May 9, 2019
By Monica Baudendistel
Just like Thanksgiving and Christmas, when you have a non-traditional family like a foster family, it’s important to include bio parents when you celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. With foster care, reunification is the goal in most cases and helping that along can be rewarding to both you and the child (or children) and it is also a way to open yourself up to new experiences.
First Time Parents
To first time parents, it is vital that they are able to bond, even when the child doesn’t live with them. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be heartbreaking for the parent(s). If at all possible, it is important to help first-time parents experience the joy of celebrating their special day. I know that there are circumstances where it isn’t possible for the parents to visit their child on these holidays and it can be inconvenient to re-arrange your own special day so another parent can celebrate their day. As foster parents, giving and putting others before ourselves is an everyday occurrence.
On past Mother’s and Father’s Day, I have supervised visits for two-to-four hours so the children in my home can see their parents. With prior caseworker approval, my husband and I have welcomed new parents into our home or met somewhere neutral, like a park, restaurant, zoo, aquarium or library. To watch a new, first-time mother look into the eyes of her infant and observe the bonding that takes place, it’s worth giving up a little of my day. I know that this isn’t always plausible and when it isn’t then I go out of my way to take pictures with a sign that says, “Happy Mother’s Day!” or “Happy Father’s Day!” with the infant dressed up and staged with balloons or flowers, then I message the pictures to the parents.
When you have school-aged children, crafts are a part of everyday life. They bring art home from school almost daily. When Mother’s Day or Father’s Day draws near, the children will more than likely have created something at school for their parents. It’s nice to help them create personal gifts at home as well. Not everyone is talented in the crafting area and that’s ok. The child will take over and what they make for their parents can take your breath away. Use their artwork and pictures of the kids to make a calendar, make a mini art portfolio, homemade cards, any number of items for their parent’s special day. My personal favorites are printing the artwork onto magnetic paper and, instantly, you have a reminder on a refrigerator for years to come. No matter the age of the child, from toddlers to teens, if you give them paints, paper and a place to get messy they will create masterpieces that their mother or father will cherish forever.
Building Family Memories
When you became a foster parent, you are a vital part of a child’s life. It’s a selfless act to take in someone else’s child and raise them, teach them, guide them and love them. It’s also a selfless act to assist parents in maintaining the parent-child bond. Like a plant that needs water and sunshine, a child needs everyone to aid in their growth. A telephone call, a pre-approved visit, a card, or a craft, these items take up so little of your time and, in the big picture, it is amazing in the outcome. Whatever the children call you, mom, nana, by your name, you will always be that little piece in their puzzle of life.
Monica is a foster parent with Larimer County.