5 Ways You Can Partner with a Birth Parent Whose Children are in Foster Care
In 2018, over 15,000 Georgia children were placed in foster care, marking a 60% increase from 2014. Regardless of the factors in play, causing this spike in numbers, it’s important to remember that each family involved is experiencing emotional distress.
Becoming a foster parent is one of the most selfless things a person can do. Providing children with a stable, loving environment is an ultimately altruistic act.
However, we may forget that the children in foster care aren’t the only ones who need our support. The biological parents of foster children are also in a vulnerable position. As a foster parent, you can help.
Read on to learn five key ways to partner with the biological parents of the children in your care.
Communication is the best way to ensure that the biological parents of your children feel supported and included. At times, specific rules dictate when and how you can contact the birth parents, so make sure that you understand what those are. From there, create a system or schedule that works for both you and the biological parents.
What kinds of things should you talk about?
Keep the biological parents updated about their children’s well-being. Discuss how they’re adjusting to your home, their health, and their interests. You should also tell them how their children are doing in school and bring up any extracurricular activities they’re partaking in.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Asking the biological parents about their children’s habits, interests, and dislikes is a great way to show that you respect their relationship with their children. It also allows you to learn more about what the children placed with you needs while they’re with you.
Provide Pictures and Videos
That old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is still true to this day. Remember that most biological parents are used to seeing their children in person throughout the day or week. Letting them see pictures and videos of their children can bring them comfort and help them to feel close to their child even while they’re apart.
Pictures and videos are incredibly thoughtful on important days. For example, you might provide the biological mother with a few precious snapshots or a photo album of her children on Mother’s Day.
Inquire About Parent/Child Visitation
Once again, each case will have different parameters. Your caseworker will know whether or not your children are allowed to have direct contact with their biological parents and how frequently this may occur.
In some cases, you may be allowed to supervise parent/child visitation times on your own. If this is true for you, put effort into scheduling these visitations as often as possible. If allowable and safe, consider meeting the biological parents at an agreed-upon public venue for special occasions like birthday dinners.
When you put effort into bringing the children and parents together, the parents will recognize that you are looking out for them. This can reduce some of their stress and ease any separation anxiety your children are experiencing.
Practice Patience and Understanding
As a foster parent, you may experience all kinds of emotions as your relationship with the children in your care grows. However, it is important to remember that their biological parents are going through one of the most challenging experiences of their lives. They may not always maintain a firm grasp on their emotions.
For that reason, it’s essential to exercise patience and try not to take things personally. If a biological parent lashes out at you in some way, stay calm. If you need assistance, contact your family support team to mediate the conversation.
That being said, it is also important to establish boundaries of your own. While patience and understanding are essential, it is also vital that you honor your own obligations and emotions.
One way to navigate this process is to develop a clear schedule of communication and visitation. Let the biological parents know what days or times it is appropriate for them to contact you and how. Boundaries help everyone feel more secure while establishing your own personal needs.
Maintain a Positive Attitude About the Biological Parents
Let’s take a brief dive into child development! By the age of three, many children can use and understand upwards of 300 words. Studies have found that by the age of five, most children can comprehend adult nonverbal cues.
In other words, children become very perceptive at a reasonably young age. Foster parents must mind what they say about a child’s biological parents (and how they say it).
It may not always be easy, but make sure that you speak positively about your children’s biological parents when you’re around them. No matter the circumstances, you do not want a child to overhear you speaking negatively about their parents. This can impact their perceptions of their parents and, in some cases, of you.
Also, try to speak positively to the biological parents. This can alleviate their stress and boost their confidence in maintaining a strong relationship with their children. After all, we at Wellroot believe every child deserves to reunite with their biological parents whenever possible.
The Foster Care System Needs Your Support
Too many children in Georgia have to enter the foster care system. Not only is this taxing on the children we bring into our homes, but it is also taxing on their biological parents. Following our 5 tips can help you create a seamless, trusting relationship with your children’s biological parents.
Are you interested in helping Wellroot provide Georgia families with the support and love they need? There are many ways that you can show up to help the foster care system. Contact us to learn more about how you can help today.