Hello! Mama S here. I figured blog post number 30 had to be a big one. A topic that people ask about a LOT. What better of a topic than co-parenting. The actual act of parenting these kiddos with their biological parents.
Most of you are aware of co-parenting. You’ve seen divorced couples doing it for years. To those divorced parents that are co-parenting for their kids, I tip my hat to you. Co-parenting is one of the hardest things to do. You see, everyone has views and opinions of how parenting should happen. All you have to do is look in the comments section of buzzfeed article that is about a parent’s decision to see how passionate people get about how THEY think kids should be parented.
Keeping that in mind, imagine if you will. Co-parenting with someone you have never met. Someone that all you have heard about is what they struggle with. You only hear the negatives about this person. You see the outcome of some less than stellar parenting choices and you get frustrated. Well, if I parented this kiddo from day one X,Y,Z. You start to hear people talking about this person (whom neither of you have met) and all they say are negative things that they don’t know, but assume to be true. You get spun into a cycle of negativity and you can’t see your way out. Or can you?
Mama A and went into fostering with a passion and a mission. Co-parent with the bios or bust. We went in with the determination to co-parent with these kiddos bio parents no matter what we have to sacrifice, how many words we have to hold back, no matter what misdirected anger, resentment, frustration, etc. gets directed our way. That was our mission. Our foster care motto. Co-parent or bust.
We have had 2 placements to date. Both placements we have been presented with parents that were not super excited to be parenting with us (I mean think about it- who would be without knowing us first?!). There were bio parents that called 220-SAFE on us, threatened to sue us, threatened to harm us, etc. We keep with the motto and we keep plugging along.
I’m proud to say that we have been able to build relationship with all the bio parents that have led us to co-parent the kiddos in our care. Have there been moments when our eyes go big and we take a deep breath and wonder what the heck is going on? Sure! Of course there are. Remember the comment above about buzzfeed mom-shaming? People are not immune to those thoughts. It’s what you do after you have them that shapes how well co-parenting works.
Early on, Mama A and I decided that I would be the point person. The main point of conversation with everyone on the case. I’m swiftest to make a decision and the most diplomatic when I’m getting screamed at. When we were figuring things out there were moments when I had to shut off my phone and cry. There were moments when I turned my phone on and reached out. There were moments when I didn’t know which direction I wanted to take. All in all, it has all worked out.
I’d love to say that we are perfect at this. I’d be so proud to be able to say that. We are far from it. What I can say is that we have been able to push ego aside, focus on the families we support and take each day at a time.
One proud moment is that in both cases we have been able to reach a certain level of understanding and agreement with the bio parents and an agreement in how we will communicate, what we will communicate, and when we will communicate. We position things in a way to help foster the relationship between the bio parents and the kiddos and to help the bio parents connect with the kiddos as well. We constantly talk about Mom and Dad and tell our kiddos that it is OK to love them. That we don’t want to erase them and we honor the place in our kiddos lives. No matter what happens, these parents will ALWAYS be the biological parents of these kiddos and we want all parties to know that we understand and honor that relationship.
This is the hardest relationship to maintain. This is the relationship that most people on the outside looking in don’t understand. This is the relationship that most people question. This is also one of the most important relationships we have and we will continue to put our hearts and souls into them as long as it is safe and healthy for the kiddos.
That is an important point to call out. AS LONG AS IT IS SAFE FOR THE KIDDOS. There may come a time where we end up with a bio parent that contact isn’t safe. We will be lost. We will call on our tribe of fellow foster parents for support and we will move forward. To date we have been blessed with the relationships we have and don’t take them for granted for a minute.
So, if you are considering becoming a foster parent- or are about to talk to one. Think about this. What are your biases against the bio parents? Be honest… everyone has them to a certain extent. What are you willing to do to overcome those biases for the sake of the kiddo. How can you support a fellow foster parent that is trying their hardest to co-parent? That may be offering up your ear over coffee to talk about the struggles, that may be a strategy session on what to try to help foster a relationship, that may be offering to watch the kiddos while the foster parent goes to therapy to work on that. Either way, no matter who you are, you can help us co-parent. You can help these kiddos <3
Thank you for reading! All my love,