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.

‘I Can See His Happiness Just By Watching Him’ – My foster parents showed my son and me how to feel safe

I am 19 years old, married with two sons. I am surrounded by love and family. However it was not always like this for me.

I am a foster care alumni. I first went into care at 3 and exited for good at 18. When I was in care, I felt I had no one to depend on. I couldn’t even be certain I would stay in one house for more than a week.

I was also … Read More

From Existing to Living – I needed courage and support to face my childhood and reconnect with my kids.

When my daughters were 4 and 2 years old, I began to feel so numb to my children. I grew up in foster care and have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. At the time, I felt alienated not only from being a mother but being a person. I was lost in space, feeling nothing but emptiness. I didn’t feel human.

Far From Normal

When I tried to play with my children, I … Read More

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

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