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Dangerous Opportunity

  1. The honeymoon period will not last.

  2. The kids are not thankful to them for "saving them".

  3. The anger phase is coming. In the anger one is exempt (in the minds of a traumatized child) from the perceived wrongs and blame. Anger will be expressed in behavior: fighting in school, stealing, lying, cursing, disobeying, tantrums ( to name a few). Not all foster children display all of the above behaviors, but they WILL express their anger in some way. A very interesting component of this anger is the highly disguised fear escorting anger everywhere. As mad as these children are about their losses, they are also afraid to create new alliances for fear of more loss. And it is at this juncture, that foster placements usually disrupt. Especially for those foster parents who are not prepared or supported during this phase. Foster parents, dealing with a grieving child's anger, often experience their own crisis as a result. Without much support and assistance, it can be a very difficult time to keep going. The sad fact is that every placement that disrupts for a child...every time they are taken out of one home only to be placed in another.. the child experiences another loss. The grief cycle starts over, but the stages are magnified. After multiple placements, the child often just gives up trying to get past anger. It is the place of familiarity and where they feel normal. They are not beyond hope. But they are harder to reach. If you are a foster parent, I cannot stress enough the importance of reaching out for help and support when going through this phase. There are many foster parent support groups and associations that can offer mentors( experienced foster parents who have been through similar situations), social support and guidance. Dont be hesitant to ask for services for your family from your planning team. Social workers and foster care agencies: we know about the trauma related and grief related behaviors that children express. We know how important it is for them to navigate through these phases towards acceptance. But we are not the ones living day in and day out with them. It is our responsibility to ensure that our foster parents are prepared for and supported through crisis...whenever it may occur. Do not leave them to walk through this difficult time alone. When a foster child can move towards acceptance: of their situation, of their current family of their options for permanency...then they can begin to relax. Once they have moved to this phase, they can begin to be more open to new relationships and can form more lasting bonds. Whether a child is to be reunited with his birth family, live with kin or be adopted by foster parents, getting through these stages are imperative. Be aware of the stages of grief as they relate to foster children. Use that knowledge as a stepping stone to understanding how their trauma effects their behavior. Understanding can provide you with empathy. However, we also must proactively equip our foster parents with the knowledge, skills and emotional support they need to walk with our children down the long, thorny path towards acceptance. .

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