We quickly learned that the doorway to our children’s hearts were through their foster parent.
While we unfortunately are not able to have openness with our children’s birth parents at this time, we are fortunate to have a beautiful relationship with the person who raised them over quite a long period of time. She made the transition home seamless, teaching us how to follow the kids’ lead and emotions, and helping us learn routines. Having her to hold our hands, as we became parents for the first time and then for times after that, made us realize we had also gained a valuable member of our extended family. We all benefit from having an extra mom-figure around for questions and support, and what kid doesn’t love having extra grandparents?!
We have continued to seek out relationships to hold onto from birth families, which aside from their former foster mom includes other relatives. Holidays are rather large affairs at our house, with living grandparents on both my side and my spouse’s side of the family, an extra grandma (former foster mom), and birth grandparents. I think one of the most beautiful pictures we’ve witnessed has been seeing all of our family and friends come together at a birthday party. From close friends, to our parents, to our siblings, to foster parents, to biological relatives. Everyone clearly had love and respect for each other, and most importantly an abundance of love for our children.
I’d encourage you to seek out any relationships you can for your children. And especially to try to keep in contact with their former foster parent or parents. Welcoming them in as part of your new extended family makes for less loss for your kids, and lots of insight of the months or years you missed of your child’s life. Even if you adjust your routine that your child had in their foster home (we did), knowing what that routine is, and providing that structure for your child during their transition is so valuable. We were also given insight into their lives through the plethora of pictures our amazing extra mom took of our kids. While some of our kids may never remember living with her, they certainly remember how they feel about her, and have been able to continue to feel that love and warmth both for her and from her.
With openness, I think we all start out a little skeptical.
With their former foster parent resent us or not like how we parent?
Will birth relatives like us?
Will they keep our kids safe?
What started off as careful visits at neutral territory, for us has turned into visits at our home and even talk of vacations with various extended family, foster and otherwise. While it’s certainly important to be wise and careful for our children’s sake, I encourage you to explore safe relationships and continue to build on them as trust is earned on both sides.
As the saying goes, love makes a family, and none of us can have too much of that!