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


waiting for her mother to visit, with tears streaming down her face. Each time, my own heart would be filled with sadness; sadness for this little girl who was torn away from the only family she knew and placed with us, strangers in a strange home. “Why didn’t my mommy come?” Sydney would ask me, between sobs.


T


“Sweetheart, maybe she’s sick,” I might answer one week. Another week, when faced with the same question, I would answer her with “Sydney, maybe her car is not working.” How could I explain to a 7-year-old girl that her mother failed a drug test, or simply didn’t show up? It wasn’t fair to Sydney, and I came to feel anger toward her mother.


oo many times, I would walk into the DFCS visitation room, and find Sydney staring out the window,


The weeks that Sydney’s mother did not show up were even harder, harder on us, that is. Sydney’s mother would fill her daughter’s mind with lies about us, much like Sarah and Mary Sue’s mother would. Sydney would also be filled with sugary foods and drinks, resulting in a high-strung and agitated girl when she came home to us that evening. Usually, these evenings ended with Sydney yelling at Brody, screaming at Kelly and me, and simply upsetting the entire house, making for long nights. The nights that Sydney’s grandmother visited, which were quite rare as she seldom came, were slightly better, but only slightly. Either way, visitation days were ones that we came to dread.


When your foster child meets with his birth parents for visitations, he should be well dressed, clean, healthy and looking his best.


Part III


His hair should be combed, nails cut and clothes fitting nicely. After all, you are sending a message that he is worthy of your best attention and care.


VISITATIONS Visitations are those scheduled, face-to-face meetings between a foster child and his biological parents, or family members. These visitations are considered by many to be the main factor in bringing reunification between the child and parents, the end goal for foster parenting. Meetings are held in a central and neutral location; a community park, a church, a child welfare agency. During this meeting, your caseworker, or other social worker, is permitted the opportunity to assess the foster child’s relationship with his parents or family members, to determine how the parents are progressing in their level of readiness


34 FOSTERING F AMILIES TODAY I NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 I WWW .FOSTERINGF AMILIESTODA Y .COM


feature BY JOHN DeGARMO, ED.D.


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