Thoughts of foster carer: Placement disruption

A friend of Home for Good shares honestly and with great courage about the pain and challenge of placement disruption.

Sometimes foster placements can breakdown. In the world of social services, these breakdowns are called “disruptions” and they can happen very suddenly.

A child may leave the foster family for a number of reasons, for example, the impact on other children in the family, the carer’s own health and well-being, dealing with very complex needs or challenging behaviour, or when an allegation has been made. They are extremely distressing to go through and foster carers I know have used words such as “guilty”, “failure”, “to blame” and “not coping” to describe their feelings during such times.

It’s hard for me to write about this subject.

Firstly because I have supported a number of people who have gone through a placement breakdown and have seen the impact on all concerned, and secondly because our foster family has also been through some significant challenges, and it felt awful. And because I promised to myself, that if I ever write about this subject, and want to do it justice, I need to be brutally honest.

It’s hard for me to go back to that place and remind myself of what it was like. I can clearly remember how it felt when we told our social worker, our family and our pastor that we didn’t feel we could carry on. We were exhausted, lacked any hope for the future and any willingness to continue to engage with the trauma that permeated through our home and our shared lives with our foster children.

I didn’t want any more things to be broken, any more “missing incidences” when we were beyond worry; I no longer wanted to be shouted at and sworn at and insulted, to be lied to and stolen from. I didn’t want any more phone calls from school and threats of exclusion or allegations made against us, or the constant fighting for support for our kids. I wanted all this hard stuff to end.

I tried to wrestle with my feelings and how they seemed to utterly conflict with the vision of Home for Good that I so passionately believe in. How could I continue to be a Home for Good champion when we had decided that our home might no longer be a “home for good” for one of our children.

I wrestled with the guilt of “giving up”. How could we do this to our child, after all they have gone through? Surely we were just adding to the trauma, rather than trying to heal it.

Placement disruptions are devastating and have a massive impact on everyone, as well as on our own physical and emotional health. When we made the decision to end our placement, I became incredibly tearful and the world seemed bleak.

Foster and adoptive families going through challenges and disruptions need lots of love and support.

This article, compiled from ideas and the experiences of families who have faced this, outlines ways that you and your church can help.

We need to face up to the reality that whilst fostering is often extremely joyful and rewarding and that children often make huge strides in their healing and resilience, sometimes the ending is not always what we plan or hope for.

At the moment, we are still all together. A number of people from our support network have upped their involvement in our lives and our service has identified additional ways to support us. This does not mean, however, that we are guaranteed a happily ever after fairy tale ending. The problems are still there, it’s just that we feel a little more resourced to cope with them.

The new placement request is still being held by our service, but no-one locally is available. Ending the placement will mean that our child is likely to be moved to another part of the country, or go into residential care. We are trying to accept that this still could happen – we are under no illusions, but we desperately want things to work out well. We have hopes for all our children – to see them well into adulthood, established and happy.

But we also know that their story could still end well, whether or not we continue to be a part of it.

We believe that God our Father will continue to be Father to our children, whether they are here with us or somewhere else. He will continue to hold them in His hands and we seek to trust in His provision and goodness.

Fostering is like a tapestry – a chaotic mess on one side yet when turned over a beautiful kaleidoscope of colour, revealing the true picture. Day to day, it often feels messy, confusing, painful, unpredictable and exhausting yet with each thread that is carefully woven, the end result can be stunning. It’s just that we might not get to see the final picture just yet.

Thank you so much to our good friend for writing this article with such courage and honesty. If you are facing challenges and potential disruption, or you have experienced this, our thoughts are with you. We hope that your support network is walking with you on this difficult journey. If you want someone else to talk to or pray with, you can call the Home for Good team on 0300 001 0995.

If you want to support a family facing challenges, read our article: 15 ways the Church can support foster and adoptive families through challenges and disruption

Author:
Written by a foster carer for Home for Good


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