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Foster Fridays: FLM Support Group on Bio-Families

At our last Foster Love Ministries support meeting, Noelle O. came and spoke with us about understanding and supporting biological families. Noelle has experience teaching parenting classes to those who’ve had their children removed. 

She shared with us the “Think-Feel-Do” cycle. An event will cause thoughts, which will trigger feelings, which can lead to actions. The actions can bring about a new series of events. As foster parents who’ve learned about the effects of trauma on children, it was easy to plug experiences we’ve had with our kids into this cycle. Noelle encouraged us to also use it as a tool when trying to understand biological families. 

Perhaps a bio-parent who’s been doing well in their reunification plan gets fired because they don’t have a ride to work. This can cause thoughts of worry, and feelings of failure, which could then lead to a relapse in an area they had been progressing in.

Noelle had lots of practical ways we as foster parents can support bio-families, if the situation allows. Here are some things she suggested.

*Working with the case worker to establish a connection. Having the case worker involved will also help maintain boundaries. 

*Gather information from the bio-family about the child’s routines and preferences

*Be well-prepared for visitations: on time, child fed, diaper bag provided, low stress on child before the visit.

*Understand that the parent may be in depression, fear, shock, denial, or shame that manifests in anger, indifference, or hostility.

The group then had a discussion about things that they had tried to connect with bio-families. We were able to speak honestly about things that hadn’t worked, or things that were causing tension currently. Additionally, we talked about situations in which contact with bio-families may not be in the best interest of the child. It’s always encouraging to converse with people experiencing something similar to what you are. Noelle’s experience gave her a helpful perspective to lead this conversation.

I read a statement released by Catholic Charities that spoke well to this topic-

“Some relationships with biological parents will be challenging, and that won’t change. But remain kind and ... remember that this isn’t about you. This is a hard time in their lives, and they’re probably doing the best they can.”

Thank you to Noelle for coming to educate us, and to all the families who joined to learn about connecting with bio-families!

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