“I don’t know how you can do it.”
One of those common phrases a foster parent receives when sharing that they are a foster parent. Or sometimes, “I couldn’t do it.”
They aren’t referring to the tumultuous time when the child moves in, the legal hassles the child goes through, or living with a foster child.
They are referring to the moment that comes when the child has to leave and return to their family. The moment of saying goodbye, sometimes forever.
I agree that is a hard time for foster parents, and siblings that are suddenly losing their foster sibling. It is heart breaking.
These kids have lived with you sometimes for weeks, months or even years, and then are ripped out of your life, to return to their parents or move on to biological family members.
But we aren’t foster parents, just so we can go through heartbreak and loss. We are foster parents, because we show the kids that they are loved, respected and appreciated and we care for them. Losing the child is unfortunately a hard part in this, but it doesn’t have to be.
It may feel good when you understand that you are an important part in the process of building stable and good families that can provide similar care & love for their child as you have done.
It is also great to reflect on the progress the child has made in her life from his/her arrival until the day she is leaving. I am sure your child has learned a lot of things that will help him/her throughout his/her life.
When you loose a child, not always is it possible to stay connected with the child. And it may feel similar to losing a child. As you have emotionally lost the child, even though he/she still physically is on this earth. You may never see the child again.
You and your family members need time to grief your loss. If you look at the stages of grief recovery, they can really help to get back to a good place. Talking about it (seek professional help if needed) may help to learn to cope with your loss and address the sadness you may feel.
Denial: Refusal to believe the facts, that your child is leaving your family is a natural coping technique. To move forward, it helps to talk about your feelings of the loss.
Anger: Feelings of frustration, anxiety, shame and guilt arise. Find ways to express anger constructively to help prevent long lasting depression.
Bargaining: You may believe there is something you can do to change reality through bargaining with God or a higher power. It is common to struggle to find meaning at this time.
Depression: Feelings of intense sadness are likely. To move toward healing, try to accept support and learn to cope with the challenges that are happening.
Acceptance: Sadness will become less intense. You will begin to accept that life goes on. Energy returns and you start looking to the future.
When coping with grief everybody goes through the same process, but not always at the same time. So when members in your household may be in the anger phase, you might still be in the denial phase. And when you are talking about your loss, you may feel misunderstood. Try to see and accept that you are each dealing with the loss in your own way and seek professional help when it causes other issues in your relationship or wellbeing of you or one of your household members.
I wish you lots of love and strength. This is tough. If you need to talk to someone, feel free to email me, I am here to listen.