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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bio Family Boundaries

Being a foster family is very interesting, to say the least.  Emotions are torn every which way.  First and foremost, the foster child is our main priority.  We are here to keep him/her safe, loved, fed, clothed, emotionally enriched, and happy until he/she is returned to Mom/Dad/Grandparents/Other Kin, or an adoption plan/permanent placement is put in place.  Along the way, we encounter the bio family at visits and court.  I must say, for the most part (minus a few isolated incidents), the bio families have treated us with kindness and gratitude, and we them.  Our current foster children's bio families have been very interesting.

1. Sweet Pea's bio Dad is still on the lam.  Bio Mom is still missing visits about every two visits, and just not quite with it.  Sometimes she talks a lot, asks me for advice, tells me what's going on in her life, other times she doesn't say much at all.  I've met her father once at court-he was decent and grilled me on how hard it must be to be a foster parent.  Her mother has never seen Sweet Pea because she doesn't want to get attached to her if she is placed with us permanently.  Understandable.

2.  Cutie Patootie's bio family is a whole other story.  Bio Mom is very dramatic.  She gushes to all the workers and Sweet Pea's mom at every visit about how thankful she is to have us as her foster family.  I am glad she feels that way.  However, this last visit she gave me her telephone number and asked me to call her if I need anything.  I told her I was not permitted to call her per foster parent rules.  She was like, "Well, you know, if it were your kid, if you were in my place, you would want me to call you." Well, ya, but no. I can't.  Sorry.   Her parents were granted weekend visits every weekend with Cutie.  Caseworker said goal is to reunify with grandparents (by the judge-caseworker is against this).  So, I meet the grandparents in a neutral location unsupervised to hand her over.  This is fine-they seem like nice people-a little rough around the edges, but okay.  However, grandparents have begun to cling emotionally to me.  It all started while in the waiting room for her first court date (you can read about that in my previous post EMOTIONS RUN HIGH IN THE COURTROOM). They pleaded their case to me and I, as a good foster parent does, smiled and nodded and told them the first goal is always to keep families together.

 Well, from there, the caseworker told me they wanted my phone number (of course they can't have it), and at all of our visitation drop offs/pickups, they again plead their case to me, ask me what I know, what I think of their daughter, what the caseworker said, etc. etc.  They asked me if what they tell me is in confidence (that I won't tell caseworker).  I told them that if they tell me something that I feel is a threat to Cutie's safety that I have to tell the caseworker.  They have told me many personal things about them, (their work background, their illnesses, their disabilities, their mental state, family happenings ) and VERY PERSONAL THINGS about their daughter,  that are not harmful but make me basically uncomfortable and possibly question their mental stability.  Have you ever heard the saying TMI?  (too much information) but all in all, they seem to love Cutie very much and I can tell they have taken good care of her.

I DO understand how upset they are.  My heart goes out to them, but I basically tell them the same thing every time-that I am not the one that makes the decisions, and actually am not told anything about the case except visitation times, court dates, etc.  When you are a foster parent, I feel it's important to say as little as possible about the case to bio family.  Words can be misconstrued and reported to caseworker, or in court. My caseworker says just smile and nod.   I know they feel as in the dark as I do about what goes on in the case, and they are clinging to me to find out whatever they can, but boundaries have to be put in place.

Well, I realize I have been writing and writing and ranting for a long post-I hope I haven't bored you-just wanted to explain that I feel some boundaries are needed when dealing with bio families.

 Blessings to you in your journey-no matter what part of it you are on!
The Queen Mama
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