There are many relationships that happen through being a foster parent. If I had to name them all, it would probably take up most of this blog. Then there are relationships with friends and family that were there before we became foster parents. When I became a foster parent in 2016, I heard about all the challenges with behaviors and all the challenges I would face in relation to the child coming into my home, but what I did not realize is the challenges it would add to my own relationships.
Relationship with significant other
It was about 6 months in to our foster care journey that I realized how burnt out I was. I had two kids in foster care at the time and my own biological child. I remember thinking “I don’t know if I can keep this up anymore.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed our kids, but the strain from me giving so much of myself to everyone else took a toll on the relationship with my spouse and our marriage.
The crazy thing was I didn’t even realize it. I had vowed that I wouldn’t let foster care consume me. I would take care of myself and make time for my husband, but the reality was so much different. We had so many appointments and people coming into our home I couldn’t keep up.
When it all started to fall apart, I was actually shocked and did not know where to reach out. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t keep it all together and felt like I was failing. That’s when we started seeing a wraparound coach (Therapist), who helped us navigate and process our feelings and challenges in our martial relationship to keep it strong and in tact. If your marriage needs support check out these tips below.
Relationships with extended family and friends
The next relationship that was strained was with extended family and friends. This is something I heard a lot when I was working as a social worker with a foster care agency. It was also something I experienced myself, but was able to work through. Sometimes extended family and friends may not understand the impact of trauma or why you are so busy or even why you might be making different parenting choices.
The one thing that helped for us is sharing information about trauma and trauma informed care. This month Dawn is offering an Introduction to Adverse Childhood Experiences course completely free. This is a great opportunity for loved one and friends to learn a little bit about the effects of childhood trauma. Join us via zoom on May 17th in the evening and May 19th over lunch as we introduce the impact of trauma through the research of adverse childhood experiences. The link to sign up is: Upcoming Events – Dawn Trainings
If you want more practical ways family or friends can help go here: 10 practical ways to support foster families – Things I want to say
Maintaining relationships can be hard when dealing with challenges. One of the best ways to help those relationships is to notice what is going on for you and what you need. If that feels overwhelming or like something that is not possible, please reach out to our team at Dawn. We are here to help you.