What Birth Parents Can Do For Foster Parents

Being a birth parent, in a foster-care situation can be extremely stressful and intimidating. But, trust me, the foster parent to your child cares about YOU and the kids. And the best way to show the courts that you care about your children, is to develop a positive relationship with the person caring for them. The more acquainted you become with your children's foster parent, the more that foster parent is going to respect you and stand behind you on your journey to bringing your kiddos back home. So what are some must-do ways to earn respect from your child's foster parent?

Always attend court dates and legal hearings for your child: This is by far the most important thing any birth parent can do. Never, under any circumstances, miss a court date or legal hearing for your child. So many things can be decided without your present. You need to be there in order to have your voice heard. Many foster parents will judge a birth parent when they don't arrive. We took the time out of our schedules to go, you need to do the same. No matter how nervous you are- it's never as bad as you think. You'll be given a lot of credit just for showing up.

Don't forget your children's birthday: Even if your social worker will not let you attend your child's birthday party- don't forget it! It is so SO important to your child that you remember their birthday. Send them a gift, buy them a cake and have it delivered, have balloons delivered to their school- do something.. anything! Even a card is a huge huge deal to your child when they don't have the chance to see you on their special day.

Be involved in all holidays: Send little gifts or request visitation on holidays. It's a tough time for your child to be away from you- and they're probably worrying that you've forgotten about them. Or they're worried that you are lonely and left out on the holiday. Let them know you're okay- and that you are thinking of them by visiting them or sending them gifts. A box of candy on Valentine's day, some spooky treats on Halloween, a gift or two on Christmas, and a pack of fun little fireworks on July 4th can make your child feel loved and happy- which eases the burden of your foster parent on stressful holidays.

Stay in contact: The hardest thing for any foster parent to explain to their foster child is that their parent is no longer interested in parenting them. They've given up, run off, or just plain are avoiding contact. If you truly care- please, please, please show it by keeping in contact with your child! Talk regularly to the case worker and people involved in the child's life- including the foster parent. It goes a long way, and the more interest you show, the quicker your child will be back with their birth parents.

Always strive to make visitations positive experiences: If you are entitled a visitation with your child- make it good. DO NOT arrive under the influence, in a bad mood, or over-exhausted. Put on your happy face, act enthused, and keep your energy up. Your child has enough on their plate and the last thing they need to do is worry about you after a visitation. If you arrive in a bad state- the kid will pick up on that and worry about you long after you've left. This puts a huge weight on the foster parent's shoulders. We want our foster kids to be happy and thrilled to see their birth parents. And having birth parents show a lack of interest in their child leaves a bad taste in our mouths. So no matter how bad your life may seem- be happy for your child. They deserve it.

Write letters: Kids of all ages love snail mail. And a fun little card or note from their parents is usually very well-received. It gives them something to look forward to and lets them know that you are thinking of them- which is so important to them.

Give parenting tips: One thing many birth parents are afraid of is that their child is now living an entirely different life. And in many ways that's true. But that doesn't mean you can't share your insight with their foster parents. Let us know what you do to calm your kid during nightmares. Do you have a tradition of having pizza every Friday and watching a movie? Let us know. Does your kid enjoy a certain TV show? Let us know. We want to create a safe, loving, and FUN environment for your child. You can help us do that by giving us parenting tips. I always enjoy talking to birth parents and getting their perspective on things. It helps me incorporate key things into my foster kids lives. Without my current birth parent telling me I never would have known that my kids sleep best if they have a small snack before bed, that they do homework right when they get home from school (not after dinner), and that they like to do math flashcards. But I'm so happy she told me! Because now I do those things with the kids too.

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