Thursday, September 19, 2013

Becoming a Foster Parent

I think if you asked 100 Foster Parents why they made the decision to become Foster Parents, you would end up with 100 different reasons. Let me share with you, our reason.

We were married in 1997, and were in NO rush to have a baby. Did I mention NO rush? Meaning I/we weren't even sure we wanted a child. We decided to put the conversation on hold for 10 years. We figured 10 years would give us time to really get to know each other. When that tenth year came up, we looked at each other and basically said "I'm good, how about you?" meaning we still had no interest in having kids.

Then over the course of the next three years, something changed. We began to have conversations about having a family. I could see us with a family, but I had such a disconnect. I had no desire to be pregnant, nor did I have a need for the child to be biologically mine. I had always played with the idea of adopting a child one day, and that is something I shared with my husband before we were even married, he was always on board with the thought of adopting.

Private adoption was never a discussion we had.  For us it was very clear that if we were going to do this, it would be through the Foster Care System. I made a call the last week in August of 2009 to the Adoptions Social Worker at our local DSHS. We arranged to meet a few days later to discuss the adoption process through the department. During our meeting she explained to me that based on what we wanted to do they would place us in one of three categories, which are Adoptive family, Foster to Adopt family, or Foster family. She was honest with me and said that it would be highly unlikely for us to end up with a child under the age of three if we choose the Adoptive Family category. For a child to be ready to adopt they have to be legally free, and that can take a few years. We chose to go the Foster Adopt route.

After the meeting I signed up for the orientation class. During the class they explain the licensing process. It is at that point when your head starts to spin just a little.  You are sent home with an application to become a Foster parent, and a background check for anyone over the age of 18 living in your home. That is the easy part. I had it filled out and in the mail the next day. Once that was processed we were assigned a Licensor. The Licensor then set up our Live Scan Fingerprints, told us to enroll in a class called PRIDE, and mailed us an enormous amount of paperwork.

Lets talk about the PRIDE class. It is a mandatory class that is offered through DSHS. They discuss everything from the different branches in the department to sexual abuse (including a very hard to watch video). It was while taking this course that I started to doubt my decision. The course that we took was in the evenings and ran for several weeks. My mind started to mess with me at about the half way point. Thoughts like, you aren't strong enough to handle this, your life is pretty decent without kids, what if the child they give you attempts to harm one of your animals, what if the child goes back to the birth parent? I was on the verge of calling it quits, when out of nowhere during one of our classes the instructor began to cry. She was also an adoptive parent, and they had been given some tough news that day. I was witnessing a real person with raw emotion, no longer a DSHS employee. It was exactly what I needed to see. It was at that moment that I realized you did not have to be an emotionless robot to do this. Yes, Foster parents cry...

After we completed PRIDE we had to complete infant CPR as well as an HIV/AIDS training. That took an entire Saturday, but well worth it.

Lets get back to that enormous stack of paperwork. The easy forms were the Background checks, the Child Abuse Central Index Inquiry for Out-of-State agencies, the actual application, and your personal medical statement. Then you realize there is a 15 page packet that they title "Personal Information". It took me many days to fill that one out. Don't forget all of these forms are times two, one for you and one for your spouse. When that was completed we returned it to the Department with the following requested items. A copy of our drivers licenses, copy of our car insurance, an evacuation plan (I made the hubby do that one), and a signed policy agreement.

Then as if that is not enough... We both had to get a TB Test. Since we are on well water, we had to have a Private Well  Water test.  Seems like a lot, right? Once the Social Worker had time to review everything she called us and made our Home Study appointment which is a minimum of two hours in your home. We were well into November by this point. That appointment could be a post unto itself. To sum it up you review your personal statements, you discuss how you would handle discipline, and religion. Then she went through our home to make sure we met all Department guidelines. Well, we passed... Unfortunately the state of California was dragging their feet in completing our background check. Since we had lived at our current location for less than five years, we had to complete a background check from the state that we had previously lived. So we sat and waited for 5 more weeks, to hear back from CA.

Finally a few days before Christmas, it was done! Our license was signed off on December 24th. Merry Christmas to us! From my very first phone call to the Department, to our license being signed off was four months. Nine days later, we received a call about a baby that had just been born... That is a post for another day!

1 comment:

  1. I love you two sooo very much for your love, selflessness and courage....
    God is blessing you beyond belief.


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