One Year

We are writing this post after tucking Trevor and Ariel into bed for the night, 365 days after the first time we ever tucked them in. Today is the 1-year anniversary of them entering our lives and it is bitter sweet. When we opened our home to these kiddos (Possible Placements), we agreed to care for them for the weekend. If we said no, they would have spent the weekend in a hotel with a staff member from DHS.  After one weekend, and with nowhere else for them to go, we decided we would continue to care for them as long as we could, or as long as they needed us.  So, that is how we got from one weekend, to one year.

This anniversary is strange. We have been fostering for about 18-months now (Our First Year in Review), and have cared for 6 very special kiddos, but Trevor and Ariel have been in our lives longer than the other 4 combined.  On one hand, this anniversary is quite an achievement and a milestone representing a lot of love and hard work, as well as growth and progress. It is something we can be proud of. It represents our family and the bond and love we have grown and worked so hard for. However, the anniversary also symbolizes failure, loss, struggle, and uncertainty. So much has happened in the last year, but not much has actually happened.

So here we are, one-year in to fostering these awesome kids, and although we have done so much for them, an experienced so much with them, on paper, we are in the exact same place as we were a year ago. 

Continue reading “One Year”

Childcare… Or How to Improve the System

One of the biggest barriers for current foster parents, or people interested in becoming foster parents, is access to childcare.  As discussed in You Get Paid for This, Right?, the reimbursement rate provided by DHS in Oregon does not cover the expenses associated with providing for and raising these children, and it has no stipend for child care.  As any parent who has looked into infant care, daycare, after school care, or babysitting has realized, child care is expensive, sometimes prohibitively expensive. As a family of two working foster parents, we rely heavily on childcare to make being a foster parent possible.  Although paying for child care definitely takes a toll on our monthly budget, we also understand that we are extremely lucky/privileged to be able to afford child care for our kiddos. We also have family who live very close, and help with child care needs as well.

There are many people in our community who would make amazing foster parents, and so many of them would love to be foster parents…but they work, and would need childcare for their kiddos.  Realizing that DHS does not provide any reimbursement, stipend, or support in regards to childcare can be a major deterrent to so many potential foster parents. These people want to help, but they also work, and do not have the financial ability to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars a month for child care.  This childcare dilemma can be especially burdensome for single individuals interested in becoming foster parents as well as working couples. Continue reading “Childcare… Or How to Improve the System”

Dear Foster Curious

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.

Continue reading “Dear Foster Curious”

Request for CASA

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

“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”

Foster Care Wishlist

*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”

You Get Paid For This, Right?

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?”

Continue reading “You Get Paid For This, Right?”

Why I Do This – Aaron

“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”

Our First Year in Review

A recap and reflection of our first year as foster parents.

What a year! One year ago, we both left work early, drove out to SE 122nd during rush hour traffic, and began the The Certification Process to become non-relative foster parents. We went into the orientation session with an open mind.  Going into the orientation, we were not committed to being foster parents, we just genuinely wanted to learn more.  We wanted to see if this is something we felt we had the capacity to do at this point in our life. Looking back, what ensued after that first class one year ago is a whirlwind. Here is our recap… Continue reading “Our First Year in Review”

ReMoved

Honestly, we are exhausted. We are recovering from the excitement of the holidays, adjusting to going back to school, dealing with the everyday craziness of parenting, and coupling all of this with what feels like an endless barrage of appointments for our kiddos and dealing with DHS.  Every night, we are wondering how we are going to make it through the next day.

It feels like every day, Trevor and Ariel find new ways to push our buttons, test our limits, and stretch our patience.  In our minds, we know that this is normal behavior for kiddos in foster care, especially those who have experienced trauma, and who feel safe in their foster home, but in the moment, it can be difficult to maintain perspective. They are processing their emotions and trauma, while trying to find the extent of our love and support for them.  Luckily for them, our love and support is endless… although Jewell and I often wonder how long we can keep this pace up. Continue reading “ReMoved”