Wednesday, March 19, 2014

120 Days = 8.5 Months

I got a voicemail today from the caseworker saying that they had my license, and asking if I was interested in a placement.  By the time I got the message at 5:00, she said they had already worked out the situation - the child went with a family member.  Not that I could have taken the placement anyway since I have three trips planned in the next six weeks.  I told her I wouldn't be able to take a long-term placement until early May and would be available for respite placements in the meantime.

So now that I have my license, I have figured things out!  Apparently in the foster care world, 120 days = 8.5 months.  So this will be the conversion formula I will use in all future interactions with DSS/CPS.  LOL

In a way, it's frustrating that I have been waiting for this license for soooo long; and now that I have it, I can't do anything with it for six more weeks.  But in another way, it will be nice to have a six week heads-up with a definitive end-point date to mentally prepare myself again.

So... I probably won't post for the next six weeks or so, so don't worry about me - and don't forget about me, either!  :) 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It Doesn't Feel Real Anymore

In recent weeks, it doesn't feel like this whole foster care process is real anymore. 

There is a room that has a bed and a crib, but now it just feels like a prop, like something that is just THERE.

It's more than just feeling impatient or feeling like it's never going to actually happen.  It's feeling like everything I have done to get to this point was just in a fake world.  Like I have applied to get a baby doll, rather than to have an actual child in my house.  Feeling detached.  Almost like, "Well, foster care was something that I WAS doing, but I'm not doing it anymore."

When I started the process, I knew that my life was about to change in a HUGE way.  I had mentally prepared myself for all of the big changes - the lack of sleep, the inability to travel like I always have, etc.  And it feels like recently, I have mentally UN-prepared myself for that.  That I am now thinking my life will continue as it always has, and nothing will actually change. 

In the fall, I planned several trips to visit friends while I was still free to go where I wanted when I wanted - I called it the "babymoon."  A couple of months ago, I planned a trip in April to go to Disney World with my dad, sister, and nephew.  I almost didn't commit to it because I figured I would have a child by then, but I decided that if I got a call for a child, I would be up front about the trip and figure out how it was going to be dealt with at the time the call came through.  There were several other trip possibilities floating around, but I was hesitant to plan anything else, not knowing what the situation would be.  Then a few weeks ago, I decided that I was not putting my life on hold anymore, and planned another trip in April to visit a friend in Virginia; as well as a trip to go to a two-day continuing education course out of town in May.  With the mindset that since the foster care stuff is in an alternate reality that I have now split off from, I will just do what I do. 

I guess that's it... Back when I was still in the thick of DOING things to get my foster care license, the reality was that I was going to be a foster parent, and my single traveling life was in my past (or maybe the alternate reality).  Now that I am just SITTING and WAITING, the foster care journey has transferred to be the alternate reality; and I now am back to the reality being that I am single and go where I want when I want. 

I don't know exactly how this happened, except that there has just been so long without any progress, that it no longer feels real.  I don't know how this post has come across or if it makes any sense.  It's more just mentally processing in writing...  I just hope that once the reality becomes that I will actually be a foster mom, that I am back on board with that reality. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Told You So

I knew we weren't finished. 

I got an email today that the state has now asked for my cat's vaccination record.  Why they didn't realize they needed it two weeks ago when they requested more information about other things, we will never know. 
But I told you they would need something else. 
And I will end this post the same way I ended the previous one - They now have everything they need, at least until the next time someone realizes something is still not complete. 
At least we are still on track to be licensed by May (the completion date I put in my head after information I got during my home study - the absolute latest I thought it would be)...
but at this point it may be cutting it close...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Things I'm Looking Forward to About Fostering

1. Having a child in the house full-time: If there is nothing else on this list, this one is more than enough to make all of the difficult things on my list from yesterday worth it!

2. The smell of a baby: There's nothing like the sweet smell of a baby's skin, clean diapers, and Baby Magic.  I know that I will be tempted to hold that baby All. Day. Long. and soak in that sweet baby smell!

3. A child's laughter: I absolutely cannot get enough of hearing a baby or child laugh.  I know that there will be LOTS of fun and laughter in my home, and I can't wait to hear that sweet, sweet sound every day!

4. Dealing with challenging kids: It may seem weird for this to be on this list, instead of yesterday's "What Will Be Hard" list.  However, I have always been drawn to the more challenging kids, the ones that need a little bit (or a lot) of extra attention and/or patience.  From the kids at the day care where I worked who cried more than some or the one who was scared to walk, to my kiddos in therapy who I couldn't figure out what to do with at first or what their motivating factors were.  I have much more patience than many people for these challenges, and I think this is one of the greatest things I can offer to a child coming from a hard place.  Once I figure out what makes a child tick, how to calm him, and once he has successes (sometimes ones that I would never have guessed would happen), the reward of fulfillment is so great!

5. Helping a child learn and develop: This is what I do for a living, so I'm really excited about teaching a child - reading books to him, teaching him new words and ideas, how to walk and climb, and so many other things.  I'm excited about providing stimulation to that little growing brain, probably leaps and bounds beyond the stimulation he was getting in his previous environment, and watching that little one soak it all up!

6. The opportunity to slow down: #6 on yesterday's list was "having to slow down."  But as much as I think this will be hard, I also think that it will be nice to have an excuse to stay home and enjoy the little things.

7. Providing stability, security, and safety: Things that these kiddos have likely not experienced at an appropriate level before, if at all.  I am excited about being able to be a safe haven for children, and helping them transition to a life that's better than what they had before, wherever that end point may be. 

8. Having a child's things be part of my clutter: I said my house is usually cluttered.  Right now I am looking at a stack of coupons, a computer bag, a stapler, a bag of board games that never got unpacked, a stack of CD's, and some papers that need to be shredded.  I'm looking forward to having an exersaucer, stacks of diapers, a diaper bag, and baby rattles and toys being a part of this clutter.  (Actually, as I was looking around to make this list, I realized there are already some kid things infiltrating the clutter - a kid's rocking chair, a car seat, a bag of baby toys and a bottle of bubbles.)

9. Motivation to keep the house presentable: I typically only do a really good de-cluttering when I know someone is coming over.  There are many times when I would be completely embarrassed to have someone walk in the door unannounced.  Knowing that anyone could come by at any time (on top of knowing that I could get a call for a child at any time) will be motivation to keep things at least presentable most of the time, and I'm kind of looking forward to that. 

11. Having an album full of pictures of kids I have loved in my home: Even though I won't be able to post pictures, you can bet big money that I will still be taking lots of pictures and keeping the memories in an album. 

12. Hopefully permanently adding a child to my family one day: As long as this single parenting thing is not a complete disaster, that is what I would like to do, although that is not even close to the only reason that I want to foster. 

13. Rocking kids to sleep: 'Nuff said. 

**Edited to add - I had this one in my head when I was writing but forgot to add it**
14. Crafts: I'm always planning some fun crafts-y project when my nephew or goddaughter come over.  I'm excited about not having to pick just ONE Christmas craft because that's all I have time for.  I'm excited about glitter and construction paper and glue.  I'm excited about hanging the finished products on the fridge.  If you've ever thought about getting stock in Pinterest, now would be the time to do it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things That Will Be Hard as a Single and/or Foster Parent

Here's a list of things that I think will be hard.  One reason I want to have this list is so I can go back later and see if the things I thought would be hard were actually that way; and if there are other things that I should have put on the list but that didn't even occur to me. 

1. Letting those kiddos go: Of course this will be the hardest (and most obvious "hard" thing).  I'm sure I don't even realize how hard yet.  And I know there is no question this will be one thing on this list I will be right about.

2. Losing sleep: I am an absolute night-owl.  I typically go to bed between 11 and 12 on a week night (hence the late night posts  LOL), and get up around 6am for work.  But my body actually needs 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night, so it is a regular occurrence for me to sleep until 10 or 11 or 12 on Saturday mornings to "catch up."  On my "non-sleep-in days" (Fridays and Sundays), I make myself get up by 9 or 9:30; I do fully realize that once there is a child in the house, getting to stay in bed until 9:00 will be considered "sleeping in." 

3. Potty training: I know potty training is rarely easy, but I'm not particularly concerned about training a kid who has been with me for a while before it's time to start.  What I'm more concerned about is having to potty train a 3 1/2 year old who: should have already been trained, will be trying to exert control over his bodily functions since that's one of the only things he will have control over, and who will come from a place with a difficult history.  I've never potty trained a child under the best of circumstances, so I'm a little worried about doing it with some extra challenges.

4. Getting them to eat healthy foods: This one also falls under the category of a child trying to have control over one of the only things he will actually have control over.  I am far from someone who eats only natural, healthy, whole-grain foods (I mean, if I want pasta or bread, whole wheat is just NOT. Gonna. Cut it!), but I do eat fruits and vegetables every day; and it is a very rare occasion that I even buy chicken nuggets, pizza, or French fries to have in the house, or that fast food is a meal option.  So I'm a little concerned about getting a child to eat well when he is going to want to have control and when he is likely coming from a place where junk food was the norm. 

5. Multi-tasking: I do very well with consistency and control with the kids that I work with at my job; but I am one-on-one with them 100% of the time, and my only focus is to work with them.  I have always wondered how things would go with having to take care of a child AND cook dinner, do laundry, shower, etc.  I guess we'll see...

6. Having to slow down: I've always been a go-go-go kind of person; and I like being able to pick up and go at a moment's notice, including road trips.  I know that's all about to change, and I will have to schedule around naps, mealtimes, and bedtimes; and any trip out of town will have to be approved ahead of time. 

7. Dating: I know that the logistics of dating are difficult as a single parent.  I think it will be even more difficult for me than for many other single parents who at least have every other weekend free when the child goes to the other parent's house. 

8. Keeping the clutter from a baby: My house is rarely dirty, but is almost always cluttered.  My method of being able to find things is to leave them lying around.  It is going to be a major challenge to keep the clutter level low enough that a baby can't get into things, but still be able to locate things once I have put them away somewhere. 

9. Coordinating the schedule without a partner to help: I'm going to have to drop off and pick up a child from daycare, get him to the doctor/dentist, and wherever else he needs to go, all by myself.  A foster child is going to have lots of extra "wherever else he needs to go" - court dates, visits with the biological parents, therapy appointments, medical specialist appointments, etc - which will make the logistics even more challenging.

10. Dealing with the biological parents: I am naturally a trusting person and tend to give people the benefit of the doubt unless they show me they are not trustworthy.  I think my tendency with these parents might be to not trust them at all and not give them the benefit of the doubt at all, because of the circumstances that resulted in their kids having to be with me in the first place.  I think there will be a big learning curve for me to find a balance between these two opposite ends of the spectrum. 
                I also tend to take things personally.  It is likely these parents will have a lot of anger, and may direct it toward me, saying and doing things that are not nice.  I am going to have a very hard time not letting my feelings get hurt when this happens. 

11. Not being able to post pictures: I am ALWAYS taking pictures (this has been the case all the way back to middle school); and I love being able to share pictures (I would be the one who would bring a stack of pictures in to school or work to share with people, long before the ease of sharing on Facebook or Dropbox).  I especially love being able to share the cute pictures of my nephew and goddaughter growing up.  Posting pictures of foster children is not allowed, and I'm going to have a REALLY hard time with that one! 

Up next... Things that I'm looking forward to about fostering!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

120 Days (Times Two)

This is the longest "120 days" ever!
I was told the licensing process normally takes about 120 days.
I just realized today is actually Day 240 - double what they said initially.
...And still counting...

The Mini Crib

Thanks to the suggestion of blog reader ~Sandy, I think I may have solved my crib problem!
Enter the mini crib.

An actual crib, but the size of a Pack 'n Play! 
They come in regular (as above) and foldable (below). 
I looked at a foldable one at the store today, and the sides (where it folds) were pretty rattle-y in the assembled position.  Does anyone have any opinions?
I'm beginning to discover that bloggy friends are going to be an invaluable help as a foster mom!