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Visits with Birth Parents

It’s normal for children who have been removed from their homes to have strong reactions to visits with their birth parents. The separation process is difficult and children may have different feelings before, during and after a visit. Some of those feelings include:

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Start a tradition of doing something special after a visit with birth parents

  • Happiness and relief about seeing birth parents.
  • Confusion, especially about why he can’t go home with his birth parents.
  • Sadness or anger about being separated from his birth family.
  • Anger toward his/her birth parents for the abuse or neglect that resulted in the child being removed from his/her home.
  • Guilt that being taken away from his family was his/her fault, and fear that his/her birth parents will be angry with him/her for this.
  • Worry about whether his/her birth parents, siblings, or other family members are OK.
  • Worry that saying anything positive about his/her foster family means that he/she’s being disloyal to his/her own family.
  • Fear that he/she’ll be hurt in some way during the visit.
  • Anger or sadness about returning to the foster home when the visit ends.
  • Feeling “out of control” because of all the mixed-up emotions he/she has about seeing his/her birth parents.

Most children don’t put these feelings into words. Instead, their behaviors reflect what they’re feeling.  Here are some of the ways that a child may act:

  • Behaves as though she/he’s much younger (whining, demanding, clingy, scared of everything).
  • Pretends that everything is fine or denies that she/he feels anything at all.
  • Irritable or angry.
  • Overactive, aggressive.
  • Complains of a stomachache, headache, feeling sick, etc.

Note-icon.pngStart a tradition of doing something special after a visit with birth parents. Go get ice cream, go for a walk, take a drive – anything that gives the child time to talk about the visit and relax.