It is easy to have unconditional love for a child in crisis. Opening your home and your heart to a foster child in order for them to become happy and whole again, is very rewarding and heroic. As a foster parent, your primary role is providing safety, comfort and love to a child, but one major challenge that many foster parents face is forming positive relationships with birth parents.
The number one reason you will want this to be one of your top priorities is because it helps the child feel safe, and it greatly benefits the parent as well. You can teach them parenting skills, help them learn effective communication skills, and conflict resolution skills. As a foster parent, you can have a profound impact that can help bring a family back together. To build a good relationship with your foster child’s birth parent, try these tips:
1. Be Supportive
Most children in foster care have been abandoned, abused or neglected by their parents. It can be easy to judge them for their actions, but remember that most of these parents truly want to do better. Instead of criticizing them, offer your support or a word of encouragement when they need it most.
2. Ask Yourself Positive Questions
Temporarily losing custody of a child can be a very painful experience. Many parents experience grief, anger, and a multitude of other emotions. Asking yourself questions such as, “How would I like to be treated if I was the birth parent?” can help you develop empathy and compassion for the parent. When parents feel accepted, and are treated with respect, they will feel more comfortable with you and develop trust, which is the foundation of any successful relationship.
3. Conduct Monthly Family Meetings
An effective way to build a relationship with a birth parent is to create time to meet with them to discuss upcoming activities, school progress and other important information about their child. Parents looking to reunify with their child will not only appreciate being able to take an active role on behalf of their child, but will also form a favorable attitude about you. Having a healthy and successful relationship with birth parents is one of the best things you can do to help support your foster child and give them the stability they need to thrive.
Talk to your social worker about your desire to create and maintain a positive relationship with the child’s birth family and ask them for their suggestions. Your social worker has a wealth of experience and knowledge, remember to share your foster care hopes, concerns and successes with them!
Florence Edwards, Foster Care Marketing Specialist
Florence has a strong commitment to helping foster youth and their families thrive and live successful lives. A former foster youth, Florence obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and is a certified Holistic Life Coach, motivational writer, self-help author and celebrity interviewer. Beyond the Trinity Youth Services blog, Florence’s articles can be found in numerous platforms including Foster Focus Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, BET Centric and Huffington Post. A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, Florence continues to educate, support and mentor foster youth throughout Southern California. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: (888) 346-9645