Photolisting: Now is the perfect time to raise foster and adoption awareness. If you have your own blog or website, perhaps you would like to add our Photo Listing Widget to help raise awareness of foster children nationwide.
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Most children placed in foster homes have to deal with trauma and grief. This trauma could've been them losing one or both parents because of death, addiction, or physical illness; being taken out of their biological family's care suddenly; or dealing with the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual effects of any form of abuse. Whatever the cause of your foster child's sadness or pain, you, as a foster parent, have the important responsibility to help them grief properly. Because you may be a foster parent to a child for only a short amount of time, it's crucial that you jump right in and do what you can while you can.
Helping a foster child grieve will be a different experience with each child, as each child has unique experiences and needs when it comes to healing, finding hope, and moving forward. Sometimes, the experimentation of methods will be a good option. And once you find the method that works best for your foster child, you'll know what you should focus on. If you haven't already identified the right grieving method or methods for your child, take a look at the condensed list below, a list that goes beyond simply sending them to a therapist.
Share Your Own Pain - Chances are your foster child feels alone in their pain. It can be difficult for a person of any age to feel connected with others while dealing with extensive trauma. So, take an opportunity to share your own pain with your foster child. It can help the two of you relate to each other on a deeper, clearer level. It can help your foster child feel like there is someone out there who understands them and their pain. If you want to take it one step further, form an informal support group with other foster children so they can build friendships. Don't force them to talk about their life experiences. Just let them play and bond. Eventually, they'll start talking to each other. And when this happens, your foster child has taken one step toward healing.
Deepen Situational Understanding - Depending on the age of your foster child, they may have a difficult time understanding exactly what happened to bring them to your foster home. One great way to deepen situational understanding it to find children's books about grief and loss and read them with your foster child. This will give you the proper jumping-off point to further discuss your foster child's feelings and inner turmoil, at a level they can easily understand.
Encourage Self-Expression - Bottling up feelings will only lead to more emotional and mental damage. So, encourage self-expression. Your foster child doesn't necessarily have to sit down and talk to someone, but they can draw, write, color, dance, or sing. Sometimes these simple forms of self-expression can help release that pain that's constantly building up inside. For some children, these simple and fun forms of self-expression can reinstate hope and improve understanding.
Confront the Pain - Ignoring the pain and grief your foster child is feeling will not help anyone, especially not the child. Make sure you tell the child it's OK to cry, scream, and be angry. It's OK to feel those emotions. It's normal and it's healthy. The trick is feeling those emotions so they can then let them go. Have them feel those emotions and then deal with them. Don't let those feelings and experiences define your foster child. Your child will eventually need to confront the pain, and sometimes that means confronting the person who caused that pain.
Find Positive Outlets - While encouraging self-expression is a great positive outlet, you can take it one step further. What makes your child happy? What activities help them forget the pain and concentrate on the present? Is it soccer? Baseball? Playing at the local playground? Hosting a pretend tea party? Whatever it is, find those positive outlets for your foster child. It will help remind them and you that there is happiness to be found in this life and that things can get better.
Helping your foster child grieve is also teaching them to grow in spite of bad life experiences and negative conditions. Everyone can rise above what's happened to them, and they can become better and stronger because of it. It hurts to watch a child grieve, but it's an essential part of life. Be there with open arms and a big heart. Your foster child needs someone and something stable. And that is one of your many important foster parent duties.
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The first Thursday after we got back from our trip, Tink had her four-year-well-check. On Saturday, she vomited when she awoke. This is not too unusual given her history of reflux. She ate normally and seemed fine, if slightly subdued, the rest of the day so I ignored it. [more]
I am sitting in the dark blogging while the rain falls outside. This is my favorite way to unwind after a long day. That and we sure need the rain (this coming from a farmerís wife.) [more]
Foster care's main goal is to reunite children with their biological family when the time is right. However, when reunification isn't possible, that's when foster children are available for adoption.
"It began one year when I was just sitting home and I received a phone call. My two great nieces were placed in foster care. I had to get them and I was informed of the things that I would have to do. I wondered how could I possibly take care of them and attend classes? One child was 6 months and the other one was three years old. Who will take care of them 3 hours a night while I attended theses classes for ten weeks. I asked my daughter to take the classes also; that way, if there were other children in care, she would be able to help them. We did everything that needed to be done. But one time my daughter had to work. And I was laid off from work at the time. Two weeks into having the girls the phone rings for me to I'm told to come back to work. Now what am I going to do. I was scared, not knowing who would watch the girls while attending work and attending these classes once a week for ten weeks. Well, things worked out and I signed them up for daycare. I went back to work, just had to get up a little earlier. The only sad part of this story was the mom wouldn't show up for her visit and she would say that she was on her way. That broke the girls' hearts, expecting to see their mom and she didn't show up. Well, it took almost 3 years for her to get herself together, then finally the caseworker said to the judge this mom is ready for her children. She made all visits and never missed one. The tears rolled down my eyes because I was in disbelief. That a caseworker just wanted to get rid of a case and she lied." - Diana P.
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