What Therapists Need Foster Parents To Understand

The difficult journey that leads a child to foster care is almost always a traumatic one. State-run agencies such as Child Protective Services (CPS) assess the safety of each child they handle and decide whether or not the evidence indicates an abusive or neglectful situation and whether it calls for intervention. — Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD

It’s easy enough to understand why being involved in the foster care system is complicated. What is even more challenging are the preparations and adjustments that need to be made by all parties concerned. The situation is as tough as it can get when you put yourself in the shoes of the potential foster child. This person likely had to deal with loss in many forms, was likely uncomfortable with the living situation, and couldn’t identify love and emotional attachment.

 

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The need for foster parents is ever so high. On average, about half a million children in the US spend time in foster care. The decision to open a home to fostering is one that shouldn’t be taken likely. Revisit and evaluate your motivation regularly and for a significant length of time, and ensure that it’s solid enough for the foundation of a foster relationship.

 

Many websites detail what it takes to be a foster parent, and here they are:

 

Parents Need To Prepare

Preparing physically, mentally, emotionally and financially is key. It’s precisely why the discerning process ideally takes a lengthy amount of time. Some of the most important considerations to prepare for are the legal processes. Nothing legal and binding is ever quick and easy. This process begins in the consideration stage and will essentially stay indefinitely, as demanded by the foster care system.

 

Knowing and understanding the profile of the foster child follows with a long to-do list of things to prepare. How old the child is, the culture that person is accustomed to, if they attended school, if they have family nearby and how they grew up. It determines things like sleeping arrangements in the house, school schedule, and habits in the home.

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Parents also need to understand that the preparations are not just on the part of the parents. Especially if the foster family has young kids in the picture, involving the entire family is a crucial part of the process. Getting your family on board for the change entails explaining what fostering is, answer questions a kid might have, and preparing them for the changes and challenges that come with fostering while keeping a positive mindset on the next chapter.

When kids misbehave, parents who understand their children’s underlying needs (related to development and, in some cases, past trauma) respond in ways that guide the development of the personality underneath the monstrous mood paralyzing it. — Blake Griffin Edwards, MSMFT, LMFT

Expect To Manage Difficult Behavior

Something that can’t be said any other way, many foster kids are likely to have behavioral problems as a result of being in foster care and whatever realities they needed to deal with. Unsurprisingly, communication is key. Setting the right boundaries, learning how to discipline and creating a safe space for the foster child are some ways to overcome difficult behavior.

 

Experts also want to remind parents that fostering might be exciting at first, but the challenges have a reputation of taking a toll on marriages. Naturally, with an unfamiliar and challenging situation, stress and tension are high, and arguments might come about, but it’s essential to ensure the healthiness of the marriage and relationship.

 

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With the growing recognition that adoptees have a right and a need to know about their birth-family history, most members of the adoption community acknowledge the benefits of openness for all members of the adoption triad: the adoptive parents, birth parents, and most importantly the child. — Suzette Bray, MFT

There Are People Who Can Help

An important reminder is that support for foster parents is everywhere. Experts warn that there will be many insensitive people who ask all the wrong questions and imply all the wrong things, but being surrounded by positive and helpful people will go a long way.

 

Find a community or support group to interact with regularly. Ask for advice, but always take everything with a grain of salt as every situation is different. Consult with a therapist or seek online therapy when things are getting too difficult to manage.

 

It’s not an easy process, but it sure is rewarding. Here’s to providing a better life for someone, one child at a time.

 

 

 

How Therapy Can Help Foster Children With Separation Anxiety

It’s natural for young children to feel anxious to say goodbye to their parents. They may cry or have tantrums, which can be healthy reactions and a stage of development for children. While the intensity of separation anxiety can vary, some children may not move on from this.

Many children end up in foster care for various reasons. However, a common problem that many of them face is dealing with separation anxiety from their homes and caregivers. These traumatic experiences can lead to mental health issues. It can also negatively impact how they develop socially and emotionally.

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No child deserves to go to foster care, and every child deserves a safe and secure home. That is why proper access to mental health resources should be given priority. Thousands of vulnerable children in foster care would benefit from therapy. When they regularly meet with a licensed therapist, children are given a chance to lead healthier and happier lives. 

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Excessive fear of detachment from a loved one defines separation anxiety. This disorder is a common occurrence seen in younger children. Some common causes of SAD are changes in their environment, stress, and insecure attachment.

According to psychologists, having a parental figure or caregiver is vital for young children. Forming this relationship helps them develop socially and emotionally. So, it can be difficult for a foster child when they have never been attached or have been removed from their parental figure. 

Being taken away from their home and loved ones can perpetuate fear and trauma. Their stress and trauma can be further exacerbated when placed in a foster home. Changes in their environment and previous history of distrust can agitate them and cause tantrums. It’s best to find a foster parent who has the patience and experience to care for traumatized children.

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While foster care can be seen as a solution for a child from an unstable household, many children will find it difficult to understand why they are separated from their homes. This confusion can give them trust issues and an intense fear of abandonment. This, in turn, can later manifest in their relationships. 

Some symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) are:

    • Experiencing sleep disorders
    • Feeling sad and withdrawn
    • Being easily agitated
    • Having trust issues with caregivers

SAD in foster children can be difficult to treat because of their circumstances. Most of them do not get access to the mental health services they need. Thus, they find it hard to bond with and trust their new caregivers. 

The fear usually subsides when they start feeling secure in their environment. But for many children in foster care, their separation anxiety can continue past their adolescence. In some cases, it can even stay with them until adulthood. 

Which Children Are Vulnerable To Separation Anxiety?

Studies show that more LGBTQ+ youth live in foster care and unstable households than their heterosexual peers. These queer adolescents are more likely to have poor academic functioning, develop an addiction, and struggle with mental health conditions. They are already marginalized because of their SOGIE and more vulnerable due to their material conditions. As such, there is a greater need to protect them.

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Meanwhile, among different ethnicities in the US, African-American children are more vulnerable compared to white kids. This situation may be explained by the gap in wealth amongst these racial communities. As studies suggest, poverty is a direct link to children’s placement in foster care. 

These disparities are heartbreaking. However, we must face them squarely for us to address the underlying issues and give foster kids the care they deserve. Given more accessible mental health resources, we provide these vulnerable children with the chance to overcome their separation anxiety and other mental health problems. 

How Therapy Can Help

A mental health professional can treat SAD in children. Children in foster care require early treatment, or their disorder may continue until their adulthood. Since they have a different experience than other kids with SAD, it is best to find a therapist who has experience treating foster kids. 

Your therapist may recommend a foster child to undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an effective form of psychotherapy. During CBT, they will learn how to understand their fears and healthily manage their emotions. Then, they would eventually develop healthier coping skills.

Specialists can also use exposure therapy, another form of CBT. It works by carefully exposing children to separation in controlled amounts. This treatment option helps reduce their anxiety over time. 

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A foster parent can also help make a secure environment by discussing the child’s issues. It helps to learn what triggers their foster child’s anxiety. Also, they can practice the strategies within the treatment plan that their therapist prepared for their kid.

Most importantly, a therapist may help by giving calm support. With their help, foster children can become open to new experiences and develop their independence. For any concerns regarding the child’s well-being, they are the ones to consult. They carry these children’s best interests at heart, so caregivers can be at ease leaving their charges to a therapist’s care.

Conclusion

No children choose to be put into foster care. It can be extremely challenging and traumatic to experience separation from their home and their loved ones. However, in many circumstances, foster care is in their best interest. They may be in grave danger in their original household, or their parents cannot provide them with the material and emotional support they need. 

Foster children with separation anxiety are vulnerable to many mental health issues. That is why it is crucial to provide access to mental health resources. Many kids will have to face the reality of their placement under foster care. Because of the trauma from separation, we should pay close attention to their care and development. One of the best ways we can secure their mental health is through therapy. If given early attention, they can overcome this disorder as they reach adulthood. 

 

Why Therapy Is Crucial For Foster Parents

Becoming a foster parent is extremely challenging. After all, you’ll be in charge of taking care of lives. But what makes it even harder is that the children you’ll be fostering have been through a lot and have special needs.

Often, they’ve been through traumatic situations and experienced abuse. Because of those, they may have more mental and emotional needs compared to other children. They also suffer from the feeling of instability brought by moving from place to place. As a foster parent, it would be your responsibility to introduce these kids to a safe space. It won’t be easy, but providing those kids with the security and love they deserve will be worth it.

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Talking to a therapist can help prepare you for such an important role. They’ll be there to ensure you’re in good emotional and mental shape to take care of foster children. Most importantly, they can aid you in learning how to provide the kids a safe space.

Preparing Yourself To Be A Guardian

When you become a foster parent, you immediately assume responsibility for the life of someone who’s been through a lot. As such, you’ll have to do some preparations for welcoming them into your home. You’ll have to look at things like your financial capability, their room, and necessary supplies. But other than that, you’ll also have to assess your preparedness and capacity as a carer.

Look at your lifestyle, habits, and behavior. Fostering requires a great deal of sensitivity, and it should show through your words and actions. That includes getting rid of biases and judgment, developing healthy routines, and being a great role model for the children.

Therapy can address all those factors. In addition, your therapist can help you break problematic behavior and build healthier ones in their place. You may or may not have to change a lot about your general disposition, and you need to be ready to do so. It may also feel overwhelming at times, but keep in mind that all this will be for your foster children.

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Helping You Provide For Your Foster Children

Kids of all ages appear in foster care, from newborn babies to teens nearing legal age. As a guardian, you need to be able to provide the basic material needs. But aside from that, foster children will need emotional, mental, and social support. 

You have to keep in mind that these children may have never seen what a healthy home is. There’s also a chance that they feel unwanted, more so if they’ve already jumped through different houses over time. In addition, they may not even be interested in knowing you. Again, you always have to remember they have unique experiences that have influenced them into becoming what they are now.

Some kids may have experienced abuse and continue to suffer through some mental health conditions. It’s also possible for them to have depression and anxiety. Others may have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD or may be experiencing an identity crisis due to constantly moving houses. Unfortunately, they have one or more of these concerns more often than not.

You’ll have to equip yourself with knowledge on how to look after children with those conditions. Agencies usually provide training for foster parents like you. However, it would benefit both you and the children if you sought a therapist’s help to be sure. As a professional, they’ll be able to give you advice so you could interact with your foster children healthily.

It won’t be easy fostering those kids towards a better state of mind and heart. It’s also highly possible for them to be unaccepting of your care. Because of that, you’ll have to pay more attention and be more patient and compassionate towards them. It won’t be a smooth journey, but therapy can assist you in making those children feel safe and secure again.

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Allowing You To Care For Them And Yourself

Foster agencies will determine if you’re fit for the responsibility. Afterward, they’ll train you how to take care of those you’ll be housing. They’ll also provide you with clear terms containing the basics, like your role and responsibilities and how long you’ll be fostering. Most agencies will give you a monetary allowance to help with your foster’s needs.

Overall, they provide the necessary things, information, and training you need. However, you’re just a human too. It’s only natural for pressure and emotions to overwhelm you sometimes. Because of that, you may find yourself breaching your boundaries to take care of your foster child.

Your therapist may help you prevent that from happening. Remember, you’re fostering children to provide them with parental care. That involves giving them a safe space, making them feel loved, nurturing them, and keeping them healthy. That process will require effort, patience, and compassion from your side. While that may be difficult, you shouldn’t neglect your well-being in the process.

Therapy will be there to guide you in setting healthy boundaries for yourself. It’s vital, whether it’s a few minutes of alone time for yourself or refraining from over-purchasing for your foster. You may discuss your situation, thoughts, and emotions with your therapist so they can help you with boundary work.

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Aiding You In Processing The Emotional Toll Of Separation

Even if you foster children for a short time, it’s only natural to develop a bond with them. So, separating from them could deal some damage to your mental and emotional well-being. After all, you treated your fosters like they’re your own family. So it’s only expected you’ll feel negative emotions when it’s time for them to leave. 

Your therapist can help you develop a healthy coping mechanism to guide you in handling your emotions. They’ll also be there beside you to aid you in moving forward healthily.

Wrapping Up

Becoming a foster carer is difficult. It entails serious responsibilities that require effort, sensitivity, compassion, and patience. Therapy can help equip you with the proper mindset and knowledge to take on that role effectively.

Your therapist can prepare you for your role and assist you in catering to the needs of your foster children. In addition, they can help you set boundaries for yourself and aid you in processing the emotional toll of the inevitable separation. It won’t be an easy journey. But remember, you’re doing this for the kids who deserve love, compassion, safety, and security.

Frequently Asked Questions About CBT For Foster Children 

Foster children come from different backgrounds. Some come from abusive families. Meanwhile, others may come from families that can’t provide for their basic needs due to financial constraints.

The situation they’re in may be traumatic, especially at their young age. Past cases of abuse or being away from their biological family is indeed a negative experience. 

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Regardless of their background or past, we’re sure these children need a home where they can be fully cared for.

For these foster children, mental health needs often go unmet. When, in fact, these children are at higher risk for mental health problems because of their situation. As foster parents, we should be ready to embrace and give care to these issues. 

Double trauma is common in foster children. Abuse or neglect from a biological family and stress from constantly transferring from family to family causes this trauma. Studies show that the following mental issues are prevalent in foster children: 

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Social Phobias 
  • Depression  
  • Anxiety disorders  

The frequency of these disorders is higher in foster children when compared to the general adult population. It’s alarming that mental health is typically brushed off. If we want our foster children to have a fulfilling life, we should start caring for their mental well-being. 

What can we do for our child? Besides meeting their basic needs, listening, and providing a safe space, letting them receive therapy is also possible. Particularly, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a good option. CBT is common for people with behavioral, emotional, and mood disorders.

It aims to gain insight into why behaviors and actions are done through guided questioning of thoughts and emotions. 

Being practical in structure, CBT is highly effective in helping your child process their behaviors and emotions. It can help them form healthy coping mechanisms and good relations with their foster family. 

Are you figuring out if cognitive-behavioral therapy can work for your child? Read on to know about frequently asked questions asked by other foster parents. 

What is CBT, and how does it work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a popular form of psychotherapy that focuses on an individual’s cognitive functions, such as knowledge acquisition, thinking capacities, logic, reasoning, etc.

CBT’s goal is to gain insight into how negative thinking can impact a person’s behavior and motivation.  It is the most common approach in treating various mental health problems, especially mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

What is an example of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Many techniques are used in cognitive-behavioral therapy. The most commonly used example of CBT is through guided discovery and questioning. This technique allows a patient to cross-examine his/her own thoughts and feelings freely.

The therapist will then challenge him/her to look at a different viewpoint and try to replace the lingering negative feelings or thinking.

Can you do CBT on yourself?

Recent studies have shown doing CBT on yourself is possible and also effective. Many self-help books available in bookstores and on the internet are informative in performing self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy without a therapist’s help.

While self-help CBT is useful, it is still advisable and best to seek a mental health provider’s advice.

How effective is CBT therapy?

While CBT therapy’s effectiveness varies per person, research has concluded cognitive-behavioral therapy as the most effective treatment approach, especially when it comes, but not limited to, mood disorders.

CBT’s effectiveness is found to be similar or far more than psychiatric medications.

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What are the disadvantages of CBT?

Like other forms of treatment or therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy has its disadvantages. Many people find CBT taxing since it is time-consuming.

It is also a person-centered approach and may not account for other stressors in an individual’s life, such as environment and relationships. CBT is also not recommended for people experiencing more complex mental health disorders.

Can CBT be harmful?

There are risks to cognitive-behavioral therapy, which some people may find harmful. For example, in a CBT therapy session, a person may be asked to explore his/her past, which may bring painful feelings and memories.

This is a form of an aggressive method, and individuals may find this uncomfortable at times.

Who is CBT not good for?

As previously mentioned, cognitive-behavioral therapy may not be the right choice for individuals suffering a more complex set of psychological problems. People who are also emotionally sensitive may find CBT challenging.

How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work?

According to statistics, cognitive-behavioral therapy takes an average of 12 weeks to 20 weeks to fully work and see an improvement in a patient’s condition. Each week usually have one therapy session lasting between an hour to two.

Is act better than CBT?

ACT refers to acceptance and commitment therapy. One cannot say that the other is better or vice versa, as both therapies work differently on every individual.

However, the difference between the two is that CBT confronts the negative emotions and thinking upfront, whereas ACT believes in accepting these negative feelings as a part of life.

What are the pros and cons of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

One of the primary advantages of cognitive-behavioral therapy is its effectiveness, being similar to or more than any other type of psychotherapy and even psychiatric medications. CBT is also highly-structured and practical.

However, CBT sessions can take up a lot of time, making it hard for an individual to commit. It may also be a lot more emotionally distressing to some people, given some sessions’ techniques.

Is CBT good for anxiety?

Yes, cognitive-behavioral therapy is right for anxiety. Studies have found CBT to be the most effective treatment option for general anxiety and other anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic depression, phobias, etc.

Can CBT make anxiety worse?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy requires people to unfold their emotions, making it uncomfortable for some, and thus their anxiety worsening. That is why it is essential to have a trusted therapist when you plan on undergoing CBT.

Why is CBT so popular?

Many studies prove CBT as an effective method in treating a wide range of psychological disorders. Therefore, cognitive-behavioral therapy is so prevalent in both clinical and research settings.

Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy?

CBT is commonly used in people with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. However, alcohol and substance abuse problems and eating disorders are also some of the other mental illnesses that can be treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy.

If you are suffering from any of these cognitive difficulties, you should ask your therapist about CBT.

What is the difference between cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy?

Both cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy target a person’s cognitive psychology. Cognitive therapy only aims to improve a person’s reasoning. Meanwhile, CBT targets the connection between an individual’s thinking capacity and behavioral skills.

Ensuring the holistic needs of your child is important. Foster children may have issues brought about by their circumstances.

Becoming a home for a child means being ready to be there for everything – including their mental health needs. You should have a high level of dedication and belief that your child can indeed lead a better life. 

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Mental issues are indicative of deeper problems and experiences. The trauma of being separated from their biological family is difficult to process even as an adult. What more if you’re just a child? 

Of course, not all children placed in foster care have mental health issues. It is important, however, that those who have can receive the right treatment and care.

Some signs you can look out for are severe mood swings, social isolation, recurring nightmares, and behavioral problems. You can seek professional help to ensure the best for your child. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a method you can consider. Its structural approach can help your child better manage their emotions and behavior. Throughout the process, the therapist will provide your child with strategies for coping and behaving.

As a foster family, you must be willing to be a support network your child can rely on for encouragement. 

Despite its benefits, CBT is not for children with complex mental health problems. It also applies if a child does not want to revisit or is unprepared to process their traumatic experiences.

Since the nature of CBT involves opening up and reviewing your thoughts and experiences, it isn’t for every child. Talk and consult with a therapist to know what’s the best course of action. 

Fostering is a wonderful experience that’s full of sacrifice, commitment, and understanding. In this act of love, caring for your child means being there for them wholeheartedly no matter what. 

Being A Mother To Another’s Child

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My sister-in-law brought me to the 2018 Child Fostering Summit that she helped organize as a social worker involved in child fostering. I had nothing else to do that day, and to be honest, I just came out of a bad relationship. Well, it was a non-existent relationship since we were supposed to be boyfriend-girlfriend and yet, I haven’t seen my supposed boyfriend for the past two months. But he was around, oh boy, was he “around.”

Continue reading “Being A Mother To Another’s Child”

Say It Out Loud

 

Dealing with the Emotions

 The mental fatigue and the loss of bodily control that comes along with a cancer diagnosis can cause great stress. The components of the diagnosis and treatment regime can easily overwhelm a person. — Maia Delmoor, MS, LPC, CAADC

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Experiencing shock or disbelief is not uncommon after being diagnosed with cancer. Although emotions like sadness, anxiety or depression may be considered unhealthy it is also normal to feel these emotions when facing the reality of being diagnosed with cancer.

 

Excerpt from curetoday.com

 

“Psycho-oncologists, who address the emotional needs of cancer patients, have determined that a healthy emotional response to a cancer diagnosis includes three phases—initial reaction, distress, and adjustment—that will take patients through a typical grieving process.”

 

It Starts With Support

 

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Being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for anyone. Seeking advice, support or guidance to deal with these emotions is not only good for your mental health but also your physical health. Stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on your sleeping pattern, contribute to insomnia and affect your appetite, all of which will have an impact on your physical health.

 

You can seek out support from a number of sources including therapy near you, social workers or even family or friends. Some hospitals also offer support groups. No matter the resources you choose, dealing with your emotions and being emotionally prepared can decrease stress and anxiety. It is important to remember that your emotional needs are different from the next person, what works for one person, may not work for you. Therapy is not a one size fits all case so it is important you remember to find what works for you.

The transition from a “normal” life to one with cancer can overwhelm a patient with many fears, the biggest being fear of the unknown. Cancer patients experiencing treatments for the first time can be filled with so much anxiety that they develop anticipatory nausea and vomiting. — Jane Framingham, Ph.D.

Maintaining Your Mental Health

 

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Being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for anyone. Seeking advice, support or guidance to deal with these emotions is not only good for your mental health but also aids in reducing the negative impact on your physical being.

 

Excerpt From: Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs.

 

In response to a request from the National Institutes of Health, this report puts forth a plan delineating actions that cancer care providers, health policy makers, educators, health insurers, health plans, researchers and research sponsors, and consumer advocates should take to better respond to the psychological and social stresses faced by people with cancer, and thereby maximize their health and health care.

 

More than ten and a half million people in the United States live with a past or current diagnosis of some type of cancer (Ries et al., 2007); 1.4 million Americans are projected to receive a new diagnosis of cancer in 2007 alone (Jemal et al., 2007). Reflecting cancer’s reach, 1 in 10 American households now includes a family member who has been diagnosed or treated for cancer within the past 5 years (USA Today et al., 2006), and 41 percent of Americans can expect to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life (Ries et al., 2007).

 

Cancer and the Effect on Your Mental Health

 

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Seeking out the support of a therapist is an important part of your treatment plan.  With support, you will be in a better position to deal with emotions and feel less anxious while allowing you the time to focus on your physical health. It also helps to speak with those closest to you. It allows both yourself and your loved ones to face the reality of physical health.

Whether you’re diagnosed with cancer or just having a discouraging day, communicating with a loved one feels like the right move. And in fact, a great deal of science suggests that it is. — Kory Floyd Ph.D.

Find what works for you. Look at the various types of therapy available and find the resources that best suit your needs. It is important that you are comfortable and able to interact in your therapy. Start your journey to recovery with a healthy mind. Do not be afraid to feel emotions or to seek out support. It all starts with saying it out loud.

 

There was no medal at the finish of this challenge, but the prize was the gift of life.“ BROWN RIBBON: A Personal Journey Through Anal Cancer And The Adventure It Entailed by Robbi Woolard

 

 

Telling Your Children That They’re Adopted

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For families with foster children, conversations about adoption may be difficult to navigate. Some parents dread the day that their children will ask about the nature of their entry into the family. People often give conflicting advice on how to handle this issue. Hence, parents end up with this question: how do you tell your children that they’re adopted?

This conversation needs to happen, sooner or later. Parents need to know how to steer the conversation in a way that minimizes the stress imposed on their children. The focus here is to let them know that their families love them regardless of the circumstance.

While they are young and inquisitive, and have their trust in you for helping them to shape many of their world views, you are in the best position to address sensitive information about their birthparents. This is a position that will only last for a brief number of years. — Jennifer Bliss Psy.D., LCSW

Timing

What’s the best time to inform your children of their adopted status? Experts generally agree that earlier is better. Interestingly though, parents throughout history tend to do the opposite. Many families delay this crucial conversation up until the child is already an adult themselves. In some cases, the children never get to know that they’re adopted.

These people argue that very young children cannot fully comprehend the implications of adoption. By waiting until the children are old enough, they believe that they’ll be able to take the news with grace.

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However, precisely the opposite happens. By delaying the news, loved ones give the impression that they’re lying to their children all these years. This revelation also challenges core beliefs and can shake the self-identities of adopted children. Revealing the news at older ages tends to cause more strife and increases the mental stress that the children feel.

By discussing the topic of adoption at a very early stage, parents can normalize the issue and remove any stigma that the children might feel. Their children will believe that adoption is just as usual as being born and raised by the same set of parents. Hence, there is minimal stress and the risk of an identity crisis.

Many foster families or adoptive families struggle with the unknown; that is, the lack of information they have on the child’s upbringing, trauma experiences, and attachment to their birth parents. —

The key here is to discuss the topic using age-appropriate methods. When disclosing information to anyone at a tender age, it’s okay to simplify the subject to avoid confusion. Just make sure to be truthful and clarify any misconceptions that might develop.

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Normalization

Another technique for holding the conversation on adoption is to assure the child that adoption is a normal process that happens regularly. Children might think that they’re somehow inferior to others just because they underwent adoption. Expect these thoughts to occur to them and reassure them that adoption is not a source of shame.

Psychologists and adoption researchers have not yet come to agreement as to whether or not adoptees, when compared to non-adoptees are at higher risk for a host of psychological and interpersonal difficulties. However, after devoting many years to this very question, Dr. David Brodzinsky, a preeminent scholar in the field, came to believe that while being adopted sets the adoptee on a lifetime search for identity, meaning and connection, he is no more or less at risk psychologically because of being adopted. — Lawrence Rubin Ph.D, ABPP, LMHC, RPT-S

Also, answer any queries to the best of your ability. If they express the desire to know more about their birth parents, encourage that curiosity. Never demonize the birth parents. This way, you’re setting up an open and non-threatening environment for your children to talk about adoption. This openness reinforces the belief that adoption is typical. 

Finally, emphasize your unconditional love. Your children need to know that they don’t have to fulfill any requirements to obtain your love and care.

Many adopted children believe that they need to prove their worth to their parents. Reassure them that they always have your love, and they’ll better accept their adoption as a positive part of their identity.

How Fostering Your Siblings Works

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Most children and teens in the foster care system have experienced significant rejection, whether their biological parents ignored their most fundamental needs or acted violently against them in some way to bring a false semblance of control to the chaos of their own lives. — Blake Griffin Edwards, MSMFT, LMFT

Most of the time, siblings put into foster care have already been through so much. They need each other to get through difficult times and support each other in the absence of their legitimate parents. However, when all possibilities have been exhausted, the foster care system allows these children to be split into different caregivers or homes. An alternative solution to avoiding sibling separation and saving sibling relationships falls upon the sibling at least 18 years of age.

Kinship Foster Care

Can I Foster My Siblings?

Yes, it is possible. An older sibling may foster their immediate brothers and sisters, stepsiblings, and cousins. Fostering your siblings is along the lines of relatives fostering their nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. This type is called kinship foster care.

How Am I Considered Legible In Fostering For Them?

Foster care for siblings involves the active role of the local authorities as they perform thorough assessments. Therefore, the sibling must qualify as a caregiver by undergoing a strict evaluation from the social worker.

Applying for fostering siblings requires the carer to be at least 18 years old with a stable source of income and residence of their own. Local authorities urge aspiring foster carers to check their local laws on the foster care requirements. Once approved, the foster carer signs a foster agreement confirming their roles, responsibilities, and limitations as the carer.

…you are looking for caregivers who not only have the capacity to parent just as any typical American parent would, but you are also looking for caregivers who have the capacity to parent children effectively who have mental health conditions, sometimes coupled with physical health conditions, sometimes coupled with developmental conditions. — Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD

Source: pixabay.com

Is Any Support Given To Foster Carers Like Me?

In this setup, carers receive developmental and financial support from local authorities. The state supervises the children’s upbringing and requires carers to work with professionals while the children are under their care. This kind of development support helps carers learn techniques from professionals.

They also receive training to improve their parenting skills. Older siblings fostering their siblings receive allowances to support the child and kinship care payments.

Informal Kinship Care                                                                                                 

This setup is typical among grandparents who take over as parents after a kid’s parents have gone. The difference between informal and kinship care lies in the appointment of the guardian, the duration of the child’s stay, and the support given by the government.

[Social services] always assesses to see if the child(ren) can remain in the home while supportive and strengthening services are offered to the parents.  However, if it is determined that child(ren) cannot safely remain in their homes during this time and we will further assess to see if they can be placed with relatives, as placement with a family member usually serves the best interests of the child due to the continuity of family connections, ties and identity. — Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W.

Appointment And Supervision

In fostering a child, kinship foster care shares similarities with informal kinship care. However, the informal way involves birth parents assigning a foster parent without local authorities’ direction. Some cases involve birth parents making verbal agreements with the concerned carers to care for their child in their absence. Without a formal appointment, the government cannot supervise the child’s foster carers.

Source: pixabay.com

Duration Of Foster Care

Compared to kinship foster care, the informal route gives parents the power to take the children back at any given time. Unlike in kinship foster care, there is no contract to honor in this setup. Under due process, the government also has the power to take children away from neglectful foster families despite the informal arrangement.

Support For Informal Arrangements

Under informal kinship, the birth parents are usually responsible for financially supporting the child. Besides, universal support is available to all children regardless of needs. Carers may also apply for additional support based on their discretion. The Child Services department grants this extra help.

In the end, when you are an older sibling trying to look out for the best interests of your kin, you can always choose to become their foster carer. Both kinship and informal foster care have pros and cons. It is crucial to ponder whether you are indeed capable financially, physically, and mentally for such a great but fulfilling responsibility.

Minding Mental Health

Hand In Hand

depression chat

Source: sharingblogideas.com

In a recent blog, Homeless and Mental Health, it suggests that homelessness and mental health in most instances go hand in hand. Mental Health Disorders can create circumstances in which a person can become homeless and vice-versa, when being homeless can increase the instances of the individual developing a mental health disorder.

The homeless are defined by U.S. federal legislation as people who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” Determining how many homeless people there really are remains a perennial problem. — Romeo Vitelli Ph.D.

Seeking out support and therapy for mental health disorders can be simple as typing in ‘depression chat rooms’ into a search engine to find support and therapy resources. This however is not the case amongst the homeless and transient communities with limited access to resources and technology which often results in these disorders going untreated.

 

Research Shows

 

  • ±33% of the homeless are people with serious untreated mental illnesses
  • The most common mental health disorders amongst the homeless are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and schizoaffective disorder
  • More than 30% of people released from mental institutions became homeless within 6 months of their release
  • There has been a steady increase in homelessness in cities and small towns since the 70’s

 

The Link between Mental Health Disorders and Homelessness

Source: nightlightcanada.com

To understand the link between mental health and homelessness, one must understand how the affects and disruptions mental health disorders can have of the daily lives of an individual with any one of many mental health disorders. The symptoms and side effects can include:

 

  • The inability to carry out basic essential self-care tasks such as hygiene and household management
  • The challenges associated with maintaining acceptable work performance or the inability to keep employment
  • Withdrawing and isolating themselves which results in not being able to maintain relationships with friends and family
    • Increased substance abuse or self-medicating which can lead to increased addictions which add their own set of challenges in addition to those presented by mental health disorders.

The nation’s homeless are typically incapable of paying for emergency and other services out of pocket, often having little to no income with which to fund exorbitantly expensive bills. Additionally, the homeless are usually without any sort of health insurance. — John Smith Ph.D.

Painting the Picture

 

A recent report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicates that:

 

  • Approximately 9.8 million adults in the U.S. experiences a serious mental illness that affects or interferes with one or more major life activities in a given year
  • Approximately 26% of the homeless adults staying in shelters are living with serious mental health disorders
  • 70% of the youth in juvenile facilities have at least one mental health condition
  • Less than half of adults in the U.S. with a mental health disorderhave received assistance from health services
  • Research shows that Mental illness was the third largest cause of homelessness for single adults

 

The Result of Lack of treatment

 

For the most part, people with untreated mental disorders have difficulty living alone or fitting in with families and communities. Often as a result of the signs, symptoms and effects of these disorders, these individuals are unable to participate in the simplest tasks self-care and self-preservation.

 

It is also not uncommon in some communities that people with mental disorders are shunned and face the challenges and difficulties of discrimination. As a result of the combined results of the symptoms and side effects of untreated mental disorders, many become homeless.

Many believe that homelessness is the result of lack of motivation, substance abuse, or poverty. But the reality is that homelessness is also the result of abuse, trauma, and mental illness among many other factors. —

There Is Always Hope

Source: soul-candy.info

“THOUSANDS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS END UP HOMELESS, BUT THERE ARE APPROACHES THAT CAN HELP OUT.” Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

 

Excerpt from The Cost Of Not Caring

 

“Dorothy Edwards knows the despair and paranoia that cripple the mentally ill from seeking help and finding an apartment. For eight years, Edwards, 56, wandered the streets of Pasadena, Calif., sleeping in alleys, scouring Dumpsters for scraps of food and smoking meth to fend off a crushing depression. Her teeth were rotting, and sores broke out all her over body. She was sexually assaulted repeatedly and had her belongings stolen multiple times.

 

When things got truly bleak, Edwards would check herself into the psych ward of a hospital, only to be back on the streets within days. Various friends ravaged emotionally by the homeless life had flung themselves off the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, known locally as “suicide bridge.” She considered using the bridge herself, she says.”

Addressing Issues Of Street Children

Homeless Kids

It’s not overkilling to assume that children with no homes have been through more hardships than most adults. Whereas some street children are victims of various types of abuse that tremendously impact their mental health, other children’s parents particularly those who have low income need to look for a job or serve time in prison. It may seem as if all of their problems get resolved as soon as children go into the foster care system and get three meals a day, but the reality is that family homelessness is not that easy. It is not easy at all having to experience domestic violence, no access to education, and no safe place to reside.

Addressing Issues Of Homeless Kids

children that are homeless

Source: pixabay.com

Street Children

Even in recent years, the foster system surely has no qualms about taking street children at any time. Despite that, the succession of events that led to the status of these street children being on the streets and without permanent housing, there was still – for lack of a better word – appropriate for kid age. A child with no home – also called child homelessness – may end up in life having trauma, depression, increased levels of aggression, inability to trust others, or all of the above.

…the county of Orange receives over 2000 calls a month for suspected child abuse. At any given time there are approximately 2,700 children who are in out-of-home care. — Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W.

  • Children Lose Homes Because Of Domestic Violence – The wrongdoings that people can commit against street children, including adults and young people, are so diverse. The most obvious ones include sexual abuse, substance abuse, torture, human trafficking, physical abuse, domestic violence, etc. But then again, it is also brutal to let children see their father beat up their mother or become an accessory to a crime. It is so hurtful to accept that children are deprived of a shelter that every child should have. How many children go through child homelessness every year? Do people even recognize their presence in their own communities? Do we as citizens try to make a difference in these children’s lives?

Homeless families suffer a lot

The children who have had such experiences of child homelessness in the past may wind up as criminals themselves because of being on the streets. Or these children may have zero self-confidence all their lives and negative mental health and eventually go down with depression if a therapist doesn’t get through to them immediately. These children suffer a lot of mental, emotional, physical, and social violence just because it is all rooted in not having a loving home. They go through their lives without any financial or emotional support involved. They will definitely need to be provided with therapeutic interventions for their healing. Perhaps funding for transitional housing or emergency shelters should be provided for by the legislative bodies in the government.

 

children homelessness and poverty

Source: pixabay.com

  • The Effects Of Poverty On Low Income or Poor Households – Many of the children and young people who need fostering also come from homeless families that can’t provide even their fundamental needs. Rather than having three meals a day, for instance, these children can only get one. These children do not have the privilege of having support services, might end up being on the streets, and may not go to school regularly because children prefer to do odd jobs to earn money than hone their intellect. Other children who are going through family homelessness and may need mental health care cannot see a psychiatrist too as their parents have low income or have no medical insurance for support services to cover the fees.

Regardless of the scenarios, these children can relate to, offering child counseling may enable them to use poverty as a motivation to change their fate.

Nearly one in three of these children and young people have significant psychiatric problems and other mental health issues during their time in foster care—especially those related to trauma and neglect that brought them into the system (McMillen JC et al, J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2005;44(1):88– 95). — Glen R. Elliott, MD, PhD

  • Parents Abandoning Their Children- An underlying reason why there are children who end up experiencing youth homelessness is that their parents abandoned them for good – no one to love them, no guidance, no shelter, no safe place, nothing at all. Children weren’t physically hurt, yet these young people got left on the street, with a non-caring guardian, or at home by themselves. They carry with them the trauma of not having security for most of their lives. They struggle to survive with their mental health at risk.

Counseling is necessary at this point as well since these children may assume that they’re not meant to feel cared for and loved. Worse, children may desert their future families too, thinking that it’s normal.

  • Experiencing Bullying and Harassment – In not-so-rare cases, children who are already in the system may experience harassment whenever they go to school. Some children tend to pick on their ill-fated classmates, especially once they find out that they are under foster care.

Although it is hard to predict if and when it will happen, speaking with a child counselor or having access to mental health and supportive services about this mixed form of abuse can keep the risk of further bullying at a lower level. This also helps their transition period become easier growing up. Again, providing them with transitional housing and getting support in terms of education would be a big help, regardless of the age group they are in.

The best foster and adoptive parents know that helping a child involves more than just “wanting to”—it involves sticking in there when times get rough. — Carmen Sample, MSW, LSW, CAC I

Street Children

In Summary About The Street Children

In the end, youth counseling sessions help street children overcome their past so that they can dream of a bright future. Street children may not believe that the latter is possible if hatred, guilt, resentment, and violence still fill their hearts and minds. If they are hesitant to go to therapy, they can always find sites on the web that provide online services.

With counseling, a child with no home will be given a chance to have a symbolic place of love, care, kindness, and understanding. These will guide them to have a home in their heart and will help them build their dreams – and probably a physical home too.

 

FAQs On Street Children

  1. Where do most street children live?
  2. Why a street child has no childhood?
  3. Are there street children in the USA?
  4. What is a homeless kid called?
  5. What are the street children’s problems?
  6. What is life like for a street child?
  7. What are the causes of child homelessness?
  8. Why we should help street children?
  9. How can we help a street child?
  10. How many kids are homeless?