Now that we have been Fostering school aged children for over 7 months, and have been foster parents for over a year, we felt it was time to add provide an update to our list of necessary and/or helpful items for foster parents. Our first Foster Care Wishlist was one of our most popular posts to date, and we have heard from many of our readers, including perspective, new, and veteran parents and foster parents, that it has been very helpful for them. When we wrote our first Foster Care Wishlist, it was based on our experience as new foster parents, and geared more towards babies and toddlers, since for the most part those were the kiddos in our home. This list is an update, and is influenced by our experience with school age children, developmentally disabled kiddos, and behaviorally challenging kiddos.
We didn’t come out as potential foster parents until we took in our first kiddo. We didn’t tell anyone we were taking classes to become certified as foster parents, because we wanted to give ourselves the ability to back out. Becoming a foster parent is a very big and very personal decision, that for better or worse, tends to define a part of you. For us, we went into the first foster parent orientation class as a curious couple, not sure if foster care was for us or not. We left, feeling like it was something we were interested in pursuing… but we didn’t tell anyone. As we got farther into the process, and closer and closer to being certified, we told a few family members, a few coworkers so we could adjust our work schedules, and some of our closest friends. Most of our family and friends had no idea that becoming a foster parent was something we were interested in doing until we posted on Facebook the night Ava (4-hours) was sleeping soundly in her crib the first night she was placed in our home.
An e-mail to Ava’s lawyer and formal request for a CASA for Ava
When we began to sense that Ava’s caseworker may not be making decisions in Ava’s (or her family’s best interest), we began pushing back. We would write e-mails to her CW, to our Certifier, and her lawyer. Often we would get a response that sounded something like “We hear your concern, and we will take it into consideration”, and we would realize that in the end DHS is not obligated to listen to the concerns of foster parents, and foster parents have very little clout regarding the legal decisions being made for the children they are caring for. It was at this point that we started the process of requesting a CASA for Ava. Continue reading “Request for CASA”
“It takes a village to raise a child”. This saying is such a cliche, but as foster parents, we have an ever expanding village helping us raise our kiddos. We are so thankful for the village we have, and we know that without them, this journey would be impossible for us. This post is about our village, how they help us, and how thankful and fortunate we are to have them in our life. It is important to recognize though, that the reason why many of these children are in care, is because their parents are not fortunate enough to have a village supporting them when times get tough, money is tight, or they make a mistake. But that is a more depressing topic, and will be discussed in another post. This post is about some of the people in our village who make our journey possible. The people in this post are proof that “not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child”. Continue reading “It Takes A Village”
When we “graduated” from our foster parent training classes, we were given a few ugly photo copied versions of “icebreakers” to send with the kiddos on visits to their bio-family. We felt weird sending these on visits because they looked like bad photocopies of doctor forms, and seemed cold and impersonal. Initially, we purchased a cute notebook and used it to start a conversation with the bio-family, by “passing notes” in it on each visit. After multiple “notes” we realized that we wanted something that could be a keepsake. We also quickly learned after using these questionnaires that we were pronouncing our first kiddo’s name wrong! * Continue reading “All About My Child”
*If you have kids over five, please see our newest “wishlist part 2.”
No matter how much you prepare yourself to be a foster parent (or parent in general), you will never be fully prepared. Being a foster parent throws some additional curveballs in the preparation process for becoming a parent, and honestly, with each placement the only thing that gets easier is that you are more prepared to be unprepared. As many of you probably know, during our certification process we anticipated being foster parents to school-age children, but our first placement was Ava*, an infant, who arrived at our home 4-hours after the initial placement phone call.
When becoming a parent, you often have 9ish-months to prepare. You can use this time to freak out, paint the bedroom, clean the house, stock-up on necessary and unnecessary supplies, over-analyze, host a baby-shower, spread out expenses over months, and yes, freak out. To become a foster parent, it took us a little bit less than 6-months from the start of our journey to our first placement. During that time, we prepared our home to pass the DHS Home Inspection (fire extinguisher = check!), and emptied the room that our future kiddo would occupy, save for a twin bed. Beyond that, we had no idea if we should get toys, clothes, and decorations for a 5-year old boy, or an 18-year old girl, or anyone in between. And it turns out, we should have ditched the bed, set-up a crib, and prepared for an 11-month old little girl!
All we are trying to say is, “preparing for a placement is very difficult”. Our first placement was just as difficult as preparing for our 5th and 6th. These are little humans, all with their own needs, and the amount of time you have between when you know they are coming, and when they arrive can be measured in minutes or hours, not months. Many of the items you purchase for your kiddos need to be and should be sent with them when reunification occurs (clothes, toys you bought them, hygiene products, etc.), but some things you buy, are considered items for the house, and you can keep for the next placement. This phenomenon explains why we have a double jogger and single jogger as well as a pack-n-play taking up valuable storage space while there are no toddlers currently in our home. Continue reading “Foster Care Wishlist”
When you are a foster parent, you get asked a lot of questions by people who are curious. Some of the questions are awkward or personal, but we like to think of ourselves as an open book for people to learn about the foster care journey. One question that seems to come up repeatedly is about compensation for being a foster parent. Depending on the company, this question usually comes up one of two ways. The first scenario is as follows:
“So forgive me for asking, and please, don’t feel like you need to tell me, and definitely let me know if this is too personal…but, you get paid to do this, right?”
The second scenario that often occurs is:
“Wow, that sounds crazy and like a lot of work, how much do they pay you to do this?”
“Why do you do Foster Care?”
This question comes up repeatedly, but it always seems to catch me off guard. I think the first time I heard a variation of this question, it was asked by our Certifier on the first day we met her. When she asked me, I froze. I felt like I didn’t have a good answer. To this day, I don’t know if I have a good answer. It feels like a question that can’t have a good answer, let alone a “right” answer. There are so many reasons why I am a foster parent, but at the same time there is also no one real reason why I am a foster parent. The answer I have settled on, at least for now, is “because I can”.
Kids Need to be Loved
If I am being honest, I never really thought about being a foster parent until we began the process of being certified. Jewell was the one who had been personally thinking about it, and ultimately proposed the idea to me. She had thought about it for years, waiting for the time to be perfect (as with almost anything, the timing is never perfect), and by the time she asked me if it was something I would be interested in, she was already mentally prepared. I was the one who was cautious and apprehensive. I agreed to go to the initial orientation to try and understand what we would be getting into, but I put A LOT of “out clauses” in my agreement to go to the orientation, to make it clear that I was not making a commitment. However, after the orientation class, and to this day, I am completely on-board. These kids need someone to love them and care for them. Continue reading “Why I Do This – Aaron”
Helping children and families has always been something I care deeply about. When I was young I decided that if I were to become a mom I wanted to try adoption. I have always had a hard time understanding why we have so many orphans in the world when there are so many people in the world who want kids. As I have gotten older I see both sides of this issue.
I have always had a hard time understanding why we have so many orphans in the world when there are so many people in the world who want kids.
A list of some of the children’s books that have been a great resource for us as foster parents.
Children’s books hold a special place in our life. Aaron’s Mom is a children’s librarian, and a variety of children’s books were always available to read in his house when he was growing up. One book, “Where the Wild Things Are”, which according to his parents, he memorized all of the words in the book before he could read, played such a significant part of Aaron’s childhood that he now has a page of the book tattooed to him. At Jewell’s house, “The Chronicles of Narnia” was an ever present theme around the house and her Mom has a replica Sword of Rhindon hanging on her wall.
Children’s books can be a powerful parenting tool. Often, you can use a kids book to help them learn to read, develop their critical thinking skills, teach life lessons, learn about feelings, or just relax and enjoy a story before bed. Over the years, children’s books have become more progressive. There is seemingly a book about everything, and featuring a vast variety of characters. However, as we have been raising kiddos in our home, at times we have found it difficult to find books directly related to children in foster care, including books with foster children as the central character, or books about many of the difficult issues foster children experience.