When I grew up in foster care I had 11 foster homes. That’s quite a transition to leave a set of parents that were known as mom and dad and have to re-home with new foster parents that are hoping to be called mom and dad.
Sometimes I was introduced to parents on a first name basis which is awkward when there are children in the home who refer to their parents as mommy and daddy. I believe out of love, compassion and trying to connect, the parents wanted me to feel I belonged but there is no permanency to the foster parents unless there is an adoption. That uncertainty of foster movement can leave a kid’s life in limbo.
When foster children begin to ask questions about the biological parents its vital to be sensitive. I had a foster mom who often said stupid remarks like, “Your mother gave you up, she never wanted you.”
Little do they know but I’m secretly rooting for my own mom to get it together and prove them wrong. Many foster kids are failing thru life when they are impaired by damaging comments about their biological families. If I could share any advice to a foster parent or care giver, I’d say, “Please don’t destroy what little they have left to cherish of their biological family. It may be all they have.”
Foster children that are relinquished and forced to live in foster care have been taken away from their biological parents because of some kind of neglect, abuse or problems. Both the trauma of losing family and being forced to live in foster care will add a significant amount of problems that result in emotional pain to a child.
It would not surprise me if 90% of Foster kids suffered from PTSD and went undiagnosed throughout their childhood, maybe even their entire life. This early onset of trauma makes it extremely difficult for a foster child to feel at home with a foster family.
The moving from home to home is humiliating, shameful and heartbreaking to a child. Every time a child moves, they lose hope and they don’t trust the people who are making these hopeless decisions that are out of their control.
Every move causes more trauma and this deteriorates a foster child’s self-esteem and self-worth. For most foster kids, this will bring behavioural problems at some point.
Foster children just want to laugh, love and live like normal kids but they are dumped by the system into group homes, orphanages and moved from one place to the next. They don’t have a family. After years of not seeing their family, a child wants to be adopted so they will not have to move over and over with no hope of feeling love or belonging.
I wanted to share a special message to Foster Dads who love and care for children in their home.
There are fathers who love foster children and adopted children the same way they love their own biological children. To me, it is very rare but a foster father is a dad when he is able to say I love you. Out of all the fathers I had, only one could hug me and say he was proud of me and to this day, refers to me as one of his daughters. This year Father’s Day was very tough for my foster dad when his adult daughter was buried the day before. Within a week his grandson passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. The impact of personal heartache and loss, never took away his ability to help others find optimism in the darkest times. Today and every day he is a father and a dad who continues to strengthen the lives and hearts of his family and friends. He is a man I respect, admire and love.
From my own experience I can testify that I know it is so important for foster children to hold onto their identity. When a child is in care they struggle with an identity crisis after losing their biological connection to family. The Foster child struggles to fit into a foster home especially when their biological surname does not match the foster family’s surname. When I was in school everyone knew I was a foster kid because my name didn’t match my foster family’s name. Some foster parents would change my last name to their’s so when I finished high school I had many last name changes over the years. My first name was changed many times as well. Foster children lose everything including identity which is one of the most unnecessary changes and most damaging to self worth.
When you grow up in foster care, it’s awkward to meet new people as they don’t realize that you are not a biological child to the family that is caring for your needs. When you are making a new friend the question of who, where, or why you are not with your real family is hard to answer. It’s a question that doesn’t get any easier as an adult. The more times you move around the more explanations seem to emerge as it is generally hard for most people to absorb that a child would be put in such a difficult situation. I think that people genuinely care and want to help but don’t always know what to do.
My reason for writing a blog is to give the most valuable pointers and common sense in the understanding of foster children. When Foster children move in and out out of foster homes, they lose heritage, identity, culture, and family traditions. They become a “One Size Fits All” as they try to fit in, where ever they go. This blog will include some of my own experience to create a pendulum or shift to build a positive outcome for foster children. In the full circle, my dream would be achieved if every foster child, adoptee was entitled to know their legacy and human rights, and to come out unharmed.