Tag Archives: foster care

The First 48 Hours as Foster Parents

Well, Thomas and I made it through our first 48 hours as foster parents. I should revise that statement: Thomas and I made it through the first 48 hours as foster parents thanks in large part to my sister, Rita.

Our first 48 hours as foster parents included happiness and some tears

Because this was a transition situation and not a traditional foster placement, we had a week to prepare. The upside is, we had time to prepare. The downside is I had a week to work myself into a panic, which is exactly what I did.

By the time Friday rolled around, I was pretty much a ticking time bomb.

The First Night as Foster Parents

Honestly, compared to other people, I think our first night as foster parents was easier than normal. H* had met us the week before so it wasn’t like he was being dropped off with complete strangers. Also, the foster fam he was living with are awesome and hyped us up all week so he was excited. They also provided us with notes on H’s likes and dislikes, so we kind of knew what to expect.

I think normally you’d get a crying, scared little kid and you just have to trial and error stuff to figure it out. We didn’t have to.

Plus, I’ve been reading all these books about fostering and toddlers and how routine is basically the most important thing. Ever. Period. So, armed with this knowledge and the notes, I felt prepared.

I was not.

The Importance of Routine (and How I Failed in the First 48 Hours)

I thought I followed the routine to a “T” but the second I walked out of his room, he started sobbing. I probably could have held it together but then he started begging for his mom. I literally stood outside of the door and cried while my sister hugged me.

I tried to recall what the book said. The only thing I could remember was “Establish routines. Stick to your guns”. 

After the longest 5 minutes of my life he stopped crying and fell asleep.

The next morning I talked to the previous foster parents and they said they rub his back for a few minutes before leaving his room and then he doesn’t cry.

I tried that the next night and it worked. 

Yay, right?

Wrong. This knowledge only makes me feel worse. Because had I just gone in the room and comforted him instead of “trying to stick to the routine” he wouldn’t have cried himself to sleep.

And I can’t take that back or change it. His first night as a foster kid in our home he cried himself to sleep because of me. I know I tried to do the right thing. I know my heart was in the right place. I know that I couldn’t have guessed this so I shouldn’t blame myself.

I also know anyone who is already a mother (including my own mom) probably is reading this and thinking “how did she not instinctively know this?”

Honestly, I doubt he even remembers, considering he’s 4 and cries about lots of things every day: green beans on his plate, brushing his teeth, picking up toys, when TV time ends.

But I remember. And it feels horrible.

Privacy & Protection for Foster Children

*It is the policy of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) that foster parents do not share personal information, like children’s names, for safety reasons, which is why we refer to the foster kiddo in our care as “H”.

Accepting Our First Foster Kid Placement

AKA We Said “YES!” To Our First Foster Child

Ever heard the saying “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”? That pretty much sums up the process leading up to our first foster kid placement.

What I thought placement would be like

Here’s what I thought would happen, based on classes, books, videos and conversations with other foster parents:

  • It would be 11 pm on a Tuesday
  • The phone would ring
  • The placement officer would tell us about a 6 month old who needed a home
  • An infant would be dropped off at 1 am
  • I would spend the next day calling every provider on the daycare list that I created and going to Target for a million baby things
  • The following day would be spent in court trying to determine what was going on with the case
  • I would call ELC every hour to see if they received the paperwork so I could take the baby to daycare and avoid missing yet another day of work
  • At some point I would get overwhelmed and burst into tears probably due to lack of sleep and most likely due to an incident not related to foster care at all, which would leave the receiving party utterly confused

What foster kid placement was actually like

  • I got a text on Wednesday afternoon that some local Tallahassee foster parents had a personal issue come up and they wouldn’t be able to foster for the long term
  • They wanted to make the process as smooth as possible to transition their almost 4 year old foster son to a new home
  • We set up a play date
  • They came to our home so we could all meet face-to-face
  • I had a week to get daycare and other paperwork sorted out
  • Any time I had a question, I was able to text the current foster mom and she answered immediately
  • 3 people who work in the foster care system all reached out to check on me, ask if I had any questions, explain what next steps would be etc. etc. etc.

I mean, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! I’m sure complications will ensue. For now I’m just thanking my lucky stars on a relatively smooth first placement process.

Can you ever really plan ahead as a foster parent?

All the pre-planning and preparations I made leading up to this point did nothing except to ease my rising fear of the unknown. If you’re making preparations, you really don’t have time to overthink and start panicking.

So I guess it wasn’t completely in vain.

In our pre-licensing class, every time someone would raise their hand and ask a question, the first response from the instructor would be “It depends. Every situation is unique.” which drove us all crazy. But it ended up being true.

This foster kid placement was different from the norm and not what we prepared for at all but…

On Friday we will officially be foster parents to a 4-year old boy.

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.