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”
“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”
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”
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”
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”
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
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!”
We said “yes” and 4-hours later we had our first child.
Four hours, that was the length of time we had to prepare for our first ever child. From the moment we told DHS that we would open our home up to care for the child, until the moment our daughter arrived at our doorstep, 240-minutes passed. This is just enough time to watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies.
From the moment we told DHS that we would open our home up to care for the child, until the moment our daughter arrived at our doorstep, 240-minutes passed.
During our initial interviews with our Certifier, we said we were open to fostering children of all ages, gender, race, religion, background, sexual orientation, etc., but that since we both work, it probably makes most sense for us to care for school age children. When we discussed the logistics, DHS agreed. In our free time during the certification process, we began to set up a bedroom in our house for our future kids. We furnished it with a twin bed equipped with a pull-out trundle (just in case), and a closet with a place to hang their clothes, a chair to lounge in, and a nightstand for their books. Everything we could think of that a child might need. We were ready for The Call.
Continue reading “Four Hours”
Selected Acronyms and Terms defined for your convenience.
In most government agencies and specialized fields, acronyms are widely used, and industry specific definitions apply to many words. We will do our best to keep this page updated with frequently used acronyms, terms, and strange definitions.
Continue reading “Acronyms and Definitions”