Six steps towards becoming a foster parent.
Well, as Sally Field would say, you love me — you really love me! Thank you for your sweet comments and for being able to read through the lines when it comes to what I can and can’t say about foster care specifics.
Here’s a list of what we’ve been up to ever since we made the official decision to foster again:
1. I began nesting. This meant that, one cold day in January, I made Paul help me pull everything out of our kitchen cabinets (and I do mean everything) so we could clean the insides and outsides of the cabinets before putting food and dishes back in perfectly organized. We scoured everything from the oven to the freezer to the dishwasher. I have washed windows, cleaned out closets and scrubbed baseboards. I think this intense nesting comes from memories of fostering before. When I was fostering three children and working (all while single), I always felt better about life if I could at least keep my house fairly clean and organized. I would come home each day at lunch, while the foster kids were either in school or at day care, and clean like a maniac for 50 minutes before heading back to my office to finish out the day. I tried so hard to clean while they weren’t home so that, when they were home, I could focus my attention on them.
I want to go back into foster care with my house deep cleaned and organized again so that I won’t feel overwhelmed when I try to juggle everything. I’ve got almost the whole house organized and I’m continuing to deep clean various things. I think Paul was on board with my nesting until the day I started organizing my plastic silverware into quart sized labeled bags.
2. I began dreaming of decorating. When the fabulous five came into my life back in the day, one of the very first things I set out to do was to create a bedroom just for them. I love decorating so it is natural that I like to show my love for a child by creating a space that is appealing to them. Since we don’t know what age we will be foster yet (more on that in a minute), I have just been day dreaming so far. And, okay, maybe a few Google searches to see how much a crib would cost.
3. We began making decisions. One of the very first things we talked about was what age of children we wanted to foster and how many we were willing to take at a time. The last time around, I had said I would only take one child under the age of four — and somehow ended up with three children ranging in ages three to seventeen! This time around we know we just want one child at a time and we would like a younger child. I actually really loved having teenage girls last time but, for this time around, I think we are best suited for a younger child. I don’t think we have a preference on the sex; if it is a girl, she can play with Aviean’s toys and if it is a boy, Paul can finally have a legitimate reason to shop the Spiderman section at Target.
4. I began doing paperwork. At our first class, we were given a folder full of forms to fill out to begin the foster care process. In addition to all of these forms, we had a list of documents we needed to produce ranging from our marriage certificate to our birth certificates to proof of car insurance. I took that folder on like it was my job and began filling out forms and collecting documents like a champ. Last night, I handed over 40+ pages of completed paperwork and felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt since the days of 20 page papers due in grad school.
5. We began going to classes. Paul and I are doing a form of foster care that is called therapeutic foster care. This is a step up from basic foster care where we will receive children who come from more complex home situations (this is the same type of foster care I did before). We go two nights a week, for three hours each night, for six weeks. In the classes, you cover everything from dealing with birth parents to the judicial system to CPR. I’ve been through the classes before but am going again to renew my certification and the instructor has been so kind and inclusive to me by asking me to share some of my experiences with the other couples who are going through training for the first time. As the classes wind down, we’ll have several home study visits and will then wait on the state to certify our home. Once that happens, we will begin receiving calls about children.
6. I got a mom hair cut. But really — I went and got six inches cut off my hair. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
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