As we write this, yesterday was the 2018 State of the Union address (SOTU), but today we heard and read something that was a lot more personal. We are calling it the State of the System audit (SOTS), and it was quantitative and qualitative look at the state of the foster care system in Oregon… where we are foster parents. This audit of the Oregon Foster Care System and Oregon DHS, is a very detailed look and exposure of the issues affecting youth in foster care, foster parents, and caseworkers across Oregon. It is damning. For a summary press release from the Secretary of State, click here. It has also been heavily covered by local new organizations.
It is damning. For a summary press release from the Secretary of State, click here.
If you are a subscriber or regular reader of the blog, first, THANK YOU! Second, you have probably noticed that we haven’t posted much lately or frequently. One reason is that life is crazy busy, and we have found it difficult to find time to write our longer form posts about our journey as foster parents, that we hope provide insight, growth, successes, failures, heart breaks, and exhaustion we experience on a daily basis. The other reason is; every time we sit down to write a post, we feel like it quickly turns into a negative post complaining about the system, lack of support available to foster parents, the disservice being done to the children is the system, and overall frustration we have regarding the State of the System that we are experiencing. However, reading the State of the System audit provided validation for everything we have been feeling.
Continue reading “The State Of The System Audit”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
That time we advocated for our Ava in Court
Today, we went to court to advocate on behalf of Ava. It is not required for Foster Parents to attend court hearings, but as the guardian of the child, you receive notice of court dates in the mail. We never take the kids to court with us. In our opinion, there is no point for a child to see their parents in such an awkward and vulnerable position, and no need for children to learn the extents of the issues associated with their case and their parents.
We have always attended the court hearings for our kiddos. The hearing is the best opportunity to gain the most information regarding the status of the case, as well as receive an accurate account of the progress being made by the parents, or the lack there of, and the recommended plan moving forward. At a typical court hearing, we sit awkwardly and uncomfortably in the back of the tiny courtroom and listen to what is being discussed. This time was different. This time, we came with a purpose. We had a prepared statement, and we were terrified.
Continue reading “We Speak for the Kids”
A post about the wonderful Christmas we had with our very modern foster family.
This was the first year that we have had kids in our home on Christmas. There was quite a lot of excitement and emotion in the days leading up to Christmas, along with discussions with Trevor and Ariel about what Christmas has been like for them in the past. From what they told us, Santa never visited their home, but their parents did get them a lot of presents. Although the holidays are often a wonderful time for most, for those who are away from their family or who have lost family members, it can bring up a lot of emotions. For our kids, it was no different. One minute, they would be bouncing off the walls excited for presents from Santa, and the next they would be crying uncontrollably into a pillow because they were sad and didn’t want to talk to us about it, and at other times, they could enter fits of rage and scream at us that this wasn’t their house. To complicate things even more, they had a visit with their grandparents a couple days before Christmas, bringing up a lot of feelings.
Continue reading “Fostering the Christmas Spirit”
This is the third part of a three part series detailing a day by day account of what we very quickly deemed “The Week from Hell”. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first two posts, they can be found HERE and HERE.
On this day, we just had Ava at our house, because Sabrina was still on her overnight visit. Sabrina had a decent number of overnight visits during this time, since she was actually transitioning towards reunification with her mom, not just being spontaneously reunited. Overall, it was a good day with Ava. The only damper on this day was an e-mail from Ava’s CW stating that “all legal parties have agreed” that reunification can occur on Saturday. Foster Parents are not legal parties, despite the fact that we see the kids, and the parents in this case, more often than DHS, the child’s lawyer, the parent’s lawyer, or anyone else involved in the case. Continue reading “The Week from Hell Pt. 3”
The prepared statement we made in court to advocate for our Kiddo and her bio-parents
The following is the statement we read in court at a permanency hearing, advocating for Ava and her family.
Foster Parent Court Hearing Statement in Regards to:
All names in the statement have been replaced for privacy purposes
As Ava’s foster parents for the past 4-months, we have had the opportunity to see her thrive and grow in so many ways. During this time, we have also developed a very good relationship with Bio-Mom and Bio-Dad, one that consists of open communication, both in person as we provide transport to visits, as well as through e-mails and texts. We are very proud of Bio-Mom’s ability over the past 4-months to attend all scheduled, supervised visits, as well as a doctor’s appointment for Ava that we invited her to, and several swimming lessons that we enrolled Ava in. We are also proud of their success with sobriety. There is no doubt in our mind that Bio-Mom and Bio-Dad love Ava deeply, and we have no concerns about the safety of Ava while in Bio-Mom’s care. We believe reunification is the correct plan for Bio-Mom and Ava. Continue reading “Statement in Court”