I’ve learned so much from just starting this process of getting licensed to foster children. I think that even before our first placement…we’ve been challenged and our hearts stretched to hold a little more love. I’m still a little behind on blogging about the classes…so maybe I’ll try to catch up today. Chase (bless him) has taken over cooking dinner. My made from scratch turban shaped challah bread (with raisins) is in the oven. It’s looking delicious. I’ll post a picture of it if it’s done before I finish this post.
Let’s do some catch-up on our foster process…
Foster Class 4: Grief and loss
Lesson 4 was all about loss and the children’s (or really anyone’s) response. The children that enter foster care have experienced more loss than most children (and even most adults). This can include a loss of self-esteem, significant people, health… We talked about the pathway through the grieving process (Loss, Shock/Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Understanding, Coping, Managing Loss). These can be experienced simultaneously or in any order. No matter what sort of situation the children come from, chances are the love their bioparents and didn’t want to leave. So being forcibly removed from their loved ones and placed in the home of a stranger is a significant loss on many levels. It’s normal for the children to react to this loss. Foster parents (ie, the strangers) are expected to help the children react to their many losses and teach them socially acceptable ways of expressing those very heavy feelings. Sometimes while we help the children deal with losses, our own losses will come to mind. We also discussed developmental grieving…that is that you revisit grief again as we develop more coping skills or perspective. Here’s an example of that in my life. As a veterinarian, I periodically diagnose lymphoma in dogs. Every time, I not only grieve for that family that just got the news their dog has terminal cancer but I reprocess the grief of losing my beloved childhood pet, Corky. I keep a picture of that rotten little dog on my desk, and I’ll never forget. That is an example of developmental grieving. The children will go through this as well. It may seem that they are doing well and forgetting their pain…then suddenly they will become angry or sad again.
Life is such a beautiful, wonderful…sometimes bittersweet thing. I really hope we can help the kiddos. In class the instructors said we can help by showing that we care about the children’s feelings (24/7), providing for the children’s needs, showing the children how to express their needs and that their needs will be met, and demonstrate that there are adults in the world that can be trusted.
Anyway as a foster parent you serve as a “loss manager,” and in many ways I feel like this a skill I use at work regularly. I help people grieve for their pets when our beloved pets suffer disease and die. I grieve for my patients and my clients too. I really take their suffering to heart and I work to make the passing of pet as peaceful as possible.
Homestudy Interview #1
Following lesson 4 we had our first interview as part of the home study (FYI the first interview was sort of a pre-homestudy, pre-class interview). We talked a lot about grief and the losses Chase and I experienced throughout our lives. This was a fairly intense interview just because of the subject matter. I was apparently very pensive at work the following day. We also talked about some of the issues our families have historically struggled with. We talked about the effect Chase’s work has had on him etc. Overall I’d say the interview went really well even though the subject matter was a little intense.