Tag Archives: foster parenting

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.

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.