Foster Care Wishlist Pt. Deux

Now that we have been Fostering school aged children for over 7 months, and have been foster parents for over a year, we felt it was time to add provide an update to our list of necessary and/or helpful items for foster parents. Our first Foster Care Wishlist was one of our most popular posts to date, and we have heard from many of our readers, including perspective, new, and veteran parents and foster parents, that it has been very helpful for them.  When we wrote our first Foster Care Wishlist, it was based on our experience as new foster parents, and geared more towards babies and toddlers, since for the most part those were the kiddos in our home. This list is an update, and is influenced by our experience with school age children, developmentally disabled kiddos, and behaviorally challenging kiddos.

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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.

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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”

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?”

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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”

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.

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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”

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.

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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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