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My Opinion

Foster care has evolved by leaps and bounds since I became a foster parent.

When I first became a foster parent, I was encouraged NOT to become involved with biological parents. The rule of thumb was to stay away from personal contacts with the biological parents except when supervised by a caseworker. Personal contacts could only mean problems. I never liked the concept. Sometimes I cheated.

The present thought is, when possible, to be involved with the child's natural parents and work toward a family reunification. Case workers who are supportive of this concept are very helpful in guiding the relationship between foster and biological parents.

Personal attachment of a foster parent to a foster child (and vice-versa) can sometimes have the effect of the foster parent wanting to keep the foster child permanently when this is clearly not the individual plan. I've been there so I know. Its very difficult to have a child in one's home, sometimes for several years and have to let go when he/she goes back to his parents. It leaves an emptiness which can't be filled. Its always helped me to remember that when the child was removed from the parent's home, it left them with the same emptiness - a part of them was being torn away from their life, maybe for awhile - - maybe forever.

I've talked with foster parents who unwittingly (and sometimes wittingly) sabotage reunification in order to keep a child with them. While I understand why, its never fair either to the child of his parent(s) to try and keep them apart.

For this reason, working with the natural parents has been extremely helpful to me. Its helpful to know that when the child returns home, the parent (usually mom) may have attained new parenting skills and self esteem by learning from a sympathetic and caring foster parent who has abilities which he or she can pass on. It also opens up new areas of a relationship between both the foster and natural parent and the child which often forms a strong bond between all involved.

A strong bond means the child will tend to stay in touch with the foster parent with the blessing of his natural parent.

Unfortunately some placements will not allow a foster and natural parent to work together but I believe if there's a glimmer of hope, the relationship should be pursued with the case worker as the intermediary.

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