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May 2017Vol. 18, No. 3How to Say Goodbye to Children in Your Home

The primary goal of foster care is the reunification of the child with his or her birth family. And although having to say goodbye to a child can be a trying part of the fostering experience, reunification is a time to celebrate and give the child a chance to be happy with, forgive, and love their birth family.

How to Say Goodbye to Children in Your Home, produced by the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, is a useful tool foster parents can use to fill their remaining days with the child in their care with positive memories of their time together as well as make this time of transition easier on both the child and the foster family.

Below are some ideas that can help foster families and the children they care for make the adjustment to reunification a positive one:

  • Create and finish a lifebook together to recount a time in the child's life that they might not otherwise have access to and is a good project to complete together.
  • Leave notes of encouragement and support and tuck them away among the child's belongings so the child finds them as he or she unpack. Notes can include encouragement to stay in school and a phone number where they can reach their former foster parent.
  • Create a craft together, such as a making a hand impression to keep in remembrance; having the entire foster family write encouraging messages on a pillow case; shooting a goodbye video featuring family, friends, teachers, and daycare providers wishing the child well and watch it together.
  • Celebrate the reunification with a celebration, such as eating at the child's favorite restaurant, cooking a favorite meal at home, having cake and ice cream, giving the child a gift, and even inviting the birth parents to participate.
  • Create a cookbook of simple recipes the child can easily make (depending on age) or prepare a care package of frozen meals the child can take.

For more on how to navigate this joyful and sometimes heartbreaking time, visit (1,110 KB).