December 7, 2011

Visit, behaviors, improvement, repeat.


This is an all to familiar cycle to anyone who has fostered for long.


Bella has started having longer visits with her parents – this weekend she’ll have an overnight visit for two nights and three days. 


oh boy.  holy cow.  We are feeling the repercussion of painful scabs being scratched open again and again and again.


I think this is one of the difficulties of fostering that may be different in adoption (hopefully we will find out eventually).  In fostering it seems that you are never really working toward healing.  Really, you are working at keeping a wound just raw enough that when it comes time for reunification, the wound can be grafted back into a family unit, that will slowly heal together.


Fostering is about dealing with open wounds.

We aren’t working toward closure.

We aren’t working toward healing.

We really aren’t even working toward progress in behaviors.


Because every visit, she goes home for a few hours, and then she has to leave again.  Leave her sister.  Leave her mom and dad.  Leave her home.

And the scab is picked off.  And we’re starting all over.


The pain in her little heart is something I can’t imagine.  As an adult, as a foster parent, it is emotionally exhausting to experience.  As a four year old in the center of it all?  I can’t fathom it.

She doesn’t know what to do with all that pain.  We try to help her process it, put names to emotions, cry through the confusion.  We try to explain what is happening and why in four year old terms (because caseworkers don’t do that.  we’ve never had a caseworker explain what was happening consistently.).  But there is too much hurt, and it has to come out.


It comes out in defiance.  Lots. and lots. and lots. of defiance.

It comes out in anger.

It comes out in tantrums.

It comes out in needing extra affection.



And we do our best.  We increase nurture with structure.  We use lots of feeling words.  We connect while correcting.  We avoid un-needed consequences like crazy.  We talk about choices.

Things get a little better.  We see more smiles.  We see better choices.  We see her heart mend, just a little.




And then there is another visit.


And we start all over.


And it’s not even about the behaviors.  (although some days, it’s hard for that not to be the focus.)  I just want her little heart to be able to heal.  I just want her to stop hurting all the time.


  1. Wow, very good post, I just found your blog yesterday through MckMama's Blog Frog, we are almost finished with the foster care licensing, final visit is Saturday morning, my physical is tomorrow, hubby's is Tuesday. We have no bio children and are pretty nervous/excited, so glad you have found your blog =)

  2. exactly, that is exactly what it is like to transition a child back to their bio family.

  3. Oh, have a true gift for putting into words what foster care means! Thank you for sharing your gift.

  4. Stefanie you are in for a treat! I began reading this blog when I first began fostering as well. It is so good to know there are others out there experiencing the same thing you are when you think you might be going insane! Yes, Maggie, your words are a blessing of honesty and encouragement. Merry Christmas!


Thanks for commenting!!


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