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”

Books For Foster Kids And Foster Parents

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.

Continue reading “Books For Foster Kids And Foster Parents”

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”

We Speak for the Kids

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”

Fostering the Christmas Spirit

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.

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Statement in Court

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:

“Ava”

All names in the statement have been replaced for privacy purposes

Statement:

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”

transition!

An e-mail exchange between us and Ava’s CW regarding reunification.

The following is an e-mail exchange between us and Ava’s caseworker, regarding her upcoming reunification. As you can see from the e-mails, we felt that DHS was doing a poor job of handling the “transition” and we were doing our best to advocate for Ava and her mom

 

Tuesday, 10:08 am
To: Aaron and Jewell
From: Ava’s CW
Subject: transition!

Hi there –

Sounds like you both are already aware of the pending move this weekend for Bio-Mom and Ava!  I just got off the phone with Bio-Mom, and had an email from *The Home* just a couple hours ago confirming that they have an opening for this Saturday.  I am awaiting confirmation/agreement from all the legal parties before this is official, so will keep you posted.  Feel free to email any questions you may have in the interim.  I am headed out for a meeting but will return by noon.  Thanks!

Ava’s CW Continue reading “transition!”

Who’s Your Daddy?

That awkward moment when you call yourself “Dad” in front of the bio-parents

It is one thing for the kiddo to call you “mama” or “dada”, because their vocabulary is limited. It felt like a completely different thing when we referred to ourselves as “Mom” or “Dad” to the kiddo… in front of the bio-parent.

We know better. We know how awkward and potentially hurtful that could feel to the bio-parents.  It can be interpreted a number of different ways, like maybe we think we are her parents, or maybe we are planning on adopting their child, or have little faith that they will get their child back. And in actuality, we are only referring to ourselves this way to the kiddo, because that is how they refer to us. Continue reading “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Are You My Mother?

That awkward moment when your kid calls you “Mom” in front of the Bio-Mom

During the Foundation Training Classes, there are discussions about how to talk to your Foster Children about what their parents are doing, and how these children “fit” into your family.  There are discussions about not introducing your child as “my Foster Child” at social events, and to give the children options on how they refer to you.  According to the classes, some children may feel comfortable referring to you as “Mom” or “Dad” eventually, but that this should not be expected initially, and it may never happen.  It all made sense to us during the classes. We would introduce ourselves as Aaron and Jewell, and let the kiddos know that we love them and are going to take care of them while their Mom or Dad do some grown-up things and get some help so they can be with them shortly.

This all sounds well and good in the classroom and on paper, but our first long term placements have been infants and toddlers.
Continue reading “Are You My Mother?”