To be fair to your children - and to make the process a little easier for yourself as well - I believe it is best if foster kids are at least a year or two younger than your youngest.
- Little kids follow the lead of older kids. It is helpful to have the older ones lead with a good example.
- You can remind your kids they are older and therefore should be able to resist any pressure from the younger foster child.
- Eliminates the complications of trying to explain to a young child why they shouldn't necessarily do what this older sibling tells them to. (And eliminates the risk of them saying, 'Mommy said I don't have to listen to you!')
- Reduces the potential for jealousy. (Both ways.) All kids are more inclined to 'share' with younger children.
- Nobody likes to lose their position as the oldest child, and the second-born is not likely to want to become the third-oldest. Causes all kinds of resentment and conflict.
- School dynamics (and even relationships with teachers) can change for your existing kids when a foster child joins the family.
- It will be much easier for you, and your children, and your foster child if you don't have to worry what is happening when your foster child and your littlest one/s are alone together.
- You know how important it is for a foster child to be accepted as part of the family. That is made so much easier if all your kids are mature enough to cope with the new addition - and feel 'powerful' enough to encourage, advise, reprimand etc when appropriate ... instead of just feeling as though they must let the foster child bully them or lead them because the new kid is older.
One of my most enjoyable and most challenging experiences as a foster mother was with a foster child who was 8 years older than my youngest. There was certainly a lot of jealousy towards the little 'cute' one, and I worked very hard to help them both cope. Had the age difference been less, it would have been more difficult for me to keep a watchful eye on exactly what was happening.
I am trusting you will understand what I mean when I say this, peeples, without taking it the wrong way .... It is really important that you don't sacrifice the welfare of any of your own children in trying to save someone else's.
For someone like me, taking a child into my home means opening my door and letting them feel welcome. I would never want to close the door on them again. With experience, I believe the best chance of success comes when your kids are older.