Some are good and some are very bad, but no matter what, if you’re a foster parent, you will be working with them. For most of the people on your foster care team, the birth parents are going to be the focus of the drama. While you’re dealing with behaviors and situations in your home that pertain to your foster children, everyone else is going to have their eye on the birth parents. This definitely sets foster parents apart from the rest of the foster parenting team in some respects. Sorting out your own feelings about your foster child’s birth parents can lead you to an entirely different perspective than what your caseworker has, but it isn’t your job to be the judge or the caseworker. It’s your job to maintain a focus on parenting your foster children, while the rest of the system works out the details of “parenting” and assisting the birth parents.
There are a lot of different circumstances that can lead birth places to a place in their lives where their children must be removed from their care. Although some foster parents may view foster parenting as an opportunity to look down their noses at the dregs of society, it’s important that you realize that birth parents are often stricken with extreme impoverishment and typically grew up in radically dysfunctional families themselves. It isn’t easy to know how to parent a child when you grew up in a family that was physically or sexually abusive. People learn a lot about what’s right and what’s wrong from their family of origin and if one’s humble beginnings fail to bestow certain values on it’s children, sorting that out can take a lifetime.
Birth parents can be extremely grateful to you as foster parents or, on the flip side, they can be extremely angry with you for playing a role in having their children removed from the home. It’s best to enter into those first meetings with birth parents having zero expectations. Don’t think that the foster parents will be either grateful or angry with you. Rather, suspend your belief and wait to see what happens.
Whatever happens, you should keep your healthy boundaries in check. Some foster parents who are very angry will seem very sweet and kind. Some angry foster parents will evolve into individuals that you enjoy once they realize that you aren’t out to get them. Having healthy boundaries allows you to take several meetings to establish whether your foster child’s birth parents are wolves in sheep’s clothing, or just…sheep.
No matter what kind of relationship exists between your foster child and the birth parents or you and the birth parents, you need to remember that these people are important to your foster child. Allow your foster child to talk about and love his or her birth parents. At times it may be difficult to manage, but try to love the birth parents too. Without them, you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to care for, know, and love your foster children!