Books Recommended by Foster Parents (and Children)

Last week I went searching for children’s books about foster care. I asked a couple groups of people involved in foster care and got great recommendations from them. Foster parents listed many books that children in their care have enjoyed and benefited from. Some books were recommended multiple, multiple times!

One book in particular was so highly recommended that my family immediately ordered it. That book was:

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Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care

By Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright

Illustrated by Allissa Imre Geis

Maybe Days is a great introduction to the foster care system for children ages 4-10. The book depicts the often complex world of foster care in simple, clear, and realistic terms.

It acknowledges how frustrating it can be to only have questions answered with “maybe” and not know what will happen next in life. Each child’s journey in the foster care system is unique, which the book respects as well. A note to foster parents is included in the back, with tips from the authors, a therapist and a clinical psychologist who both work with children and families.

Overall, the book manages to balance the unknowns and vagueness of each child’s experience of foster care with reassuring children that no matter what, they can still be themselves and enjoy being a kid.

 

Other books about foster care that foster parents recommended were:

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Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care

By Jan Levinson Gilman

Illustrated by Kathy O’Malley

A story about a puppy who goes through a couple different homes but wants one to call his own.

 

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Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care

(Kids Are Important Series)

By Julie Nelson

Illustrated by Mary C

“’Kids are important… They need safe places to live, and safe places to play.’ For some kids, this means living with foster parents. In simple words and full-color illustrations, this book explains why some kids move to foster homes, what foster parents do, and ways kids might feel during foster care.” (Summary from Amazon.)

 

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Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights

(Kids Are Important Series)

By Julie Nelson

Illustrated by Mary Gallagher

“All families change over time. Sometimes a baby is born, or a grown-up gets married. And sometimes a child gets a new foster parent or a new adopted mom or dad. Children need to know that when this happens, it’s not their fault. They need to understand that they can remember and value their birth family and love their new family, too. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing change. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers.” (Summary from Amazon.)

 

Foster parents also shared some books that are not specifically about foster care, but have still helped their foster children. These included:

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Home for a Bunny

By Margret Wise Brown

A bunny searches for a home. Foster parents said their children identified with the bunny and like the book.

 

 

 

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Here in the Garden

By Briony Stewart

A book about loss and grief, but not necessarily death. Helpful for children in foster care, especially if their parent/parents are no longer a part of their life. Foster and adoptive parents said this book helped children in their homes.

 

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A Terrible Thing Happened

By Margret M. Holmes

Illustrated by Cary Pillo

A book about a personified raccoon who saw a bad thing happen, but feels better after talking to someone.

 

 

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The Invisible String

By Patrice Karst

Illustrated by Geoff Stevenson

A book about a mom telling her children that they are connected by an invisible string- a string made of love, that binds their hearts together. Helps children deal with feelings of separation from loved ones. Foster parents noted that their foster children love this book.

 

Many suggestions were also for books that talked about differences in families, including:

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The Family Book

By Todd Parr

 

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The Great Big Book of Families

By Mary Hoffman

Illustrated by Ros Asquith

 

 

 

Hopefully these book suggestions are helpful for you and the children in your life. I have not personally read them all, and do not necessarily endorse any of the books listed here. I simply wanted to pass on some recommendations from foster parents and children. What books would you recommend?

Here are links to more lists of foster care and adoption books:

11 Kids’ Books on Dealing with Loss, Grief, Illness and Trauma

50 Books About Adoption, Foster Care, and Healing Child Abuse

Books For Foster Kids And Foster Parents

 

She is never coming back.

I was not ready.

Changing my schedule after foster children leave is the hardest for me. It is a process of totally replacing them. The time I used to read to them is replaced with personal study time. Afternoons spent giving them wagon rides are now reserved for a new project. An alarm on my phone set to wake my little sister up (to Frozen music, of course) has to be deleted.

I have never been ready to delete her alarm. Not for a year and a half.

It would be admitting that she is not coming back; that she will not need that alarm again; that she will not need me again. 

But now, after admitting it here in writing, I am ready. I can let go of the alarm setting.

Maybe I can let go of her too.

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Release

Little Curls

“Oh, look at her little curls on the ends of her hair! Isn’t she just precious?” swooned a kind lady about my foster sister.

“She sure is,” I replied.

It had taken a couple tries to get her hair to lie like that, covering the bald spot where the curls had been taken for a hair follicle drug test.

But I didn’t mention that.

Foster Families on Children Leaving

The fear of losing someone you love can petrify you.

People have claimed this as a reason they do not take in foster children; because it would be heart breaking to have a child leave. They are completely right. It is horribly painful, but not always the hardest part. Sometimes the most difficult thing is knowing that the child may be returning to a bad situation.

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I turned to some of my foster parent friends and asked them how they deal with foster children leaving and possibly moving to bad situations. Here is a summary of what they said:

• Foster care is not about saving the world. As much as you may try, one person cannot fix everything. It is not the foster parent’s job to decide if the biological parents are good enough. It is not the foster family’s job to go check up on the child after reunification. Foster families’ job is to love the child and advocate for them while they are in our care.

• No matter what happens after they leave our care, we know that we have made a difference in their lives for that time. They may not remember our names, but they will know what love is. In the back of their minds there will be some memory of what a family is supposed to be. The love we poured out on them will carry them farther than they could go before.

• And when they go, foster families must let go to an extent. Worrying about the child does nothing for them, but it does prevent you from caring for the next child who desperately needs you. Any bitterness has to go too, along with longing for the situation to be different. Both will eat you alive. Cry over the grief that the child will not be with you. Pray for them as they go to a situation less than ideal (prayer is the only thing that does any good anyway). Find the people who support you; lean on them during this time.

Ultimately, most foster families have this in common: they do it for the kids, not for themselves. They know they will be hurt, risk burn out, witness heart-wrenching things they can never forget. But they choose to do it anyway for kids who have no choice.

Something that gives me hope is Philippians 1:6. My grandma, a foster parent to over 150 children, shared that verse from the Bible with me when my family first began taking in foster children. It goes like this: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you [read: foster child] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

This post came in response to Audrey C.’s question. Thanks Audrey

Humans too

Eeeek.

The first bits feel like a bucket of ice dumped on your head.

So it wasn’t all what I thought it was.

As the story continues to unfold, a nagging feeling creeps up the back of your neck.

Maybe they aren’t complete monsters.

The abuse they suffered. The chains and cycles and addictions they are stuck in. The beatings they deal with right now in the midst of striving to get their children back. How they never got a good chance in life.

118H
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It is a tragedy, happening in a parking lot near the state courthouse. It is also a reality social workers and other family workers face everyday. They often have no idea what they are stepping into when they go to a home to check on a child.

…Just keeping in mind that social workers have a hard job; but a job that is needed and changes many people’s lives for the better.

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