When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

As foster parents, our first goal is to always support reunification with birthfamilies. But sometimes, reunification just isn’t safe for a child, especially given situations of abuse and violence.

Foster Ducklings explains the Foster Parent’s Dilemma:

I believe in reunification. I believe in keeping families together. We started fostering because we understand that sometimes life just jumps up and kicks you in the teeth. We feel called to be able to say to bio parents, “Hey, sometimes life is too much. You worry about you and get yourself straightened out. We’ve got the baby. He’s safe and happy and loved.” We love the idea of mentoring these parents to help them learn to be the best possible parents for their child. Because we believe that the vast majority of the time, the best possible parents for a child are the ones who created her.
But… sometimes… reunification isn’t what’s best…

When parental rights are on the brink of being terminated, some birthparents just give up and disappear. {Drug addictions that just can’t be broken} Sadly, the birthparents of our two boys and another foster daughter saw their children just a few times before disappearing out of their lives.  However, some birthparents have a chance for a last visit to say goodbye to their children.


Foster mom, Ashley, of Fostering Love at Home, wrote in her post A Time to Say Goodbye to What Used to Be:

Today my kids will be saying goodbye, officially, to their past life. Their former life connections have been terminated. They are no longer tied to where they came from. The legal process of this change occurred earlier this month, and today is when my children will be given a chance to say goodbye.

There are a lot of feelings surrounding this event. The children are anxious and worried and wanting to express anger while also crying because of the grief of the situation. Yet, they are also excited that this means adoption is getting closer. Can you imagine the conflicting feelings? Great sadness, yet great joy. Great anger, yet great happiness.

Jess of Good & Hardy expressed the intense sorry of the Goodbyes when their foster son saw his birthmom for the last time:
I felt awful….that this {birthmother} has to live with the last image of her little boy forever – him running out of a room with her in it, calling someone else mommy. It makes my stomach hurt to think about the kind of pain that must bring.

The Lark’s Nest shares in her post, the day they said goodbye:

today was the kids’ final visit with their birth mother.
it was horribly heartbreaking.
she was devastated but she tried to be strong for the kids.
she was able to have a few minutes alone with each child, individually.
she told them how much she loved them.
she told them it was okay to love their new family.
today we start the healing.
it will be a rough few weeks… months….
who knows how long it takes to be okay after losing someone you love so much.
their hearts will still ache years from now when they think about her.

The foster care system is full of brokenness. Broken homes, broken families, broken lives, broken hearts, and broken spirits.

Our role as foster parents is tough. Gut-wrenchingly tough to console grief-stricken children on situations they might not understand.

Although an emotional nightmare, a goodbye visit with birthfamily, is a means of closure. Our foster daughter intensely struggled with unresolved grief from her abandonment. Her mother chose to relinquish her parental rights just before her daughter’s ninth birthday and did not want to see her daughter again. Although, a goodbye visit would have been tough on both mother and daughter, this poor, little girl needed to see her mom one last time to say goodbye.

Children need to know they are loved and wanted.  As difficult as it can be sometimes, we just have to love them through the tough times to help them heal from the brokenness.