3 Ways Foster Parents Play a Part in Family Reunification

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Did you know the majority of new foster care cases have the goal of family reunification, not adoption? While this has long been the case, it is not widely known. Parents are often villainized and a child’s removal from the family is praised. We believe it’s important to spread word of the beauty, joy and importance of reunification. The initial role of a foster parent is to lovingly care for a child while rooting for the child’s parents to do the hard work to make reunification possible.

Here are three ways foster parents can be a part of making this goal a reality:

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Advocate
There are two main ways you can be an advocate as a foster parent. The first is to advocate for the child. You are the temporary caregiver of a child whose world has been turned upside down. Take care to identify the child’s felt needs and convey them to the necessary members of their team. Kids in foster care often feel as though their lives are completely out of their control. Help them to feel less helpless by being their voice whenever possible.

If the case allows, it’s important for you to advocate for the parents as well. This is where things can get awkward and start to feel messy. As Jason Johnson, foster care author and blogger, says about foster care: “It's about humanizing those we are often quick to demonize, embracing those we are often quick to turn from and seeing a side of humanity that, although vastly different in experience from ours is no less ours to own.” When needed, advocate for visits at a time that fits a parent’s work schedule. Share the positive parenting and successes you notice with caseworkers and GALs. Advocate for the parent in your prayer times, asking God to bring courage to to address unsafe behaviors and situations, perseverance to complete the court-mandated plan and healing from past hurts and choices.

Stories from foster care aren’t clear cut or simple, but the God we serve is a God of second chances and of restoration. What’s more Christlike than praying for a family to be able to once again care for their child, the child you have come to love?

Lead
By becoming a foster parent you are creating an intersection between two or more lives which otherwise would continue to run parallel to each other. And with this intersection comes a responsibility. Being a foster parent is not becoming a hero, it’s becoming a partner. You will have the opportunity to be a partner to kids and parents alike, depending on the case.

Be a leader whenever possible and show the child’s parents the true and honest love of Christ. You aren’t going to be perfect, no one can be, but you can allow Christ to shine through your actions and your words. Take the lead by building a connection between child and parents through photos and updates. Ask parents to share family traditions, routines and favorites you can include in the child’s daily life.

Help Heal
Kids and parents in foster care have experienced something traumatic, and this has often been a factor of parents being unable to provide for the safety and well-being of their children, whether due to their choices or their circumstances. It’s why the child was removed from the home to begin with. Removing a child from a home allows a time for both parents and children to heal in a supervised and controlled environment. You are a major part of this process.

Open yourself up to loving the child, even while you know the goal is for them to leave your care. Showing love and care to a child from trauma can be one of the most positive ways to help them heal.

We hope this gives you a look into the beauty the role of a foster parent plays in the goal of reunifying a family. Have questions? Attend our next info night to learn more about becoming a foster parent.

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