Ideally, foster parents provide a stable family home in which the child can grow and thrive. But foster care is meant to be a temporary solution to a complicated problem. All involved parties work together to resolve the family problems and reunite children with their natural parents.
At that time, foster parents must give up the children they have bonded with, fed, clothed, and housed. So how does one get over, what is essentially, the loss of a child?
Think of the child.
The first step to letting go of a child that has left your care is to remember that he or she will benefit from the reunification. First of all, children are constantly growing and learning. The longer a child is in foster care, the more likely they are to struggle with the sudden changes in their routines and general home life.
Secondly, studies have shown that children in long-term foster care are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems and face more risks than those with shorter stays. All-in-all, children need to have access to the bonds, roots, and cultural connections they can only get by living with their biological families.
Think of your children.
Giving a child back to their natural parents will often cause anxiety for foster parents, but many of them still have their own children in the home. Those children deserve to have their parents’ focus and attention. Therefore, a foster parent cannot give into the grief and despair they may be feeling. It would be irresponsible and neglectful to allow yourself to sink into a depression or begin abusing drugs or alcohol.
Not only that, but young children will also feel the loss of someone they had considered a brother or sister and they need your strength and guidance when navigating those feelings. This may even be the perfect time to grow a little closer as a family yourselves.
Think of yourself.
Yes, you have cared for your foster children as if they were your own and you are probably feeling their loss in a very deep and real way. Still, depression and substance abuse are just as bad for you as they are for your children. Allowing that to happen will only serve to negatively affect your mental, physical, social, professional and financial health.
Consequently, you must find the time to care for yourself and maybe even grow a little in the process. With more time you could learn a new skill, return to work or school, or rediscover an old hobby. Most of all, you can take this moment to reconnect with your own family and friends and find comfort in those people that are still present in your life.
Children of all ages are placed into foster care for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, many of these youth have been subjected to parental neglect, exploitation, and all forms of abuse. With whom a child will live while in out-of-home care is based on his or her age, gender, and existing health issues. In the end, however, these children will leave the home and that loss can be difficult for foster parents, but there are several good reasons to let go and move on.
Author: Children First FFA