The Next Steps.

My mom came over yesterday morning to watch and school my girls while I went to DSHS (department of social health services) for the mandatory three hour foster orientation meeting.

The day started terribly.

I woke at 2 AM and fretted for three hours. Are we making a mistake? What will our families think? I’m a nut job with two kids, what makes me think I could handle three or four? Maybe we should wait til we buy another house. I wonder when the neighbor’s house will be for sale? I need to clean the bathroom. And empty the dishwasher. The Christmas tree already looks droopy.

I fell back to sleep, woke at 7 and just laid there. I had a headache and just felt off. My mom sent a text that she was coming early (surprise, surprise), so I had to get up. I couldn’t put it off.

In the reading I’ve done I learned that I am judged from the moment I walk in the door of social services. True or not, I decided I should dress up. I showered, did my hair, make up, and wore a dress and mah boots. I felt uncomfortable being dressed up so much walking into the building. Most people going to DSHS aren’t dressed up. But I wanted to make a good first impression.

I don’t want them to know I’m usually in jeans with holes, covered in cow slobber, while wearing shoes that are caked in chicken poop and duck feathers.

Before leaving the house I had a decision to make regarding our homeschool co-op that was weighing on me. Of course I was over-thinking the whole thing and once I made a decision I felt much better.

I left the house without a drop of coffee in me, or a bite to eat.

As I’m driving I realize I don’t have enough time to grab a coffee. My head is starting to hurt.

Panic mode.

While I’m on my way I get a text from a friend asking why I want to be a foster parent when “you don’t want to take care of the kids you do have.” “You get stressed out.” “You get overwhelmed.”

The things I already know. The things I already think about. Thanks, friend.

As much as I tried to ignore those words, they were with me the rest of my drive.

I am on the road that DSHS is on and the road for my favorite Yakima coffee stand is not too far. Maybe there’s time enough? My head is pounding.

The line is long. Not enough time. So I backtrack. DSHS, here I come. I turn too soon. No DSHS. Passing the coffee stand again and decide there’s time to get in line, except the car in front of me must have ordered 79 drinks. I had to back up and leave.

I pull into DSHS. Look at the front doors that I’ve been in only once before, and I know somewhere inside is an elevator and I need the third floor. I silence my phone, check the mirror, get out, and take a deep breath.

The elevator is just inside the door, I go up to the third floor, there are five minutes until my appointment time.

I take my seat. I wait. Head is pounding. I have three hours to wait til food and coffee.

Heather comes out, calls out for foster orientation, and I am the only one. She explains that sometimes it’s this way. A one on one class, or several people. We got through the three hour class in 2.5 hrs. I only welled with tears three times, never letting them spill over.

And each time it was when she spoke of the children leaving my home.

How will my heart handle letting a child leave?

I learned that we will not be able to take a child under the age of two due to the flu shot and dtap vaccines being a requirement. This is a new law in WA state, resulting in the loss of over 400 foster families. Many families amended their licenses to 2 and up, many chose not to renew at all. Vaccines are a hot topic, and not one I’ll get into, but for now, our choice is that we won’t be getting those shots, and thus – no tiny babies in our home. 

While that makes me sad pants, Josh thinks it may be best.

“How do you think you’d do with a newborn?”

Um. I’d be a rockstar. Duh. 

The last newborn in this house made me need a strait-jacket. Josh reminded me that up until she was about four, she got up in the night. She cried. She screamed. 

I cried. I screamed.

But that’s why I think I’d be a rockstar. I can look back at those hard days and know:

I can do hard things. I can. 

But I don’t need to worry about a newborn.

We went over things in my home that I will need. Baby gates for children under six. Childproof everything. Smoke alarms. Fire extinguisher. Test of my well. And other stuff in this big stack of papers.

I called Josh on my way home, near tears since my head was still pounding. We talked for quite a while and I asked how he was feeling.

“I’ll be honest,” he says. “I’m not 100% on board yet.”

I knew why. I had a hard week. School. House. Life. How could I consider adding to my plate? My already dysfunctional brain? Josh knows me well, and he worries about me. He wants what is best for me always. And often knows what’s best for me more than I do.

We hung up after a bit and then resumed our conversation in the evening once the girls were picked up for church.

Over a half price beer and a free appetizer, we talked for another hour or so. There’s so much to consider. Yet the answer seems simple enough.

Move forward.

I will fill out forms. Send them in.

In January I have eight days (four days one week, four days the next) of three hour classes. Total of a 24 hour module. 

45 minutes away.

Then a CPR/First Aid class.

I think this is already showing me the time commitment I’ll be making, the errands I’ll be running, the new doors I’ll have to walk through.

I don’t want to get in over my head, but I don’t want to ignore the quickening in my heart, either, every time someone mentions orphans and foster care. We’re just going to take everything one slow small step at a time.

Have you fostered? Are you fostering? Were you a foster child? Leave a comment with your heart on the subject.

4 thoughts on “The Next Steps.

  1. I can’t believe your friend said that to you. It seems unnecessary. And mean, frankly. I hope you’re feeling better about that comment.

    We always had planned on eventually fostering. It’s something I’ve always felt called to do. However, with the loss of Amirah I’m not sure if we ever will. I don’t think we can go through another loss. But who knows what the future holds?

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  2. Call me. CALL Me!! We will hash it out. I can give you some ideas, pointers, and lots of understanding (which is what you will need most. Someone who can understand the insanity.) Lean hard into your caseworker for answers, as a sounding board, for suggestions. Be very upfront with the caseworkers. And always, Always!, fight hard for your (foster) kids.

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  3. I also hope you aren’t letting those words echo in your spirit. Go with God. You are not ignoring that quickening in your spirit and that, my friend, is called obedience.

    I feel your struggle. I feel an overwhelming push where I live to foster or adopt by many well meaning families who have done so and therefore think everyone should. Either of those options is not for the faint of heart
    With our loss of Jax, like your friend above, it colors my ability to face loss again. I simply don’t think I’d survive it. But whether or not we do either we won’t move an inch without being on the same page with each other and with whatever feel God is speaking.
    Once he opens a door, even a peek, I say…onward until he closes it…and you ARE!!!
    Many, many prayers your way. Lobe getting your updates and watching this journey. I think your openness about the process is a major help to many of us who wonder but haven’t felt led to put one foot in front of the other yet. I love having your experience as a bit of a guide for the future if we go this route.

    Much love!!!!!

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  4. If God placed it in you than you can do “All things.” Even hard things.

    It was hard. The hardest was the mandatory visits with the parents at the DSHS office. Sometimes 3 times per week! That sucked for me. The walking in with this little boy and seeing his dad and mom and knowing that they’d just not have anything to offer him, cause when all you have to offer is love and safety and you don’t do that? What have you got?

    That was-is still hard to think about. Handing over this baby boy who gained several pounds in a couple weeks with me. He was underweight because his mother did not feed him. He thrived with me then I had to give him to her and the grandma. It was hard. His young mom said, “Wow! He’s getting so fat!” At our handoff at the doctors. I still think about that day.

    Tip: You can always say ‘No’ to a hard placement. I had two boys who were so hard that I couldn’t do it, the social worker agreed that these boys would have a heck of a time unless you could literally do nothing but care for them. A home without other children would be best. (That was hard, to let them move forward to another home…but it was best)

    So don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to a placement. If it’s not a good fit it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Someone else could have more time to give or more training, I.e. Medical expertise.

    If you say yes to any and all placements you perhaps will burn out or make your husband leery of taking any more. I’ve had other friends agree with that statement. Once you do it, you’ll see.

    But if you get the right placement, some little guy who just wants to run and play and chase chickens and build forts and feed the cow? Pure joy. I see that as a real possibility.

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