Foster Parenting

How it Feels

Take a moment and think of your happy place. The happiest place you can be that gives you comfort and support, where you feel nothing bad can happen to you. Who’s in your happy place with you? A parent? A spouse? A friend or sibling? A pet? What do you have with you? What belongings surround you? How do you feel in your happy place?

Now, picture someone knocking on the door or coming into your happy place. They seem nice, and you like them. They ask you questions about yourself, and smile at you. But then their smile breaks, and they say you have to leave. You don’t want to leave your happy place, but you have to. You don’t want to leave your family or your belongings, but you have to. They don’t tell you why, but they make you come with them.  

You get in their car, still confused about what’s going on and where you’re going. They tell you you’re going to be so happy and taken care of, but you don’t understand. You thought you were happy – you were in your happy place already. Suddenly, the car stops. You’re in front of a nice house, and the person leads you to the front door.

You’re greeted by many strangers. They welcome you inside and introduce themselves. Everyone is smiling, but something feels wrong. You feel out of place.

Then, the person who brought you to the house says they’re leaving. You go to leave with them, but they say no, you have to stay. But why do you have to stay? You want to go. You want to go back to your happy place. The strangers tell you no, this is your new home. You live here now. You’re confused. But what about your family? Where are they? Where are your pets and all your clothes? What happened to everything? Why do you have to be here? You don’t want to be here. You want to go home.

Now think about your emotions. How are you feeling? Sad? Frustrated? Confused?

These are the types of things that go through a child’s mind as they enter the foster care system. They don’t know what is happening or why it’s happening, but they have to leave behind everything and everyone they have come to love.

Foster children are not difficult children. They are hurt, angry, and confused, and DESPERATELY want to go back to their happy place, even if it wasn’t safe or healthy. It was their happy place.

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