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.”
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
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.
“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
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. —
Maintaining Your Mental Health
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Hand In Hand
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.
- ±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
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
“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.”
It’s not overkill to assume that homeless children have been through more hardships than most adults. Whereas some kids are victims of various types of abuse, others have parents who need to look for a job or serve time in prison.
The foster system surely has no qualms about takingthe deprived youngsters in anytime. Despite that, the succession of events that led them there was still – for lack of a better word – appropriate for their age. They may end up having trauma, depression, intense aggression, inability to trust others, or all of the above.
Whether or not these problems manifest upon their arrival, it’s important to subject them to counseling. After all, these children have to let go of the things they experienced to recover. But they may not even be able to do sowithout the guidance of a therapist.
Below are the issues that counseling can address.
…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.
The wrongdoings that people can commit to children are so diverse. The most obvious ones include rape, torture, human trafficking, physical abuse, etc. But then again, it is also brutal to let kids see their father beat up their mother or become an accessory to a crime.
The kids who have such experiences in the past may wind up as criminals themselves. Or they may have zero self-confidence and go down with depression if a therapist doesn’t get through to them immediately.
Many of the kids who need fostering also came from families that can’t provide even their fundamental needs. Rather than having three meals a day, for instance, they can only get one. Some may not go to school regularly because they prefer to do odd jobs to earn money than hone their intellect. Others who may need mental health care cannot see a psychiatrist too as their parents have no money or medical insurance to cover the fees.
Regardless of which scenario a homeless child can relate to, offering to counsel to them may enable them to use poverty as a motivation to change their fate.
Nearly one in three of these children have significant psychiatric problems 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
Anunderlying reason why there are youngsters who end up homeless is that their parents abandoned them for good. They weren’t physically hurt, yet they got left on the street, a non-caring guardian, or at home by themselves.
Counseling is necessary at this point as well since an abandoned child may assume that they’re not meant to feel cared for and loved. Worse, they may desert their future family too, thinking that it’s normal.
In not-so-rare cases, the kids 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 counselor about this mixed form of abuse can keep them from being bullied again.
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
In the end, the counseling sessions will help the homeless children overcome their past so that they can dream of a bright future. They may not believe that the latter is possible if hatred, guilt, resentment, and violence still fill their heart and mind.
Your Transient Community
We often pass the homeless and transients on the street or in the parks in our communities and make assumptions about how they ended up there. The number of people affected by homelessness is expected to more than double by 2041.
Homelessness is often the result of untreated mental illness. About 7.7 American adults experience severe mental illness and many never receive proper treatment. — Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC
There are a number of reasons that someone can end up homeless and as a member of that community, it is not your job to fix them or their problems but there are a number of things that you can do to bring people in the community together to offer support to those that need it.
It Is Their Story to Tell
Assuming the worst is not uncommon when it comes to people making assumptions about the homeless and transient communities. However, the truth is, everyone has a story and it is not always as bad as one tends to assume.
Women showed a slightly higher risk than men (7.6 percent vs. 5.4 percent), and the risk of homelessness also seemed strongly linked to age. — Romeo Vitelli Ph.D.
“Charles Ray lost contact with his family in Fayetteville about 10 years ago. During that time, he suffered a stroke that affected his memory, making it impossible for him to recall their exact whereabouts. And eventually, he ended up homeless on the streets of Raleigh. It was that which landed him at the Oak City Outreach Center downtown. Shameeka Newton is a student intern with Catholic Charities studying to be a social worker. She came to know Charles while working at the center and learned his backstory.
“It started with one question. I said, ‘what does happy look like to you?’ and he said, basically he wants to see his family. He hasn’t seen his family in 10 years and he knows they’re worried about him,” she recalled.
Charles couldn’t remember much about their exact whereabouts, but he did give Shameeka his brother’s name, Eugene, from Fayetteville, so she used that to start searching online.” Read More Here
The fact that Shameeka took the time to speak to Charles is what made it possible to reunite him with his family. There is so much more the aiding the homeless than parting with a few dollars.
The Benefits of Talk Therapy
Taking the time to talk with an individual who is experiencing homelessness is one of the most rewarding gifts of respect and dignity that you can offer them. Doing something to help someone that is homeless is not always about handing over a few dollars. There are a number of ways to bring communities together and form action groups that can work together to tackle the support needed for homelessness in their communities. Share a meal or simply a beverage with someone, taking time out of your life to share that with someone who least expects it is one of the most rewarding acts of kindness you can share with another human being.
For most of us, walking by a homeless person who is curled up on a tattered blanket, asking for spare change seems like a common enough occurrence. Our reactions may vary, with some choosing to avoid eye contact (because it’s just plain easier), while others dig some change out of their pockets or purses. But most of us have no idea how these people turned out like this at all. — Robert T Muller Ph.D.
How Can I Help?
- Give them a meal, buy the food or arrange with a local diner where you can pay in advance to give them a meal when they come around
- RESPECT always, treat them with respect and dignity. It is not your job to fix them but you can encourage them by showing them they deserve better
- Do not make assumptions, the people you are meeting can be there due to a number of reasons, the possibilities are endless.
- Support ministries and shelters. This does not have to only mean monetary support, you can volunteer your time and skills
- When possible, donate clothing, blankets and personal hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, etc. It is best that these donations be made to active support groups in the communities.
According to Sharon Landis, MSW, with the County of Orange, California, the objective in foster care and adoptions is to strengthen families. However, she adds, “our primary goal is for family reunification, so we work to strengthen parents so that they can parent their children safely.” — Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W.
The thought of becoming a foster parent right after tying the knot is very noble. There may be dozens or hundreds of homeless children who need a new home in every foster care facility across the country. If you can temporarily adopt one or two of them at a time, you are set to create a constructive experience for these kids.
The question is, will it make a big difference to your marriage as well?
See the likely effects of fostering to your married life below.
It Teaches You How To Budget Your Savings
Bringing a foster kid to your home means that you are willing to look after the child as if he or she is your own. You will feed and clothe them; you will send them to school without waiting for financial support from the government.
To well-off couples, the additional expenses won’t be a concern. For the regular working folks, however, it enables you to learn how to budget your money so that you can provide your foster child’s needs.
It Outlines Your Commonalities And Differences
The presence of a kid in the household allows the husband and wife to show facets of yourselves that never came up when you were still basically childless. Through fostering, you will understand if your views on parenting are the same. In case there are discrepancies, those will be obvious too.
The beauty of outlining such things is that you can immediately point out your lesser known commonalities and differences. In this manner, you’ll be able to retain the former and work out the latter for the benefit of your marriage and the family you may want to build.
The pros of kinship are that the caregiver is related to the child, and they probably feel a sense of family obligation to care for the child. They are probably known to that child, so moving to that household may not be a traumatic experience. — Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD
It Deepens Your Bond As A Married Couple
Fulfilling your role as foster parents may be challenging, especially if you take in a child who has a lot of angst to blow off. With you on their line of sight, they may snap at you a few times and act rebelliously no matter how much affection you give them.
During such occasions, the only rock you can hold on to is your spouse. While you may always return the kid to the system, you need your husband or wife beside you at all times to make fostering a success.
It Readies You For A Life With Kids
Living under the same roof as a foster child gives you an idea of what it will be like once you have kids. There will be moments in which their happiness becomes more important than yours. You may get upset or feel joyful with their words too, depending on their mood.
The thing is, you won’t realize what all those instances feel like if it’s only you and your significant other in the house. You may not even consider bearing kids until they came to your life and let you take care of them. Thus, it’s a plus for newlyweds to register for foster care immediately.
Renowned psychiatrist and researcher Daniel Siegel (1999) noted, “The care that adults provide nurtures the development of essential mental tools for survival. These attachment experiences enable children to thrive and achieve a highly flexible and adaptive capacity for balancing their emotions, thinking, and empathic connections with others”. — Blake Griffin Edwards, MSMFT, LMFT
The changes brought by fostering, of course, are not always positive. You will practically go through the ups and downs that regular parents experience when raising children. There may be times as well when the foster kid may act up, and you won’t know at first how to handle it. But the more you stay in the system, the more you understand the youngsters and yourselves. Isn’t that a vital ingredient for a healthy marriage?
Find out if you are eligible for fostering today.
What does it mean to care? Is fostering a child a wise decision? Some people are blessed with a good heart that they embrace other people in their lives, but what comes into their mind when opting to foster a child? We may think it is simple. However, for some, they feel more than just care. They feel cursed for having to feel the pain and suffering of children who have to go through not having a family. Yes, some people do more than just care. They have the heart that bleeds for others, and they cope with this feeling by opting to help, and deciding to foster a child is one of the ways.
One of the reasons that foster homes are not always healthy environments for their wards might be that foster parents have a financial as well as an altruistic motivation. — Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD
Things To Remember Before Opting To Foster Care:
- Fostering a child makes someone feel great. It is for a fact that helping is something we need to do to satisfy that sense of fulfillment inside us. There is a particular feeling of satisfaction when we know we can do good to others, and opting to foster care is something more than just giving temporary help. It is something that may create a difference in a child’s life.
Imagine if you didn’t have the emotional constitution to live with knowing that the little one you were attempting to adopt could, at any moment, be given back to his family of origin? And not feeling happy about that and feeling guilt over that. This was the downside, at least to some adoptive families. — Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W.
- Opting to foster care has a risk. It exposes you to the feeling of being emotionally attached to a person you are not sure to have permanently. Although there is a process for this where you would be eligible for full custody of a child, it doesn’t ascertain anything. It would still make you undergo through a series of emotional and mental threat such as depression.
- It is challenging to take care of a child whom you haven’t nurtured. He may not be able to follow through your lifestyle. His values may not be by your standards, and you must be ready for this. Most of us think that children are all adorable, but we may not anticipate that they could already be dealing with personal issues which are hard to address. We must prepare to be stronger and not to quit just because it didn’t turn out to be a journey to wonderland.
Complex trauma often results in chronic anxiety—internalized as depression, externalized as defiance, or both. Children may, consequently, withdraw or explode as they navigate difficult emotional territory, and they need safe relationships where they can test the bounds of trust as they navigate a path forward through grief, anger, and healing. — Blake Griffin Edwards LMFT
- Some people opt to foster care because they need it emotionally. If you have the same reasons, you must understand that the desire to fulfill the child’s emotional needs outweighs yours. Remember that the goal of providing a foster home is to make a child feel loved and that he has a family who wants to see him happy. It is not about what he can do for you but what you can provide him in all aspects – physical, emotional, and mental.
Foster care may be simple, but it goes beyond the provision of shelter, food, and other physical needs. It requires you to have the heart to desire nothing but the betterment of the child. Remember that the moment he would have with you is something that will be a part of him forever. It is way beyond that brief time he might spend with you as it might help him form his perspective. He might live a life based on what he felt when he was with you.
We went to Russia to adopt because parental rights were terminated, because there were no reunification programs for the broken families to bring kids back together with parents who had been unable to or neglected to care for them, like at home in California. At least those programs were not in effect once the child was placed on the registry. — Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W.
When mentioning Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the first thing that comes to people’s mind is the word ‘soldier.’ For many, veterans and soldiers are the most associated individuals in this disorder. Surprisingly, however, PTSD also affects a considerable number of children, especially those under foster care. Before dwelling into detail how foster children face this condition, let us first explore what PTSD is.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
The post-traumatic disorder is a mental health disorder which is triggered by an alarming and grim event which was either witnessed or experienced by an individual. Some of the prevalent symptoms of PTSD include the following:
- Severe anxiety or physical reactions when triggered by something which reminds you of the alarming event;
- Uncontrollable thoughts and distressing memories regarding the traumatic happening;
- Unwanted nightmares and event flashbacks;
- Sweaty palms and fast heartbeats; and
- Trouble sleeping and concentrating.
Acts of aggression may stem from undeveloped empathy and impulse control that reflect an attempt to understand how others react when experiencing pain or attempts to make sense out of harm that was done to them. — Blake Griffin Edwards LMFT
Most people who undergo traumatic situations often find themselves having difficulty in coping and adjusting to their present world. PTSD differs from person to person. Some experience this for only a few months but others’ PTSD last for years. This personal complication hampers their ability to accomplish their simple day-to-day activities.
Foster Care And PTSD
According to studies, 1 out of 4 of children who stay in foster care result in PTSD at some point during the first 12 months from joining the foster system. It is often associated with negative experiences, such as abuse and neglect, which the children faced before entering the facility. Their condition even intensifies because of the lack of parental support in the course of the traumatic event.
60 percent of foster kids exposed to any violence result in PTSD. The most common symptoms these children experience from this unfortunate event are obsessive thoughts and frequent nightmares.
If a child’s PTSD is left untreated, there is a substantial possibility that this will escalate to a more serious mental health issue such as panic syndrome, social phobia, and depression.
Even without citations of foster home abuse, foster children are subjected to constant stressors, including being forced to move from home to home and constantly re-acclimate to a new environment and a new family dynamic, while lacking the stability of having their own family around consistently. — Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD
Treatments For Foster Children With PTSD
To avoid more severe complications, it is best to engage in treatments which will improve the mental wellbeing of these children. In fact, according to a famous trauma therapist Ann Dimarco, PTSD is the easiest childhood mental disorder to treat. Listed below are some of the most effective treatments for PTSD.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a type of approach which relies on the patient’s rhythmic eye movements, instead of engaging them on talk therapy. Targeting the rapid eye movements of the child will eventually lead to a dampened power for the traumatic events to pop into his thoughts.
- Play Therapy
Play therapy is an approach to assist the child cope with his emotional trauma and stress through playing. This method can serve as a safe space for the kid to freely express himself. Play sessions usually last for about 45 minutes per week for a maximum of one year.
- Intensive Trauma Therapy (ITT)
This technique is a combination of art therapy, externalized dialogue, play therapy, psychotherapy, and guided imagery to solve the trauma problem of the child. What’s good about this approach is that it does not require the patient to relive the traumatic event. ITT only helps the kid to process the trauma carefully.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT assists in recognizing their thought patterns and identify where the trauma comes in. Once it has been pointed, the therapist guides the child to change the said dysfunctional thoughts to a more positive outlook through a variety of skill-building techniques and problem-solving strategies.
It is best for foster homes to cater to the needs of these children with PTSD. Engaging them in early treatments will be pivotal in these trying times and can result in better outcomes.