Going into foster care is bound to spark some big emotions. You might feel anger, sadness, grief, confusion, anxiety, embarrassment, and general defiance. There is no right way to feel, just like there is no wrong way to feel. Whatever emotion you have on the table is valid.
It is a hard thing to navigate, but the people working with you, like your social worker and the foster carer, are on your team no matter how long it takes you to adjust. You might feel like you don’t actually want to tell people that you’re in care. Do you have to? Not if you don’t want to. That’s your story to tell when you feel ready. This post will help you work through some of the bigger feelings in this area.
I’m Going Into Care – What Now?
This is different for everyone. If you need an emergency home, you will be put with someone who has availability pretty quickly. Sometimes, there are stepping stone homes, and other times people are put with their long-term foster carers straight away. Whatever the circumstance, when you walk through the door of your foster home there will be a bedroom just for you with all the essentials that you could need to help you get settled. Everything else that you need will be figured out from this point forward. Here are some important bits of knowledge that might help you process this journey.
- Every decision that has led to you being placed into foster care has been with a view to keeping you safe.
- Even if you don’t agree with the decision, your well-being is at the forefront of every move made from this point forward.
- Each foster home is unique. Your circumstances will be different from a different child in a similar position.
- Your foster carers will be fully trained, safe people who understand that you’re going through something difficult. They will put your thoughts and feelings into the spotlight of how they look after you for as long as you stay with them.
- Your social worker is your advocate too. They are there for whatever you need.
Will I Have to Move Schools?
Foster homes try to keep you close enough to stay at the same school. Nobody wants to disrupt your normal patterns too much, so if you can stay at your usual school then everything will be done to make that happen. Sometimes though, there is no availability near enough to make the logistics work.
Though this is not always the case, if you did have to move further away then your school could be changing too. This happens to minimise your tiredness levels and the stress of having to travel a longer distance first thing and over essential downtime in the evening. Your voice will always be heard in this matter and it’s really important that you try to listen to the reasons too.
I Don’t Want to Tell My Friends
That is okay. If you don’t feel ready, there is no pressure at all. Maybe you have one close friend you could share this news with to help you figure it out in a safe space. It might take a few weeks to have a definite answer about where you’re going to be and when you might go back home. If you want to keep things quiet, that is completely up to you.
It is worth hearing that real friends don’t judge, and no one at all should or could ever judge you for being in the care system. There are so many reasons why this happens, and everyone’s path is a little different regardless of where life takes you.
It is a big change. However your emotions decide to react depends on how your brain works and the ways that you’ve adapted to change. Being able to share this with your best friends or close social circle might actually feel empowering. This is your life, your reality. The ability to connect with that might feel scary, but it could also help you step through it with a newfound resilience.
Who Has to Know?
There are a few people that will need to be told about your situation. This includes your caregivers at home, adults at school like teachers or pastoral leaders, and of course, your social worker. No one should release this knowledge without telling you first or asking for your consent in other contexts.
The Importance of Self-Identity for You
Above all else, foster care is a part of your journey. Whether you expected it or it has taken you by surprise, being in care is not a shameful thing to carry about. It is not a failing on your part or anything personal that you have caused. It is a complex decision that many people have taken time to think closely about before coming to this as an answer. If you have been put into a foster home, it is vital to make sure you have a safe space while everything else gets figured out.
So this home will become a part of your story, and there is so much value in taking ownership of your personal narrative. It is all about self-identity. The ability to know who you are, where you come from, and how life shapes your decisions is a thing that will help you as an adult in the wider world. It helps you make healthy decisions, form positive relationships, and move in ways that benefit you as opposed to causing harm.
Do I have to tell people I’m in care? No, you don’t. There are people who have to know, like your teacher, but outside of your immediate circle, the decision is entirely yours to tell. Though, it is worth remembering that this is a part of your story and nothing to be embarrassed about. You are safe, that’s what counts. Any friend worth having, any relationship that deserves your time, will never make you feel less for your current circumstances regardless of what they look like.
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