Those dipping their toes into the world of fostering often ask, “How on earth do you manage to say goodbye to your foster dog on their adoption day?” Letting go of your foster dog can be bittersweet. After all, foster parents spend weeks—or in some cases, months—getting to know the dogs in their care, earning their trust, taking pride in their progress, nurturing them into physical and mental wellness, finding joy in their quirks, and loving them every moment along the way. All the while, these big-hearted humans carry the knowledge that the final step in their success will be saying goodbye.
Know that you’re not alone—and that it’s totally normal to feel a combination of sad, happy, proud, and lonely come adoption day. But to make the transition a little easier, we’ve collected some tips to increase the odds that smiles will outshine tears if you’re feeling some foster guilt on adoption day.
1. Find the Right Dog Rescue
Taking your time to choose a reputable organization will help ensure that giving up a foster dog is a good experience from start to finish. Find a rescue with a close-knit group of volunteers. Ask to interview a current foster/volunteer about their experience to see if the rescue is a good fit for you. Some rescues even encourage foster parents to play an active role in the adoption process.
2. Trust the Process
Will my foster dog miss me? That’s a question a lot of foster parents ask themselves. Getting attached to foster dogs is both normal and totally understandable! You’ve spent days, weeks, or months with this precious pup, and now they’re heading to a new home. It’s important to remember that while feelings of doubt, or even guilt, are normal when your foster dog finds their forever home, you don’t need to feel bad or guilty at all. You’ve given this dog the incredible gift of your time, space, and love, and they’re going to be so much better off for it!
3. View the Adopters Through Your Dog’s Eyes
Saying goodbye to a foster dog is never easy, but consider how lucky the dog will be in a forever home. Another question that lots of pup parents ask is, “Do foster dogs feel rejected?” It can be helpful to remember that this is a happy event—they’ve found a home where they’ll be loved forever.
4. Connect With the Adopters
As the dog’s foster, you’ll likely facilitate the meet and greet and be in close contact with the prospective family, answering any questions they may have about their future fluff. The dialogue doesn’t have to end there. Check in with them to find out how it’s going. Suggest a playdate with your resident pup. Friend them on social media (if they’re cool with that) so you can see pics of the pupper on the reg.
5. And Connect With the Fosters, Too!
If you’re the person adopting a dog from a foster-based rescue, congratulations! Know that words of appreciation for the foster parent can be a super meaningful gesture. Consider sending a care package in the mail from you and your new adopted doggo, maybe with a card (that can also be signed by your newest four-legged family member, of course). Thanking the foster for trusting you to give your love to this pup can help ease the transition for everyone. It shows that you (and your dog!) appreciate their time, energy, and care.
Send a quick photo via text here and there! Even small gestures reinforce that they did the right thing by helping their foster find a happy forever home.
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