“This isn’t happening to me! I can’t believe it! My mom wouldn’t just give me away. She loves me. But why would she choose HIM over me, after what he did to us? I can’t believe she would choose HIM! She didn’t even say goodbye. Why would she sign me away right before my birthday? I hate her! Maybe if I would’ve been better she wouldn’t have chose to stay with HIM and she would have wanted me. I should have been better. I shouldn’t have talked back to her. It’s all my fault! I wish I were dead.”
The above statement is only loosely based on the story of one of our foster children. Some of these statements I heard at different times while she was in our home. A child going through the grief of losing her birth family.
A foster child may experience a very real grief – a grief much like grief experienced when a loved one dies. The saddest part is that many foster children don’t move through the stages of grief to final acceptance.
Denial – Usually is a short phase of grief until reality sets in; however, due to the deceit she experienced with her birth family, our foster child could never really trust that what happened: truly did happen. Some foster children can have such serious issues of trust, that they can stay in this stage, literally denying everything in their life and blaming others for their circumstances. Is this why some cannot take responsibility for their actions?
Anger – How many foster children get stuck in this stage?
Bargaining – “If only I were a good kid, this wouldn’t happen.” “If only, I would have…” Sadly this stage brings about feelings of guilt which moves to the next stage.
Depression – How many foster children are taking some sort of anti-depressant to deal with their losses? How many are stuck in this stage?
Acceptance – Sadly our foster child could never really accept her loss. Foster families were “fake families” and she was simply waiting for her 18th birthday to run back to her real family. How many of our youth in foster care have accepted their loss and moved on?
What is your experience with foster children and stages of grief?