Mama S here. Recently I had the most beautifully hard conversation with our little’s biological parent. We were talking about all the hard things that were happening in their live and what they were going to do to try and get back on track. The seriousness and importance of that conversation was not lost on me. We made it to the point where they view Mama A and I as a support. Someone to talk with when they need a sympathetic ear.
We talked about the series of events that had happened over the past few months and what that means for their future. We talked about what permanency may end up looking like for P and what our plans are for each possible outcome. There were moments where I just wanted to drive out to see them and give them the biggest hug. They opened up and were venerable knowing that I would help them make the best decision they could in the hardest position.
How did we get here? Slowly. Patiently. Every once in a while they would open up about things happening in their life and I would always reserve judgment. Who am I to judge this person? It could easily be me in that same situation. A few different choices in my life and I could be there. Recognizing that fact is very helpful in not passing judgment on them. Not only do I see that, but they do to. We talked about the fact that we talk about everything. The good, the hard, and the impossible. We chatted about how amazing it is to have the relationship that we do and that we want to maintain it for the rest of our lives. No matter where P ends up, we hope to all be in each other’s lives. We are all extended family.
Some people will read this and go- That can’t be me. That can’t be us. The biological parents on our care are X, Y, Z. That may very well be. That is quite possibly true. I encourage you to analyze your interactions. Your personal thoughts about them. If you are thinking X, Y, Z about them, they know that. They can pick that up. That is also shaping how they are reacting to you.
A few years ago we were working with a biological parent that thought we were the devil. Seriously. They thought that were the most horrible children snatching people ever. We reserved judgment and continued to treat them with respect (even though they said some pretty horrible things to us/about us/called CPS on us). After a month and a half of unwavering kindness, things started to shift. We went from the enemy to some people to confide in. People to talk to about the hard stuff and about her kiddo that was struggling. We got to the point where they called the social worker and said they wanted their kiddo to stay with us. What a change from them calling CPS and telling them (and everyone else) that we were trying to kill her kid!
I tell you this because it is important to recognize the judgments we pass about everyone in our lives. When you look at a person and think X- they can usually figure that out. Imagine if you will. You made some decisions and now there are tons of people in your business analyzing EVERYTHING you do. Every decision you make. You probably don’t see anything wrong with what you did, because you don’t know any different. Now your kids are living with someone else and the people in your life keep talking about how the system snatches kids to give them to people that want them. How would you feel about the people caring for your kids. Then, you recognize that these parents may be giving your children opportunities you were unable to. You see your kids connecting with these strangers. You hear them call them mom and dad. How would that make you feel? How resentful and angry would you be? How would YOU lash out?
Now, imagine that those foster parents are kind to you. Share with you the positives of what is going on and the struggles. Let you know when your kiddo is thinking of you and loves you. Lets you and the kiddos know that it is OK to love their biological parents and you. They don’t have to choose. That the foster parents don’t judge when you tell them about your latest struggle. Offers to help you by being a sympathetic ear. Partners with you in parenting decisions. Asks your thoughts on things that you KNOW they could decide on their own. Wouldn’t that make all the difference in the world?
I know that the biological parents have done things that we don’t understand/agree with. I’m not saying that you have to understand. I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to be frustrated, upset, angry. We feel all those feelings too. That is normal. We just try to reserve judgment with the biological families and attempt to see the situation from their perspective and that helps in our interactions. Plus, how great is it that the kiddos get to have more family?
This is all great and well, but I do want to acknowledge that sometimes this is NOT possible. Sometimes there are safety concerns that need to be acknowledged. I would never encourage anyone to push past safety into situations where there could be harm to the kiddo or yourself. I do want to say, we were worried about safety concerns with our first placement (they threatened violence and to kill us) and we just modified our communication. We refused to talk on the phone, we only communicated via text message and we saved all screenshots of every text in a google doc that everyone on the case (including the bio parents) were able to access. Things were able to turn around there, but you never know. Keep everyone safe. That is key!
Remember the golden rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated.
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