Sharing a Story

Toes Story by Jere Wrightsman,Retired Director of Foster Parent Training

A foster parent told me this story in a workshop.

This experienced foster parent was attending a class to become a emergency foster home, one that took children in at night and kept them until a longer placement could be found. The class was taught by an experienced emergency foster care mother. This woman said that sometimes the children would be in such shock and denial of being removed from their homes that they would refuse to take off their shoes. She told the class that she had developed a wonderful way to get the children to remove their shoes. The first night she would let them keep their shoes on, but the second night she wanted them to take off the shoes. What she did was to tell the children that if they kept the shoes on their toes would miss each other, that their toes would be lonely if they couldn’t see the toes from the other foot. She wiggled her fingers as though they were toes as she told the child this.

Well this new emergency foster caretaker could not wait to use this approach, but for the first three months all the children took off their shoes. The same for the next three months, but finally little eight year old Billy and his six year old sister Mary came into her home very late at night- and Billy would not take off his shoes. She said halleluiah to herself- she could finally use the toes method.

She let Billy sleep with his shoes on the first night, but the second night Billy still would not take them off. She kneeled down in front of him and said,” Billy you need to take off your shoes because your toes miss each other” and wiggling her fingers she said, “your toes can not get together with the other toes because you have your shoes on.”

Billy looked at her then turned to his sister and said, “We gotta get out of this place.”

Moral of the story, what works for one may not work for another.

Do you have a story to share?

Please either email your stories to or submit them below. We want to hear from foster parent trainers, foster parents, past or present foster children, or anyone else involved in the caring of these wonderful children.