How Do You Help Kids Heal?

Kids in foster care have experienced more trauma than anyone should ever experience in a lifetime. Helping them to heal is an ongoing process. Wouldn’t it be nice if placing them in a safe loving home was enough? Unfortunately, it’s not.

My partner and I have three siblings in our care, ages 12, 4, and 3. It’s really hard to know how affected the younger siblings are from all they have experienced. They’ve spent more time in care than with their parents. Even all of the moves from one home to another must have been difficult for them.

Our 12 year old, on the other hand has a long history with his mom and dad. He knows there were issues. He has told us that he’s angry and sad and disappointed over the fact that he’s not with his parents. He has also told us that he’s happy that he’s with us and with his brother and sister. He feels safe and loved, but of course he still loves his parents.

He’s not ready to talk about the hurt. He’s confused about his loyalty, despite the fact that my partner and I have a pretty strong relationship with his biological father. We have all encouraged him to open up and begin to heal. He goes to counseling but doesn’t talk. My partner works hard to try to help him prepare for his sessions and to get the most of them. He knows that when he starts to process these feelings, it’s going to get really ugly, and who wants that?

The consequences though, of not healing, are even uglier and longer lasting: depression, acting out, repeating the cycle, just to name a few. How do you help kids heal?

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