20 Mar Cautiously Hopeful
Three weeks into our placement our case was unusually “quiet” so we were told. I had not yet heard from any of Sweet Baby Boy’s family members, nor the assigned Social Worker from the County. I thought, “Is this normal? Do the bio-parents want this baby? Will there be visits?” Within that week I got my answer: a resounding YES from bio-mom.
Speaking to bio-mom for the first time was interesting. I tried my best to assure her that her son was in a good home where his needs are met with love and care, explaining a little about the Angels model. We spoke about visits and what sort of schedule would work, pending Social Worker approval. It was a short and at times awkward conversation, but I believe I was able to assuage her fears to the extent that is possible over the phone (hearing it is good; seeing it is better).
Whatever uncertainty remained in bio-mom’s mind regarding the well-being of her son following our conversation was (I believe) greatly alleviated by seeing her son thriving in person. She even commented, “he looks good” (which I interpreted and clung to as “good job foster mom!”). Overall, the first visit went well. Bio-mom was cordial, appropriate and genuinely thrilled to see her son.
As a foster mom at supervising visits, you walk a fine line between providing great care for the child and flaunting your capability/primary care-giver roll, being uncomfortable versus judgmental, and providing useful information versus being domineering. It is at best an awkward situation; at worst it is contentious and unbearable. Luckily, my experience was the former, as I tried my best to be non-threatening and considerate. A few tips from my Angels training proved helpful: I made sure to compliment her on her wonderful son, and took a picture of them together that I would develop and bring to the subsequent visit. Those little things, along with a respectful attitude, went a long way to begin building trust and a rapport with bio-mom.
As the weeks went on with supervised visits, I became increasingly encouraged by bio-mom’s progress and what I perceived as her prospects for being a good mom to Sweet Baby Boy. A genuine dichotomy developed: on one hand I was cautiously hopeful and happy that bio-mom was doing well, on the other hand there was still so much uncertainly. Bio-mom still faced a long road and, above all, I wanted Sweet Baby Boy in a stable, loving home (preferably ours!) for as long as possible.