We are fostering 6 year old wonderful twin girls and live in a medium size southern city. Through snooping through Facebook we have learned that the biological parents are members of a violent street gang. TPR has been granted, but I have concern about running into the mother or father out around our city. They have convictions for violent crimes already. Has anyone got any feedback/tips on this type of situation.
Not the same but a couple of things to consider:
1. At some point, your daughters may want to see their bio parents.. and they'll be old enough to give the address.
2. Don't believe everything at once. I was told the bio father of my 2 youngest was a violent criminal and it turns out he's suing for wrongful arrest and has proof he was set up.
I am not a foster parent (yet) and I have limited exposure to the criminal justice system, but the experience I do have has taught me that criminals are not evil. I have never met an evil person. I.e. I have never met anyone who's desires and purposes are to find ways to be mean or do harm to others simply because it is there nature.
I have found that criminals, even violent ones, commit wrongful acts because they are desperate or they have not learned how to respond appropriately. When given the opportunities, resources, and education required, people will behave appropriately.
I am not saying that certain people aren't dangerous. Yes, sometimes the social, economic, political, etc. influences on a person make them prone to threatening the safety of others. Take safety seriously.
On the other hand, don't be quick to judge others given limited information. I have become acquainted with some gang members that have learned to be outstanding citizens later in life.
Here's an anecdote to take with a grain of salt.
When my biological twins were 6, they were surprisingly in tune with reality. There was a family a few houses over with kids their age. We wanted them to be friends, but we did not want them near the father who was often getting arrested and likely in a gang and often had his "gang-banger" buddies around, but the mother and grandparents were very nice people. We enrolled our kids in Rad Kids ( (We actually had to recruit an instructor and set up a local class), and we discussed with them what abuse was and how to distinguish strangers from dangers, etc. We have always tried to be very transparent and communicative with our children regarding their safety.
Our relationship and trust with the neighbor family improved and the limits became clearer. Sometimes we would hear drunken shouting and arguing coming from their house (and my fingers hovering over the phone to dial CPS), but we learned that the family was handling those situations the best they could and that the father really did care about his children and had the self control (with the help of his wife and in-laws) not to cross the line.
My kids surprised us when they told us that another friend had exposed them to pornography (at 6 years old) and some hazing and that the parents showed total indifference. Because we had discussed this with our children, they were very open with us and we were able to nip the problem in the bud. It was sad when, after some tough conversations with the parents, we told my kids they were not allowed to go to that house any more and could only play with that friend when we were present. My kids are now 8 and have made me very proud with their discretion in choosing friends, avoiding bad situations, standing up for their morals, and trusting/distrusting others when appropriate.
When I chose to mentor an at risk youth, my kids were curious who this other kid was I kept spending so much time with and why I always had to go to court. I was very open with my kids that I didn't feel comfortable letting them meet the youth for safety reasons. The understood. Eventually, as we built trust, they were able to meet him. Perhaps a bridge of trust between you and the bio parents may be a first step before the kids are involved. The kids can understand that.
Parenting isn't easy, but with effort and diligence, there are very sweet dividends.
P.S. - A plug for radKIDS. It's an awesome program. As I mentioned, it wasn't offered in our area at first. We had to put some feelers out to see if any other parents were interested. Once we had a group of people interested we reached out to some martial arts groups to see if any instructors were willing. It was a long process, but we found a fabulous woman who was early in her career training to be a kung fu instructor. She was passionate about educating kids and teaching self defense. She had to pay a substantial amount to fly to training provided by the radKIDS organization and get certified, but in return she got to advertiser her services. She was working out of an academy over an hour away from us. It was well worth it. Her pilot class was very good and we returned a year later for a follow-up class and she had made improvements. We had to curb one of my twins enthusiasm to "defend" himself against his brother, but it was great seeing the assertive confidence in our kids. For their final test, the director of the academy "a stranger" wearing safety glasses and a laughable bulge of padding in his pants, met them in the hallway to offer the kids a ride home. When he couldn't provide the family password, the shouting started, but he grabbed the kid and then the crotch kicking and eye gouging and scratching began (poor guy), and the kids found a grown up (another stranger) nearby with a dummy phone connected to the instructor and actually dialed 911 and provided all the proper information. The kids totally knew it was staged, but it added just the level of realism to make it all stick.
Last update on December 30, 11:37 am by Kyle Balling.
My husband and I have been foster parents for 2 years and I also work in the court system in our very small town. Every situation is different but for the most part as long as you love the children and are respectful to them (bio parents) whether they are gang affiliated or not they will most likely appreciate you caring and loving their child. Most anger is directed at the caseworker and the "system" for doing them wrong not at the foster parent.
It never hurts to be aware of your surroundings and to be cautious.