Foster Care: The Emotional Journey
The foster care system is swamped with gifted and talented children who are displaced from their biological parents. While some continue to live with blood relative a vast majority are shift from home to home of complete strangers. Some are fortunate to be placed in nuturing homes and sometimes move from foster to adoption while others endure harsh conditions such as emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse.
Imagine being lost in the cycle of a system that aims to provide hope, safety and appropriate care but you encounter doubt, restless nights and neglect. Not necessarily or solely the fault of the system but primarily attributed to the realization that your biological care giver is no longer or was never able to provide you with the love, safety, support and care you need to make it through life.
While some florish with this opportunity of a better life, some question "why me?" Such a question can lead to a downward spiral of misguided choices and consequences. It can also lead to optimism; using this as an opportunity to gain knowledge and apply wisdom in improving one's quality of life. But this choice is made based on the way one views the world. Do you have an optimistic view or a pessimistic view? What is your outlook in life?
Despite the system's endearing efforts to provide the essential stability, a roller coaster rides through the emotions of these children sometimes daily as they try to navigate this thing called life. Questions after questions, emotions after emotions, who is there to listen, to provide comfort to guide and to help facilitate the process as they sort through the rumbles of emotional destress?
I have had the opportunity to have conversations with numerous children in the foster care system and two things that stands out are, "I want someone to listen and value my opinion or choice" and "I want to have a family." So I'm left with my own questions, "who is there to listen?" "Who is showing that they genuinely care?" "What is being done to include these children or to make them feel like they are part of the family?"
The responsibility belongs to foster care worker, foster families, churches, school counselors, teachers and mentors and community workers who care. Each party taking accountability and working collaboratively to ensure that the emotional needs of our children are being met. It is time to recognize and foster the talents and abilities of every child encountering this emotional journey, provide the support necessary, teach them to love and to accept love by modeling what love looks and feels like, listen to their storries, be non judgemental in your response and most of all include them.
-Tanya Ellis-Asbury, LPC, NCC-