10 Tips for Photo Sharing With Your Foster Child’s Family

All parents treasure photographs of their children. For parents whose children are in the foster care system, having beloved photos can be even more valuable. One of the first things I learned in my foster care training course is that we are encouraged to provide photos to our foster child’s parents as a way keep them updated and connected. Foster parents can give snapshots to their foster child’s parents as a means of building a bond between the biological family, as motivation to work towards regaining custody, and to bridge what is usually an involuntary and fragile co-parenting relationship.

I’ve given hundreds of photos to my foster children’s parents. It’s the one way I’ve found to bring a moment of joy to parents who are in crisis. When my foster kid’s parents are happy, my life is easier and reuinification of the family happens faster. A lot of thought has gone into the photos I’ve given with my foster kids’ parents, I’m happy to share my key considerations and tips:

  • 1. Keep yourself out of the photo 1 of 10

    No parent wants a photograph of you replacing them as a mom or dad.  Keep those cuddle photos to yourself.

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  • 2. Dress your foster child in clothes their parents would like 2 of 10

    Your style and your foster child's parents' style is probably different. If your foster children are young enough that you are still selecting their clothes, consider dressing them in the parents preferred style. It sounds minor, but in my experience, the right shoes can make or break a relationship. If you're not sure, just ask or ask around. My foster agency even explains what the preferred clothing brands are in training. Just go with it for the photos, it will mean a lot to the parents.

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  • 3. Know what not to dress your foster child in for photos 3 of 10

    Just like knowing what brands and clothing styles your foster child's parents like, make sure to find out what they don't like. If they hate frills, they'll likely hate a photo of their baby in frills. Cultures vary greatly, ask ask ask.

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  • 4. Check that there’s nothing questionable in the background of the photo 4 of 10

    Okay, so maybe you don't have to worry about military tanks but you might be surprised as to what can raise eyebrows.  Is that an opened bottle of bleach on the counter? Do you have a broken car seat on the floor? You know that you don't use it, but your foster kids' parents don't. It's best not to have to explain yourself.

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  • 5. Ask to take a few quick photos of your foster children and their relatives at visits 5 of 10

    Visitation time is usually limited and parents don't always have the same photography resources as foster parents. Getting and then giving photos of your foster children with their biological family can be valuable for years to come.


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  • 6. Avoid photos that include your other foster kids 6 of 10

    Typically, the other foster children in your home will be pretty meaningless to a specific parent and disseminating photos of other people's children might be a confidentiality issue.  Make sure you capture some photos of each foster child alone, or just with their biological siblings.

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  • 7. Photos shouldn’t require an explanation 7 of 10

    Was your foster teen dressed for high school Zombie Homecoming Day? Maybe skip that photo. If you don't have an opportunity to provide an explanation, the photos could be confusing.  Especially if it gets passed around!

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  • 8. Make sure your foster child is clean in the photos 8 of 10

    That photo of your foster child playing in the mud, or covered in spaghetti sauce is adorable to you, but it might stress their parents out. You know that you bath your foster kids every night, but they don't.

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  • 9. Photos of your foster child showing off their talents are great 9 of 10

    Consider taking some pictures that will really make your foster child shine. It could be sports, music recitals, school graduations or even just cooking at home (make sure to shove the sharp knives out of the frame).

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  • 10. Get a second opinion on photos from a friend 10 of 10

    Ask a friend to put themselves in your foster child's parents' shoes and look over the photographs you plan to share. A second pair of eyes could pick-up something odd that you're used to seeing. Maybe your sister collects vintage spam tins that are in the background of all of the photos... unless you want to send the message that you feed foster children expired spam, it's best to take new photos.

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Also from Rebecca this month: 10 of My Foster Kids Favorite UNICEF Toys

11 More Reasons I Might Have to Sue My Kids a la China’s New ‘Visit Your Parents’ Law

The U.S. Bonding Epidemic That Wasn’t

You can also follow Rebecca on her blog here.

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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