Children and teenagers who grow up in foster care often feel that nothing in their life is permanent. This is especially true for kids who’ve had multiple moves while in foster care. When she’s had to move from one place to another, she may have lost everything familiar to her. She may have had to deal not only with a new home, but also with a new school, new friends and a new community. Starting over again is not easy and it can make a child reluctant to put down deep roots anywhere.
For many kids in foster care their feeling that everything is temporary can’t change until they have the unconditional commitment that comes from an adult willing to make a legal commitment to them. If a child will not be returning to their family of origin, such a legal relationship will come through adoption or guardianship. This kind of legal commitment can provide them something that most of us take for granted…the security of knowing that they won’t have to change homes and families again. This is no less important for older youth than it is for their younger brothers and sisters.
When a sixteen or seventeen year old gets an unconditional commitment to be part of a forever family, it doesn’t make up for the years she lived without the security such a family provides. But it does give her a permanent family for the rest of her life. And that security, even if she gets it as an older teen, will help her feel a sense of belonging that has been absent from her life. That sense of belonging may help her feel enough to have deeper relationships with others. It’s never too late for kids to be given a chance to become more rooted in their families and communities.