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Our 17 year old Foster Daughter Ran Away, Now What????

Posted by on Jun. 10, 2012 at 7:46 PM
  • 10 Replies

We had been fostering a 17 year old girl for 4 months. When we took her in, we knew she had a history of running away from her birth family, but she told us that her birth family was messed up and treated her horrible, so that was why she ran away.  We took her in and treated her very good. We took her everywhere she wanted to go like the gym, the mall, etc. She had a job and seemed to be well adjusted. She took off in the middle of the night and we don't know who took her.  We have contacted the police, the adoption agencies and her bio parents. My husband just can't seem to let it go that she is gone.  I think everyone in our family feels a loss.  Are are feelings abnormal?  What would you do or feel like in this situation?


Cheryle A. Roberts

by on Jun. 10, 2012 at 7:46 PM
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SarahSuzyQ
by Sarah on Jun. 11, 2012 at 12:04 AM
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It's completely understandable that you would feel hurt -- you made yourselves vulnerable by taking this girl into your family and giving her your trust. I think any feeling person would recognize that this is a loss to your family. I'm so sorry that this has happened.

I also think you have to recognize that her leaving was probably not about your family at all. 4 good months cannot undo 17 years of mistreatment, abuse, confusion, poor parenting... Whatever was going on with her birth family, it definitely contributed to her making these kinds of choices. She may have been acting out of fear, or perhaps there are other factors at play that you just don't know about.

Even those 4 months may be significant to her self-concept. This may be the first time that she was trusted, that she was treated with respect, that she had a role in a functional family. It's heart work to love a child in this way, and sometimes it is very heart-breaking. I will say a prayer for healing in your family.

Have they found the girl? Do you have any contact with her at this point, or would you, if she came back into care again?

Malley
by on Jun. 11, 2012 at 6:08 AM
Another possibility is she had some emotional /mental issues. This reminds me of a girl my dd befriended in HS. She had contacted her dad and begged him to take her in, said she had a terrible life with her mom. His wife totally embraced her and tried to give her a wonderful life. At first everything was great, the girl was happy and fitting into her new life. She couldn't have been sweeter or more polite.Then she started acting out like stealing from her SM. I started seeing it too. She came over during finals week and I wouldn't let her hang out because my kids were studying. As she left she kicked my car hard enough to leave a large dent. She started breaking curfew, cussing, skipping school and then she ran away back to her mother. When SM called she got quite an earful from Mom, seems she had been going through the same problems there. Dad and SM were left feeling very used.
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mcginnisc
by Claire on Jun. 11, 2012 at 7:46 AM
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Quoting SarahSuzyQ:

It's completely understandable that you would feel hurt -- you made yourselves vulnerable by taking this girl into your family and giving her your trust. I think any feeling person would recognize that this is a loss to your family. I'm so sorry that this has happened.

I also think you have to recognize that her leaving was probably not about your family at all. 4 good months cannot undo 17 years of mistreatment, abuse, confusion, poor parenting... Whatever was going on with her birth family, it definitely contributed to her making these kinds of choices. She may have been acting out of fear, or perhaps there are other factors at play that you just don't know about.

Even those 4 months may be significant to her self-concept. This may be the first time that she was trusted, that she was treated with respect, that she had a role in a functional family. It's heart work to love a child in this way, and sometimes it is very heart-breaking. I will say a prayer for healing in your family.

Have they found the girl? Do you have any contact with her at this point, or would you, if she came back into care again?

I think that Sarah hit the nail on the head in the part that I highlighted. This child is 17 and has obviously gone through a lot of turmoil over the years. She is in "flight or fight" mode and this is how she handles things when she is feeling out of sorts- she runs. 

I think that it would be understandable for you to be hurt since you were so open in allowing this child into your home and giving her your love and stability. 

I hope that this comes to a healthy resolution for all of you involved. Please keep us posted!

Claire

Moderator: Healthy Weight Loss & Adoptive Moms

" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

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shay0810
by on Jun. 12, 2012 at 8:16 AM
1 mom liked this

We had the same thing happen with a 16 yo foster daughter that we kept.  Thankfully they found her and brought her back to us. But, in all honesty, if your home was the first place she has felt safe and loved, as odd as it sounds, that scared her. Because of her history, the more comfortable she felt with you all, the more the little voice in the back of her head said, "something is going to happen. This can't last." And so, rather than wait for what she felt like was inevitable, she ran away first. Hope she is found safe and sound!

meam4444
by on Jun. 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Hope she is found safe and sound.  ((hugs))

mellie25
by on Jun. 14, 2012 at 1:28 AM
So sorry! Praying she is found safe.
meam4444
by on Jun. 18, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Hope she was found!

3mom627
by Member on Jul. 1, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I like you advice on our foster daughter. So glad you had a good experience. As I just posted, we know where she is. My kids saw pictures on facebook and they tracked her to her old hometown. She is back with her old friends getting high and drunk. Her bio mother and father claimed that they don't know where she is, but they are lying. My DH feels used and betrayed. He is so upset over this, he hasn't been the same. We don't know if we should contact the local Children and Youth and report that we know where she is, contact the police in that city. My DH wants to write her a letter telling her we know where she is, that we suspected she was leaving, that we really cared and loved her for the 4 months she lived with us. She will turn 18 in September.  What are your thoughts?

Cheryle A. Roberts

SarahSuzyQ
by Sarah on Jul. 2, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Oh, I am so sad to hear that she is not in a good place... But not surprised. After all, this is what is safe and comfortable. And at this point, she is choosing her path in life.

I think as a mandated reporter (all foster parents are), you need to call C&Y and let them know where she is. Because she is a minor and in state custody, I think that would fall under your responsibilities... Not to mention it is just the right thing to do to try and keep her safe.

I don't know that a letter from your DH would be helpful/appropriate right now. Maybe you can contact her if she comes back into care? I know he is hurting, but at 17 and with her history, she likely will not be able to respond in the way that he wants. It may just add to the frustration. Maybe instead what you have to talk about is whether or not you want her back in your home, should the state decide to take her back into custody.

(((HUGS)))

3mom627
by Member on Jul. 2, 2012 at 11:10 PM

We spoke to our caseworker today and she advised us not to do anything. She stated that as sad as it may seem that the county who is in charge of her isn't too concerned about her whereabouts. Putting her back into placement with a group of really bad girls may do her more harm, physically. She stated that the fact that she is almost 18 is playing a big part of the picture. She advised my DH that if he still wants to write her a letter wait until she is 18 as it can be looked at as stalking. We also spoke to a minister who advised the best case scenario is to pray and that is what I feel is the best thing also.

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