Letting Go When It’s Time for your Foster Child to Leave

Saying goodbye:

This is the hardest part….you’ve taken this child in, fed them, cared for them, earned their trust and even fallen in love with them, now you have to say goodbye. This might be because they are ready to return to their biological parents, ready to move out of home or even just need to be moved to another foster home (often decided by the courts). This can often happen quite quickly but even if they took their time it would still be difficult. There are a few things you can do though to ease this transition.

In some cases, loving foster parents feel they have to give up on their wards and send the foster child back. The child may then be given a new placement in another foster home or a group home, perpetuating the cycle of a child who is not offered the chance to form long-lasting relationships so important to proper emotional development. — Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD

Source: bp.blogspot.com

1) Get in early

The earlier you are able to begin preparing yourself and your child for the move, the easier it will be on the both of you (as well as the family the child is going to).

2) Ask for guidance

Ask the social worker and others involved in the care of the foster child how you can best assist with the move and prepare your child.

3) Let the child know

Explain gently to the child that they will be moving soon. Be aware that they may react poorly to this information, they might act out or they might become overly clingy towards you. It is important to remember that this is not personal, they are simply just hurting right now. Try and assure the child that it is nothing that they have done that has caused the move and emphasize some of the positive things that could come out of the move.  Also, encourage them to ask any questions that they might have; it is important that they feel part of the process and giving them a chance to air their thoughts and get all the information helps with this.

Court-appointed social workers would be working with the biological mother and/or father and child to see if there was any chance that the family could be reunited while the child was living with a foster family who might want to adopt him. — Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W.

Source: youtube.com

4) Introduce the child to the new (or old) home gradually

Depending on how much time you have before the move, this can start as simple as driving past the home, showing them some of the shops and schools nearby and it can move up to meeting the new family and even having a weekend visit with them. This will help the child to begin to get used to the family and their surroundings.

5) Don’t make them pick a side

Let them know how much you will miss them when they are gone. It is important that they know that you have bonded with them also. However, make sure that they also know that it is okay to love their new family. Sometimes they may feel a loyalty to you and your family (especially if you have come to love and trust each other) so this loyalty may make it difficult for them to bond with their new family. If they know that you want them to bond with them though, it can help this process.

We know that children do well when they are raised by parents who are intentional in their parenting, who are proactive, provide prosocial role models for their children, and who are nurturing, loving, responsive, and sensitive. — Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD

Source: cdn.newsapi.com.au

6) Fill the new family in

You remember the teething period with your child when they first came into your care? The tantrums, tears and a frightened child acting out? Wouldn’t have been nice if you had some tips and tricks to start with? Well now you do….after the time you have spent with your child, you would have come to know what their fears are, their favorite foods, the things that make them happy and what calms them down. Sharing this information with the new family will help them have a base to start with. This will help them to manage any challenging behavior (and be more empathetic about it), bond with them and to manage their overall needs.

7) Finally, say goodbye

Make sure your foster child has something to remember you and your family by and show them that you will keep something to remind you of them (perhaps a picture). Often foster children have difficulty forming attachments to people and it is important they know just how much they do mean to you (and that it is not by any fault of theirs that they have to move). Otherwise, they will begin to question this attachment and this will make it even harder for them to bond with others in the future.

For more information on saying goodbye to your foster child, please see the links below.






Supporting a Foster Child with a History of Trauma

Sadly, many children within the foster system have experienced the trauma of some sought, be it physical, sexual or emotional abuse, witnessing other violent events or overall neglect. Understandably, such events have a significant impact on the child and in an attempt to try and overcome or deal with these events the child may begin to interact with others or behave in a different way. Sometimes these new behaviors can be quite challenging and may even be harmful to the child or others. So in order to be able to care for these children, we require a sound understanding of trauma and the unique needs of children who have experienced such horrible events.

Since many children are removed by child protective services because of neglect, abuse, or unsafe living situations, foster care children may have complex reactions of relief combined with guilt and feelings of abandonment. — Glen R. Elliott, MD, PhD

Source: nfpaonline.org

So what is trauma?

Trauma is an event that threatens the life or safety of either the child or someone who they love and are close to. It can take many forms and as described above, ones of these forms can be through abuse or neglect. However, trauma can also occur through witnessing others being violent towards their caregivers, accidents and natural disasters.

Source: themumsgroup.com.au

How does trauma impact us?

Our brains learn by what we experience in the world around us. So if we find something scary or life-threatening, our brain is sure to remember this so we can make sure we do not get into a similar situation again. When the brain remembers the traumatic event, it does not just remember what happens, because it knows how important it is not to forget this threat, it remembers sounds, smells, feelings, people, places and even emotions. If we later experience any of these things again (such as a campfire and we had been stuck in a bushfire before) it can trigger us to remember this event and experience all the fear we experienced the first time all over again.

How much a traumatic event impacts us will depend on both ourselves and the nature of the trauma. If we have an anxious or fearful disposition, we are very young and don’t have many coping strategies the trauma can be more harmful. It can also be more harmful if it happens multiple times (opposed to a once off event), if there are a number of other stressful factors present (such as drugs and alcohol abuse in the family, physical abuse and low SES status), or if we don’t have much social support.

What does it look like for kids?

For anyone re-experiencing a traumatic event can be extremely distressing. As adults, we have generally developed some coping strategies to manage our responses to such distress, but as children sometimes their reactions can look like defiance or over-sensitivity. This is because when their trauma is triggered, they are not only remembering the event, they are actually reliving it. This reliving sends the body into a flight, fight or freeze response which may involve the child shutting down and ignoring you, trying to run away or escape or acting out and hitting, kicking or throwing things. To people who are unaware of the child’s background, this will likely look like a temper tantrum and they may try to discipline the child. This will NOT help though…

Source: marshfoundation.org

The first step is to figure out what the child already knows and feels about the situation. This can be done by creating an opportunity for the child to talk openly about the situation with you. —  

What should you do?


  1. Take it personally, they are not reacting to you but reacting to the trauma that has been triggered.
  2. Use physical punishment as this can frighten the child further.
  3. Lose your cool; no one is going to get anywhere with two emotional people involved.
  4. Invade their space; if they push you away, keep some distance but stay within sight and provide support when appropriate.
  5. Lose your patience; their very essence of trust in people has been broken. It will take some time to get this back.
  6. Blame the child. It is not their fault they have had this experience and they often cannot control how they behave when triggered. Blaming them will only put shame and sadness on top of what they are already experiencing.


  1. Try and get to know your child so that you can identify when they are being defiant opposed to when their trauma has been triggered.
  2. Maintain consistency so that the child learns that you can be trusted and develops a more secure attachment (head over to our page on connecting with your foster child [how to connect with your foster child] for more information on attachment).
  3. Learn your child’s triggers and try to reduce these in the short-run and learn some ways they can be calmed when re-experiencing the trauma.
  4. Allow them to have some control over their environment by giving them choices.
  5. When calm, teach your child how to identify their feelings and tell you and others these feelings.
  6. Teach them some ways to calm themselves and to express their feelings in a helpful manner (such as throwing or punching pillows, ripping up phone books, etc). If they do these things make sure you give them lots and lots of praise.
  7. Seek support through a professional counselor. A counselor can help you and your child to explore their trauma response in a safe environment and develop adaptive coping strategies you can work on together at home. Make sure this is a collaborative effort (unless the child asks to go to counseling alone). As often children may feel “abandoned” or “palmed off” if they are sent to a counselor alone.

To say it again: there is no stronger predictor of happiness than how robust and positive a child’s “village” is, so do what you can to foster relationships with neighbors, teachers, and members of your community. — Christine L. Carter Ph.D.

For more information on supporting a child with a traumatic background, please see the links below.





The Silent Scream of Homelessness

Over the past several years, I traveled around the country and read widely to learn about the creative ways that people are living now. Those nuclear family households that we once considered “traditional” now comprise fewer than 20 percent of all households in the U.S. The vast majority of us need to find new ways to live. —

Whenever we see people in the streets begging for food or money, one thing that comes to our minds is that they are homeless people. Well, it could be a correct presumption, being with no home and all, but not all homeless persons are in the streets. Families who lost their homes can stay in public shelters, can find work and also pay for their daily expenses. Whether they are living on the streets or in a public shelter, the problem of homelessness leads to several effects that most of us don’t realize. This article will discuss the most common effects of homelessness on the person and his family.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Homelessness Defined

Homelessness is defined as not having a permanent home or place of residence. A person can lose his home if he can no longer afford to pay for it. It could be that he lost his job or lack the additional financial capacity to pay for it, like in the case of getting widowed wherein both partners share and have enough income to maintain the home. But with one person alone, there may not be enough to spend, not to mention the daily expenses for each member of the family.

According to one estimate, the number of veterans without stable accommodation was placed at nearly 58,000 (12 percent of the known homeless across the U.S.) as of 2013. — Romeo Vitelli Ph.D.

The Most Common Effects of Homelessness

Physical and Mental Health Issues

Without proper housing, individuals are more prone to develop health consequences both in the physical and mental aspects. Elements like increased threats of injury and accidents by living in the streets, extreme weather conditions, and unintentional overdose were all linked to mortality rates. Quality of life among homeless persons are identified as poor sleeping habits, chronic pain, limited access to medications, and even poor sanitary conditions. Physical health problems such as dental problems, skin and foot problems, and chronic infections are very much common.

Homeless persons are also more vulnerable to experience other problems such as abuse and neglect. Adolescents are observed to engage more in illegal acts, substance abuse, and alcohol intoxication.

Source: voiceofoc.org

Violation of the Law and other Criminal Acts

Statistics on homeless persons committing violence and other criminal acts are very high. Authorities have identified homeless persons committing illegal behavior as chronic criminals, supplemental criminals, criminals out of necessity, substance abusers, or the mentally ill.

Tourism and Economy

For the local business sectors, homeless persons are considered pariahs for reasons that they are not pleasing to see around the business area. Their presence can limit customers and tourists. They are also threats to the security and safety of passersby. Although there are no official studies to support this claim, local authorities have conveyed that there are several police reports that pertain to such complaints.

The homeless people would wear t-shirts as part of the position, stating that they are a Wi-Fi hotspot. This pretty directly insinuates that these people were, to an extent at least, being dehumanized. — Nathan A Heflick Ph.D.

Source: aol.com


The problem of homelessness is an ongoing social issue and the government in connection with local states have their very own solutions presented. There are welfare programs for those who cannot afford food and medicines. Temporary home-like public shelters are also available. Job opportunities are around and even schooling for children whose family is homeless are available. To some, homeless persons are considered pangs of society because of the negative image they bring, but it’s not always the case. In as much as the government should be looking after them, each person is also expected to work hard in order to solve his problem of being homeless.

Finding Resources That Best Suit Your Needs

Finding What Works For You

Making the decision to seek out the support of a therapist or counselor is an important step for any family. As a foster parent, finding the right form of support is not a decision that can be taken lightly. With the various types of counseling, the decision to choose the method best suited for your family unit will require some research.


There are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration. Not only do you only have to take into consideration the current family dynamics but one also has to consider the history and the mental health of the foster child. Another important factor to consider, before setting out to seek support, is to understand what you hope to achieve through the counseling sessions.

Part of healthy development involves a differentiation of self. People with a poorly differentiated self are more likely to be dependent on the approval and acceptance of others, to the point that they will try to please or bully others into agreeing with them. — Sharie Stines, PsyD

What Are the Benefits of Family Counseling?

types of counseling

Source: browardstudentservices.com

Bringing a child from the foster system into your home and an already established family can be a stressful experience which may place a strain on family relationships. With counseling, you can find the tools and resources to aid in understanding and enabling cooperation among your family unit.  With therapy, members of the family unit can learn to support each other and work together to minimize the disruption that adding a member to an already functioning family dynamic can give rise to.

The Types of Service Providers Available

type of counseling

Source: napca.org

Let’s start by looking at the types of counselors that are available. The treatment plans these therapists and counselors will work with will vary from family to family as they would be adjusted to accommodate the needs and objectives of the family unit.  To name a few of these counselors/experts:


  • Professional Counsellors
  • Social Workers
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists

Some of us have more awareness of the family dynamics and significant events carried in our lineage than others. Yet even on the clearest nights, our vistas are limited by the distance that the naked eye can see. — Katrina Michelle, PhD, LCSW

How Will Therapy Help My Family?


The objective of counseling is to offer the family guidance and advice on how best to address the challenges they face. Through advice, they can teach families how to support each other and most importantly, give them the tools to resolve any obstacles and practical concerns that could arise.

What Are The Types Of Counseling Available?


There are a number of different types of counseling available. Families could use one or multiple counseling services. The types of counseling you choose should address any concerns or challenges while teaching you the tools and resources to deal with and resolve them. These services can be used individually by family members, addressed as a group or a combination of both.


  • Individual counseling which can include talking and sharing privately the challenges or stress you can be facing. Through one-on-one sessions with the counselor, you can be open and speak freely without the concern of anyone else in the family take offense
  • Couples counseling can play an important role for foster parents to ensure their personal bonds remain strong. Facing challenges and the stresses can place a lot of strain on personal relationships.

counseling type

Source: insighttherapyllc.com

One major reason that many people, especially men, do not seek help and therefore needlessly suffer for long periods of time from emotional pain, anxiety, excessive anger, old resentments and depression, is their perceived stigma associated with receiving mental health care. They regard getting help as embarrassing, something others do but not themselves. — Susan Heitler Ph.D.

  • Family counseling is a great way for someone to assess the family dynamics. With Family counseling, the entire family attends sessions and talks with the counselor.
  • Group counseling is a great form of support. These sessions include a group of individuals with similar concerns coming together with a trained counselor who provides guidance. Foster Care Support groups can be a great source of support resources for families.

There are a number of resources and support tools available. Knowing what you hope to achieve is the first step to seeking support. Finding what best suits your needs and those of your family is important. Counseling and Support Services are not only for addressing challenges or problems. They also aid in providing resources that can be used throughout your life.