In training for foster care, there is a lot of discussion about relationships with birth families. I'm very glad that this is a part of training and I always bring it up as a topic for more training and discussion. But I didn't expect to be working together with other foster parents as much as I have.
Some connections come and go. We've had a few connections with providing or needing respite. Some have been more lasting, like a group I attend in which foster parents voice opinions and concerns of foster parents within the system. There are support groups, an informal one I currently attend, an a formal one that was going, has stopped, and I'm helping to get going again. There are online communities, answering questions and following stories, blogging and reading blogs.
The connections I didn't really expect are the ones that happen when foster parents share a case. Because we foster one child at a time, many of our cases have involved siblings. So, we do a lot of planning with other foster families. We've planned sibling visits, sleepovers, parenting time schedules that work for everyone, and transitions to move a child. Sometimes it's nice, with someone to chat about the kids with, and it's nice not to be the only foster parent attending court. The end of visits can be crazy, though, with multiple kids going different directions. Let's just say the conversation with birth parents I imagined when I went through training doesn't go so well when there are three foster families involved simultaneously picking up kids whose emotions are running high.
But sometimes it gets a little interesting. What if your hopes and expectations of the case are different than another family? What if another foster parent complains and expect you to agree, and you don't? What if one foster family is advocating for biological family, and another foster family is more skeptical? Ideally, we'd all be on the same page, but we all come from our own perspectives. Thankfully, in almost every case, I've been confident that we all love the kids and want what's best for them.
Have you shared cases with other families? How has your experience been?