Tuesday, December 24, 2013

That Comment

I have read about many people getting "that comment" about being a foster parent. 

Even before I have become licensed, I also have gotten "that comment" many times myself already.

"Isn't it going to be too hard to let them go?  I could never do that."

Here's one foster mom's response to the question.  I like it.  Part of what she says is, "I am not afraid to grieve.  I am afraid of what would happen to these children if no one took the risk to love them." But you should read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


My home study has finally been scheduled!  It will be December 27th. 

I decided to call and bug the foster care supervisor again today since it had been three weeks since I had mailed the last things she said they needed.  She called back and said she had already referred my case for the home study.  She also said the home study worker had left me a message and was waiting on me to call back to set it up.  BUT - I had no such message - so I called her and left another voice mail to ask for the home study's contact info. 

Then a couple of hours later I was checking my voice mail at work and there was a message from the home study worker.  At this point, I'm thinking that Supervisor Lady had just contacted Home Study Lady this morning after I called.  But come to find out, I had a missed call (no voice mail) on my cell phone yesterday from Home Study Lady.  So turns out just before I ended up calling to find out what the deal was, my case had already been referred and a phone call made to me; I just didn't know it yet. 

Home Study Lady was very nice on the phone.  She said things like, "I won't be dressed up - this will be very casual" and "The fire inspector and DHEC have already been to inspect your house - I will not be inspecting so don't think your house needs to be immaculate."  She was also very flexible about what time she could come (including weekends and weeknights), except that she is on vacation for the next week.  Between that and the holidays, the first day that was going to work out is the 27th. 

Process will be completed by the end of the year, then hopefully a kiddo shortly after that!   

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

120 Days

When I made the initial phone call to inquire about foster parenting, they said it usually takes 120 days to get licensed.  Well, the 120 days has come and gone.  It's actually now day 144, and the home study still hasn't been scheduled. 

I did get a voice mail from the foster care supervisor last week saying that she needed photos of me and of my house (I had already sent these in several weeks ago with my other paperwork, but I'll send them again), and the certificate that I finished the training (I was under the impression that the facilitator of the class was going to submit verification that we had finished the class); and that she would get the home study ordered.  I mailed all the stuff off last Thursday, and I'm still waiting on a call to get it scheduled. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Yesterday my sweet co-workers threw me a baby kid shower at lunchtime.  They got me gift cards, a photo frame, and a booster/harness convertible car seat (I have the infant car seat from my sister, and a rear/forward-facing seat for 5-40 pounds that I have been using with my nephew, but nothing larger than that… and I don’t want to have to go out and buy a car seat the day I get the call for a child).  We had yummy bourbon chili and so many other tasty goodies.  I am so thankful for the great group of people I work with, and for how supportive they have all been! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

One More Step to Go

Today I had my medical physical appointment.  This would have been a multi-step process because two things would require a return visit (TB test and cholesterol bloodwork).  But I've had both of these things done through work already, so I just brought the results with me to the appointment today.

Form filled out, and is in the mail!  Now I just have to wait on the call for DSS to schedule the home study.  Who knows when that will be, though, because I may or may not have a new licensing worker assigned yet. 

Patience is a virtue I possess with kids, but not with processes...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How I Got Here

I first felt called to foster parenting in 2003, shortly after graduating from PT school.
Side note: I feel like saying “called” is such an overused cliché religious catchphrase, and I am not a very religious person.  But I think there is no other way to describe how the idea first came to me – there was no event, no patient I saw that made me want to foster, no person that inspired me; it was just something that I felt.  Not logically, mind you.  I didn’t have a full-time stable job (but rather several part-time/PRN jobs combined to make a not-so-comfortable income level, given my level of credit card and student loan debt), I was living in my mom’s house (by myself, but I didn’t have the authority to bring into it kids that weren’t mine), I was 26 and too young to be choosing single motherhood.

Over the next nine years, I still felt the call to fostering, but there was always a reason excuse not to do it –
-           I was living in a city away from family and trying to save up money to move back to my hometown
-           I wasn’t ready for my life to change dramatically (since none of my close friends had kids, I didn’t want to choose parenthood – I liked still being able to go out and having fun)
-          Once my two good friends started talking about having kids in 2008-ish, I told myself that once they had a child, I would also make the leap into parenting… because my life would by association also change significantly since they were the ones I mostly went out with.  But once their daughter was born in 2010, I still didn’t do it.  No reason, I just couldn’t take the plunge. 
-          Then I was dating someone and wanted to see where it went. 

After we broke up in 2012, I began to revisit the idea of foster parenting.  I never imagined that I would end up so close to 40 years old without being married or without kids.  I had no control over when/if a long-term relationship and/or husband would come into my life, but I could take control over becoming a mom.  Which is something I had been dreaming about since I was less than ten years old.  I had signed up to take the Physical Therapy Pediatric Certification Specialist exam in March 2013, and decided that once I found out if I passed or not, I would make the decision about fostering (If I passed, I would do it at that point; if I didn’t pass, I would retake the exam in 2014 and would start fostering after that.)  I got the message in June that I had passed, and I made the phone call to SC DSS about two weeks after that.  That’s where my journey began….


Saturday, November 2, 2013

DHEC Inspection Complete and Packet Mailed

Yesterday, I had my DHEC inspection.  She checked for:
- poisons/cleaners locked up (I had childproof locks installed on all the cabinets)
- knives/sharp objects locked up (including the knife block, which I knew about ahead of time so I had moved to the cabinet above the sink)
- water temperature under 120 degrees (Thursday night I had turned the water heater down to where it indicated ~120 degrees, but the water was still 130 degrees when she tested it)
- current vaccination record of the cat
- childproofing of the child's bedroom and all bathrooms
- gun locked up (I don't have one)
- medicines in a locked box (I didn't know that - Meds were not addressed at all on the list of things they gave me for the DHEC inspection; and I also asked a couple at the class a couple of weeks ago who had already had their DHEC inspection - they said meds just had to be stored out of reach).
- Water and Sewer are sufficient (She didn't need to test since I have public water/sewer)
- Overall general cleanliness was sufficient

She said the two things that needed to be corrected won't keep me from getting my license; just that DSS is supposed to follow up on them. 

I also finished filling out the packet of information (except the medical report form) and got it into the mail yesterday. 
[I don't actually have a licensing worker right now... but I only know this by circumstance. I had called and emailed my licensing worker, M,  with a couple of questions about the paperwork a couple of weeks ago, but never got a response.  The facilitator of the class happened to mention that M got a new position.  I wasn't sure who to contact or how, since the only contact info I had was for M (she contacted me directly after she received my initial request info from the state Foster Care Association).  Then I remembered that there was a list of all the licensing workers on a letter that was sent to me to inform me when my fire inspection would be.  (Thank goodness I had saved it - situations like this confirm that it's smart to be a pack rat!)  I called the licensing supervisor, got my questions answered, and was told she hoped to have licensing workers assigned by the first of November]
All of that to say... who knows when the stuff I mailed in will get looked at/processed. 

Last Two Steps to Complete:
- Medical Exam/Report Sent In - Nov 8
- DSS Home Study - Not Scheduled Yet

I'm thinking end of November to be licensed... but really, what do I know?!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Q & A

Here's an (almost) copy of the email that I sent to family and friends a while back. 

-          What types of kids are in foster care?

Kids come into foster care when it is determined that it is not safe for their parents to continue having them in their custody.  Once a child is in foster care, they will get a case plan to determine what the long-range plan is for that child.  Options are: return to parent, relative gaining custody, permanent foster care, independent living (for older children who are close to aging out of the system and likely will not be adopted before they are 18 yrs old), or adoption.  My understanding is that the majority of the time, the long-range goal (at least at first) is return to parent.  In order for the child to return to the parent, he/she must fix whatever it is that caused them to be taken in the first place (i.e. stop using drugs, repair unsanitary/unsafe condition of the home, get rid of abusive boyfriend, etc).  Sometimes, this will not happen and the long-range plan is changed to adoption. 

-          How long do kids stay in foster care?

I think this varies greatly. Sometimes they are in care for a week or so until suitable relatives can be located/checked out to place them with.  Sometimes they are in care for many years.  And sometimes in between.  

-          Are you trying to foster a particular child?

No, I will just be fostering in general.  I will not know what child is coming until I get the phone call.  People typically get called when DSS needs a place for a child “right now” (“today” or “tomorrow”). 

-          Can you say what age/sex child you want?

Yes.  You can specify what age and sex child you will take.  I am looking to foster a child under 5 yrs old, either boy or girl (maybe two children in the future depending on how things go with one).  That is not written in stone yet as I am not licensed.  I think the license is based on what your home (physically and family) is capable of handling. 

-          What do you need from us?

Mostly your support.  :)   I have most things that I need at this point but if anyone local has clothes they would like to donate for boy or girl, newborn to 5T/6T (except I am good with Boys Winter 3T and Girls Winter 4T), I would be appreciative of those.  My understanding is that many times the child shows up with just the clothes on their back and nothing else.  I also gather that when/if the child goes back to their parents or relative, many foster parents send them with a supply of clothes, etc.  I do have a basic supply of various size clothes (1 or 2 outfits for each size) but it would be nice to not have to buy a wardrobe when a child gets here. 


Thanks for following along with me! 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

I'm Going to Be a (Temporary) Mom!

I am in the middle of the process to become a foster parent.  I’ve completed about half of the things on the checklist so far.  Here’s the short* version of the timeline so far: (I’ll do a separate post with the details for anyone who is interested)

July 5 – Initial Inquiry Call – I made the initial call to DSS, then Heartfelt Calling (the Foster Parent Association in SC, and apparently who handles all the initial requests for foster car info).  She said that the process usually takes about 120 days, and that they would mail the packet to me on Monday. 

July 12 – Initial Packet Received – I received the packet with the foster care application.  It was a brief two-page application.  Also in the packet were a welcome letter, a list of fire regulations for the home, a 10-minute DVD about foster care, and a brochure outlining the basic requirements.  Part of the application was a list of references.  I spent time in the next week telling close family and the people on my reference list so I can send in the application.

July 18 – Sent off Application – Application went in the mail after I finally got clearance from all my potential references to put their names down as actual references. 

July 30 – I got a voice mail from Berkeley County DSS, but didn’t get the message until after-hours.

July 31 – Initial visit from Berkeley County DSS Scheduled for Aug 16 – I got in touch with the licensing worker, M, and set up a meeting for Aug 16 at my house.  She also told me I would need to attend two all-day training classes on two Saturdays in September. 

Aug 16 – Initial visit from DSS cancelled/rescheduled – I had been cleaning the house for the past several days since M was coming.  At 3:00, 30 minutes before she was supposed to show up, she called to say she had been stuck in court all day and would have to reschedule.  I need to do as many things as possible on Fridays (my day off), so we rescheduled for Aug 30.   She also said she would email the information to get fingerprinted so I can get that done in time to be cleared for the training in September. 

Aug 20 – I hadn’t gotten the email yet so I called M to let her know, and she sent it to me that day.

Aug 26 – Fingerprinting appointment – This took all of about 10 minutes.

Aug 30 – Initial visit from Berkeley County DSS – My licensing worker, M, came over to the house to go over the foster care licensing process.  I signed a consent form for a SLED check, and M asks to see the room the child will be in.  At that point, it was just “yard sale central.”  She also gave me info on registering for the pre-service training classes.

Sept 1 – Registered for Pre-service Training classes in October – I sent an email to register for the training on the two Saturdays I had marked off on the calendar, but got a response email several days later saying that the September class was full and I would have to take the classes in October. 

Sept 6 – Visited Day Cares – I went to look at some local day cares.  I had looked up all the possible local day cares that accept ABC vouchers (the program that covers day care for low income and foster children).  There were a variety of places – some I would not want to put my child in, others that seemed great. 

Sept 13 – More visits to day cares!

Sept 26 – I got the furniture in the kid’s room.  Twin bed/boxsprings (new - that I paid $25 on Groupon for) and dresser.  As I was putting sheets on the bed, I realized that I didn’t take ANY pictures of the transition of that room from Guest room with Queen bed, to “yard sale central”, to kid’s room that’s not quite decorated yet. 

Oct 1 – There is a second packet of information (including medical clearance form and autobiography questions) so I emailed M to ask for it. 

Oct 3 – Second Application Packet Received

Oct 5 and 19 – Two all-day pre-service training classes

Oct 6 – Home Repairs – I had someone come over and do some home repairs that I’ve needed done for a while, and some to prepare for foster parenting.  The child safety locks got installed, and the fire extinguisher got mounted on the wall. 

Oct 7 – Medical Appt set for Nov 8 – I called to set up an appointment for a physical, and the first Friday they had available was November 8th.

Oct 12 – Yard Sale – I had a big yard sale to get rid of as much stuff as possible to make room for kids’ stuff!  I also got a letter in the mail that day from DHEC to call and set up an appointment for my inspection.

Oct 15 – Fire Inspection – I had to have a fire extinguisher mounted on the wall in the kitchen; a fire escape plan posted on the kids’ bedroom; functioning smoke detectors in all bedrooms, outside of bedrooms, and on first floor (and I realized that I will have to replace all the upstairs smoke detectors before next year’s inspection because they are only good for ten years); proper venting for the dryer.  She was here all of about 15 minutes. 

Oct 17 – DHEC Inspection Set for Nov 1st.
[*I realized after I wrote all this up that I called it the "short" version of the timeline!  It IS the much shorter version than the journal I've been keeping, but didn't turn out so short!]

Checklist of Things Still Needed Before I Can Be Licensed:

-          Complete the thick packet of paperwork and send in to DSS.  Includes 3 forms for references to fill out.

-          Nov 1 – DHEC Inspection

-          Nov 8 – Medical Physical

-          DSS Home Study – Not scheduled yet, I think that will be scheduled after everything is submitted.