Monday, May 22, 2006

Foster Children & Attachment

Ironically enough, just as I have been given the opportunity to be a "voice" for foster children in my upcoming trip to Seattle, I now have laryngitis. I am just praying that my voice comes back by the time I arrive on Friday!

Losing the Foster Parent
Because parental rights are prioritized, attachments between children and their foster parents are often ignored. The presumption is that the child can and will reunite with biological parents if at all possible.

Sometimes children who have been raised by birth by foster parents are sent back to biological parents who are effectively strangers to them.

Not only may children not have attached to their biological parents, but they also might have long-standing experiences of trauma with a parent. In these cases, children who have found sanctuary and built trust in a foster home are sent back to biological parents who have neglected and abused them for most of their lives.

Unfortunately, since the bond between foster parent and child is often minimalized, children who return home often do not receive supportive services to cope with the loss of the foster parent.

Meanwhile question remains: Will the biological parents maintain their progress? Or, will they fall back into old behavior patterns? It is vital in these cases to continue to monitor safety plans for the children after they return home. All too often, this does not happen.

Losing the Biological Parent
The reverse is also true. If parental custody is severed and the child is adopted, the child will still need time to grieve the loss of biological parents.

Even in the context of a loving adoptive home, with healthy meals, stimulating activities, support and resources, the child doesn't enter that home with a "blank slate."

Paradoxically, the more safe and secure the home is, the more likely the child is to grieve lost parents. Why? Because grieving is a process. Children can only begin to grieve within a safe and secure relationship.

Only within a safe, secure environment can a child:
-Face their losses
-Confront their anger
-Move past denial
-Emerge from behind a shield of detachment
-Recognize and resign themselves to the fact that any fantasies that they might have had about a reunion will not come true

This painful work usually takes place after a child enters a permanent home -- and at the very time that the social services often terminates services.

For both scenarios, follow-up services are essential. Losing either the foster or biological relationship might be very painful if the child has established a bond.

Source: Rebuilding attachments with traumatized children: Healing from losses,
violence, abuse and neglect by Richard Kagan, PhD.

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I believe strongly in children still being in the lives of their Foster parent.
I was in Foster care as a child and my son was in foster care for 2 years due to the abuse my ex boyfriend did.
I had alot of contact with my sons Foster Mom whilst he was there and even after wards.
Every now and then I still phone her.
I have to call her soon as the local newspaper did a article on her about Foster parenting and want to do one on me, about being the parent.

Parents need to think of their children.
I am very grateful for this woman raising my son for 2 years, and would never cut ties :-)
Off topic but only way to contact you.

Thanks for your comment and your kindness. It's a rough age compounded by all of the things over which none of us have control.

I'll look at the book. Meantime she seems to have made a friend that I trust. In her 20's and I've known her for some time. I had a phone chat with her and she's willing to be an ear and a shoulder for Elcie without Elcie's knowing we talked.

Confidential relationship unless she thinks Elcie's in danger - then she tells me immediately.

It is logical and reasonable that young people would form attachments with foster parents, school personnel, or others they have been close to while living in a placement, residential center, etc. It would also seem logical that if at all possible these relationships would be encouraged since they provide the child with a sense of continuity. But, for some reason 'the system' does not always operate in a manner that is logical or sensible, instead choosing to diagnose and blame attachment issues on emotional trauma that may or may not ever be 'fixed.' I love your site! The name suits you perfectly, because you are bringing "Sunshine" to those who may feel life has offered them nothing but rain. What better person to advocate than you!! Will definitely talk with you further, but I'm going to let you read the story first...
;-) Cheri
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