We recently said goodbye to two kiddos that lived in our home for nearly a year. While we were thrilled they were able to go with a family member, the transition was quick and somewhat unexpected. Nearly overnight, we went from two kids to no kids.
While we processed the major life change, we took the advice of more seasoned foster parents and set aside time to grieve and process. Here’s what we did that helped us navigate the change.
Try a change of scenery
For us, getting out of our house was critical. It was hard to see baby toys, a high chair, backpacks, and bath toys in every corner of our home. As soon as the kids were out of the house, we packed up a suitcase and stayed at a cabin in the mountains for a couple of days. Obviously, if you still have children in the home this might be hard to do, but even if you can get out of your house for the afternoon, the change of scenery can help.
Consider talking to a therapist
Alex and I had been already working with a therapist who specializes in foster care and adoption, and I was even more grateful to have her as a resource when the kids left. She helped us navigate our feelings, understand how to support each other, and prepare us for the road ahead. It was helpful to be able to talk to someone with a fresh perspective who could help us be open and honest about how we were feeling. It was validating to have someone say “I hear you and your feelings are real” while also giving us tools to process.
Communicate your needs to your partner and family
We all grieve in our own way. Alex and I have very different styles of processing so sharing our needs meant we could avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings. As an extrovert, I need to talk things out and be around other people. As an introvert, Alex needs a little more time and space to recharge. Communicating your needs, especially because they might change frequently, can help you stay connected to your partner and family.
Give yourself a break before jumping back in
It’s tempting to jump back into another placement to fill the void, but it’s important to give yourself time and space to process the changes before you’re ready to help another child. Be sure you’ve given yourself some time to heal. If you have adopted or biological children still in the home, it’s also important to ensure they’ve had time to process and heal the loss of their foster sibling.
Have you said goodbye to a foster child? How did you process the change?