Category Archives: Fostering

Becoming a foster parent isn’t actually that hard. You take some classes, fill out some paperwork and, if you’re a relatively decent human being “BAM!” Now you’re a foster parent.

However, once you have a foster kiddo and you’re “in the system”, there are a lot of situations to navigate.

I am a first-time foster mom and I’m blogging about my experiences. I write about everything from how much school foster kids miss to getting doctor’s appointments scheduled.

Honestly, it’s a little risky. The reason it’s hard to get “real” information, is because everything here can be used in court. Often, words get twisted.

However, when people know the truth, steps can be taken to improve the system.

So many of the “resources” out there don’t fully prepare people for what it takes. I’m trying to change that, with one blog post at a time.

It may just change your mind about fostering altogether.

 

Foster Parenting: It’s Risky Business

The difficulties of foster parenting in Tallahassee, Florida

The other day I was at a junior league social. Yes, they let me in despite my short hair and lack of southern accent. At the social, everyone went around the room and shared something exciting that happened to them recently.

Of course, I shared that my husband and I just got licensed as foster parents.

One of the league ladies came up to me after and was gushing with excitement. She told me that her aunt was a foster parent and went on to share many wonderful stories about foster parenting.

I was happy to hear this and completely shocked at the same time.

My experience up to this point when we have told people we are going to be foster parents is 1) Whoa, I could never do that. Good for you. Immediately followed by 2) Let me tell you this horror story about a 6 yr old kid in care who murdered his foster family…

So, it was nice to meet someone normal who had something positive to say.

The Difficulties of Foster Parenting

It seems there’s a lot of people out there who aren’t foster parents but want to make it crystal clear to us how difficult fostering really is. As if we, the ones who sat through 8 weeks of classes, had hours of conversations about it and watched thousands of minutes of video on the subject, didn’t already know this.

Every night there are a million thoughts running through my head:

Will these kids be demons who slowly destroy our marriage? Will they destroy our new house? What if I forget to lock the pool gate and they drown? What if we fall in love with them and they go back to drug-addled parents? It it really possible for your heart to ACTUALLY break? Will the bureaucracy of the system put me in therapy? How expensive is therapy? Are we ruining our lives by doing this or saving someone else’s? How are we going to work full time and be parents AND deal with all the court stuff that goes along with this?

I don’t have answers to any of those questions. It’s a pretty big risk. And to be honest, it might suck and we may decide after one placement that we just can’t do it.

But then again, maybe we can.

I guess that’s the thing about taking risks.

You won’t know how it’ll turn out unless you try.

Babysitting: aka Our Foster Kid Field Test

Practicing our parenting (and) baking skills, with our niece

Last weekend, we babysat our 6 year old niece, Logan. I didn’t tell her mother, but the last time I was responsible for keeping a child alive was when I was 16. I showed up at the house at 9 pm. The baby was already asleep, so I just sat out on the couch and read until her parents came home. I couldn’t figure out how the TV remote worked (the life of a home school kid in Alaska).

Actually, if memory serves me correctly, I was petrified of sudden infant death syndrome. I went into the nursery and held my hand under her nose at least 3 times to make sure she was still breathing.

However, my husband and I are now certified foster parents. We have a thank you letter from Governor Rick Scott to prove it. So, I suppose that makes us qualified to babysit.

As a Parent You Learn Simple Tasks Take Longer

It went great. I was worried, so I do what I always do and made a long list of activities. I figured if I got her tired and kept her occupied, she wouldn’t have time to miss her parents. Really, I probably could have only planned two activities because everything takes twice as long with kids. We made cookies. We colored. I learned the entire dance to Wave Walker (which was impromptu and not on the list but very fun. If anyone’s interested in learning, I know a girl).

Even dinner took a long time, but I think that was because she didn’t want to eat broccoli so she just kept putting pieces into her mouth, chewing it up and storing it in her cheeks like a chipmunk until Uncle Thomas told her she could spit it out, because picky eaters gotta look out for one another.

So I’m feeling overly confident about the foster parent thing now that we made it through our trial run. Logan seemed like she had a great time, so I would say we passed. I will probably start giving advice to random parents standing in the line at the grocery store, because nothing says “parent” quite like mommy wars.

Finding Daycare for Working Parents in Tallahassee

On that note, I’m about to join the working-parents-who-put-their-kids-in-daycare team when the fosters arrive, so I’ve been doing some research on that front. I was shocked that I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of daycares by geographic area. There are a couple of lists that divide them up by faith-based or education based. However, doesn’t it seem more practical to have them by zip code? This way, people can make a short list based on where their house or work is located? Am I approaching this wrong? Tallahassee moms, IS THERE A SECRET LIST I DON’T KNOW ABOUT?!

Unless I hear otherwise, I am currently working on creating one myself. When I’m done, I’m going to put it online. Any Tallahassee moms or future moms will have someplace to start with the daycare search. Or they can just leave a nasty comment about daycare kids and horrible parenting. Those comments will be more fun to respond to anyway.

And on that note, I’m out. But seriously, if you have words of wisdom when it comes to kiddos, leave it in the comments. Be nice, we’re new at this!

Saying No

The day before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were officially approved to be foster parents.

I immediately went into a frenzy, since it was now “real” and made a list (because that’s what I do for everything) of all the things we needed to do before a kiddo showed up at our door. This included making a spreadsheet of every daycare within 2 miles of our house and a list of questions to ask the placement officer (probably the wrong title…whatever, I’m still learning).

Our Foster Family Support Specialist also called to give me some pointers about receiving our first call. She cautioned “this is your first placement and it’s easy to get emotional so stick to your guns. If you don’t think you can handle a child, there are people and resources out there who can, so don’t be afraid to say no.”

Hah! Have you met moi?! I am very good at saying no. I am the oldest child. I am bossy and stubborn and hard headed and saying no wouldn’t be a problem for me. But thank you v much.

About 3 hours after this call (and one hour BEFORE I completed my list of questions to ask the placement officer), my phone rang. It was 2 pm and my office was just shutting down to for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The First Placement Call

The conversation went something like this:

Placement Officer: Hi! This is [NAME] with the placement office! I understand you just got approved to be foster parents?!

Me: yessss…like 3 hours ago…

Placement officer: Well I just wanted to call and say thank you and congrats..

Me (thinking): whew, just calling to say thanks…thank GOD because i don’t even have my list of questio…

Placement officer: I also wanted to let you know this is your first OFFICIAL placement call! Are you able to take a 4 year old (not potty trained) and an 8 year old boy tonight?

Me: ummm can I call you right back?

My mind went completely blank. I literally forgot every single question I’d talked about asking with the Support Specialist. I called my husband.

Me: HiThomasThePlacementOfficeJustCalledAndTheyNeedAHomeForaFourYearOldAndAnEightYearOld…

Thomas: you said no right?

Me: well, no…I said I’d call them back.

Thomas: you set up a NURSERY. For ONE kid…you better call them back and say no.

So I did. And I said no. Which should have been easy because we had a plan (one kid, 0-5) and I am good at saying no. But it wasn’t.

Saying No to A Placement Call

It was the night before Thanksgiving. And I went home and made pumpkin pie and thought about those two boys and wondered what happened to them (which I would have known had I made my list of questions)? And were they scared? And were they going to have horrible Thanksgivings for the rest of their lives thinking about THIS Thanksgiving? And was I an awful person for saying no because technically we could have put the 8 year old in the guest room? And was this how I was going to feel every time I got a call and said no, or would it get easier?

Yesterday, I got a text from another placement officer, who asked if we could take a 17 year old boy. I texted her back and said no. It was easier, probably because I didn’t have images of crying kids in my head. But afterwards I thought about that too, and how there’s so many teenagers up for adoption because everyone says no to them. But you know what? Whether they are 8 or 18, I bet they still cry when they’re scared and have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.