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”
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”
“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 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 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”
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”
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”