Dear Foster Parents,
I am writing this because I have been out of foster care for a while now, and there are some things you should know about kids in the foster care system.
Kids going into foster care are really scared- even if we are good at hiding it. I know I always tried to look really cool when I went to a new home, but inside I was a wreck. Everything was new to me, and sometimes I felt stupid having to figure everything out. When you helped me understand how things worked at your place, I felt better. So keep showing new kids what life is like in your home- like how my laundry would get done and how I’d get to my appointments. This helped me relax a little bit
Foster kids think about their birth families all the time. Even if I didn’t talk about them, I was thinking of them. It felt good when my foster parent asked about them but didn’t make a big deal about it. Mostly, when you helped me see them and stay in touch with. Sometimes kids in foster care feel like everyone wants to keep us from our birth families. Even when I feel angry at my birth parents, I still don’t want to hear anybody else say bad things about them. And, I really liked it when you made sure that I got to spend time with my little brothers, especially on their birthdays.
Kids like me have missed out on a lot of “kid stuff”, and that makes us feel weird. Thank you for understanding that and helping us get caught up. I never learned to ride a bike, and when I moved into a foster home in a neighborhood where kids rode their bikes all the time, I felt left out. At times like that it really helps if a foster parent finds a way to help- but don’t make a big deal about it because that’s embarrassing. But it really helps if you pay attention to stuff like that.
Well, there is a lot more stuff I could tell you, but I need to stop now. Just remember that even when it seemed like I didn’t care about what you did, I was always watching you to see if you were going to give up on me. Even when I looked like I was totally tuned out, I was really taking everything in. I saw when you stood up for me. I saw when you wouldn’t let me give up on myself and insisted that I get caught up in school. Although I complained about it, I knew it was a good thing. I know I wasn’t very nice some of the time. Well, maybe a lot of the time. But I do remember the good stuff, and I hope you do too. That’s how most of us feel. Especially once we get older, we can see things a little more clearly. So, thanks for hanging in there with me. It makes a big difference in our lives.
by Diane Kindler, MSW, LICSW
*This is a fictional letter based on real people and relationships.