ones are born.
– At the forum, we pay a lot of attention to the education and self-education of parents of foster families, – says Diana Mashkova, director of the ABC Family charitable foundation. – But the best teachers are our children, if we had not had a child, if we had not adopted, if we had not taken custody, we would hardly have had the need to receive such an amount of knowledge.
The organizers promise that no question sent to the forum and to the ministries will go unanswered. Some of them have already been answered during broadcasts.
The next large-scale online meeting of foster families and experts will take place in December this year. It is already known that one of the topics of the forum will be the preparation of parents for foster care and active parenthood. In addition, experts will discuss deviant behavior problems in children, both born and adopted. Experts say that recently the number of children registered with the youth affairs commission has risen sharply. Experts will have to find out what caused this jump.