Difficult Moments of a Foster Mom 

I really do love being a foster mom. Sometimes, I have to convince myself how much I love it but those are typically in the hard moments that I face. Most would say that giving a child back is a hard moment. It is… but the day in and day out moments often are what hurts my heart most. One particular time that always seems to be the most heart wrenching.

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The Initial Moments of Leaving Home

A child leaving their home can be very traumatic. As you can imagine, when the social worker comes into the child’s home to remove them, it is not under the best circumstances (or they wouldn’t have to remove them, to begin with). Imagine a child being ripped from their parent. Although their situations are not “normal”, it is still THEIR normal. So, taking them away from the parent who they are comfortable with is heart-wrenching to the child even if it is the best thing.

Typically, when they arrive at our home, they are in the “shock stage”. Scared, to say the least, but usually, it results in a child either being overly shy or off the wall hyper because they are nervous. They may not want to come near us or they may be attached to our hip. Each child is different. This next picture is an actual picture of my daughter the first night she was in our home. You can see the fear in her eyes!


Although they may respond differently, almost every single child we have had come into our care breaks down the same way at night. They are in a home that they are unfamiliar with. They have strangers as their new protectors, their caregivers, and their main support. Regardless if they are a baby or an older child, nighttime is hard. VERY hard. Every one of the children we have had in our home has had a rough “first night”. It breaks my heart to hear the cries and see the fear and uncertainty in their eyes. They haven’t begun to trust me by the first night’s sleep so they are often hard to console. 

After the first night, nighttime gets easier but still is often the most difficult time for us. The moment when all is quiet and they are left with their emotions is a scary thing for them. The busyness of the day has now come to a halt and they are no longer distracted from the fears and the “what ifs”. If a child is going to break down, it is most likely going to be at night, right after you walk out of the bedroom. I have found five things that work best for nighttime. 

Creating a routine.

We read a book, pray, tuck them in, and then finish off by giving extra hugs and kisses. A child knowing their bedtime routine and having set expectations helps them to wind down and be prepared for that moment that you walk out the door. Many of them have not had a routine so it can be a little scary at first. Eventually, they will crave a routine!

Turn on a nightlight.

Most children are terrified of the dark but even if they are not, going to bed in a strange room can be terrifying in itself. Having a nightlight as they fall asleep can help relieve some of the stress of falling asleep.

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Give them a special stuffed animal.

We like to take our foster children to Build-A-Bear within the first few days of them coming into our home. They get to pick out their favorite stuffed animal which provides more of an attachment, In turn, that attachment helps them get through the night easier. We also have a favorite bear in our home called Sergeant SleepTight that “protects” while we sleep.

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Providing a soft pillow and blankets

We have found that most of the children who come into our care have been used to sleeping with parents or siblings. The state has laws against allowing anyone to sleep with a foster child so they have to get used to sleeping on their own. That is very difficult when they are already scared but are also used to having the comfort and even the body heat from someone else and then no longer have that. 

Our newest child that has been placed with us was having a hard time sleeping at night. That was when she was most fearful and lonely feeling. We had tried all the above tactics that we normally try and nothing seemed to be working. Finding her soft, comfortable blankets was key to a good night’s sleep for her. We had a ZZZ Sleep pillow but they have since gone out of business. We found that proper sleeping positions is the key to getting a good night’s rest which is why we loved the ZZZ Sleep pillow so much. It held her little body in place perfectly. It worked so well for her!

Life as a foster mom has some amazing rewards. I can’t even tell you how much it does my heart good to know that I am able to love these children through the toughest time of their lives. I get to work alongside their parents to help them to be the parents the child desperately needs. We have seen changed lives in both parents AND children. It is a blessing but it is not for the faint at heart! 

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54 Replies to “Hard Moments While Being a Foster Mom”

  1. What an amazing article. Those poor children, I’m so glad there is a product out there that helps along with the patience and care.

  2. I have a lot of respect for those that are foster parents. I know it can be really tough and am appreciate what they do to help out kids.

  3. My friend does foster care for kids. These are some great ideas for helping out getting new kids settled.

  4. I love that the pillow is like a hug and that the kids love sleeping with one. I had nto seen these before will have to try one with my kids.

  5. Thank you for being a foster parent. I sleep with pillows surrounding me but this pillow looks great for my granddaughter.

  6. We really need more special people like you in the world! I know it can be hard but you seem to be doing an awesome job!

  7. It takes a special person to be a foster parent, that’s so great. My son has sleeping troubles so a ZZZ pillow may be perfect for him!

  8. (Hard Moments While Being a Foster Mom) I am just so glad that you are ther for these little people. They do deserve a fighting chance in life with people that really do love them and care for them in the best ways possible. God bless them and your family too.

  9. You should be so proud for helping these kids. I have thought so many times of doing it but for this reason or that do not. I am so glad these pillows help to swaddle them for some comfort.

  10. Thank you for being s foster mom! I admire you so much for it. It’s something I may want to do when my own son is a little older, but I’m not sure I’m a strong enough person for it

  11. You’re awesome for being a foster parent! I can only imagine what those kids go through and what nighttime can bring for them. That’s great the Sleep Zzz has been helping your one foster child. It looks like a great product!

  12. You are doing everything right for these children….not all foster parents do it because they care about the children. We need more foster moms like you. 🙂 Thank you.

  13. Bless you for what you and your family do! These pillows are wonderful, my son’s pillow has seen better days but he loves his Spiderman body pillow. I bet he would let me replace it with one these too, he likes to cuddle.

  14. Our daughter sometimes has trouble falling asleep at night. I’d love to see if one of these would help!

  15. I can imagine how nighttime would be so difficult for foster children as they try to adjust. You have some wonderful ideas to keep kids comfortable and feeling secure.

  16. Thanks for taking care of the Foster Children who would be lost without you.
    I’m glad this Pillow helps a ton with the sleep issues Sounds like a Great 👍 Product.

  17. Fostering is a big undertaking, I applaud the people that can do it, I know at times it is hard, been there.

  18. I have been considering becoming a foster parent. These pillows seem like they would be a big comforting help

  19. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a foster parent, what an amazing thing! I can definitely see how these pillows can help them feel more comfortable. I know my kids would love one!

  20. These are so neat. I wish they had them when my parents were foster parents. The kids would have just loved them.

  21. It is a good thing you do and also heart breaking. Sounds like you have a lot of experience with the kids and it is nice to know that a pillow can really help them sleep through the night.

  22. comfort and caring is what counts to a child and the pillow and the fact that it is giving is wonderful

  23. These are wonderful ideas on how to comfort a foster child. I especially like the tip to let the child pick out a special stuffed animal and giving them a Sleep ZZZ pillow for the feeling of hugs and security.

  24. Interesting information. It’s a tough job – thankful for the people that choose to do it.

  25. I have thought a lot about becoming a foster parent and these were great tips that I wouldn’t have thought of before.The pillows are great because they look so comforting.

  26. My daughter is very attached to me at almost 7. She was exclusively breastfed until 2.5, so we spent a lot of time cuddling and co-sleeping in those first couple of years. She still til this day would prefer to sleep in bed with me if I let her. One of these pillows would give her some comfort in the night when I don’t allow her to crawl into bed with me. I bet if I sprayed it to smell like me, it would really be comforting.

  27. First of all, thank you for being a foster parent! I have two cousins who have been foster parents & have went on to adopt 6 children between the two of them. I think the pillows are a great idea.

  28. This sounds like a great pillow for people who have trouble sleeping due to various issues

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