2000 Jordan Institute
a Child Through a Permanent Separation
the child face reality. The pain needs to be acknowledged and the
grieving process allowed.
the child to express feelings. There can be expressions of reasons
for the separation without condemning parents.
the truth. You can emphasize that his parents were not able to take
care of him without saying, "Your mother is an alcoholic."
Also, try to deal with the fantasy that children often have that the
parents will return. The permanency of the loss needs to be realized.
the child to ask questions. Again, be as truthful in your responses
as you can without hurting the child. Never lie to the child, even to
spare some pain.
with the child why the losses occurred. Ask about his ideas of why
he has made the moves he has and experienced these losses.
time with the child. Any child who has experienced separation feels
rejection and guilt. This can interfere with his sense of trust in others
and himself. By spending time and talking with the child, a new, trusting
relationship can be built between the worker and child during preparation.
This, in turn, can lead to other healthy relationships.
information about the past. A child's identity is partly a result
of having a past that is continuous. To achieve this continuity, various
techniques, such as the Life Book, are valuable. Social, cultural, and
developmental information needs to be included in the book and made
available to the child.
your own feelings. It is difficult to share the pain of separation
and to be the one who helps the child face reality--such as the fact
that he may never see his biological or foster parents again. Often,
the worker would prefer to avoid the pain and angry feelings. However,
if these feelings are not dealt with now, they will recur and may jeopardize
Fahlberg, V., Jewett, C., with contributions by Buress, C., and Lopez,
C., in Morton, Thomas, ed. Adoption of children with special needs.
Athens, GA: Office of Continuing Education, University of Georgia (developed
under contract with the U.S. Children's Bureau), 1982, pp. 9-11.
1997 Jordan Institute for Families