While it’s not a foster parent’s responsibility to ensure that their foster child’s parent succeeds, it’s important to note that loving your foster child well means loving their parents too.
In this video, I shared five tips for supporting your foster child’s parents.
I encourage you to watch the video, because I went into detail on each point, but in summary, they are:
- Show up for visits. Maybe not for every visit, but go at least once and introduce yourself to your foster child’s parent. Let them know a little bit about you and your family and communicating that you are cheering them on and hoping for their success.
- Start and maintain a visitation journal. A simple notebook that goes back and forth to visits is a great way for you and the parent to communicate without your presence intruding on their time together.
- Let your foster child know it’s OK to talk about their parents (and always stay positive!). Asking them questions like, “What was your favorite food your mom gave you?” or simply saying, “If you have any questions about what’s going on, you’re welcome to ask and I’ll do my best to help you get answers,” can be helpful.
- Communicate with the parents about relevant appointments. Parents of children in foster care are encouraged to attend doctor’s appointments. Make sure they know when they’re happening and if the parent comes, take a step back and let them parent.
- Pray for them. In my experience, nothing fosters compassion quite like praying for someone. When it feels right, we pray for parents by name sometimes with the children. Other times, I just quietly pray for them as I am driving or doing dishes or doing my morning and evening prayers.
In case it doesn’t go without saying, it is not always possible or wise to do these things. If a child is in care because her parent was abusive, or if your child is part of a rare case in which it would be dangerous for you to interact with their parents, obviously you would not do numbers 1, 2, or 4 above. But you can (and should) still do numbers 3 and 5!