Parents whose children enter foster care have often experienced serious trauma, including sexual assault, physical abuse or abandonment in childhood, community violence, and domestic violence. Research in NYC has found that more than half of mothers with children in care met the criteria for PTSD. Yet parents are rarely screened or treated for trauma. Learning about trauma–and the feelings of rage, shame, fear and hopelessness that so often come from trauma–can help you find the right supports and build a safer life for yourself and your children.

Too Close for Comfort – I was afraid to show my daughter all the love I really felt.

When my daughter was an infant I showed her a lot of love, but when she was 4, our lives changed in a terrible way, and I began to feel that hugging and kissing my daughter was wrong.

Child protective services took my daughter from me when she was 4 and returned her 9 months later because I had been sexually inappropriate with other children in my home. One day when my nieces and nephew, two … Read More

There Is Always a Way Forward – Therapy showed me I could build a better future for myself and my children.

When I started attending the Safe Mothers, Safe Children program at the ACS-NYU Children’s Trauma Institute, I felt like my past had completely destroyed me and my relationship with everyone

As a child, I used to have to look down when an adult was talking to me. If I looked up, then I would get hit. My family called it disrespect. But when I became an adult, I felt disrespected by everyone, … Read More

Coerced In Court – I wish I’d never let the court find me guilty of neglect.

Illustration by Erika Faye Burke


I was raised to have pride in who I am and stand up for what I believe. Standing up in court to admit that I neglected my children, I felt like everything I knew to be true and right was thrown out the window.

As the judge looked at me and said, “I strongly suggest you plead guilty,” I broke down and cried.

My lawyer put her head down and told … Read More

To Bathe in Gold – I try to see the good in my son and in me.

My son is very bright and handsome. But instead of using all his gifts to shine, instead he slumps when he walks. He coasts in school. Hisgrades drop, then he studies a bit to catch up, then again his grades drop because he gets bored.

He is constantly entangled with his teachers, who he says are stupid.

At times, my son’s scorn turns on me, too.

When we first went … Read More

‘What Can I Do?’ – As teens, my children needed me to try new ways to parent.

When my children first came home from foster care, life was different for all of us. I was clean and sober, thrown into a new apartment withthree little strangers. My children were 10 years, 5 years and two weeks old when they were removed, and 12, 7 and 18 months when they were returned.

Old-School Techniques

At first, I was very confused how to parent my children. The fact is, during my children’s early years I used … Read More