10 Ways to Support a Child’s Biological 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.