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”

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”

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.

Continue reading “Books For Foster Kids And Foster Parents”

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”

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.

Continue reading “Fostering the Christmas Spirit”

The Week from Hell Pt. 3

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.

Wednesday:

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 Week from Hell Pt. 2

The second part of our 3-part series detailing our most difficult week as foster parents.

This is the second 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 part of the week, it can be found HERE.

Sunday:

We woke up with so much uncertainty. Would DHS be knocking at our door to take Ava for reunification with her mom? Should we start packing up her things? Would Sabrina continue to intentionally hurt herself today?

Continue reading “The Week from Hell Pt. 2”

Organizations We Love

How to Support Foster Children and Parents on #GivingTuesday

We are well aware that not everybody has the ability or desire to be a foster parent.  It definitely is not easy, it is not for everyone, and that is perfectly alright. If foster care is not something your family is equipped to do however, there are still many ways you can help.  Here is a list of organizations that go above and beyond to help foster kids and their families, both bio and foster.  Please consider donating or volunteering with these groups for #GivingTuesday November, 29th. Continue reading “Organizations We Love”

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?”