To what degree do I need to protect the confidentiality of my foster children and their biological family?
Confidentiality is so important in foster care. We even signed a confidentiality agreement as part of our licensing process. There are two main reasons to respect the privacy of both the children and biological family involved.
Imagine being a child that comes into foster care. You likely have no idea where you are going or for how long. You may have no idea why you have to go live somewhere else. Your only sense of normalcy has been completely turned upside down. You have lost all control.
For these children, they carry an incredible amount of shame is tied to their situation. This is absolutely false, and and it’s unfair for them to feel that way, but that is the reality. When we talk about them to other people, we often use a voice of pity and sorrow, perpetuating their shame. It’s unintentional on our part, but it’s a mistake.
We also should respect privacy for the sake of the biological family. And mostly, for the same reasons, except that they are adults and carry real shame for not caring properly for their children, whatever the situations. The initial end-goal of foster care is reunification with the birth family. If we spend time tearing them down with our words, we aren’t giving them the opportunity to change. We are drawing conclusions based on, often, incomplete information, which is damaging to the dignity of the biological family. This is unfair and not supportive of reunification.
We do not post pictures of our foster children on social media and blogs, and we don’t share their names there either. It’s important not to share publicly, because once information is on the internet, it’s out there! And once it’s out there, we have no control over it!
We don’t walk around with bags over our foster children’s heads or anything. Please don’t get the wrong idea. We don’t, however, advertise their stories to the world. When they are old enough, they are their stories to tell.