On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 we hosted our #FosterChat on Twitter (@SaintAorg), in partnership with the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families and Kyle’s Korner. March’s topic was on coping with grief and loss in foster care. According to our Twitter snapshot on Union Metrics, our twitter chat had over 400,000 potential impressions, reaching 15,559 people.
If you missed this month’s #FosterChat, you can join us next month as we discuss Engaging with Educators on Wednesday, April 11 at Noon (CST). Below is our recap of this month’s chat.
Q1: In the foster care system, who might experience grief and loss?
A1: Everyone. Children, biological parents, extended family, foster parents, social workers, all those involved may experience grief and loss during different times of the child being in care. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
A1: Anyone involved in the life of a child who enters the system can experience grief and loss. The child, birth family members, siblings, foster parents, neighbors, classmates, friends, and neighbors. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
A1. The obvious answer is the kids who go through the trauma of separation from bio parents. Then they might experience more grief and loss if they have to move from home to home. #FosterChat— Gene Petrov // Leadership & Marketing Consulting (@GenePetrovLMC) March 14, 2018
A1a. The not so obvious one is the bio parents and foster parents who have a placement that moves to another home, placed for adoption, or reunified with bio parents. #FosterChat— Gene Petrov // Leadership & Marketing Consulting (@GenePetrovLMC) March 14, 2018
Q2: How might a child respond to grief and loss?
A2: Grief will look different for each child. Some kids may express their sadness and anger by acting out. Others might internalize their feelings and become withdrawn and overly well-behaved. The responses to grief are as unique as each child’s personality. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
A2: Children communicate through behavior that might look like something else such as depression, acting out, defiance, sadness, and anger. Here's a #tipsheet that may help! #FosterChat https://t.co/wNZDfKKEkO— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
A2 Response can be quite varied depending on child's age, their understanding, and the buffers they might have #fosterchat— Socialworkcommunity (@socialworkcomm) March 14, 2018
Q3: How might a biological parent respond to grief and loss?
A3: Grief is very personal. Each parent will go through grief at their own pace, every parent reacts differently. They may show anger in the beginning as they try to navigate the complex system of child welfare & learn to place trust in those caring for their children #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
A3: Every parent–every person–is different. Biological parents are suffering the temporary loss of their child. They may go through the stages of grief, maybe withdraw for a period of time or seem uncooperative or overly critical. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
Parents may have a variety of feelings including shock, denial, depression, anger, guilt, irritability, shame, and ambivalence.#FosterChat— kyleskorner (@_kyleskorner) March 14, 2018
A3. Bio parents can be angry, they can be sad, they can be disappointed. They are going through a whole slew of emotions when their children are not in their care. #fosterchat— Stephanie Allen (@mrsstepallen81) March 14, 2018
Q4: How might a foster parent respond to grief and loss?
A4: When a child is reunified, a foster parent may respond with the grief and loss of losing a child. They may also be fearful of the child being placed back home with their biological parents and not having the ability to protect the child any longer. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
A4: Foster parents may be angry with birth parent or the “system” or individual workers. They may experience sadness, depression, be uncooperative with case plan, feel alone, or decide not to continue fostering. This #tipsheet might be helpful! https://t.co/L7VpyKabDI #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
Foster parents may respond to the grief of the parent who's child they're caring for, grief of the child, and grief about reunification, another placement or adoption. They can be overwhelmed, helpless and powerless until the relationship builds between the two. #FosterChat— kyleskorner (@_kyleskorner) March 14, 2018
A4. This is very timely. I have had two sets of friends who have a child going back to bio family after 2 years in placement. It’s just hard as they have grown so attached. There is definitely sadness and tears. There’s also hope that this is the right situation #FosterChat— Gene Petrov // Leadership & Marketing Consulting (@GenePetrovLMC) March 14, 2018
A4. Foster parents go through some of the same emotions bio parents do. They are scared and sad, they may cry too. The foster parents bio children may share those same sentiments because they could potentially be saying goodbye to a great friend #fosterchat— Stephanie Allen (@mrsstepallen81) March 14, 2018
Q5: What are some ways to practice self-care while experiencing grief and loss?
A5: Self-care is personal as we tend to our mind, body & spirit.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
Allow yourself the time to grieve, seek support & reflect on the accomplishments of the child.
Connect with other foster parents who have been through this, they truly understand what you are feeling. #FosterChat
A5: Acknowledge and affirm your feelings. Let yourself be sad; this is hard stuff! Connect with others who have similar experiences, use the professionals around you, and engage in calming activities. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
Ways to practice self care begins with being patient with yourself, recognizing this is a process, a journey, so move gently. Seek spiritual support, maintain healthy eating and sleeping habits, journal, and remember to accept help and support when offered #FosterChat— kyleskorner (@_kyleskorner) March 14, 2018
A5: One way to practice self care is to talk to someone about your grief and loss, either professionally or as a friend. No one should have to experience that pain alone! #FosterChat https://t.co/Oj2fKxxyBE— The Village Network (@TVillageNetwork) March 14, 2018
Q6: How can we work together to lessen the effects of grief and loss?
A6.b: The loss created by the separation will likely be reduced when the child experiences a continuing connection between the two families. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
Grief is expressed differently by everyone. When it is known that a child or family member is dealing with a loss, it's important not to be judgemental or minimize the grief. Acknowledge the pain, listen, share their feelings and be available. #FosterChat— kyleskorner (@_kyleskorner) March 14, 2018
Q6: Wrap those kids in love, let them know the importance of relationships by working with birth families and other important connections they have to caring adults, like teachers. Keep important people in the lives of foster children. #fosterchat— Lamar X (@LamarXcks) March 14, 2018
Foster parents should grieve with the child and family. Nobody should think removal does not affect the child and family. We need to acknowledge it.— Tess (@VanillaSkyTess) March 14, 2018
Q7: How can we support a child going through grief and loss?
A7: 1st we need to acknowledge the depth of the trauma and loss – the loss of relationships, personal belongings, family culture, routines, family roles, pets, traditions, school, neighborhood, friends, or a special toy. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
A7: Learn/understand the stages of grief and be trauma informed. Understanding that behavior is communication, and to not take behavior personally. Talk with the child to help normalize grief and loss for them, find a competent therapist for them to talk to. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
Creating a safe and loving environment without judgement, allowing them to feel their feelings and to acknowledge their pain can build an open relationship to foster further conversation and develop rapport. Encourage the use of professional help if needed #FosterChat— kyleskorner (@_kyleskorner) March 14, 2018
A7 Lots of love and reassurance. Going the extra mile to show support to the child. #fosterchat— Courtney Sinclair (@courtsinc) March 14, 2018
A7 I find that being honest and transparent and making space for conversation when they’re ready is very helpful. They don’t always want to talk, but when they do, it’s good to be available and have a safe space. #FosterChat— Christy Krispin (@ChristyKrispin) March 14, 2018
Q8: What advice would you give to potential foster parents on coping with the grief of reunification?
A8: It's a life-changing experience to be able to help a child, but remember your time with those children may be temporary.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
The gift of care and healing are forever, as the child now has the potential of growing up in a safe loving home with their biological family. #FosterChat
A8: You will probably grieve when a child leaves; they deserve to be loved that much. Allow yourself time before taking another placement. Try to remember that you impacted that child’s life in a positive way by providing them with a safe, caring home. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) March 14, 2018
It's important to take time to sort out your feeliings; allow yourself time to grieve, be gentle. Remember your good times and accomplishments. Draw your family closer and "regroup." Rituals can be helpful like starting a garden for each child. #FosterChat— kyleskorner (@_kyleskorner) March 14, 2018
Take your time and grieve. It is a natural process. #FosterChat— Nancy Mielke (@tnmielke) March 14, 2018
Thank you to our growing community for sharing such thoughtful answers during our chat! We look forward to seeing you again in April!
Learn more about becoming a foster parent at GrowHope.net!
Thank you for joining today's #FosterChat with @CoalitionforCYF and @_kyleskorner! Keep an eye out for our recap tomorrow.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) March 14, 2018
Our next topic will be Engaging with Educators on April 11 – hope to see you next month! pic.twitter.com/GEJyQeQMhk