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Co-Parenting with Birth Family Navigating the waters of foster parenting relationships


because of abuse or neglect from his family. Perhaps he was in danger from parents who were abusing themselves. Whatever the reason for his placement into child welfare custody, your foster child has most likely come with some emotional problems, and is struggling with the loss of his family.


It


As a foster parent, it is part of your job to help your foster child deal with these issues, and help him adjust to his new environment, as well as develop a positive and loving relationship with him.


can be difficult enough having a foster child in your home. He may have been placed in your home


What can be more difficult, though, is another part of your role as a foster parent — co-parenting. When a foster parent shares the nurturing of a foster child alongside the birth parents and caseworker, reunification tends to happen at a quicker and more successful rate. Co-parenting sees you, as a foster parent, working alongside the biological parents of the child living under your roof, and with your family. This may be the more difficult part of your job.


To begin with, these may be the people who abused or neglected your foster child. Helping them might be the last thing you wish to do. Therefore, it is important that you do not


prejudge them before you meet them. Indeed, your first inclination may be that these are people who do not deserve to have their child back. What is important to consider, though, is that many biological parents of foster children were abused themselves, and know of no other way when raising children. Also disturbing is that some birth parents were foster children, as well, and are just repeating the cycle they went through as a child. Certainly, there are reasons why their children are in care that we may never understand. What is best for your foster child, though, is that you work alongside your caseworker, as well as the birth parents, and try to determine what is best for your foster


18 FOSTERING F AMILIES TODA Y I JUL Y/AUGUST 2015 I WWW .FOSTERINGF AMILIESTODA Y .COM


FOCUS: Understanding Reunification and Birth Family Connections


focus BY JOHN DeGARMO, ED.D.


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