Dear foster parents, I am a teenager in foster care and I want to tell you about my family forest and why it’s important to me. For a kid like me the idea of a family tree is sort of lame. I have lots of family trees….my birth family tree, my first foster family tree, my second foster family tree and so on.
Think of me as having a family forest made up of trees which represent all of the people who have been important in my life….. the people I’ve lived with like my birth parents, foster parents and my grandparents. Don’t forget to include the people at the group home I lived in a couple years ago. Also, there are some special people I haven’t lived with but who have had a big influence on me like my current social worker, my godparents and the guy (Mr. K) who coaches my baseball team. He’s sort of a mentor to me.
That’s a pretty big forest, right? I have mixed feelings when I think about it. I can see that I have had a lot of grownups who have helped me out. I’ve been through some rough times and some of these people have been there to support me when I really needed it. On the other hand, I think that my life has been pretty complicated. I have friends who have just lived with their one family forever. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I’ve been with some really good people but I’ve lost a lot of people too. And sometimes it all feels like too much and I wish I was one of those “just one family” kids.
So, if you are wondering what my family forest has to do with you as my foster parent, here are some ideas. First of all, remember that you are part of my family forest now. (Welcome to the club.) You are important to me. Even though there are times when I’d never admit that! Also, try to remember that the other “trees” are important to me too. I miss some of them. I worry about some of them. And I’m kind of angry at some of them. I think about them a lot. Please remember that. It’s really ok to ask me about them. In fact, most of the time I like that. I don’t want to forget them so help me keep in touch, ok?
Well, that’s enough for now. Welcome to my family forest. There is definitely room for you.
Written by Diane Kindler, MSW, LICSW