Foster Care and Adoption
The Mourning Process & Unresolved Grief
Many children in the child welfare placement system experience non-resolution of their losses. Although endeavoring to mourn, they find minimal consistency or validation to support this mourning process. As a result, there is an increasing intensity of their unexpressed feelings and behaviors, deepening depression and the progression of protest into anger and ultimately rage. Frequently, the rage behaviors of children are layers of unresolved grief. Understanding normal consequences of loss provides prerequisites for treatment and helping children mourn losses. The emotions of anger, hostility, and frustration in children who mourn manifest as difficult behaviors to tolerate (from Darla Henry’s 3-5-7 model)
Lion's Experience with the Foster Care System
Lion’s counselor has fourteen years of experience working in the foster care and adoption field. During that period he has worked as direct care social worker, program director and in executive management. He has worked with hundreds of children of all ages, parents, guardians, foster and adoptive families from very diverse backgrounds. In addition, he has been trained in in Darla Henry’s permanency model. With this level of foster care and adoption experience, Hanna is able to empathize with children and families who are working their way through difficult times. At Lion, we have the utmost respect for the care and work that foster and adoptive families provide for the children in their care. We understand that first and foremost children have a need to feel safe; this need for a safe environment is further exacerbated if the child has a history of abuse and or neglect. At Lion, we recognize that placement in foster care or adoptive homes is intended to provide safety to the child, but the act of removing a child is a disruptive process, and can be traumatic. It is important to recognize that to a child, moving results in loss of relationships, routines, and other familiar things and they must be given the opportunity to mourn those losses.
Brief description of Henry’s 3-5-7 Model:
1 The completion of three tasks—clarification of life events, integration of all family memberships, and actualization in belonging to a new family.
2 The answering of five conceptual questions relevant to each child living in placement, Who am I? What happened to me? Where am I going? How will I get there?, and When will I know I belong?
3 The use of seven critical skill elements in the preparation work: engaging the child, listening to the child’s words, speaking the truth, validating the child’s life story, creating a safe space, going back in time, and recognizing pain as part of the process.