Today we read over our entire case study. We read through our final contract. We read a few more things, we read some more, and then we did it. We signed our last piece of paper work we will sign as a childless couple. Our case worker will submit our case to DHS tomorrow and barring no questions she expects us to be approved and certified by Friday 12/11/15. Due to our final Christmas concerts we have decided to open our home Thursday 12/17/15. Our case worker said she believes it is highly likely we will receive a placement before Christmas.
This is it, less than two weeks.
Now the hard part begins.
Everything seems to be moving slow. But like the tortoise and the hare, we somehow are finishing this race. Slow and steady. It feels like it flew by, but it also feels like it's taking forever. We have been working hard on the room since you've last seen it. We still have a lot more to do, but we also want to leave room for them to personalize the room.
We are going to be certified birth to five so there is a lot to consider in this tiny apartment.
Example: A pack and play allows us to qualify for a new born placement and we have up to a week to purchase a crib. Since a crib is a lot harder to store, and statistically we are not going to need one, we have a pack and play up and some cribs ready to choose from that can ship in two days. Thank you, amazon prime!
We actually have more than I'd like currently. But IKEA had such cheap toys like our wooden, gender neutral kitchen. I didn't want to waste our space with something that is gender or age specific, cost more money, and is plastic and easily broken. Plus my side of the family only has one grand-kid who currently lives out of state, any of our excess can live at nana's and makka's house. They haven't seen toys in a while.
When we finally get our placement we can take out the non age appropriate things and clear up the room some too.
Here is merely a progress report. One that we are quite proud of. (Remember this was empty a week ago!)
"Love you to the moon and back"
"Dream Big little one" " The world is super lucky to have you" "Shine bright"
With almost all our paperwork finished (still waiting on Medical Report from the doc), our Homestudy complete, and 27 hours of training condensed into 13 hours done, we now play the Waiting Game. Once our Homestudy document is typed up, proofed, and signed then our full application is submitted to DHS and we wait again to officially be certified foster parents.
Wow! This has flown by.
In the midst of the paperwork and training and stress, it seems like it will never end. The sleepless, anxious nights desperately attaching magnetic child locks and slowly chiseling away at the mountain of paperwork seems so far away now.
This "free time" has given me time to reflect. Recently, I've seen several posts and shared articles on Facebook that concern me. It seems many people think all it takes to take care of a child, whether through adoption, foster care, or biologically, is love. How sweet. But how wrong. It also seems that people believe parents who have their children taken by the state do not love their children enough. How hateful. And also wrong.
It takes so much more than merely love to care for a child, whether or not they are biologically your own. It takes discipline, respect, responsibility, time, effort, support, encouragement, money, food, etc. etc. etc. Many parents who have children taken into out-of-home care love their children deeply, but they lack several of the above traits/items to care for their children. Many of these parents were in the foster care system themselves. Many were abused and neglected as children. They might not have had the support systems other, more successful families have in order to care for their children.
Let's take an imaginative tour! Imagine you and your partner have a baby. You live in a modest house, and you both have seemingly stable jobs. One day, your partner comes home with a pink slip: they've been fired. It's ok, though. You'll pick up extra shifts to make ends meet. Because you are up night after night going over finances and arguing, you oversleep and lose your job. The job hunt is brutal and endless, and in the end, there is nothing to show for it. Slowly and steadily, your savings runs out. The car goes. The water goes. The electricity goes. The foreclosure letters come. Your stress level is beyond what you've ever experienced. At this point, your story can take a variety of paths. Or all of them. You abuse your partner (physically, verbally, or emotionally) or your child out of stress for something small they did. You are abused (physically, verbally, or emotionally) by your partner out of stress for something small you did. You are unable to buy diapers or formula for your baby because you literally have no money and no way to drive anywhere to get help. Your neighbors or family members notice what is going on and calls Child Protective Services, and your sweet baby is taken out of your home and put into a foster home.
Never once did I write: "You stopped loving your child." As a future foster parent, it was hard, at first, for me to acknowledge and overcome my biases and judgments of biological parents who have children taken. This ultimately is a destructive attitude and will help literally no one in this process. Bio parents who have kids in out-of-home care love their children. They just might not know how to care for their children properly, which is why we're here.
Yes, there are biological parents who are addicts, knowingly partake in other reckless behavior, or have underlying, scary issues that result in having their children taken. Assuming they do not love their children is not healthy for the precious lives in out-of-home care. That is where our focus should be.
Guess what we got today?!
It is an awesome car seat that will work from 5-120 lbs! Perfect for the myriad of placements we are going to get. It also is 17.3 inches across, according to several Prius boards it should fit 3 across in the back seat.
You can look up more information about this amazing car seat and purchase it here,
We are looking at another car seat as well for if we get younger placements. (This will add ease of carrying them, since the Diono does not carry children outside of the car). This Chicco is 17 inches across so it will mix and match arrangements with Diono's perfectly in our Prius.
We finished our training!!!!
8 hours, 120 pages today.
We have a few more papers, our case worker has to type up our entire profile. Then we sign off and submit. This is crazy. We're so close.
We just finished our second Home Study/Interview.
Again it was was surprisingly painless. Although it was filled with a bunch of personal questions, our wonderful case worker made it comfortable.
We still have the second and final training day this Saturday in Tulsa, 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM. After that we have a few more documents to fill out and sign.
It looks like we should be certified as early as Mid-November! After certification it can be hours to months before we get a placement. We'll just wait and see what life throws us.
This process has flown by! Didn't we just start? Surely there is another mountain of paperwork to drudge through! We still have a few more things to do around the house and we are finally allowed to begin purchasing things. We are hoping to make an IKEA trip to help save some money.
Guys, this is really happening.
This was a long and thorough process. Throughout the home studies we go through every "detail" you could think of. We discuss how we met, our relationship, our strengths and weaknesses, our communication skills, why we decided to foster. We talk about our parents, siblings, relationships with parents and siblings, how we were disciplined, how was that the same or different than our siblings, how we plan to discipline. Any tickets, charges, alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse with us or immediate family members. Medical history, any biological children and why not, medical treatments, physicals, sign off from doctors saying we are fit to raise children, all medications, dosages, diagnosis, and side effects. We talked about what we like to do in our free time, how we relax/handle stress, our cleaning habits, safety protocols, severe weather and evacuation plans, lock up all medicine and cleaning products.
Our case worker officially knows us as well as we know each other and more than anyone else in our lives.
This obviously requires a lot of trust and openness. We are very fortunate that our case worker was very personable and made it easy to talk. She was non-judgmental and made all these very intimate questions easier to answer than we expected.
As 5:30 tomorrow races towards us, I am so glad I stumbled upon this blog post. I needed to hears this. My nervous Nelly, the sky is falling, I must be perfect self is freaking out. I cleaned our trashcan last night. Scrubbed it inside and out. I might be a little crazy. I just want this so bad. I want to bring a child into our lives. I want to help a child from not having a safe home. I want to see their smiling face and know I get the honor of loving them.
Here is the blog post if you are interested.
“You seem nervous,” she says, smiling. “Please don’t be. This is not an investigation. This is a…warm-and-fuzzy. You know? I’m just here to help you bring your daughter home.”
Opening every cabinet and drawer, asking everything about our health and relationships, seeing an x-ray of our lives. This may be nerve wracking, but it is an important step designed out of love for these children. So when they are taken out of a desperate situation, they are put somewhere surrounded by safety and love. This is what biological parents should have done in the first place. This is what keeps our kids safe and gives them the best chance in life. This is what loves is, and how beautiful that we get the opportunity to already love our future children by diligently making the best life for them we can provide.