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6 Tips To Build Relationship With Birth Parents

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As a foster parent, many of us tend to join the journey to help children. Before getting licensed many parents tend to dream about spending holidays with foster kiddo or celebrating the child’s birthday. We think about all the fun traditions and ways we can give the child special moments.

One significant person and relationship we do not consider pre-foster care is our relationship with the birth parent during the foster care journey. Usually we begin to really try to hash the relationship out after we are already in the deep in the middle of the journey. It’s too late to prepare our minds and emotions when we are in the thick of the journey.

Even though it is obvious, it is significant enough to state here that the foster child and birth parent relationship is extremely important to maintain if at all possible. Thus, it should be important for, us, the foster parents to approach this relationship in the best manner possible.


6 Tips for Engaging Birth Parents

  1. APPROACH WITH HUMILITY
    It could be simple for a foster parent to get a “moral license” from the fostering situation – feeling as though they are superior for caring for a child when the birth parent cannot. However, as foster or adoptive parents, we must remember that WE, ourselves, are only a few bad decisions away from being in their situation. We should NEVER look upon parents with superiority but with a strong humility that soberingly realizes we could easily be where they are at in a few days….
    How do you want to be treated?
  2. Reassurance – You’re Not going to take kids
    You are there to help the FAMILY not the child. It might be very easy to get excited about our own agenda for helping foster children or simply welcoming a child into our home that we can forget that the goal for ALL foster children first and foremost is to return the child back home.
  3. Expect the Worst While Hoping For the Best
    Never forget that you are quite possibly seeing your foster kiddo’s parent at their worst. Many of us have moments that we are not proud of but they are not made public to various strangers and agency workers. This is quite frankly embarrassing and can cause a huge hit to one’s self-esteem to the point where you fight to feel that you are worthy of anything. Possibly the way some birth parents hope to find reclaimed worth is by making the foster parent appear to be horrible so they seem better.
    It’s a normal response that anyone would unconsciously make when we feel like we are cornered – we FIGHT for survival. However, among all of these feelings while we are expecting the worst, we should still approach any contact with a birth parent hoping for the best outcome.
  4. Be Secure With Yourself
    When you don’t see eye to eye with a birth parent (or maybe even your agency), you need to remember who you are and not focus on what people are saying about you. As foster parents, we may tend to get caught up in the performance of our care for the children in our care. However, we must remember that our performance doesn’t make us who we are. If you get caught in this mindset, you WILL take a things personally and let things affect you when people begin to criticize your parenting skills.
  5. Communication. Communication. Communication.
    Throughout the foster journey one thing that commonly frustrates foster parents is the feeling that they are not being included with all the information of a case while attempting to help a child through the whole situation. We must entertain the idea that the birth parent also must be equally frustrated with the same system.
    Providing a birth parent with as much information as possible can (with time) alleviate fears of the birth parent and help to eventually get both of you onto the same “team.” What should you share with the birth parent?

    • Medical Appointments
    • Photos/Videos of Milestones or successes in the Child’s Life
      First step, first haircut, loose teeth, graduations, a good grade on a test, first day of school, first time driving a car, and so on.
    • Struggles
      Is their child having trouble making friends? trouble in math? scared at night?
    • Child misses mom and/or dad
      It can be a good motivator and comforting to know that you’re not forgotten and missed by a loved one.Be sure to utilize services such as Facebook, E-mail, and Google Voice to easily help you keep the lines of communication open. All of these services allow to create accounts that are not your primary services with all of your personal information attached to them. Also, be sure to consult with your foster agency about the rules your state as about using social media and sharing various information or photos.
  6. Find A Tribe
    Every foster and adoptive parent should have a group of caregivers which they talk and/or meet with at regular intervals. There is something relaxing and therapeutic about talking about your life issues with other people that are on a similar life journey. Other foster/adoptive parents will simply be able to understand your situation better and will be able to listen better. The foster journey is difficult and you will need people to help you get back in the game when the waters of life get choppy.

Transfiguring Adoption offers a weekly online support group which meets on Facebook and YouTube every Monday at 8pm EST. [Learn More]


What tips would you add to the list?

Comment below or E-mail us at: info@transfiguringadoption.com


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Ellie Jelly and the Massive Mum Meltdown – Book Review

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From the Cover of Ellie Jelly and the Massive Mum Meltdown by Sarah Naish:

“Ellie Jelly wakes up hungry and ready for breakfast but Mum is busy with her little sister; Grace. Ellie tries to get Mum’s attention: she bangs the table, she makes loud singing noises, but it’s no good. Finally, she decides to make her own breakfast, picking up the heavy milk carton and – OH NO – spilling the milk over the table and the floor.

Mum gets really angry and shouts at Ellie. Ellie feels wobbly and her chest is banging – will Ellie Jelly and Mum ever be friends again?”

Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

The target audience of this book appears to be the general public with the topic of how a family navigates times when a caregiver might have a meltdown. Transfiguring Adoption believes that this book is still very relevant for foster/adoptive families as many caregivers find themselves in more heightened stressful situations which could easily cause them to have a meltdown with children. This book seems like it would work well for children from ages 4 – 9 years old and possibly a couple of years older depending on the child.

The illustrations appeared to be drawn in a colorful cartoon style through the use of mixed drawing media. The images do a good job of bringing the reader into the world of Ellie Jelly. The figures convey clear emotions help to engage a child so that a family can easily progress through the story.

The tale centers around a little girl named, Ellie Jelly, who is not to happy about her baby sister, Grace, demanding so much attention of Mum. Ellie begins the day by doing various actions to get Mum’s attention. When Mum must leave the room, Ellie decides to take on the task of making breakfast on her own which ends in one mistake snowballing to larger mistakes. The result is Mum having a meltdown in front of the girls.

Transfiguring Adoption appreciates that this story seems to be a true-to-life tale to which families will be able to relate. The family itself speaks to many groups, such as single parents, traditional birth families, foster families, and adoptive families as it is vague how this family was formed. Transfiguring Adoption appreciates the author’s care for addressing the feelings a child might have when a caregiver has meltdown as well as taking the readers through a journey for healthy resolution after a meltdown occurs.

Sarah Naish has written several other books for children. While all of her books have been found to be very useful for foster and adoptive families, Transfiguring Adoption finds that her work is continuing to grow and become even richer. The only reason this book did not earn a perfect score was merely due to our guidelines requiring a 5 HOOT score to be given to media directly relating to foster or adoptive families.
Overall, this book is a MUST for caregivers to have on their shelves to help reconnect and have a healthy conversation with children after (or possibly before) their next meltdown.


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It’s Your Turn:

  1. Why doesn’t Ellie like being busy?
  2. How do you think Ellie felt when mom was yelling and banging things around?
  3. Why did grandma come visit?
  4. Did Mum mean to hurt Ellie with her words?
  5. Does Mum still love Ellie? How do you know?
  6. Have you ever felt like Ellie? How?
  7. How do you know your mom or dad loves you?
  8. Is it okay for people to get mad at times?
  9. What do kids AND adults need to do when they hurt someone with their words?

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The Mermaid Who Couldn’t – Book Review

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From the Cover of The Mermaid Who Couldn’t by Ali Redford:

“‘I am a useless mermaid,’ Mariana thought, ‘I can’t do anything.’
Mariana is not like the other mermaids. Abandoned by a careless mother on the ocean floor, she has never laughed or played, she can’t sing and can barely even swim. Then she meets a turtle called Muriel, who welcomes her into her family and shows her all the things she can do.
Written for children aged 4 to 9 and beyond, this picture book shows how children who lack confidence can learn to find a sense of self-worth.”

Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

The target audience of this book appears to be the general public and targeting children ages 4 through 9 years old. With the current popularity of mermaids children younger and older could be read this book – though children younger than 4 will more than likely not be able to see the comparisons which can be drawn from the story and the foster care or adoption world.

Even though this story may not have been written directly to foster and adoptive families, the theme of self-confidence and self-worth is one that foster/adoptive children deal with in a large way. The author, Ali Redford, is herself an adoptive mom and knowledgable on this theme from a caregiver’s perspective.

The illustrations of the story are quite rich and full. They will surely transport your family into Marianna’s world. The images help children to discover emotions and thoughts that are being conveyed in the story. It seems that the images really help a family move through a well-told story and tackle some abstract thoughts/emotions.

Caregivers will appreciate this story as it showcases a turtle named Muriel, who acts as a foster or adoptive mom to the little mermaid, Marianna. The book does a good job of portraying Marianna before Muriel takes her through a process of improving her self-confidence, as well as doing a good job of showing that Marianna may have touches of feeling unworthy from time to time even after going through her journey.

Overall, Transfiguring Adoption finds that this book will be an entertaining story for your family to enjoy. Our grading system requires a piece of media to directly address foster or adoptive families in order to get a perfect score, which is the only reason why the story did not earn a perfect score. This story is in fact a powerful tool which can begin needed and healthy conversations with your foster or adoptive children. Your family will do well to purchase this resource as a way to bond and connect with your child.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:



It’s Your Turn:

  1. What were things that scared Marianna?
  2. Why was Marianna scared?
  3. What did Muriel do that made Marianna feel loved?
  4. Is Marianna worthless? Why?
  5. What does Marianna do when she starts to feel bad about herself again?
  6. Do you ever feel bad about yourself? Why?
  7. What are you good at? What do you like to do?
  8. Who are people that remind you about how special you are when you feel bad about yourself?

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