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BY JOHN DeGARMO, ED.D.

Working with
Birth
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The Impact of Faith,
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of our regular prayers. When we pray for
people who have hurt our foster children, or
even have hurt us, we are not only helping
them, but we are also helping ourselves, too.
By praying for our child’s birth parents, or
anyone who is mean spirited or difficult,
we begin to change ourselves, as we draw
closer to God. Indeed, this simple act of
prayer for our child’s biological family helps
to deepen our own hearts, as it breaks down
barriers we may have placed between us
and the parents of our foster child. Along
with this, it helps us to forgive those who
have wronged our children, and ourselves,
just as God has forgiven us for our many
sins. To be sure, we will grow spiritually
in our faith when we pray for all of God’s
people, including even the most abusive
of our foster children’s birth parents. As
we pray for these birth parents, instead of
praying about them, we just might receive
more blessings ourselves, as our own hearts
are changed.

raying for the birth parents of your
foster child is one important area of
foster care that we need to do on a
regular basis. This may be the more difficult
part of your job. To begin with, these may
be the people who abused or neglected the
child in your care. Helping them might just
be the last thing you wish to do. Praying for
them might be even harder. After all, there
is a reason why many of these children are
in foster care, and this reason has to do
with how their birth parents and biological
family members treated them, perhaps
mistreated is a better word.
This is exactly what we are called to do,
to love those in need. Those birth parents
and biological family members who abuse,
abandon and neglect children in foster care
are all children of our loving God, and we
are all sisters and brothers in Christ. God
loves those who hurt children just as much
as He loves those who protect children. As
foster parents, we are no better than our
foster child’s birth parents, as we are all
human beings, and fallen ones.

We can all be examples for our child’s
birth parents. For birth parents and family
members, you might be the best example
of what a good parent is. Everything you
do as a foster parent will send signals to
the biological parents on how a parent
should act, as well as how to treat their own
children. As foster parents, we can do this in
quiet, silent ways, and without breaking any
policies about faith that your child welfare
system might have in place. Not only can we
stay positive and keep a good attitude, we
can also treat our foster child’s birth parents
with the same dignity, respect and kindness
we would have shown us. Indeed, one of
the best ways we can show our faith is by
treating all we meet with these attributes,
even if it is not returned.

Therefore, it is important that you do not
prejudge them before you meet them.
What is important to consider, as well,
is that many biological parents of foster
children were abused themselves, and know
of no other way when raising children.
Also disturbing is that some birth parents
were foster children, as well, and are just
repeating the cycle they went through as
a child. Certainly, there are reasons why
their children are in care that we may never
understand.
To be sure, our prayers for our child’s
parents should be consistent and a part
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THE STRENGTH OF FORGIVENESS
Love and forgiveness are two actions that are
intertwined, and cannot be separated. If we
truly love as God asks us to, then we need to
forgive, as well. Without forgiveness, there is
no love. When I was angry toward our foster
teen’s mother, I was in no way sharing God’s
love. Instead, my stomach was in knots, and
I was one tense parent. I was shackled by my
own inability to forgive someone, a prisoner
to a debilitating emotion. Yet, when I did
forgive her, it felt like a weight was taken off
my own shoulders. One of the amazing things
about the act of forgiving others is that it
allows us better use of our energies toward
something that is more constructive, more
positive. Forgiveness frees us from the forces
of hate and evil, and instead allows us to draw
closer to God, and gives us more strength to
do Jesus’ work. When we forgive the actions
of our foster child’s birth parents, not only
are we showing God’s love to them, and
empowering ourselves, we are also honoring
our foster children. Remember, these children,
despite the many forms of abuse they have
been subjected to, still love their mommies
and daddies.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
As foster parents, we have the opportunity
to not only help children in need, but their
parents, as well. As we have seen, we can lift
them up in prayer, and forgive their actions
and crimes against the very children we share
in common. There are a number of other
ways we can help our foster child’s biological
family members, and act as God’s servants by
doing so.
It may be that your foster child’s birth parents
are not attending a church. One way you can
help them is by inviting them to worship with

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Parents
Prayer and Forgiveness
questions as they would like. It is important
that you answer their questions as honestly
and as openly as possible, treating them with
the utmost integrity, kindness and politeness.

you at your church. Allow phone calls between
your foster child and his birth parents, with
you monitoring the calls to ensure that your
child remains safe and that nothing is said
by either that is inappropriate. Use Skype to
allow your foster child and the birth parents
to communicate face to face. Invite the birth
parents and biological family members to
school events and extracurricular activities.
Send school progress reports, report cards
and school projects to the birth parents,
allowing them to see the progress their child
is making. Ask birth parents to help out
with birthday plans for the child. When your
foster child meets with his birth parents for
visitations, he should be well dressed, clean,
healthy and looking his best.

As a foster parent, it is important to
remember that your foster child’s biological
parents are people in need, and they deserve
your kindness and sympathy, not your anger.
By working with them, and by showing them
kindness and compassion, you will not only
help them, you will teach your foster child an
important lesson in love and humanity, and
help them in their own walk with Christ.
From the new book Faith and Foster
Care: How We Impact God’s Kingdom.
“(c) 2016 New Hope Publishers. Reprinted
with permission. This article may not
be reproduced for any other use without
permission. ❁

Part of your mission as a foster parent is to
support reunification with your foster child
and his biological parents. Do your best to
encourage reunification between the child
and his parents. Find ways you can help
the biological parents with their parenting
skills. Discuss ways and ideas on how you
can help them as they attempt to meet the
requirements of reunification.

John DeGarmo, Ed.D., has been a foster
parent for 13 years, and he and his wife
have had more than 50 children come
through their home. He is a speaker and
trainer on many topics about the foster
care system, and travels around the nation
delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic and
informative presentations. DeGarmo is the
author of several books, including the new
book “Faith and Foster Care: How We Impact
God’s Kingdom,” and the foster care children’s
book “A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s
Story.” DeGarmo is the host of the weekly
radio program Parent Factors with Dr. John,
He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@
gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John
DeGarmo, Twitter @drjohndegarmo or at
his website, http://drjohndegarmofostercare.
weebly.com.

Your foster child’s family members will want
to know what kind of family their child is
living with, what his home life will be like,
if he is being taken care of and many other
concerns. After all, their child has been taken
away from them, against their wishes, and
placed in a strange home. They will have
many concerns, and may not be as courteous
to you as you might like. Be prepared for
them to be hostile, rude, angry or even
distant. Remember, they are hurting, and
have been through a traumatic experience
with the removal of their child. Respectfully
encourage them to ask you as many
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