Written by Washington Foster Team
As a foster parent, the second most powerful gift you can give a child is welcoming them into your loving home. The first is being able to let them go by reunifying them with their parents.
Reunification isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly important. That’s why we’re happy to announce a new resource dedicated to foster parents who want to learn more about reunification.
Reunify And Thrive: Why Reunification Is Critical To Foster Care offers a comprehensive look at the role of reunification in foster care.
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, learning how reunification works is a meaningful first step.
With our new resource, we’ll give you all the basics of reunification, including:
- A clear explanation of the process
- A comparison of reunification and foster-to-adopt
- Advice on the best ways to prepare for foster care
We’ll also show you how reunification benefits both children and their birth parents, bust some of the most common myths about reunification, and offer a look at just a sampling of the resources available for foster parents going through reunification in Washington State.
Here’s a sneak peek to get you started.
Preparing Yourself For Reunification
“Because you know that they have a culture. They have a family. They're meant to be together. There is a true bond when it comes to having an actual family member be there for that child and understand the story that they came from.” — Sara Cunningham, Washington State foster mom
After finding out they couldn’t have children of their own, Sara Cunningham and her husband, Mike, decided to look into foster care. It wasn’t long before a six-month-old boy was placed with them. A few months later, they took in his sister.
The Cunningham family eventually adopted the siblings, but that was just the beginning of their foster care experience. They realized that supporting children and birth parents through reunification was a way to teach their adopted children about where they came from. But that’s never made it easy to let go of a child they’ve loved.
3 Ways To Get Ready For Reunification
Reunification is never easy for foster parents. It’s an incredibly emotional experience that can include grief, depression, anger, and sadness, but it is critically beneficial for children and birth parents. The best way for foster parents to cope with that transition is to prepare as early as possible.
- Mentally Prepare — Understand the benefits of reunification before you become a foster parent and accept that it is the most likely outcome of your experience with a child.
- Communicate Early And Often — Establish connections with birth parents as soon as possible. Positive relationships make the reunification process easier and allow birth parents to share things with you that make you a better foster parent, like a child’s favorite foods or their bedtime routine.
- Find Support — Support groups, other foster families, private agencies, and non-profit organizations are there to make reunification as easy as possible for everyone involved.
When you support reunification, you’re not just fostering a child, you’re fostering the chance for a family to thrive. Find out more by downloading your copy: Reunify And Thrive: Why Reunification Is Critical To Foster Care.