Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saying yes to foster.

First, Thank you to everyone who was able to come to our shower! We had a great time celebrating our completion of this phase in our process of becoming parents!

So this week we were presented with another option thru the state that may speed up the process of being placed with a child. While waiting on the foster to adopt (FtA) list we can be in the general foster list. This means that we can get an emergency call about any child that meets our state licensing terms (0 to 4 years of age). Our licenser says that a lot of the children being placed in foster care are actually being adopted.

Brian and I have talked about this and have expressed to each other our concerns which include:

Getting attached to a child that may go back to their family, although this can happen in the FtA the likelihood is about 10% and we do not have any % for straight foster.

A possible placement that does not fit with our family, (this also can happen in the FtA program).

The possibility that we could get passed by for a placement because we had a foster child in our home.

On a plus side it would be a great thing helping a child and a family get back on their feet and it would give us a chance to see how a child is going to change our world. Who knows maybe it would result in our forever family?

I know these seem like selfish reasons, and I kind of feel like a jerk as I type this. We know that someday we do want to foster kids and help them get the life they deserve, but is now the time?


*Side note*

I have been obsessed with picking out a stroller and an infant seat, as you may have read in Brian's last post the convertible car seat we have does not fit rear facing in the Mazda, grrr. If we are placed with a child under 1 years of age then we have to have a rear facing seat!! I couldn't care less about the travel systems as I don't think we would use one. What I want is something they obviously do not make, a lightweight stroller that folds small enough for the Mazda that can accommodate an infant and that has a snack tray. I need a rear facing "infant" seat that is small enough to fit in the Mazda and hold a child up to 32 lbs. All while keeping in mind it has to be gender neutral and in a pattern or color that I can stand to look at all at an affordable price! Is that too much to ask? Any suggestions?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Brief update and an important landmark.

And now we wait...

We are now licensed to be foster parents. Amy and I received our licenses last week. After our third and final home visit where we chatted with Kim (our licensor) about what adoption and family mean to us we got an email with a rough draft of our "Home Study" document for us to proof read. Kim had done a great job of putting all of our information into words and describing our lives and our feelings and intentions about adoption. After some computer difficulty ( is a great free office suite of software, but doesn't play as nicely with MS Word docs as it should) we managed to convey the small corrections to Kim over the phone and our licenses were signed later that day.

Now the real waiting begins. If you didn't know us and you looked at our house you would think we had a child whose clothes and toys had gone missing. Since we don't know if we're going to get a boy or a girl and if they're going to be 1 month or 4 years old we can't really get those things. What we do have is a room with a crib and a bed, a changing table, a potty seat in the bathroom, safety gates at the stairs, outlet covers in all the outlets, and child resistant latches on the cabinets. We have a carseat that will only meet our needs for a 1+ year old or if we only drive the Jeep (the Mazda's back seat is a bit small for the large convertible seat.) We also have fewer places for a curious child to fall down and go BOOM. The bit of wall that was missing in the master bedroom around our stairs is fixed (but could use some paint), the stairs to the basement have a more functional set of railings and the yard is now blocked from the steep blackberry bramble and nettle covered hill and ravine.

It is now like we are pregnant with no idea of a due date. Every call on our phones could be about the child soon entering our lives. It's a bit crazy; how old, what gender, what ethnicity and heritage, what kind of family history, WHEN? Who knows.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Slowly but not so slowly!

I thought I would update everyone about the process. Brian and I had our first home visit last Thursday and it went fantastic! Kim our licenser is very nice and we enjoyed showing her our home. During the visit she walked thru our house to let us know what kinds of things need to be fixed or modified. The list was not as long as we had thought and consisted of things that we already knew. 

The construction list is short: put up a banister and railing on the stairs going into the basement, fix the wall up stairs in the master bedroom that is open to below, and add to a railing that is in front of our house so a child can not access the ravine.

Common safety fixes were also no surprise: putting all the booze in a hard to reach place, medicine and cleansers locked away, have a first aid kit handy, night lights, fire extinguishers, child proofing the kitchen and bathroom, and outlet covers.

The more personal things: physicals for humans and pets, filling out financial forms declaring that we have not been married before with a copy of our marriage certificate, California back ground checks and confirmation that our septic had been pumped recently.

For the most part everything is complete, and the rest will be done after our vacation. The hitch is that is has to be complete before our last home visit that will take place the first week of September! Yep that is right if you are doing the math in your head, this means we will be licensed by the middle of September!!! YIKES!! Brian and I were shocked to hear this, Kim even commented on how fast things are moving for us. So by the middle of September Brian and I will be waiting for that phone call that we have been matched with a child!!  

LET THE NESTING BEGIN! Ok more like the stress of getting everything done!

On a more immediate note, we have our second home visit TOMORROW!! This visit will consist of questions and answers, and from what I hear can be a little personal. Ohh I can not wait.

For those of you who have inquired about what you can do, we can always use some extra hands around the house. Construction and painting are at the top of our list, you don't need to be Pablo Picasso, or Norm Abrams!

It has been about 5 months since we first started this process and I have learned so much, not only about the adoption process but about me. I have so much to be thankful for and sharing this journey with the people I love is just a bonus. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A step closer... (and my step onto a soap box.)

This week we will be finishing up our PRIDE classes and getting our fingerprint/background check started. Once we get our background check back the state has 90 days to do our "home study" (a series of meetings to find out what kind of child we and our home are a good match with) and get us licensed as a foster home or we have to do the background check again, which they like to avoid. Once we are licensed it can be anything from days to months or more until we are matched with a child, but the primary logistical hurdle will be behind us and it will just be a matter of finding a child that we are right for and is right for us.

I've debated on whether or not I should include the next part, as I get a little preachier than normal, but having typed it all up and firmly believing what it says... here it is.

The classes have been an interesting experience to say the least. I've always felt that, in a world potentially pushing it's maximum occupancy, adoption is a great way for people with a desire to raise children to meet their and some childrens' needs, after these classes I am realizing that it is even more important than I thought. We spend a lot of time in the classes hearing worse-case scenarios about the "type" of children that end up in the foster care system and hearing that with foster care the goal is to return the child to it's birth family if it is a safe and functional option. Many of these children are coming from homes where they have been neglected, abused, or both, and some aren't coming from homes at all. There are so many great kids out there without the kind of home that can provide them with a safe and nurturing place to grow up and it seems so important for them to be given a chance.

The foster-to-adopt program is where the children end up when it is not likely that they will be re-united with their birth family. One of the biggest risks being part of the foster-to-adopt program is getting hurt by being attached to a child that is in your care and then returned to their family or moved to another home. Seeing examples of the many reasons that a child can end up in the foster care system has had mixed affects on my preparation for this risk. Knowing that any child who ends up in our home is coming from a place where they really need our help (however long they stay) makes it seem like it should be a fulfilling experience whatever the outcome, but knowing that they could be returning to a potentially unstable environment at risk of a relapse takes some of that good feeling away. I think that it's best to learn about the system and know that as a foster parent we are able to be an advocate for the child and try to make the whole process a positive one that makes their life better in some way.

We have been learning about the various ways the foster care system works and the types of trauma a child in the system is likely to have experienced. While the system is as complex as you would expect a state system to be it is difficult to imagine it any other way in today's litigious society and especially when the safety and well being of children is in question. To get an idea of the complexities, wrap your head around this: While in the care of a foster home, a child is still legally attached to their parent, who's permission is needed from something as simple as changing their hair style to something as typical as a school field trip, BUT the state has taken the child from their parents and is legally responsible for them and can be held accountable, SO the foster parents (on behalf of the state) take care of the child and meet their day to day needs and try to help them through this traumatic time while they deal with just about every emotion in the book because they are in this situation. While this is happening, the state is asking the parent to fix whatever situation has caused the child to be removed from their care so that the family can be re-united and at the same time if that reunion seems unlikely, the groundwork is being laid for the child to be placed in a permanent home where they can have the opportunities to lead the happy and fruitful life that they deserve. Add to that the possibility that the trauma they've experienced before this time has probably left them with emotional and/or physical scaring or bruising that they will be dealing with for a long time, and the racial and cultural differences they may have with the family they've now become a part of and you can see why it is so important that there are loving and supportive homes for these children who've had little to no part in the events leading up to this.

I don't think we started this blog with the intention of using it as a soapbox, but since I've got this box of soap under my feet... I strongly urge anyone reading this who thinks they may be up to the challenge to look into the program. We are looking to make our home a forever home for a child in need of that, but there are children who just need a roof over their head and someone to care for them for a few days, weeks, or months, and even those of us who may not think we've got the time or space can do more for them than we know. The whole process of becoming a foster parent is basically free, the state even provides money to support the children in foster homes and you're not going to end up with a kid if you decide it's not right for you. I'm just saying it can't hurt to check it out, and it may make a huge difference to some kids in need.

I've never been known for my generosity or compassion, but I honestly think that we will be foster parents in the more traditional sense sometime down the line. I think that at the moment we are best equipped to help out one child and I think that a stable home without children coming and going every few months is probably best for the early years of a child's life, but down the road I could definitely see opening our home to other children in need of a more temporary home to help them through some really tough times.
Washington State Foster Care Information

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another one down.....So much more.

Well we completed our CPR and First aid training this evening. Although we would have rather been at home grilling and hanging out on our deck in this gorgeous weather! ( It has been in the 80's and we are loving it.) It is one more thing we can scratch off our long list of things that need to be done in order to expand our family. Thursday is our orientation meeting and I can not wait, this meeting will answer so many questions and let us know so much about the home study process and how we need to prepare our home and hearts.

I have been realizing the past week that our lives are going to change so much in such a short period of time.  I guess now that I am staring this in the eye I can imagine that priorities are going to shift and everyday things will become luxuries! The funniest thing is I keep thinking about what kind of questions our social worker will be asking us and how I will respond. 

All I want to do is prepare the bedroom and get the house ready. Paint, furniture, curtains, toys, clothes, safety equipment.  I guess the big question is when do I do this and is it to soon?
Nesting, I must be in my third trimester:)

Well off to bed to dream about the possibilities! 


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A little more information

First and foremost thank you for all of the kind words of love and encouragement!

I thought I would inform you more on the process that we have chosen. The program is the Foster to Adopt program that is offered right here in Washington state.  It initially means that Brian and I will be foster parents to a child that will become our forever child. This process is typically longer than a private adoption.

Definition: A Foster-Adopt family is a licensed foster family with a primary goal of adoption. The Foster-Adopt family accepts foster children into their care with the understanding that if the child cannot be returned to the birth family the Foster-Adopt family will adopt the child. A Foster- Adopt family is officially designated as the child's adoptive family after termination of parental rights has occurred and the Division of Children and Family Services (DCSF) has met all the requirements to approve the plan of adoption.

The placement process is done very carefully and DCFS does their best to only put children that are most likely to become legally free into this program. When at the information meeting we were told the success rate is in the high 80 to 90 %.

I will try and outline the process as well as a time line that we are looking at.

Foster adopt info meeting (done)

First aid and CPR( June 1&2 )

Foster Home Orientation ( June 4)

PRIDE Pre service training (July 15, 16, 18, 22 & 23)

Finger Printing  ( scheduled once orientation is complete)

Physical exams ( scheduled once orientation is complete)

Application completion ( done and will be turned in with the PRIDE completion certificate)

Confirmation letter that our application has been accepted 

Home visits

Home study ( this is a report done by our case worker after her home visits. The state likes to have them completed with in a 90 day period)

Waiting for placement ( we expect this to be some time in the Fall near the end of October or November if everything goes smoothly) 

We were told that once our home study is complete we could be waiting for up to 9 months for a call that we have been chosen to be placed with a child. 

The placement will be dependent on our adoption criteria. Brian and I have decided that we are looking to be placed with a child from the ages of 0 to 5  and we have no gender or race specification.

I just want to point out that this outline is  not always accurate and the process is different for every family. We know it could take much longer, but on the other side maybe not. We are just along for this ride and in the end we get to do a great thing for a child and family in need.

Once we have been chosen we go thru a visitation period with the child, it starts with a first visit of a couple of hours and gradually visits lengthen, leading to a first overnight. Visits get progressively longer until the child officially  moves to their new home.  Again this is different in every case, if an infant is chosen for us this may be cut drastically shorter. 

Once a child is placed with us we will be working closely with the child's social worker regarding case planning. It is our responsibility to cooperate with DCFS (department of child and family services) and support the case plan including visitation between child and birth family, etc. We will have opportunities to have input or address concerns regarding the child's case planning via staffing and court. 

Once the child becomes legally free a Social Worker is assigned and will assist us with finalization.

We are aware that this process has a lot of risks and we are fully accepting of those. Our philosophy is that if we can give a child the loving home it needs for 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 months it is the most amazing gift we could ever give. And the time we have to nurture and love a child that has not had that on a daily basis is the most important thing in the world! 

I hope that this has helped with any questions and I encourage you if you have questions please ask. We may not know the answers now but we surely will be gaining a lot of knowledge in the next couple of months!

Thank you again for all of your loving and supportive words and I look forward to sharing much more with you!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Exciting Decision

We're very excited to announce that we've decided to adopt a child. As many of our friends and family know, the journey to build our family hasn't been as easy we had hoped. Our yearning to start our family has led us to examine some alternative options and after careful consideration we have realized that adoption is a great fit for us.

With family and friends sprinkled around the world, we feel like this blog will be the perfect way to share our story. As our process unfolds we will both be posting our thoughts, feelings and new knowledge here for all to see. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoy sharing it.

Welcome to our blog, and thanks for reading.
Amy and Brian