On a foster parent FB group, a first-time foster parent said she was nervous about meeting her kiddo’s bio mom for the first time. She asked for advice. A lot of the conversation was about whether you should give out your email and cell to bio parents, and what was safe and not.
This is what I wrote.** It’s as much advice as it is a reminder to myself.
I think it’s important to remember that you might be the only healthy person in bio mom’s life. That means you are there for the kids first, of course, but also for her. I expect that every mom wants to be heard and understood, so I try to listen and give her love even when she is misguided and hard to handle. I don’t believe in “NEVER give her your cell” or “NEVER NEVER give them too much, they’ll take advantage.” You have to go into it heart first and decide what to do based on that specific mom or dad. Every bio parent is different.
We’ve had a bio mom that we’ve let come to the house and see the kids whenever she wanted. We’ve helped bio moms get jobs, and picked them up from prison at 3am, and arranged a place for them to stay. Today, I spent the morning calling a non-biological father figure in my foster son’s life trying to arrange a visit because I think it would help my son process some things he has questions about. We do this, even though every single right dad has, as the baby’s dad, has been terminated.
Because relationships aren’t legalities.
Some parents we’ve pushed out, giving them tough love, because they were so unhealthy and messed up, because they didn’t know boundaries and needed us to teach them. But I’ve always sent pics, stayed connected and listened. I always remember I have their babies and how down-right terrifying that must be for them.
I always give my cell if they want it. I text photos and videos. Our current foster son’s bio mom died and I realized after, how much I missed sending her pics and videos. We spent a lot of time loving the kids in our own way. I mean, who wants to see 1,000 videos of a baby playing peek-a-boo? Only the other mama. That was ours. We shared that.
Funny, I thought I was doing that for her, sending all those pics to help her stay connected. Wrong. It may have started that way, but really I got so much out of it, and now, I miss the hell out of it. And, remarkably, her.
If you love the kids, you have to love the bios, even if you don’t love the things they do or the ways they hurt themselves and the kids. You can protect the kids and yourself – and you should, ferociously – but you can do that and be loving at the same time.
Mostly, trust your heart. Stay open. Love. Love. Love.
**The piece I originally wrote has been edited for better readability here, but not much.