Moving On: When Children Leave

As foster parents, we connect with and come to love many of the children placed in our care. Even if we know that we’ve fulfilled our role and that we have helped a child heal, their return to their parents is a loss. It is the heart of being a foster parent.  It is also a profoundly human feeling.

All parents must face loss as they help their children move through childhood to emancipation. However, for the foster parent, the knowledge that full separation is likely to occur before the foster child grows up is a critical issue. Yet how little attention is given to the foster parent’s grief over the loss of a foster child.”  Susan Edelman

“Sometimes it is very painful being a foster parent. Most of the time you don’t get to know how the story works out; the child leaves, you are no longer a  part of his or her life and no one tells you how he or she is doing. Sometimes, though, the situation is different, and the child maintains contact or comes back years later to tell you how important you have been in his or her life. There is real pain involved here, as well as tremendous satisfaction.” Diane Hillman

Meghan Moravcik, writer of the New York Times’ Foster Parent Diary, writes about this loss:

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