Vol. 9, No. 2 • May 2005

A Reader Asks . . .

If you have a question about foster care or adoption in North Carolina, please write, e-mail, or fax your question to us using the contact information found here. We’ll do our best to respond to your question either in a direct reply or in a future issue of this newsletter.

Question: I’ve been a foster parent for five years. During that time I’ve had more than 20 children come and go. Recently, our six-year-old foster son was placed with a relative in another state after being in our home for two years. This loss is particularly hard, and I am not handling it well. I’m not sleeping and I’m on the verge of tears every day. I’m not sure I can continue doing this. Can you help me?

First, let me tell you that you are not alone in your struggles. After forming strong relationships with the foster children who come into your heart and home, saying good-bye is never easy. Even though you know the relationship is temporary, the knowledge does not take away the pain you feel. As a foster parent, I hope you realize that you will forever be in this child’s heart. Every act of love and sacrifice that you made for him will always be with him. The memory of the time you shared together will help him feel valued and loved throughout his life. You have had a wonderful and amazing impact in his life.

In trying to get through the days to come, I hope you find peace in knowing how powerful your relationship was and will always be to him. It is okay to need the support of your family and friends during this time. You may also want to consider joining a local support group where you can talk with other foster parents who understand what you are going through.

Also, give yourself time to heal. You do not have to make a decision today as to whether or not you want to continue to be a foster parent. If you decide that you want to take a break from fostering, there are other ways to help children. You can make a positive difference in a child’s life by being a mentor, tutor, or respite parent. Regardless of what you do in the future, always remember that you have made a positive difference in this child’s life.

Question: I am not sure there is a support group in my area. Where can I find out if there is one? If there isn’t one in my area, how would I go about starting one?

I am glad you are seeking a support group. There are times on our journey when we need to network with other parents more so than other times. Studies have shown that parents who have a support network are more likely to continue fostering. So, even if you do not need a support group right now, there may be a family attending one in your area that needs some advice from you. I encourage everyone to seek out a parent support group.

NC Kids Adoption & Foster Care Network and the North Carolina Foster and Adoptive Parent Association work together to collect information on the foster and adoptive parent support groups across our state. You can contact either organization toll-free (1-866-623-7248 or 1-877-625-4371) and we can let you know if there is one in your area.

NCFAPA also has materials available that guide you through the steps of starting and sustaining a support group. This has proven to be a valuable tool. We can also match you up with a Board member in your region who will help you in this very important mission.

Responses by Jeanne Preisler, Director, NC Kids Adoption and Foster Care Network

Copyright 2005 Jordan Institute for Families