Training Day 5

Well.. we completed our training! I have to say, getting a certificate with the words foster/adoption on them was really exciting. BUT it’s not our license.. so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. The last day of training was by far our favorite, but we kind of expected that. In the morning the session was about going to court, and in the afternoon there was a panel of guests that are involved in the foster system and they all shared their stories with us.

I’m going to say it like it is: the morning session was completely overwhelming. It wasn’t like it was scary or too intimidating, there was just SO much information. Court is not something we necessarily have to go to. If we do not feel comfortable being there, we don’t have to go. Simple as that. However, most people working in the system recommend going because it gives you a better picture of the children that are in your home. Every parent that was on the panel in the afternoon had been to court.. and we have already decided that it was something we would be going to when the time comes. We want to be there when decisions are being made that will affect a child that we love. Anyway, our trainers had printed some example court documents so we could see what a permanency plans look like. It was a lot to take in.. and it was only one type of court hearing that we were talking about. There are SO many different types of hearings that we could experience while we foster. We are just hoping that it’s one of those things that you can learn as you go. Our trainers were really great at explaining everything, but it’s just a whole separate world and lingo that will take time to fully understand. I was having flashbacks to my college days when I had to study acronyms for hours so that I could one day be a part of the special education world. If I could make it through that – I’m confident I can learn this!

The afternoon – where do I start?! There was a panel of foster parents (and a teen in care) that came to share their stories. And man, were their stories amazing. Some married, some single. Some had recently been licensed, others had been licensed for years. All of them shared very different experiences – different ages (of children and parents), different schedules, different numbers of children they’ve had in their care, different lengths in stay, etc. But even though they were so different..a lot was the same. A lot of them spoke about love and progress. They ALL talked about how fostering now consumes them. There were many comments about how they are now “known” for things they never expected: being able to put together a bed in five minutes or less, driving a 15 passenger van, always having a new baby. Even though they were clear on how hard fostering can be, you could just tell they all loved it. And that it mattered. These people ARE making a difference for these children. Every day.

Since the training, this is what’s been happening:

  • We decided to start praying about getting a bigger vehicle. We were sure we would both keep our cars (with no intention of having more than 2 kids at once – and that’s still our intention), but apparently that is what all these other foster parents told themselves too. Even if we have 2 children at once, a bigger vehicle would be nice to have. So because it wasn’t in our plans at all – we are just praying about it for now. We don’t feel rushed yet, but we know it is inevitable for our future.
  • We met our home study worker! She seems great and she came for a short visit on Monday. Everything went well – and the biggest thing we need to do in our house (for now) is get a better lock for our cleaners and medicines. Easy enough.
  • Next step is to set up a safety inspection, our lead paint test, and our interviews. We will be interviewed for 2-3 hours individually. Our home study worker assured us it was nothing to be worried about, but that it does get really personal really quickly. Oh and… there is more paperwork.
  • We were told on our last day of training that it should still be about 2-3 months before we get licensed. My husband and I have this ongoing joke (..but not really a joke) about wanting to be licensed before a crab feast they are having for foster parents in May. While our trainers and home study worker know we are joking, they have all said, “well it might happen..” So fingers crossed! because even though I do love a good crab feast, quicker licensing means baby snuggles sooner.
  • In other news, being who I am.. I managed to drown my cell phone AND lock myself out of facebook (such a long story) all in the same day. So if you have tried to contact me since Monday afternoon, I’m sorry that I haven’t responded. Please feel free to email me if you need me! Life without a phone has been good in a lot of ways but fortunately it is going to replaced soon. Oh and if I happened to ask for your address Monday.. please email it to me! I am so annoying and I know that, but my phone hit the water before I was able to write all the addresses down.

As always.. thanks for reading and being a part of our journey!

 

 

 

Training Day 4

Day 4 is finished! As I mentioned before, sessions 7 and 8 were about working with birth families and discipline. It ended up being a very casual training day – lots of discussion, thoughts & ideas, and we were able to ask any questions we had about training up until this point. Coming down to the end, it seemed really necessary to have some time to just talk and share each others experiences. Don’t get me wrong, the sessions were very informative and we got through everything we needed to, it was just low key.

Working with families is one of the parts of foster care that I am anxious about. They want to place children in the community that they live in and most times try to keep them in the school district. This always made me wonder if I would be running into the families out in public, how close they lived to me, etc. If I didn’t have a good relationship with families, this would really worry me. The women that run our training sessions were very helpful and really made me feel better. In their experiences,  relationships between biological families and foster families are positive. And even if it wasn’t, they haven’t had any major issues. I am hoping and praying that we can have positive relationship with these parents. I think I have written about her before, but one of the women that runs our training sessions is also a foster parent. She considers the mother of one of her former placements a part of her family. She is invited to birthdays, holidays, etc. Her old foster daughter calls her “Aunt.” Mike and I think that is such an incredible story and we are so hopeful that we can have some experiences like that as well.

The discipline session was one that I’ve been waiting for all month. One of the biggest topics on the foster care blogs and in the facebook groups is discipline. Some of these children really struggle when given consequences, and there are a lot of opinions when it comes to how to handle discipline with foster children (or with any children in general). Luckily, it wasn’t too overwhelming. Most of the strategies and suggestions they gave were things that I do everyday as a teacher. They had to go over some legal aspects and policies regarding discipline – none of which was new to us.

Next week is our last two sessions! We will have a session about court in the morning, followed by the panel of guests I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. Mike and I are making cornbread and chili and a bunch of desserts. We are so excited to celebrate with our classmates and to move forward in this process!

Some highlights since training:

  • We got assigned a home study worker! We were given her name and number at training on Saturday. They told me she would call us within the next few business days, but let’s be real here, I called her this morning at 10:00 AM. I know I’m crazy – but we have our first appointment set for March 29th! We. can’t. wait.
  • My dad, Mike, and I all got our fingerprints done.
  • Mike and I got our physicals and  TB tests – just have to go back in a few days for our official results.
  • At training, we got called out for laughing a lot. Sad highlight, but I love it. Laughter is so important to us, and we have truly enjoyed the extra time we’ve been getting together on Saturdays. She didn’t say it to be mean (I don’t think), she just mentioned that she always sees us laughing. Typical.

On a more sad note, I feel like I have to update and say that we are officially a one dog home. Today Dodger went to live with Mike’s dad. And maybe I am being dramatic, but I am sad about it. Mike mentioned giving Dodger to his dad a few weeks ago, and we have been discussing and praying about it ever since. There are a lot of reasons for it and it does make sense. I know most of you that know us are probably thinking, “You’re giving up Dodger instead of crazy Daisy?” I said the same thing to Mike. But the reality is.. Dodger is the one that has an issue with other animals, he is the barker, and he is the one that growls when being touched at times. While Dodger has never bitten anyone (and I truly don’t think he would), he does get angry really easily. Mike brought up that having a toddler(s) in the house might be difficult for him. Daisy you can grab, pet wherever, push around, etc. She doesn’t have any issues with that. Dodger is not that way. We don’t want to risk having Dodger get angry toward a child in our home. Dodger has always been tough to take to dog parks, as he does not always get along with other dogs. He has gotten a lot better, but taking two dogs and two children to a park seems daunting. Dodger has a history of running when he gets off his leash, but Daisy comes right back to us. Daisy is also younger and has been easier to train. I know Dodger can still learn (he’s an amazing dog), but progress has been slow. Anyway.. Dodger is our first born in our eyes. We adore him. He was a wonderful first dog and there are so many memories that we will have with him forever. Let me tell you.. if we weren’t giving him to my father in law, we would not be giving him away. I wouldn’t be able to give him up completely. This seems to be the best situation because my father in law LOVES Dodger, has watched him many times before, and Dodger loves him too. He also lives in the home where we had Dodger for a year, and is only 25 minutes away from us. So we will still get to see him! I know it will be good – but right now I’m allowing myself to be heartbroken.

As always, thanks for reading! I will update again after our LAST day of training next weekend 🙂

 

 

 

Training Day 3

So I have been a slacker. I’m finally updating about Day 3 of training.. the night before Day 4 of training. Day 3 (Sessions 5 and 6) was about attachment and loss. Both subjects were pretty hard to talk and hear about. Attachment is a huge part of foster care – and a lot of children in the system have attachment disorders. We not only talked about the children becoming attached (or struggling to), but also us as foster parents becoming attached. That’s the thing most people say to me about fostering: “I would get way too attached.” And I know everyone means well, but it’s starting to hurt my feelings a little bit. Are you saying you don’t think I will get attached? Let me tell you.. Mike and I plan on getting attached to these children. I am not going to let my fear of being hurt when they leave allow these kids to miss out on an opportunity to be loved and be part of a family. It’s going to hurt to let children go, but think about the hurt they have already been through. I can suck it up if it means helping them heal and working to reunite them with their families. Attachment is inevitable..and it’s something really beautiful. 

The session on loss was just as heavy. We did an activity that kind of showed what these kids go through when they are moved from home to home and all that they lose along the way. Whether it’s the loss of a person (parent, siblings) or an item (a special blanket, a teddy bear)..it all affects them. We watched a video that had children narrating about the “Big People” that move them and make all their decisions for them. It broke my heart to hear a different point of view.. the point of view that matters the most. These kids.. no matter the age.. suffer more loss than anyone can imagine. Even if reunification is successful, they have been through things that will affect their lives forever. It was daunting to hear some of the stories of what these children go through and how they handle it. We were given a lot of scenarios showing ways that children act out and rebel against foster parents. I thought I would be scared afterwards..but I wasn’t. There is a desperate need for adults who will be patient, consistent, and won’t give up on these kids. Mike and I won’t be perfect parents by any means, but we will try. And we will love. And we will be a constant in these children’s lives.

Tomorrow’s sessions are about working with families and discipline. I am excited for both of them – and it sounds like they will be very informative.

Some updates on logistics:

  • We got Daisy’s dog license! They said it could take up to four weeks and it took like two days. Total blessing because we had no idea pet licenses were a thing. 
  • We got lots that we need for our house! Fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, etc. 
  • We will need to have a lead paint test for our home because it’s so old (an oldie but a goodie). We decided against it when we bought the house because there was no chipping paint and the windows were all replaced..but it’s required for foster care. So I will be scheduling that ASAP! 
  • We were supposed to be assigned a home study worker this week.. And it didn’t happen 😦 
  • We may need to buy radiator covers for all of our radiators.. And we have like seven. Covers are not cheap. Please pray that we will not have to do this – or that we will only need to cover them in bedrooms. That may be a selfish prayer but it’s a big concern for us right now. 

And just because I’m a happy wife.. I have to mention how amazing my husband is. His trust and confidence in the Lord amazes me daily. Whenever I have doubts.. he reassures me. Whenever I have fears.. he comforts me. His faith is inspiring.. nothing that comes up causes him to panic or worry and I know it’s because he truly believes that Gods plan will play out and it’ll be good no matter what. I love him for that. 

Thanks for reading! 

Training Day 2

Yesterday was our second day of training (our third and fourth sessions)! It was really fun and Mike and I are loving the extra time we get to spend together. The first session was called “Nuts and Bolts” and it was all about what we need to get ready for our home inspections. The second session was all about Family Team Decision Meetings – which is basically when a group a people get together to talk about options for the child they are concerned about. Here are the highlights:

  • We have a LOT to do at our house. There are so many rules and guidelines that we need to make sure we are following. I’m pretty sure our current to-do list includes: measuring our windows, buying radiator covers, smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, lock boxes, and ways to baby proof our cabinets. Those are what I can remember off the top of my head, but there is a long list of little thing to do around the house too. It is feeling more and more like a blessing that certification will be around June. I’ve realized that the extra time is actually making it more fun and way less stressful.
  • We had to get CPR/First Aid certified. Apparently, you can do this online. It only took about thirty minutes to finish the whole process.
  • We got paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. I started mine when Mike was at work last night, and I felt like I was writing everything that’s ever happened to me. It asks all about your childhood, your marriage,  your parents, your siblings, etc. Part of me really enjoyed filling it out and being asked questions that made me reflect on where I came from and how things are going now. The other part of me was nervous filling it out because I could not for the life of me think about what answers they “want” to see. Obviously it’s not about that, and I answered as open and honestly as possible, but these fears were definitely in the back of my mind: “What if this is counted against me? What would be an ideal childhood? How do I say what I want in only a few sentences?!”
  • There is so much support for foster parents and foster children. We were given many lists of how the system helps you: with support groups, with finances, with mileage, with questions, etc. It is evident when we hear our trainers speak – they care for the kids they work for. They are truly inspiring and are clearly making a difference every day.
  • Next week the first session is about attachment and the second session is about loss. They told us to come prepared because they are both heavy topics and it is normal to get emotional. And lets be real, when am I not emotional?

Some other fun highlights from our lives:

  • We got living room furniture! After over three months of having an empty room, it’s exciting to finally be decorating and filling it up again. I know this is a lame highlight – but it’s how I spent a good part of my weekend. It’s almost finished so pictures will eventually come 🙂
  • Tomorrow I am meeting with a woman about a part-time tutoring job that would be such a blessing for us. Mike and I have both been trying to find ways to make more money and this came at the perfect time. It’ll make for a busy few months, but it’ll be the perfect part-time job to have over the summer when we first get licensed and it’ll be awesome to save up some extra money until then. Prayers for our meeting tomorrow are appreciated!
  • We are going on vacation! This has been in the works for a while now but just became official a few weeks ago. A group of our high school friends are getting together next month at a house we rented in Virginia. It’s been a really long time since we have all been together. This is coming during such a busy time in our lives and we couldn’t be any more excited about it. It’s going to be the perfect little getaway and such a great time to catch up and be intentional with people we love.
  • I was given the amazing opportunity to go to the Ron Clark Academy with coworkers in May. Without going into much detail: Ron Clark runs a school in Atlanta, Georgia and we have been adopting some of his ideas, strategies, and methods of teaching in our school the past few years. Some of my coworkers traveled there in October and said it was one of the best experiences they’ve had. I feel really lucky to be given the chance to go there and to learn and grow as an educator!

What I’ve been learning: In the midst of chaos and change, God is constant. There are SO many changes going on for us right now, and sometimes it feels like we have no control. In the past when I feel like I don’t have control, I spiral pretty quickly into a world of anxiety, worries, and fears. Thankfully, I have a God that is constant and a husband that reminds me of that daily.

Thanks again for being a part of our journey!