Family relationships


Most young people who enter foster care have experienced abuse or neglect by a biological parent. Despite this fact, most young people will return to live with a biological parent once the home situation can be made safe and “reunification” is possible.

“It took me nearly two years to realize that despite how much I loved my mother, and how much she seemed to want to take care of me and my brother and sister, that perhaps… just maybe, she wasn’t the right person to bring up three children…” — Anonymous

FosterClub member who was adopted Even for those who do not return to the home of a biological parent, children in foster care usually have ongoing contact with a bio-parent. When possible, foster care workers try to arrange visits between kids in care and parents or other members of the family (known as “visitation”). There may be, however, hazards and challenges to these interactions and visits may need to be limited or supervised.

“I know that I can only be around certain members of my family for a short period of time. I know that some conflict will take place, so I plan out specific time frames that I will meet certain family members to avoid conflict.” -Former FosterClub member

A young person in foster care can often be confused about feelings regarding biological (or bio) family. Even though they may have experienced physical or emotional abuse, a young person may still feel great love for an abusive parent.

“When I was younger, I was really lost (I still am, but then I was even more so). I didn’t know that I could love my bio family and forgive them and still not give them room to hurt me. Now I do.” - FosterClub member

It is normal for young people in foster care to worry a great deal about a biological parent. Sometimes mental illness, homelessness, drug and alcohol, and domestic abuse are just some of the reasons a young person might be concerned about the safety of their parent. It is not unusual for a child to feel some guilt for living a “better life” than their parent is living. Often when young people are removed from their biological parents, they may lose contact with other biological family members. Entering foster care can mean becoming disconnected with brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. In some cases, arrangements are made for a child in foster care to live with one of these relatives, which is called “kinship care.” Upon aging out of foster care, experts conclude that the majority of former foster youth seek out, wanting to renew a relationship with biological family.