Monday, December 15, 2014

Foster Care Update: We're Licensed and Our First Placement Call

Last Saturday was crazy busy! Jonathan was working and I had a ton of running around to do. At one point, I brought the gang home for a quick lunch before we had to head out again. After sending the kids to the van I walked by the mailbox and noticed a fat manila envelope shoved inside. Inside was a few papers to sign including a copy of our homestudy and OUR LICENSE!! We are officially licensed foster parents! I thought we wouldn't be licensed until we had gone into the office to meet our new caseworker so I was really surprised when it just showed up in my mailbox on a busy Saturday afternoon! I took the envelope with me to the van so I could re-read it all later and called Jonathan with the news.

That was Saturday....

On Monday I received an email from our caseworker congratulating us on getting our license and telling me that we are now in their system and could get a call for foster kids starting now. Jonathan came home for lunch that day and we tried to guess how long it would be until we got our first call. We both guessed it would be in the next couple of weeks. A couple hrs. later I laid down for a nap and woke up to see that he had texted me saying someone from home finding (the people who match kids with foster parents) had called him looking for me. Apparently, even after all the pages of paperwork that we've filled out, they somehow didn't have my correct cell phone number. At first my heart stopped but then I realized that they probably just had more questions for me so I called her back and left a message on her voice mail with my correct cell number.

In less than 5 minutes she called me back. She said they had a possible placement for us. 2 kids under the age of 2. She asked if we'd be willing to take them. At this point I think my heart really did skip a beat! I told her we'd love to have them and she said they'd get back to us soon.

That was Monday night...

After not hearing anything more on Monday and not sleeping much that night, I emailed our caseworker telling her about the call. Mostly I wanted to know if they would update us or if I was just supposed to figure if they didn't call back then the kids weren't coming. She called me soon after with an update. The kids were already in a foster home that wasn't working out but they were trying to work with the currant foster parents to keep them there. She said they'd update me by the end of the week. But until they knew if they would use us, they put a hold on our home so no one else could call us about other placements. Our caseworker said it's because they don't have a lot of homes that will take 2 kids and that are still open.

That may have been the longest week ever!..

By Friday I was a little stressed! If we did get the kids then I knew we needed to go buy some things but I didn't want to jump the gun before we knew for sure. Finally the kid's caseworker called to tell me that they worked it all out and the kids were staying where they were. I was a little disappointed but after all the praying we did I was OK with whatever God had in mind.

Today...

Today I had a lazy day. I think I finally caught the cold my kids have been passing around and I'm not feeling 100%  We homeschooled and I cleaned up the kitchen but that was pretty much it. Then the phone rang and it was home finding again! I think I may have said, "No way!" out loud before I answered!! They were calling to see if we'd take a 1 year old. Again, I said yes. Again, they said they'd get back to me. So I jumped in the shower (I was still in my pjs) and started to get the house ready just in case. This time I only waited a couple of hrs. before they called back to say a relative had taken the child. Another false alarm :(

This week has really been a whirlwind of emotions! I'm sort of thankful for these almost placements though because I've learned a couple of things.

#1 It's nice not to have any control over who and when foster kids will come into our home. I've put all my trust in God and I'll be OK with whatever He does.

#2 I think we'll have a placement soon. As in maybe by the end of this week. But if they call it doesn't mean anything sure. I probably won't believe it until I have a child in my arms.

#3 Maybe I should start every morning by cleaning up the house a bit instead of waiting until after school like I usually do. That way there won't be such a big rush when they call.

And now we wait...




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Heat Holders Hat and Gloves Review

The cold weather has arrived which means I'll be complaining about being cold until may :/  It seems like no matter what I do, I can't get warm! If it was socially acceptable I would walk around all winter wrapped in a blanket. I'll probably end up being one of those old ladies that don't leave the house in the winter. Or maybe I'll get lucky and win the lotto and move to Florida for half the year ;)

Heat Holders

The people from Heat Holders were kind enough to send me a pair of gloves and hat to review.



Heat Holders gloves are the most comfortable gloves I've ever owned. For real! Their web site says they have newly developed heat weaver thermal lining. I say, it feels like my fingers are all wrapped up in their own mini blankets! My son tried them on too and now he keeps trying to claim them as his own. He said the gloves' extra long cuffs were perfect for protecting his wrists when he was outside shoveling.





The hat is super warm and cozy. The fur-like lining is sooo soft! My little model didn't want to take it off!

*Why do my kids always try and steal all my stuff?!








I think my husband who may be missing a little hair would love a Heat Holders hat! And I would love not having to see him in his ugly Green Bay Packers hat any more :)

Check out the Heat holders web site for other things like sock, tights, and blankets.

Foster Care Update: Last Home Visit

I was so nervous for this last home visit! I knew our case worker would want a tour of our home so I wanted everything perfect. But trying to keep my house clean with 4 kids is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos! I have a love hate relationship with home visits. The time we spend preparing the house is crazy and stressful for all of us. But I loooove throwing away things and decluttering! The house always looks so nice when we've finished...For about an hour :/

For this visit, we had a check list from Ms. F of things we needed to fix/buy. A couple things we needed were carbon monoxide detector on each floor and  smoke detectors in each bedroom. Let me tell you, that was not cheap! With 4 floors and 5 bedrooms, we spent over $100 on just those.

Other things on the list were a crib, bed, waterproof mattress pad, and an infant car seat. One of my creepy kids asked if they could pee on the mattress pad to see if it works :/

One of my sweet friends made a blanket for the crib. 
Despite my kid's attempts at sabotaging me, I had the house all ready for Ms. F's visit. The home visit was waaaay easier than I thought! We spent the first half talking and going over a little more paperwork before she toured the house and she spent some time talking to the kids. We showed he each room (including the basement) and went over a few different scenarios for sleeping arrangements. *We have a room set up with a twin bed and crib but would have to move things around a bit depending on the age and sex of the foster kids.

I'd rather be over prepared than under prepared, but she didn't even check most of the things that other foster parents online had warned about. She was thorough, but not nitpicky and said that everything looked perfect :)

Ms. F is only our caseworker in this part of our process and then she passes us off to our next one. I'm really going to miss her! She has been very helpful and is more than willing to answer all of our questions. She said that we can call her even after she passes us on and I most likely will take her up on that.

So our last home visit is finished and Ms. F said she would have our home study written and finished by the week of Thanksgiving!
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Before I got a chance to finish this post, Ms. F sent us a copy of our finished home study to go over. We fixed a few small things like the age of our kids and sent it back the next day. Now I'm waiting for her to call and set up an appointment for us to go into the office to meet our new caseworker and the matchers *The people who match the foster children with the foster parents. That's all supposed to happen this week and after that we will be completely licensed!!!






Foster Care Update: MAPP Class #9 and #10

*Sorry I'm so far behind with my updates! We actually finished our classes a few weeks ago but now that my laptop is working again I'll start playing catch up.

 I can't believe we're done! I was always worried that somehow something would happen and we wouldn't make it through all 10 weeks. Some sickness or a missing piece of paperwork would hold us back and we'd have to start again. But here we are done with all 10 weeks!

Week 9

Week 9 was panel night. We meet in a larger room and they brought in a bunch of experienced foster parents, a currant caseworker, and someone who works with adoptions to tell their stories and answer questions. Hearing stories about other foster parents in our county is one thing, but being able to hear them tell their own stories and ask them questions is so much better! There were some pretty amazing people there. Including a single mom who takes in kids with special needs and a family who takes in hard to place teens. Being around all those people was inspiring.

The other great thing about panel night was that we were encouraged to bring guests so my mom came along. On the way home I asked her how she felt about everything she heard and she said she felt both excited and nervous. That's basically how I've felt everyday since we've started this journey :)

Week 10

Class 10 was pretty laid back. We spent half of the class celebrating with food and cake and then we went over a ton of last minute info. I gave all the teachers thank you cards and made them pumpkin bars. Ms. F got a little something special though :)

Some may have said I was sucking up. I say I was just being kind ;)

They gave us a big binder covering everything from finances to hair care that I get the feeling I'll be referring back to a lot!


Then we had a little graduation ceremony and received certificates saying we completed MAPP class!



This is Jonathan's name tag. Each of the teachers had stickers and would put one on our name tags when we participated in class by doing something like asking a question or volunteering for an activity. Out of the class of around 30 people, Jonathan had the least amount of stickers. He even resorted to putting a sticker from his Tim Hortons cup on it! Poor Jonathan...He's not much of a social butterfly :)

So that's it! No more Wednesday night MAPP classes! I've learned a lot these past 10 weeks but I feel like nothing will ever really be able to prepare us for being foster parents except experience.... Does that make sense? I think each child and situation will be so different, that we'll have to learn what works best as we go.
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 The next step is our last home visit.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Foster Care Update: MAPP Class #8

They told us that classes 2 and 8 are the decision making ones. I can't even remember what class #2 was about! But 3 hours of information on foster children who have been sexually abused was truly difficult. I told Ms. F (our caseworker) that I left this class feeling sad and unsure of my ability to handle a situation like this.

Will we be able to keep our family safe and at the same time help a child heal from this kind of hurt? Will I be able to hear about what has happened to these kids we're caring for, then take them to a visit with the very person that hurt them?

A couple days later, I had a good conversation with a friend that left me feeling encouraged. We have a strong family unit, a great support system, and Jesus! I feel like with a team like that, we'll do just fine!


*There was soooo much more we heard about than I'm writing here. I just don't feel comfortable sharing it in a blog.

Sexual Abuse

One of the reasons children come into foster care is because they've been sexually abused. Sometimes they're removed from their homes for different reasons, and the foster parents are the first ones to find out about the abuse after they've been in care for a while.

If the child does disclose that there was sexual abuse, or they do or say things that make us suspect there was abuse, we leaned some important things about our role.

Don't ask questions- Leave it to the professionals. If we start to ask questions than we can be subpoenaed if it goes to trial. We can say something like, "Tell me more about that."

Fix your face- Don't react by crying or getting emotional in front of the child. Remain calm.

Contact both of our caseworkers- Don't take things into out own hands and call the cops or their doctor. Call the child's caseworker (They already be aware of it) and our own case worker to find out our next step.

Things we should say:

I'm sorry this happened to you.

I'm glad you told me-I believe you.

It's not your fault.

Things we shouldn't say:

I promise I won't tell anyone about this.

I promise____will happen.

We went over ideas of how to make a child feel comfortable and how to make everyone in the home safe.

No forced affection- Don't make the kids feel like they have to hug a relative.

Have privacy guidelines.

No secrets- Make everyone aware that there are no secrets in our family. This will help if a child discloses abuse to us or other children in the home.

*Even though we will only be taking kids 0-5, we will be making a lot of changes in our home to ensure everyone's safety.

False Accusations 

I wasn't kidding when I wrote that this was a difficult class!

Foster parents have child protective services called on them more than the general public. One foster parent they told us about has had 18 investigations! Birth parents call CPS to make trouble for the foster parents and sometimes because they're honestly worried.

Some tips about false accusations-

Don't take them personal.

CPS has to investigate no matter how silly they seem. *They will not remove our foster child while they investigate.

Forming a relationship with the birth parents will lower the chances of a accusation.

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We spent last weekend moving Ethan's room to the attic and getting the bedroom all ready for kids.
I hope to post some pictures soon :)












Monday, October 20, 2014

Foster Care Update: MAPP Class #7

Class 7 was kind of a downer. And they warned us that next week will be even worse :(  I guess we don't really need any preparation for the good stuff that happens as foster parents. We need to be as ready as we can for the bad.

We started off by learning how to help with transitioning foster children back home. I was shocked to hear that sometimes the judges don't give anyone much warning when sending a child back home. We could go to court and be told to have the child ready to leave by that evening! They say that doesn't happen very often though. Usually everyone can kind of tell where they are in the process and be able to sense if the child is close to going home.

So when a return home is close, we came up with some ideas to help make it a smooth transition like:

-Keeping the kids informed about the plans (this may not be very helpful if we have babies)

-Make a calendar so the kids can see a countdown.

-Be in contact with the parents about the child's daily schedule.

-Talk positive about the transition

Another reason why a foster child my leave a home unexpectedly is because of a disruption.

Disruption: An unplanned move from one foster or adoptive home to another out-of-home situation.

Disruptions are usually something that's avoided if at all possible. It can have some serious negative effects especially if an attachment has formed.

Recognizing Stages of Disruption or Dissolution


Once foster parents start "going public" with their displeasure with the child, it's hard to go back. If we start telling those people who are close to us how unhappy we are with our foster child then they have less of a chance of ever really fitting in the family. Everyone starts looking at them as the root to all the families stress and problems.

Things that can help stop a disruption are:

Respite- When a foster child goes for a short stay at another foster home to give everyone a break.

Ask for help- Professional help for the child or parents may be needed.

Support system- They keep encouraging us to connect with other people in our MAPP class. If we need to vent these are the people who will be able to understand what we're going through.

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The end is near! There's a couple in our class who already have a foster child! He has some special needs that they're familiar with and was the reason why they wanted to become foster parents to begin with.

Our caseworker (Ms. F) said that we could possibly get kids before we're certified at the end of November! It all depends on the need. For something that has taken so long, this is all happening really fast!




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ethan's First Job

At 13 years old it's only volunteer work, but it's still a job.

My mother in law had a stroke a few years ago that left her in a wheelchair and very different than she was before. I'm always touched when I see how Ethan is with her. He's so loving and not timid in anyway. So when I got an email a few days ago from another homeschooling mom asking if any teens would be interested at volunteering at a near by nursing home, I thought Ethan would be perfect! I contacted the volunteer coordinator at the home that day and she agreed to meet with Ethan the next morning.

It was so cute watching him get ready for his "interview"! He spent waaay too long fixing his hair and added waaay too much gel! He was pretty nervous when we got there, but the lady really liked him and asked him if he wanted to start THAT AFTERNOON! We already had plans that day so he signed up to come back the next morning.

If I ever have to be put in a nursing home, I want to go in one like this place! It's beautiful! They took us on a tour and showed us the beauty salon, the cafe, and where they set up the bowling alley. The rooms are huge and they all have big flat screen TVs! Some of them even have patios. And this isn't an assisted living home where they can come and go as they please! It's a nursing home. A nursing home that I kind of wanted to move in to ;)

So for the past couple of days I've been dropping Ethan off at "work". He stays for just a couple of hrs and helps with things like transporting the ladies to and from the hair salon, helping the residents with activities like bingo, and just spending time with them. On Monday he's helping a lady with their cooking show :) 

The way it's all set up is really nice. They just send us an email and Ethan just puts himself into the schedule for whatever and whenever we want. No pressure. Because there's no pressure, and he has so much control, I told him that he should try and stick it out for at least a few months but I'm hoping that it turns into something more long term. 

I am soooo proud of him! He loves it as much as I though he would and he's already received some positive feed back from the activities director. I love hearing him talk about the residents he's meeting and the funny little thing they do! He says it may just be volunteer work, but at least he's doing something that makes a difference!