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.

A Way Out of No Way – My daughter and I keep trying to connect despite termination.

art by Carmen Caban

Fifteen years ago, when my youngest daughter, Destiny, was 3 and her sister Desiree was 7, my parental rights to them were terminated.

I just could not understand why. I had been addicted to drugs for many years but completed drug treatment, parenting classes and anger management classes. I also had two older children in foster care, and my rights to these children were not terminated. In fact, a year later, … Read More

‘She’s Still Your Mother’ – I am angry at my sister but my nieces need her love.

Eight years ago I became a foster mother to my two nieces, ages 10 and 5. My sister was on drugs and lost her daughters to foster care.

First the girls went to my mother, but my mother’s house was too crowded. Eventually, my mother called me and told me that the girls might end up with a foster family.

I was scared for my nieces. I asked my mother, “Do you think … Read More

Forever Family – My daughter’s foster mother is still part of our lives.

Illustration by Eric Green

In 1998 I was pregnant with my daughter when I was arrested for possession of crack cocaine. I was given a conditional release to go to a drug treatment program but for a long time I could not get it right. First I ran away from that program. Then, when I was let out on bail to give birth to my daughter, I purchased some crack while I … Read More

Standing Up for My Son – I had to fight to get my son out of the system.

art by Rudá Tillet

I was only 15 when my girlfriend of six months came out pregnant. Soon I found out that she was playing me. I was young and didn’t know what to do, so I left her with the belly.

When the baby was born, my mother took me to the hospital. We both took a good look at the baby and said the same thing, “That’s not my kid!”

The baby’s mother did … Read More

Do Over – Changing as a parent takes courage and practice.

art by Dayton Town

Most parents like me want their children to have an easy, decent life as far removed from what we ourselves experienced as possible. We want to be good parents, but sometimes it can be very difficult to know how if you grew up in foster care or in a home where you experienced abuse or neglect.

Losing my children to the system made me realize that I had a lot to … Read More