10 Ways to help your former foster children’s parents after reunification

I miss Z terribly. But at the same time I am so excited for his parents and so proud of how hard they worked. They still send pictures and I get to see him. Though I don’t know how long that will last I appreciate the fact that right now they are making his transition home easier on all of us (especially Bubba)

  1. Let them know their child’s schedule/likes and dislikes/etc. It will help the child transition and the parents will most likely be thankful. Zs parents asked me for all that information.
  2. Send their child with as much as you can. I’m not saying you should spend a lot of money or anything. However, when I knew Z was most likely going home I spent his stipend on clothes the next two sizes up and toys he will be ready for in a couple months.
  3. Let them know they can contact you with any questions. And don’t judge them for the questions they ask lol.
  4. Let them know that you consider them family and will support them. A lot of families part of the foster care don’t have the support they need. Offer to be that support.
  5. Offer to babysit. It will give them a break and you get baby cuddles.
  6. Invite them to family events. Zs parents came to our family Christmas. We all got to get see Z and his parents felt a sense of community.
  7. Continue to meet up with them in the community. If you don’t feel comfortable inviting them to your home, meet other ways.
  8. Be a mentor to them when it comes to parenting. Though I am not an expert on parenting at all. I have noticed that Zs parents ask me a lot of parenting questions and instead of judging them for not knowing, I support them.
  9. Help them find community resources. Sometimes there are resources out there that they don’t know about yet.
  10. Pray for them all

10 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Foster Child’s Biological Parents

  1. Be understanding. This is a very hard time for them. I can’t imagine how they feel during this time. I try to remember that when they complain more or text me constantly.
  2. Include them. If you can invite them to some part of your holiday tradition that is great! If not maybe you can send a video.
  3. Try not to interfere with the visits. You are allowed to see your family as well for holidays but try to make sure your foster children can spend time with there’s as well.
  4. Share lots of pictures. I sent Baby Zs parents picture in a “My first …” onesie for every holiday. I sent pictures to both kids parents of our Halloween costumes, our thanksgiving dinner, getting our Christmas tree, taking pictures with Santa, etc.
  5. Send the kids in holiday outfits to visits. Parents love to see kids dressed up and then they are able to take their own family pictures.
  6. Make them special presents. For thanksgiving we made them pumpkins with little turkeys on them and for Christmas we made reindeer pictures that they can hang up in their house for every Christmas.
  7. Have the child make something for other family members as well. It’s not only the parents that are missing them this holiday season.
  8. Ask them about their traditions. And try to include those traditions as much as possible.
  9. Ask them what they plan to get the child. I have had a couple instances where we get the children the same thing. If you do communicate with the parents somehow you might want to ask them ahead of time.
  10. Treat their child special. The best thing you can do for the parent is to give their child a good holiday.

10 Ways to Support a Child’s Natural Parent 

As a foster parent one of our most important jobs is to work with our foster child’s biological parent and work towards the goal of reunification. I learned a lot from trying to hold a relationship with Princess’s mother and co-parenting with her father even after we broke up. Here are some tips I have learned.

  1. Do not judge. This is the hardest one I think.  Sometimes they have done things that to us are unforgiveable. Chances are they had a rough childhood as well or they could have  a mental illness or a history of addiction. Don’t judge them since you just  don’t know.
  2. Only speak kindly of them in front of the children. It’s important to remember that their children still love them. My favorite video during Pride was when the foster mom pointed out the her foster child that the child had their mothers eyes. That might have been the only nice thing she had to say but she found something positive to focus on.
  3. Communicate (if possible). This could be the form of letters, email, or even my phone. If you cannot communicate with the child’s parents maybe there is another family member you can stay in contact with.
  4. Keep them updated on everything. Let them know about what happened at doctors appointments (if they don’t attend), their child’s grades, their child’s behavior, their child’s development etc. I copy the developmental recommendations the doctor gives me at the healthy kid checks ups and send to both parents.  Even tell them the small things like when they go up a size of clothes and/or shoes, what they did over their weekend, or when they have a new favorite toy/color/food/movie.
  5. Send pictures/art work. This is something simple but it means a lot to the parents. Parents love to see pictures of their kids and you can even write little captions on the back. Parents also like to have art work they can keep and show others. Even babies can make handprint and footprint art.
  6. Be a resource for the parent. Sometimes bio parents haven’t been taught or shown proper parent skills. Be an example for them and let them know that if they need advice you are there and won’t judge.
  7. Have the parent be a resource for you. Ask them information about the child (especially in the beginning): their likes and dislikes, what products to use on their hair and skin, health concerns and allergies, etc. This shows the parent that you recognize that they know their kids.
  8. Include them in decisions. Ask them about activities to sign their kids up for, what to do for their birthday, how to cut their hair. This shows you appreciate their input (and they are getting a say in how their kids are being raised) even if it’s something small.
  9. Observe a visit (if possible). I think this is the best way to get to know the bio parent and show them that you respect them as a parent. It also shows the kids that you are on the same page and supporting each other:
  10. Remember the goal of fostering is reunification. This is so hard for me sometimes especially when something has happened that makes me question if reunification is best. But then I have to remember that it is not my job to decide whether they are a fit parent. It is my job to do what I can to support the child and parents.