Foster care is not meant to be a permanent arrangement. If a child does have biological parents it is of utmost importance to maintain their relationship with his/her biological parents so that they can be reunited with their biological parents. As a foster parent you have to work alongside the biological parents of the child living under your roof and with your family. When a foster parent shares the nurturing of a foster child alongside the biological parents and caseworker, reunification tends to happen at a quicker and more successful rate. There are a number of strategies that you as a foster parent can use when working with biological parents.
Be a role model
For biological parents and family members, you might be the best example of a good parent. Everything you do as a foster parent will send signals to the biological parents on how a parent should act, as well as how to treat their own children. When your foster child meets with his biological parents for visitations, he/she should be well dressed, clean, healthy and looking his/her best. His/her hair should be combed with nails cut. After all, you are sending a message that he/she is worthy of your best attention and care.
Answer questions openly
There are bound to be questions from both you and the biological parents when you meet. After all, their child has been taken away from them, against their wishes, and placed in a strange home. They will have many concerns and may not be as courteous as you might like. Be prepared for them to be hostile, rude, angry or even distant. Remember that they are hurting and have been through a traumatic experience with the removal of their child. It is important that you answer their questions as honestly and openly as possible, treating them with the utmost integrity, kindness and politeness.
Your foster child’s biological parents and family members will know him/her better than anyone. And your meeting with them will offer you the opportunity to learn a great deal about him/her, as well as acquire important information you might need. A list of prepared questions will help you gather the information you need. When you ask questions about their child, you are showing the birth parents that you are interested in the child and his/her wellbeing.
Do not judge
Maybe you disagree with their parenting style. Maybe their morals and values differ completely from yours. Maybe they have said mean things to you. But it is vital that you do not prejudge them before you meet them.
Be open and honest
Your foster child’s family will likely be very curious about you. Reassure them that their child will not only be safe in your home, but will be cared for and given plenty of positive attention.
Be prepared for visits
The foster child’s visit with his biological family members will likely reduce his sense of abandonment by them. Children who visit with their biological parents on a regular basis are less likely to exhibit behavioural problems in your home and in school. As their level of anxiety decreases, they will become better adjusted to placement within your family.
Social workers at Free State Care in Action prepare foster parents for handling the challenges that may come with biological parents. Reunification services are rendered by social workers to biological parents in order to ensure that their circumstances improve to such an extent that the foster child may return to his/her biological family.