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.

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

Too Scared to Learn – My daughter had to deal with her foster care fears before she could focus in school.

Illustration by Kingslee Gourrick

My daughter had some very serious problems when she started first grade. Kindergarten wasn’t too smooth, either, so on the first day of school this year I was encouraging her, saying, “This year is a new year for you.” I had high hopes.

A Difficult First Day

I dressed my daughter in her uniform—yellow tights with a blue jumper and a long sleeved yellow shirt. But as we approached the school, my … Read More

Sick and Tired – I needed respite and support but instead I lost my son.

Three years ago I lost my son to foster care because I got too exhausted and overwhelmed to care for him.

My son, who is now 13, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD and was in and out of the hospital more than a dozen times in five years. I was a single parent with little support from my family. The pressure of caring for my son took a toll on me.

Destructive Behaviors

My son was … Read More