EPIC Blog: Coping with the Grief of Foster Care Transitions - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: Coping with the Grief of Foster Care Transitions

August 8th, 2022 l Author: Karen Lyttle, LCSW (edited by Michele Rogan and Lauren Kostoff)

Grief is a normal feeling that occurs through deep loss. Whether it be the loss of an important relationship or friendship, serious illness, the death of a loved one, or loss of income or housing– we grieve change. At any point in our lives, any significant change may lead us to experience deep distress or disappointment.

Grief is normal– as people, we will grieve the loss of people or things which we formed an important attachment to. Studies show us that the greater the attachment, the more intense the feeling of loss that follows.

As a foster parent, you experience a roller coaster of emotions, as you welcome that child into your home, attach to that child, and then often prepare for reunification and releasing the child back to their biological family. How can you care so deeply for this child and also cope with the loss of them leaving your home?

Coping Strategies

Here are a few coping strategies for foster parents who are walking through the transition of a child leaving their home:

  1. Acknowledge that you’re grieving. Take notice of the emotions you’re feeling and embrace the loss you’re experiencing. You have not failed as a parent just because you are experiencing sadness.
  2. Take care of your physical health. It’s important to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get enough rest, especially as emotions can be taxing.
  3. Remember the fun times you were able to experience with your foster child! Write down memorable activities and look back on all the positive times. Add pictures and stories to a book that you can look back on!
  4. Advocate for yourself. It is okay to need time to transition. Ask to keep in touch with the biological family and stay a part of the child’s life in whatever possible capacity.

Regardless of how reunification goes, be kind to yourself! You have loved this child unconditionally so that child could experience healing and safety in your home. And if needed, ask for help. The 4KIDS EPIC team and foster care team are here to help guide you through this transition.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)