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Nearing the Finish Line – Red Tape Ahead

GoodiesIn case you missed it last year, back on July 1st, we announced that we were in the process of getting licensed for foster care. We’d finished the 13-week class and started this and that getting the house ready. We got pretty discouraged that the timing wasn’t right, so the paperwork went undone for months due to knowing it wasn’t the right time.

Being self-employed, income is a very volatile thing based on how much work is lined up and how much I get done so we get paid. We had an excellent June, October, and December to really get a feel for the pattern for months in a row to gain the confidence that it was time again. It just wouldn’t be right to bring someone in to live with us when we are all stressed out about finances, so we put our house in order first.

The trouble: we still didn’t have much in the way of things to care for kids. We had no crib, bedding, books, safety devices, and the spare rooms weren’t anywhere near being ready. Just days after we announced, we painted our master bedroom, re-arranged the furniture, and put in matching desks and a filing cabinet on one wall as our new office – 5 feet from my side of the bed. Talk about a rough commute!

We tried for a couple of months to get a crib at sales and consignment shops, but recent legislation outlawed drop-side cribs. Anyone who had a “legal” crib isn’t ready to get rid of it and anyone getting rid of their crib had one we aren’t allowed to use. Realizing we had to buy a new crib made us save up for it – after Christmas.

The crib arrived on MLK Day and I put it up immediately. That night, we went to Target to get things we knew we couldn’t get at consignment stores or Goodwill. The next morning we went to a consignment shop for baby stuff nearby and went to Goodwill after that. We got an awesome high chair, baby tub, a baby carrier (I picked that one out), and 18 cardboard baby books all at fantastic steals. We also hit Staples for a locking cash box for my refrigerated meds (yeah, try locking up all of a CFers meds, right?) and rearranged the fridge. I still open the crisper drawer half the time to get my meds out only to find shredded cheese.

We got our paperwork filled out as best we can and took our “affidavits of good moral character” to a friend at church yesterday to be notarized and had some babysitter forms filled out later in the day. I think we’re ready to turn in the paperwork after Beautiful’s doctor sends back her medical form saying she is medically capable of raising a kid.

The next step will be to be fingerprinted and have our Family Development Specialist (FDS) come over to review the paperwork and do the “home study” that gets us licensed to foster. From what we understand of the process, the babysitter background checks take 30 days (I don’t believe them that it’s that long) and I would imagine that anything that isn’t ready according to the home study can be fixed in a day or so. I think we’ll be ready by March! Enough words… on to the photos I took last night and you can read Beautiful’s post.

This chair will get a lot of use once again. It was the chair Beautiful’s parents bought when her younger brother was born… 21 years ago!

Rocking chair

We got all of the pink, blue, and brown bedding, changing table, and room accessories from a friend of a friend who was getting rid of all their baby stuff. We like that it has both blue and pink since we’re almost certain to have both come through the system.

Crib Details

Crib from CornerChanging Table

We had to get a wall decal because we’re not allowed to hang anything from the wall above the crib or use a mobile, either. Something has to go on the wall!

Wall Decal - Happy Tree

We filled a basket upstairs and downstairs with the books we got, along with some appropriately-placed accessories (note that I found the one pacifier pack that was on clearance AND it’s purple for CF awareness!).

Basket of Goodies

Life Goals – How Foster Parenting Fits In

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series Cystic Fibrosis and Foster Care

HAndsIf you would have asked me a year ago if I thought we’d become foster parents, I’d have said that there wasn’t any chance. We were definitely thinking we’d be adopting or even possibly wondering if we’d ever have kids since we were both working so hard and not really excelling financially enough to consider Beautiful staying home. We were using most of her income every month, so it would have been irresponsible to go down to one income.

We were also concerned with saving for the long-term possibility of transplant and wondering how much we’d have to save to adopt. Not very likely that we were going to save up $50k for those events any time soon at the rate we were going – even with the steady upward slope we’ve experienced the whole time we’ve been married. That’s a lot of money to throw around!

Beautiful has always wanted to work. She didn’t see herself getting married and settling down before I came along, but even then the plan was to go to college and get a degree and have a career. Kids have been creeping into our heads more and more over the years, but it was always the same story: we just couldn’t swing one income.

For me, it was starting to wear down my self-esteem. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others who have one working parent and the other that stays home with the kids. Even our marriage mentors are both home on one income – he works in the bedroom office and she home-schools their 3 girls (sound like anything we might be thinking of doing?). Even though I’m 32, it’s hard to remember that we’ve only been working at this as a team for 5 years and I need to step back and look at where we are and where we’ve come from.

[Read more…]

Foster Care and Adoption Requirement: MAPP Classes

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series Cystic Fibrosis and Foster Care

MAPP-binderOne of the mandatory things everyone who wants to adopt or foster in Florida has to do is attend MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) classes. Ours were weekly, 3 hours long, and lasted 10 weeks, so you do the math. It’s a lot of training.

What was interesting about our class, which happened to be unusually large, was that we were almost the youngest couple there. I’d say that the average age was around the upper 30s with a fair share of middle-aged parents. The vast majority of them had kids already or had adopted already. Many were there because of the church’s ministry to fostering as a way of helping as many children as possible – as the most helpless members of society.

We fell in love with that mission after the first meeting and switched from wanting to selfishly adopt to selflessly foster. That decision immediately altered how to soaked up the information and made for quite a few good dinner discussions as we went over our homework and thought about various scenarios that people should never, ever have to think about. It breaks your heart to just consider some of the topics as remotely possible in our country, let alone our county.

Some of the topics covered are:

  • gains and losses (entering and leaving the foster care environment)
  • attachments
  • helping children manage their behavior (2 sessions)
  • understanding the impact of fostering

[Read more…]

What Being a Father Means to Me

FamilyTime to get personal, but that’s what you love about me, eh? I’ve known for a very, very long time that I’ve wanted to be a dad. I can pretty much do without a few of those growing up years that I’m not all that comfortable with, but that just goes with the territory. You can’t very well avoid the young teen years, can you?

Most of you know me well enough to know I wasn’t going to come across being a dad before marriage, but most of that problem was pretty sell taken care of for me by means of my genes anyway. No oops possible here. It’s always been pretty clear since I was only in the 4th or 5th grade that little kids (0-4) liked me. That never changed. Babies and little kids just love me, especially now that I have a beard – something new to most little ones.

All that love, and nothing to put it on

I’ve had my fair share of pity parties over the years still not having any kids of our own. We’re at that age where all of our friends are having kids, and some of my classmates have 7-10 yr olds already. I am always genuinely happy for them, but I am also always pained by my inability to just have kids when we were ready.

We obviously went into marriage knowing this, and it was something Beautiful was perfectly fine with, but we weren’t clear on how we’d end up with crumbsnatchers. [Read more…]