Monday, November 18, 2013

Boys are wonderful... and most definitely not for me!

Me, on Saturday night

My 24 hour respite care placement was exciting. And fun. And tiring. And 1000% convinced me that I was on the mark to know that I can only do girls in my home. I simply don't have the space or the energy levels to keep up with boys. I would take girl drama over boy energy any day.

But all the kids were good kids so it was still a fun experience. I ended up dropping off the kids on Saturday night and then rushing to a last minute required CPR/First Aid class of which I was the only person there so I got an abbreviated version. Because I had done the training so many times over the years they basically asked me all the review questions, I showed them my CPR technique on the adult and baby mannequins, and then we all sat around chatting as the couple doing the training happened to be the same ones who did my home study.

 Also, my original RD worker who I did my IMPACT training with was there at the beginning and we chatted for a few minutes. This is the woman who I was DYING to have as my official RD worker but she was in a different county so couldn't take me :(  Anyway, she remembered me, we chatted for awhile, and the couple who did my home study told her that she HAD to find me kids because I was so great (!) and she said that we would read through my study and "keep her eye out" for a placement. That was encouraging since more than a few people told me that if Flora (her blog name) was on my side then I was golden.

So all in all, a good weekend of progress.

I also had my local Foster Parent Association meeting on Thursday night. It was so awesome to just hang out and talk with other FP's and get their take. I'm the newbie so everyone just laughs at my enthusiasm and naivete but not in a mean way and I totally understand their reaction. I'm just enjoying this time of being able to be optimistic about this life. I know that all too soon my optimism will be replaced with disillusion and frustration. ;)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Respite Care

I got a call asking if I would do another respite care gig this weekend for three siblings. A girl and two boys. Ages 11, 4, and 3. Gulp.

Of course I said yes. My home isn't open for boys for any long term placement but a weekend I can handle. Hopefully they like Barbies and dollhouses because that is all my house currently offers in the way of toys ;)

I'm already thinking their blog names should be from the characters of Brave. They sound like their personalities would fit from the little I got out of their social worker.

I'm starting to worry that I won't ever get an actual placement since they might want to have me just do respite care. Goodness knows there aren't enough homes that are willing (or able) to do such temporary care but I admit, I don't want to just to that. Not sure how I need to handle this. It might just be having an honest conversation with my worker or just saying "no" to the next request.

Fall Worksheets Freebie

I ran across this site when looking for Christmas cards (who else is excited that the holidays are so close?!!!)

It has a bunch of really cute (and FREE) worksheets for kids to do that are fall based.

Snapfish Fall Worksheet Freebies

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another call, more waiting

I got a call last week from Merryweather (aka my social worker) who wanted to check in with me and see how I liked my respite care placement. That was kind of a strange question but I guess being my first official placement (even if it only was for 2 days) she wanted to confirm that I still wanted to do this.

Anyway, we chatted a bit, and then she said something along the lines of "we have a child in mind for you but its too early for me to give you details yet"

This was my response:

This was how I felt inside (about the details):

So I'm still playing the waiting game. But my life is so busy currently that I'm not disappointed to not have a placement yet, its just like waiting for Christmas- its something you want and look forward to but half the fun is the preparation as well as the anticipation. I could soak in a few more weeks of solo life before my world implodes.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Respite Care: Day 1

I'm going to start using fake names on this blog. The first fake name you get is of the super cool and really nice social worker who worked out this respite care gig. The name of said person will now be John Smith on this blog.

John Smith comes to the door to make sure its the correct house and then brings kids inside, I say hi and confirm names. He gives me their foster mom's cell phone and leaves. Cue two girls and me staring at each other.

Side note: the girls names on this blog shall now be Elsa (age 11) and Anna (age 10). And yes, all of the names I choose will be Disney names, so their names are taken in honor of the up coming movie Frozen. I'm a total Disney nerd. Sue me.

The girls made it very easy for me. Elsa is quieter and more watchful, Anna is outgoing, talkative and curious. They picked out a room to stay in and then I gave them a quick tour. I found out they both had medications they have to take which made me a bit wary since I wasn't told about this and they pound into you during training that you have to get permission to use anything (tylenol, peptobismol, etc.) so that threw me for a loop.

Then I had to ask them what they could eat after learning they are supposed to eat gluten free. And I'm a vegetarian. Basically most of what I had to offer wasn't going to fly. So we packed up and headed to the grocery store to get food. They were very good but incredibly talkative and in the space of 45 minutes I learned the names of crushes, friends, insights about their school, what they love to do and a bunch of other random stuff.

At one point Anna out of no where says "There is this boy that lives by me and I have a crush on him"

Not quite sure how to respond I asked why she had a crush on him and to that she said because he was cute. Then I said "Cute is good but is he kind? Because cuteness won't matter when they open their mouth"

To this both girls cracked up with laughter and we changed the subject. Ahhhhhh the importance of things when you're a tween. Its a good age to be.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Least of These

I follow the Fostering Hope Project blog. I don't think there is single entry that doesn't remind me of why I chose to be on this journey. But this one especially spoke to my heart. I can't even say how much I am praying that my church will catch the heart for foster kids in the years to come and be a light in kids live and the community through supporting this ministry.

Read the original post here and check out the other ones also!

The handwritten sign was taped to the wall.
Voices echoed from the conference room, then laughter and crying.  Curious, I peered through the glass door, wondering what occasion had displaced my schedule.  The big conference table that normally occupied the center of the room had been scooted over against the wall.  A few kids were sitting by it, coloring.  Others were running around the room, kicking a ball.  A couple were sitting on the floor, crying giant crocodile tears.  I stepped closer.  Air mattresses and cots lined the wall.  What in the world was going on?  This looked more like a slumber party than a board room.  Or perhaps a shelter, like the kind you see on TV when there has been a hurricane. 
A shelter.  For kids who have no where else to stay.  For kids in foster care.  “There are no open foster homes, and all the actual shelter buildings are full.  This is the shelter overflow,” I was told.  My mind jumped to another story of a child with nowhere to stay.
“She gave birth to her first child, a son.  She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”  Luke 2:7 (NLT) 
At least in that story there was a mom and a dad.  In this one, there were only children, supervised in a conference room turned bedroom by a few case workers turned caregivers.  I wondered who these kids had the potential to be.  Teachers?  Athletes?  Doctors?  Maybe, but the reality is that they have no resources.  No source of comfort or encouragement.  A better chance of being a prostitute or a prisoner than anything else.  At least prostitutes and prisoners have a bed. 
I wonder why, in a country of thousands of churches, of millions of homes with a spare bedroom and an extra car seat, why foster kids sleep on an air mattress in a county office.  Why people who label themselves as Christians don’t see the face of Christ himself  in the laughter and the tears of these children.  Who will YOU see?  And what will YOU do about it? 
“For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.”  Matthew 25:35 (NLT)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but can I get your fingerprints and a background check run?

Y'all are welcome for putting this in your head ;)

One of the things most people bemoan about working in any capacity with the government is the paperwork required and the red tape to get through. Foster parenting has been no different but the thing is-  I LOVE ALL THIS PAPERWORK! It seems crazy but every step that is taken to preserve the security and safety of children in foster care is A-ok in my book.

Case in point- my parents have to get finger printed and background checked on the off chance they may need/want to have my foster kids with them for a few hours. Luckily for me, I have rock star parents and they jumped on board with having to go through this.

Here are the rules for arranging childcare options:

1. Anyone who has supervision of the children more than three times in total needs to be finger printed and a background check on file. The exception is if they are watching them at my house.

2. Your daycare will not have to jump through any hoops. If you choose an in-home daycare then yes, they will need to be vetted but a traditional daycare is fine.

3. If you want to hire a babysitter, they need to be over 18 and see rule #1

So there will be no calling up a friend for help picking up the kids from school for me in case of a crisis. Or someone from church arranging a play date at their house. And sleep overs as a rule are forbidden. Those are the downsides to the requirements. Which is why its good to get your people in line that are able/willing to go through this process before you get your kids.

Side note: the problem with getting someone fingerprinted is that (in my location at least) there are only specific days during the month when it is offered and it isn't guaranteed that its close by. So if you are asking someone who has a full time job to do this, you could potentially be asking them to take time off of work and use up gas to travel to the location. Its because of this reason that I'm only asking my parents to do this.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First placement

Respite care provides parents and other caregivers with short-term child care services that offer temporary relief, improve family stability, and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. Respite can be planned or offered during emergencies or times of crisis. Respite may be available to foster, kinship, and adoptive families, as well as birth families in need of support. [Definition of Respite care]
And its not what I expected! I got a call asking if I could do respite care for 2 (or just 1 if that was all I could mange) girls, ages 11 and 10 for later on this month.

Of course I said bring it on, one of my goals is to meet other foster parents and build connections so this not only gives me a chance to have an "easy" start to foster parenting but also start putting some links in my communication chain ;)

So expect updates of how that goes. This might delay me being able to accept an actual placement but I'm not worried. I know that down the road I will need respite care myself so I want to pay it forward while I have the time, space and opportunity.

I would encourage any family that can't foster to still go through the process and become certified homes that can offer respite care. Foster parents need a break for various reasons and because you have to have approval first by a judge, then the birth parents and then your case worker before you can take foster kids on a trip or out of state- it becomes a necessary evil that your kids can't join you for every trip.

Also of note- the RD who was trying to arrange the respite care asked me if I had gone to the event "last night" and when I said I hadn't heard anything was going on, he sheepishly told me that there was a foster parent appreciation night. I laughed and said it didn't matter to me since I was only approved a few weeks ago. But then he told me there was an association meeting coming up I could attend- so moral of this story is to ASK your contact person for any dates or resources that involve foster parent meetings. They may not think to offer a new person the inside scoop.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Got the call...

So on Monday I had the director of my local DFCS call me, apologizing that the process took so long and told me how unusual it was. They apparently had a large number of staff turn overs so everyone was pulling double duty for awhile. Then she said that she was taking my paperwork to get signed today. So a few minutes ago I got a phone call asking me if I would take three children, 2 boys and 1 girl.

 The sad part of this story is that I had to say no. My home is set up for girls only and a max of 2 children. My Resource worker understood and we set up a time for her to come to my house. She was just hired in and we both want to meet in person.

 So there you have. 7 months. 100's of pages of forms. Lots of $$ spent on getting my home ready. All totally worth it to get that heart stopping phone call. Even if I couldn't say yes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Foster Parent's Bucket List

I Must Be Trippin' recently wrote a post about her personal "foster parent bucket list".

This is one of my favorite foster blogs as the author is very honest and isn't afraid to share the nitty gritty. But balances that with lots of encouragement and cheerleading for the unusual life that is foster parenting.

So go read the whole thing HERE

A few of my favorite excerpts:

"Clothing/supply swap for foster families - Over the past five years of fostering primarily infants, I have accumulated more baby gear, clothing, and other odds and ends than I know what to do with!  Now that I'm leaning more towards fostering PreK-1st grade next, I need to trade in the baby things for older child supplies and toys.  Wouldn't it be great to have a weekend where foster families could get together in one place and swap clothing, gear, toys, etc?"

Can we get real here? Being a young, single first time foster parent- the expenses leading up to this new phase HAS to be budgeted for and if you hear "well, people only foster parent for the money" you know they have never actually met a foster parent. You think $300 a month is going to cover food, clothes, school supplies/activities, baby items and possibly a *gasp* babysitter once a month? Hahahaha. Not to mention all the expenses leading up to opening your home- I had to buy a crib, multiple car seats, clothing for ages 0-10, baby gear, and books. I haven't bought a single toy yet. That is hundreds of dollars. Not to mention the little costs that happen during training (physical, drug test, sewer check, etc.)

I don't regret or wish back a penny I have spent but in the back of my mind I can't help but wish for a community that we could mutually help each other with some of these things.

"Establish a foster/adopt ministry at my church - I know this would be a huge undertaking, but I truly believe that we as a church can do more.  Not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but I do believe that every person has the ability to help a hurting child and the families who have opened their hearts and their homes to the children who need them.  We can do more, and I think it just takes one person to step up and call others to action."

I love this. I want to be the start of a forward movement of being involved in the foster community locally. Whether that means more foster families from my church or just being a support system for case workers and foster families- I think we can do it. I'm hoping to be the spark to get this in the hearts of my church family.

"Join some foster parent organizations - I can't believe I've been a foster parent for nearly five years, and still haven't joined a foster parent association or any other organization geared towards fostering families!  It's a great way to network and meet other families."

I'm an organizer (seriously, my bookshelf of 300+ books is alphabetized) so this is a "Must try!" in my mind. I've looked and searched and scoured all resources to find a local foster parent support group. It doesn't exist. I would love to begin it. Pipe dream quite possibly but I would love to see this in my community.
Anyway. Go check out the rest of items on her list. It really is an awesome testament to the fact that your world expands with foster parenting in all the best ways.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I'm still waiting to find the perfect white dresser/changing table and a decent chair in the room but its coming together.

I'm totally obsessing over yellow chevron lately.
Diaper bag from Target and bin of books.


Waiting for the phone call that tells you that you have been approved and/or that they have a possible placement is triggering a lot of feelings that I am not accustomed to. Mainly this weird "I'm terrified and nervous but it feels like Christmas is coming but with a touch of Halloween and I have zero idea what is going to happen so HANDS IN THE AIR AND SING HEYHO"

Wait, I'm an adult, I'm supposed to be all chill and zen about this.

Right. Not gonna happen. Even if it might be months before that first phone call.

So how about a little gif fun of showing how I feel?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Encouragement for the day

This image was borrowed from the Facebook page for Preschoolers are Awesome. If you have this age in your home- join the group! Its filled with friendly people and good ideas for crafts, books, quotes, etc.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Encouragement for the day

I'm thinking about printing this out and hanging it on my bedroom wall as a reminder for the bad days ahead. Because I know there will be some and I want to prepare my heart for what is coming just as much as I prepared my life.


Let's talk about the most dreaded part of foster parent training- paperwork. The stories are true, there are A LOT of forms to sign, fill out and bare your soul to. On my computer are 14 separate documents that I filled out over a course of two weeks. 14 doesn't sound like a lot until you get to the part where each one is pages and pages long, but as a single person, I lucked out. I had to do exactly 50% less paperwork than a married couple because there is only one of me to poke and prod ;)

Those 14 documents do not include the forms I filled out during training or the information about myself like my DL, birth certificate, electric bill, etc.

Here is a good working list of the information you will need to provide.

  1. Resource Family Questionnaire
  2. Fingerprinting of all household members 18 years and older
  3. Consent for Criminal Records Form 404
  4. Schedule medical appointments (Form 36 for parents only) 
  5. Health statements with TB test for everyone over 16 yrs; Health statement on all children in household under 16
  6. Drug screen 
  7. Sign Authorization of Release of Information (Form 5459)
  8. Application (Form 35)
  9. Financial Statement Form 44
  10. Verification of income (copy for record)
  11. Safety Agreement/Discipline Policy (Form 29)
  12. Resource Family Questionnaire
  13. Foster Parent Agreement (Form 38)
  14. Sensitive Issues Inventory
  15. Stress Index
  16. Mental Health Questionnaire
  17. Personal Network Matrix
  18. Drivers License
  19. Auto Insurance Card
  20. Confirmation of US citizenship
  21. Birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, Green Card.    
  22. Marriage License (any you've ever had)
  23. Divorce Decree (any you've ever had)
  24. Death Certificate (of anyone in your immediate family)
  25. Pet Inoculations for Rabies
  26. Environmental Statement (information will be provided if your home is not on county/city water service.)
  27. References
  28. Pictures of Family
  29. Layout of home
So yes, there is a lot of information to compile and turn in while also filling out forms that are meant to screen you in an intensive and invasive way. After all, they are handing children over to you- they don't take that lightly.

I will say the something that makes the process easier is to give brief (but accurate) answers. They are looking for any triggers that would make a you ineligible to be a foster parent so don't spend paragraphs telling about your great aunt who played the harmonica for the Beatles. They don't care and it only wastes your time. Stick to the facts, be truthful but keep it concise.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Home study ready to be sent! (again)

Well this is only about the third time I've been told my home study will be sent in "this week"... and the first time was about 2 months ago! So word to the wise (and me)- realize that the folks doing your home study are not as excited as you to start this process. Also that their view of time and schedules may be more of a guideline and not literal reality.

The whole process itself was so smooth, I knew something would trip me up!

First post!

What should the first post be? The whole point of this blog narrowed down to a single sentence.