Despite the fact that most children growing up in family foster care remain in contact with their birth parents, the experiences of birth parents have been largely neglected. This article draws on twenty-two in-depth interviews with birth parents to examine their experiences of cooperating with social workers and foster carers. Five patterns of cooperation are empirically identified in the parents’ narratives: (i) constructive cooperation; (ii) ambivalent cooperation; (iii) improved cooperation; (iv) diminishing cooperation and (v) lack of cooperation. While there are key differences in the characteristics of each pattern, there is one central similarity: all the parents seek recognition of their parenthood, especially their love for their child. Thus, actively recognising the role of parental love in parents’ motivation for cooperation can enable social workers to secure better cooperation with birth parents.