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My Perfect Match and How Fostering Fits

BeautifulYou know those moments in your life after you either struggle and struggle or wander and wander for months or years on end, only to look back to realize you suddenly understand the struggling or wandering? Those moments when it becomes crystal clear that you have a purpose? You have been making “the right” choices?

Beautiful and I have had so many of them in our 5 years of marriage already. On the eve of getting licensed for foster care (just one more inspection to go), we had another “moment.” I’ll start at the end and work my way backwards for some literary and storytelling flair.

We had returned from our first foster care support group at the church that hosted our MAPP class last spring – Lauren Dungy spoke about her and Tony’s adoption of 5 kids. It really, really felt real for the second time so far; the first time it felt real was signing papers and answering interview questions for our home study just two days earlier.

I asked Beautiful, “Do you see us being one of those “crazy couples” who have 11 foster kids [in a giant house that sounds like a 3-ring circus]?” In my mind, I’d been pondering this as a very real possibility for our gifts and convictions, but obviously not with this 3-bedroom townhome. “Yeah, I think we could be… but not with this house.” We went on to role-play a call with placement, “Will you take this sibling group of 5?” “We accept your placement if you buy us an 11-room mansion in Avila.” Avila is an, exclusive neighborhood in Tampa where the Dungys still have a house. That was a good laugh, but the seriousness of the original answer was there.

Our goal, by virtue of it being my most intense goal of our married years, was to be able to live off my income so we could start a family one way or another. [Read more…]

Home Study Completed – Moving Fast Now

Hillsborough KidsWell, we sure breathed a big sigh of relief today around 1:30 when our home study was done. We were told how long to expect the rest of the process to take from this point on! What? I’m not going to say just yet – you have to know what happened, don’t you?

Delightful news first: she said we were the most organized applicants in months. Would you expect nothing less from Beautiful? What we didn’t have filled out yet, we reviewed and signed on the spot. The documents and paperwork she didn’t have yet, such as our marriage license and our last 2 years of tax returns (I gave her this year’s PayPal 1099-K for good measure), we came upstairs to the office and ran off copies of everything she needed.

We took a field trip up the the bedrooms. I was shocked to hear someone who does home studies for the entire county – all applicants – give a big “awwwww” when she saw the nursery. Good job, again, Beautiful. We had to take the bumper out of the crib and take a photo, which I immediately e-mailed to her from my phone. Then we went to the “big boy room” since it’s a double bed and blue bedding for now. She liked it very much, also. Again, another photo and e-mail.

Back downstairs, we ran through more paperwork and got some questions asked about licensing for one at at time vs a sibling group. [Read more…]

Home Study: the Big Test for Foster Care

Home StudyAs most of you know who’ve been reading a while, our foster care process started a year ago. We had our ups and downs financially, but now our ups are so much better than our downs are bad, we are ready to keep moving forward. We have had our backgrounds checked, fingerprints taken, medical exams done, and our moral character notarized. Today, at 11am EST, we have our home study!

What is a home study?

Well, we’re not exactly sure. We haven’t done this before, but we have been told quite a bit from several sources, so here’s what we think will go down:

  • we’ll finish up some paperwork
  • we’ll find out we haven’t received some paperwork that we still need to do
  • we’ll have 95% of our house approved with some changes remaining
  • we’ll get licensed for both spare bedrooms and a broader age range, but that will lead to the house only being 90% approved
  • there will be some sense of relief and disappointment that we’re not done yet

Leftover tidbits

I started writing a post a couple of weeks ago, and this is all that should be published from that brain dump because I wasn’t thinking positively for a good week or so. I hope it clears up some questions about foster care that people ask us. We don’t mind questions, but these should fix some misconceptions about fostering:

  • No, we aren’t fostering to adopt. That does not exist, or at least not in Florida. The goal is always reunification with family members unless they are already seeking to terminate parental rights (TPR), in which case, temporary care is needed for 6-12 months until that is final and an adoption can proceed. Foster parents do get “first dibs,” but obviously not every placement is going to be a good match due to thousands of possible factors.
  • No, we don’t get to pick out who to foster. We don’t know what age or gender or race. We can safely assume we need to be ready for anything within the parameters we are comfortable with. Here’s what happens, and it’s just like the show COPS: someone is bad, an idiot, or having a rough spell and the cops, CPS, or other agency steps in and removes a child or sibling group from a situation. They have 24 hours to get them into a group home or foster home. They call everyone on their list for fostering and we can ask some questions and accept or turn down a placement due to age, medical issues, the situation behind the removal, or because we are at our licensed limit for placement at the moment. We are then to care for them until they are reunited or placed with an adoptive family. Beautiful also wrote about this yesterday.

We’ve met several CFers who have done in vitro, have a CFer practically across the street who did international adoption, but so far we haven’t met any of the half-dozen or so CFers I know through Facebook who are fostering or have fostered. This is a new world of parenting for us and for everyone who is close to us, so 2012 is going to be an interesting year for a lot of us.

Fostering and the Lonely Road of Pre-placement

Today is a bit of a raw post about the fostering process. Raw emotions and some brain dump to cope and move on with my day rather than mulling over these feelings for hours. Forgive me if this sounds rude or ungrateful for the good things that have happened. They’ve happened, but this feeling persists.

Lonely RoadThis is the oddest I’ve felt for as long as I can remember. Planning to have kids is supposed to feel exciting (and it does), not lonely and misunderstood (but it does). I can’t exactly put a finger on it, but there is a great divide between how people act/react to announcing that you’re expecting and announcing that you’re adopting or fostering.

People have asked [Read more…]