The Trauma and Turmoil of Being Placed in YOUR Home: Uncertainty for Children in Foster Care

Dr. John DeGarmo
5 min readMar 29

It was late, and I was at my desk in my library, doing some writing for an upcoming book. Earlier that afternoon, we had taken in three foster children, all boys, ages ten, nine and seven. As I sat over my keyboard, the sounds of crying wafted through from the nearby bedroom, instantly reminding me of the deep sadness that lay heavy in our house.

Silently entering into the boy’s room, I found Derrick, the youngest, sitting in his bed with tears streaming down his face. Between heartbroken sobs, he asked me when he could go home. “I want muh Momma,” he sobbed. “When kin I go home? I don’t wann be here.” Matt and Logan were asleep, or at least pretended to be.

Once again, all my training as a foster parent failed me, as I could not prevent this boy from experiencing the fear, grief and sorrow that gripped his small body. Scooping him in my arms, I carried him to the library and sat down next to the pot belly stove. What could I say to him to make him feel better? What could I do to take away his fear and sadness? My heart cried out to him, as I shared his own misery. This poor boy; this scared, lonely, poor boy. Once again, I felt the anger swell inside me; anger that parents could do this to a child, anger that those who were to love him the most had placed him in this situation with their own actions and their own choices. Saying a silent prayer to myself, I then stroked his hair. “I know, Derrick, I know,” I whispered to him, wiping the tears that reddened his eyes.

Many psychologists state that it is necessary for young children to form a relationship with at least one main parental figure or caregiver in order for the child to develop socially and emotionally. Yet, the removal of a child from his or her home, and placement into another’s home through foster care, often makes this difficult, traumatic experience. Often, the removal of a child from a home occurs after a caseworker has gathered evidence and presented this evidence to a court, along with the recommendation that the child be removed. Indeed, most foster care placements are made through the court system.

Dr. John DeGarmo

Leading foster care expert and international empowerment speaker