Guest Author: Dr. John DeGarmo
I have had the wonderful opportunity to be a foster parent for 13 years, now, and in that time, I have had over 45 children come to live in my home. For me, one of the most difficult challenges of being a foster parent is the evening the children arrive. After all, these children are ripped from their parents and family, many times suddenly without warning, and placed into a strange home; the foster parent’s home. These children are taken from their family, their sibling, their stuffed animals, their pets, their house, their friends, their relatives, and from all they know. Before they know it, they are living with strangers, living with people they simply don’t know. They are confused, anxious, and frightened. For most children, it is a time of fear, a time of uncertainty, a time where even the bravest of children become scared.
What has been difficult for me, though, is the moment when my wife and I say goodnight to these children on their first few nights. Despite all our attempts at making the children feel as comfortable, as safe, and as welcome as possible into our new home, it is during the night time when their anxieties often overwhelm them. When their heads hit the pillow those first few nights, children in foster care often realize that they are not going back home, that they will not be seeing their family soon, that they will not feel the hug and love of the parents. Sadly, it is not uncommon for newly placed foster children to cry themselves to sleep during the first few nights.
For more times than I can count, I have held a crying child in my arms those first few nights when they were placed into my home. I have struggled with answers to the same questions, from several children. Questions such as; “When will I go home?” “When will I see my mommy?” “How long am I here?” Despite all my training and experience as a foster parent, I simply do not have the right answers for these children; answers that will make those first few nights a little easier for them. I do not have the answers that will reassure them that all will be okay. I do not have the answers that will allow them to sleep peacefully at night.
It is for this very reason that I wrote the children’s book, A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story. It is my hope that A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story is a book that foster parents and caseworkers can pull off the book shelves, and read it to their foster children during those first few nights of placement, those first few nights of anxiety and tears. It is my hope that the book is one that you can turn to as you help children in need face a time of anxiety and fear.
Dr. John Degarmo Talks About His Book, “A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story“
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 12 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several books, including the new book Keeping Foster Children Safe Online, The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home, and the foster care children’s book A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website, http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com.