Building relationships are more important than you may first think
When you become a foster parent, you may believe that you are left on your own with no relationship with independent fostering agencies like Fostering Dimensions. Another relationship that you may think and secretly may be hoping doesn’t continue is the one between yourself and your foster children’s biological parents.
It’s easy to believe that your children’s biological parents are the enemy and we’re not saying that’s right, but we know it happens, especially when you don’t know what to expect to feel when you decide to foster. However, independent fostering agencies should always advise on building and maintaining relationships with the biological parents because of the benefits it can have to not only your foster children but your life as foster parents.
Many new foster carers feel intimidated by the idea of communicating with biological parents and are searching for direction. So if you’re looking to start building a relationship with your kids’ parents and don’t know where to start, we hope this serves you well!
Why is it important?
Working in independent fostering agencies, we get to see what works and what doesn’t and more importantly, what can help your life in fostering and what doesn’t. One major benefit from building a relationship with their biological parents is that you simply may have a list of questions that you want answering. As much as your fostering agencies can help, there are some things they simply cannot answer. Or it may be that you simply want to communicate how you’re feeling or share information on any updates in relation to your foster children. Subsequent to this, it allows for open communication to occur. This is where being a foster carer can become easier.
By having this open form of communication allows you to learn more about your foster children. This means you get to learn about your children’s stories, medical histories and their life before you met them; more than you could ever learn from independent fostering agencies.
By gaining this insight, you are also putting yourself in a position whereby you can develop communications further as you know your foster children better. This can enhance your relationship with their biological parents because they are more likely to listen to you when it comes to making decisions and giving your input. This has more of an effect that you may first realise as it can have benefits on your foster children too. They will be able to witness this relationship-building firsthand and will not only be able to learn and replicate it, but it also makes the reunification process as seamless as possible. This could also help for long term relationships with your children after the reunification process meaning that you won’t and your foster children won’t have to cut all ties along the way.
How can you build these relationships?
When you approach independent fostering agencies like us, the first thing you will be made aware of is that we are always on hand no matter what. We don’t believe in leaving new or existing foster parents to their own devices, because the truth of the matter is, we all need help from time to time.
As much as you don’t want to assume that your kids’ biological parents are dangerous, you also shouldn’t assume that all of them are safe. Fostering Dimensions are the best people to ask before approaching anyone to try and gain a better insight into the lives of your foster children.
The best advice we can give you when you are trying to openly communicate with biological parents is to introduce yourself and explain why you are a foster parent. Allowing them to see that your motives and intentions are only positive will only be beneficial for you. You have to remember, you know you’re good parents, but your foster children and their parents may not.
When the communication flows, it may be easy to hand over too much information. Your foster children’s parents are only concerned about their children, so limit the amount of information you say about other children unless you are directly asked. You want to instil confidence that you are undoubtedly the best person to care for their children, but don’t worry when you work with independent fostering agencies, you will have all the support you need.
Remember to ask questions too! This might seem like an obvious thing to do but if you’re open to hearing them out when it comes to routines and preferences, it can eliminate the battle of control that we sometimes see when fostering in Nottingham.
And lastly, encourage them. Help them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As hard as this may be, you’re a foster parent for a reason. To open up your heart and your home shows that you are the right person whose sole purpose is to care for your foster children and subsequently, this means possibly facing your foster children returning back to their biological parents.
Fostering is a lot more than just a roof of children’s head but when you deal with independent fostering agencies like us, this could be the most rewarding and satisfying role you could ever undertake.