I recently attended the Insight Conference, where I learned from a variety of parents and professionals on various topics relating to foster care and adoption. Each of the speakers offered so much information, education, and encouragement. The portion of this conference that stood out to me the most was Jeff Noble’s, “Navigating Grief & Loss as a Caregiver.” This breakout session focused specifically on caregivers! I wanted to share some of the items from this piece to help provide some awareness and encouragement.
When entering the world of fostering and adoption, parents may have a few hopes, dreams, and expectations of what is to come. Some common themes include excitement, happiness, and joy. Parents may have a strong desire to welcome a child into their home to share their favorite traditions from their childhood. Parents may expect gratitude from their children and days filled with family fun activities and other days filled with quietness. Some parents may have had a basic understanding that parenting could be hard at times, but would be easy overall.
Continuing in this journey, the reality of what can be experienced in parenting children from trauma sets in. Some parents shared that parenting was more difficult than anticipated, not expecting the good and difficult times to be such a rollercoaster. Parents have expressed they experience sadness that turns into anger, stress, resentment, and frustration. Parents expressed there were feelings of rejection. Parents also expressed humbling experiences intertwined with these tough situations involved in the daily life of parenting. It’s important to recognize that there may be a plethora of emotion experienced in parenting, and that there may be grief that accompanies this journey.
This grief may stem from a sense of loss for things you might not have even noticed you had longed for when starting the journey. Some parents have shared loss can include hopes and dreams they had for their family, their future, and the child’s future. There may be a sense of loss from meeting milestones later than expected or even meeting these milestones differently compared to other families. Parents may experience a loss of self-esteem or feel as though they are incompetent as a parent, and lose stability as a family unit. Some parents expressed a loss of supports, including support from a spouse and/or immediate family members.
These emotions and desires parents hold for their family are normal. So is the grief that may also accompany. This journey can feel like a roller coaster and can seem lonely at times. Find connection, whether through a support group or a friend who may on a similar journey. Call your Post Adopt Coordinator for assistance, or a listening ear! This journey doesn’t have to be walked alone!
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW