My 4 year old son has a good friend who is a foster child. She was being fostered (with two siblings) by a couple who lived not far from us and we were just beginning to get friendly with this family, planning playdates, inviting to birthdays, etc.. The couple were planning to adopt all three children.

About two weeks ago, we planned a playdate for our son and his friend, but it was cancelled at the last moment because one of the friend's siblings got sick and went to emergency late at night. My son was heartbroken - he cried when we explained it to him, he cried again later in the day and again the next day. But we explained to him that we would reschedule as soon as we could. And we did, with a playdate planned for this Friday.

Then, last night, we got a message from the other family. The children are no longer going to be fostered in this home. We don't know the reasons. But not only does this mean no playdate on Friday, it also means that my son's friend is gone.

I'm not sure how to handle this. When the playdate was cancelled previously, we did talk to him about it and comfort him, held him while he cried, etc. I think we did everything right, but it's still distressing to see him so upset. And this time, it's going to be worse, because we need to explain that he's not going to see his friend again.

I'd like to plan something special for Friday, but that seems like we're just distracting him from his grieving, rather than helping him through it.

Does anyone have any suggestions how to help him deal with this?

  • 1
    Do I assume correctly that there's no way to find out the contact information for the new foster family (including providing your information to the Department of Child Services (or whatever they are called where you live) and asking if they'll forward that information)?
    – Joe
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:17
  • That's a good question - I assume that sort of information is confidential, but we should try that.
    – Kryten
    Jul 1, 2015 at 16:55
  • 4
    The way to do it would be asking your friends to pass along your contact info, then the new family can choose whether or not to contact you. Keep in mind there's a good chance the kids are going back to their birth parents or a relative. Jul 1, 2015 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately that kind of situation will happen more than once in his lifetime (people move, people die, people change, ...) so better get prepared to it. No false excuses, no lies, no diversion, but an explanation, maybe together with the "fostering" explanation is probably the best you can do. Kids are strong, he will probably manage to deal with it and let's face it althoug I don't know your kid chances are great he will just forget about this friend in a matter of weeks.

If leaving any contact info to the current foster family or social services is possible, why not, but depending on where the kid will livenow it may just be difficult/impossible for them to get together ever again so I wouldn't talk'about this to the kid.

  • 1
    In terms of no diversion I would suggest offering an activity your child enjoys after dealing with the situation honestly. Not a bribe but a legitimate activity that will keep him occupied. A visit by grandparents or relatives might be in order.
    – A Smith
    Jul 9, 2015 at 14:13

Just tell him flat out. Be polite and understanding, but there isn't much else you can do. It will hurt, but a child has to learn to cope with pains like this in life. This is actually a good example of the exact sort of pain that helps a child learn to accept minor loses so he is more ready for any more major loses later in his life. Just be honest.

I would explain that he can't live with the family any more. If he goes back to his birth parents then explain that. However, I wouldn't distract him too much with the complexity of fostering, just explain he had to move on short notice, it wasn't his choice, but he needed to do it because the state thought it was best for him to move.

As mentioned you can try to set up a play date with the son wherever he moved to. In addition you cay try skype, which works well no matter where the son moved. However, the child is likely still nearby, he would not be allowed to be moved outside of the region handled by the foster agency responsible for his case, which puts a certain maximum distance on how far he moved. If you can reach him you can no doubt arrange at least one visit; rather or not he is close enough for regular visits. Honestly, it could be really good for the other child to get to visit with an old playmate right after a change in foster parents, after such a huge change some level of normality like that can be great.

The former foster parents will have contact information for the social worker in charge of the child's case. Contact the social worker and ask her to relay your name and information to whoever is responsible for the child now. There is a good chance that a play date could be set up, which would be a positive thing for both children. However, rather or not that works out, which honestly you can't control, explaining the idea of a move and that sometimes things happen like this is good for your sons long term growth. Make sure your son knows your friend still likes him and wants to visit, he just can't right now.

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