3 Steps To Help With Regret From Fostering Or Adopting

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The other day I was talking with a fellow adoptive parent, a fantastic mom, whom our family has know for many years. We were sharing our stories about being on the journey and suddenly the conversation turned to this mom’s regrets for having adopted her child.

This feeling of regret wasn’t made in anger or flippantly. Actually, it was made through cautious and embarrassed tones. Emotions caused from years of striving to meet her child’s needs, of giving up dreams, of giving up time with other children in the home as well as her spouse.

I was able to comfort this friend. It wasn’t that I had the answers but I walk along the same journey that she does. I know what it is like to feel the mix of guilt and regret throughout a period of days. It’s a horrible feeling to come over you when you realize that you’re failing in this caregiver role that you took on. You feel like you are possibly doing the child more harm or at the least not helping them at all. The worst is holding these feelings to yourself because others don’t understand or won’t understand – you’re forced to put on a happy face in public when your insides are clawing for an empathetic ear.

Thankfully over the years I have found other foster and adoptive parents who share my journey. I know others also have feelings of regret for taking a child into their home. However, outside of a counseling office, I only see us, the caregivers, recognize these feelings and then stop there.

What steps can we do to overcome and persevere?

  1. Normalizing for Caregivers
    We live in societies and cultures which frown upon imperfection and the inability to be self-reliant. HOWEVER, being human means that NO ONE can provide the perfect care, love, emotions or upbringing for any child. Furthermore, no person is an island and will require help. Caregivers may feel that something is wrong with themselves if they admit they need help, they are overwhelmed or they just don’t simply have those “lovey dovey” feelings for their child. The fact that time has been spent writing this article says that no caregiver is alone in their feelings of regret for starting the foster care or adoption journey.
  2. Go Through the Grieving Process
    It’s important to know that there is no “fix” or “easy step guide” to follow to deal with feelings of regret. Instead caregivers will find that it is a process – a grieving process. One must allow themselves to grieve the changed dreams and goals that they had for their child and their life. After losing a loved one, many people seek counseling – this may be an important component for a caregiver to seek as well, so that a professional can help them at least initially walk through the grieving process.
    After going through the process, don’t be under the delusion that it won’t rear its head again. One might find themselves going through the grieving cycle several time throughout life. It is again important to “Normalize” these feelings and allow others who are on the foster care or adoption journey to share these moments with you.
  3. Don’t STAY in Regret
    It would be easy to hide in your home by yourself and simply live out your days depressed. The fact of the matter is that as a caregiver you chose to take a hurting child into your home and that child (despite what they may be showing you through behaviors) is depending on you for so much. Do you have regrets? Yes. Do you like your child? Maybe not at all. Are you depressed about lost dreams? Quite likely. However, as a caregiver, it is also a part of our job description to execute what is in the child’s best interests. This certainly doesn’t include a caregiver who is stuck in regret. It’s up to you to seek out support, make that appointment with a counselor, do what it takes to have time for self-care… you’re the adult and must lead the charge in this battle.

It’s Your Turn…

What steps would you add to our list?


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Callum Kindly And The Very Weird Child – Book Review

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From the Cover of Callum Kindly And The Very Weird Child by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies:

“Callum Kindly is a kind and caring boy who lives alone with his mum. That is, until Katie Careful comes to stay with them. Callum thinks Katie is a very weird child!

Katie manages to get in the way whenever Callum wants to speak to his mum or have snuggle time. She cries and sulks on his birthday and she steal his toy car. Luckily, hi mum can explain to him how Katie’s difficulties when she was growing up means she acts differently now.”

Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

The target audience for this book appears to be for foster families and written for kids ages 3- 10. While many tales from this series are told from the point of view of a foster child, this story is told from the point of view of a biological child welcoming a foster child into the family. Thus, this book appears to be a good fit for families with children who will be experiencing the changes and challenges that go along with welcoming a new foster child into the home. We appreciated that the family portrayed is a culturally mixed family unit with a single mother of color, her biological son, and a young caucasian foster daughter.

The illustrations in this book are adequate for communicating the concepts and ideas – the book notes that the illustrations have been deliberately left simple to help children focus on the story. The pictures should keep your child engaged throughout the story.

As was mentioned above the tale centers on the life of Callum Kindly as he experiences challenges and changes to his single parent home when the family welcomes a foster daughter. The story will be very true to the emotions and events of many children as Callum’s excitement for welcoming a child quickly turns to frustration. Callum experiences a prized toy being taken without permission and broken. Callum also seems unable to get personal time with his mother as the new foster daughter doesn’t seem to allow him to spend time alone with mom.

Transfiguring Adoption appreciates that this book, as the others in the series, contains a message to parents at the end of the book. The message effectively and simply teaching you, the caregiver, how the story illustrates various needs and emotions in the story. More importantly you are told how to significantly impact your biological, foster and/or adoptive child’s life in situations similar to the story.

Transfiguring Adoption overall finds this book very applicable and fun for a foster or adoptive family. It will surely create an atmosphere where your children can talk about their emotions and thoughts effectively with you, the parent.

Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:

It’s Your Turn:

  1. Why do you think Callum wanted to help a foster child?
  2. Why do you think Katie took Callum’s new birthday present?
  3. Why do you think Katie broke Callum’s car?
  4. What do you think makes Callum feel better in the story?
  5. Are you ever angry or sad toward a new child in the home? When?

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Play Helped Me Through Foster Care

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Guest Blog By Elizabeth Sutherland

ONCE UPON A TIME…

…in a small town tucked away in the Great Smokies, lived a little orphan girl who didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  Her clothes were worn and tattered. Her hair was dangling in her face and as she was running, the wind would strategically place it behind her ears.   Every time you saw this little girl, she was always carrying an empty milk jug with the top randomly cut out and storming off into the woods.  One might ask.  Where was she going?  Who was she going to see?

As she was making way to her destination through the woods, she was picking up leaves, worms, sticks, insects, etc. to fill up her empty milk jug.  As she was collecting, picking and pulling, she would accumulate little scratches that embraced her skin from the briar patches that seemed to high-five her along the way.  She didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  She was on a mission.

So what was her mission?

She had her imaginary classroom that she had to attend to and the items she was collecting were her students.  She had made this little classroom of hers out of leaves and sticks.  She would hold sessions every day and at the same time.  This was something that was really important to this little girl.

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The Role Play has for the Life of a Foster Child

Being a foster child or an orphan, children need to find something that they can connect to, this little girl from the Great Smokies was actually NO ORDINARY LIZ.  As a child, growing up in the system and prior, due to the environment that I had no control over, I needed to find something to shield me from the cruel world that I was living in.  Running off into the “fantasy” world of playing school teacher for an hour a day helped me stay focus on who I was for a moment as well as having to think about what was going on around me.  I felt protected. I believe we shouldn’t discourage those who want to have an “imaginary” friend or play a certain role as this may be the best defense mechanism that these children in care have in moving past some of the most traumatic experiences in their sweet lives. I know for me, I stayed out of trouble and seemed to be more driven!  Let children be who they want to be!

So the next time you find yourself getting ready to throw out that empty milk jug, use your imagination and find your next inspiration!

As fate would have it, NO ORDINARY LIZ lived happily ever after…

Elizabeth-Sutherland-guest-blogger-transfiguring-adoptionAbout Elizabeth Sutherland:
Liz is a  National IFS Experienced Recruiting
Associate supporting the IFS functional groups
at PwC.  Liz is very passionate about the
well-being of children in general and is a
published author in the book, Growing Up In The
Care Of Strangers, as well as sharing her
thoughts and experiences in a new book, A Foster
Care Manifesto: Defining the Alumni Movement.  She has been featured
on Spirit 90.5 FM radio to share her life story as well as Fostering
Families Today magazine. In her free time, Liz enjoys volunteering
in her community, taking spontaneous road trips to new and
adventurous places, blogging, meeting new people, being out on the
water and simply enjoy what life has to offer. ​

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