Monday, October 8, 2012

Previous placements

Mama Foster asked this question of me the other day:
I am curious about your placements you have had before moving to your current state. I may be wrong, but I thought you mentioned that you fostered in another state you lived in and I love to hear about the kids people are placed with.
Many years ago, when we lived in Northeast Iowa, we decided to become a foster family the first time. Our experience there was radically different than what we've experienced in Texas! We were licensed for two years there (maybe a little more – I'd have to look it up to be sure). I'm not really where to start with that part of our story though.

I guess you could say it all started when we finally sat down and took our first class. Honestly, I don't remember much of the initial process any more. I know the classes were OK enough. They tried to paint a true picture of what foster care looked like. But at the time, My Genius Sister was a social worker. I had talked to her so much about her job that nothing they told me in the class even phased me or my husband.

Living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa we went through many of the steps to get our license to do foster care. In the middle of everything, we ended up doing some unconventional fostering so to speak.

My 16 year old cousin came to live with us. It's a long, complicated story that really isn't mine to tell. But it is safe to say that we were busy enough with her that we didn't think much of the whole "official" foster care paperwork. Time passed and my cousin moved out. Not too long after that I accepted a new job and we sold our house in Cedar Rapids. We moved further north to a tiny town west of Decorah.

Again, my busy job kept me from thinking about the foster care paperwork and licensing process. Mr. Amazing was a full time college student. He definitely wasn't thinking about adding more kids to our brood. But once my job settled in and I had a decent enough of a routine, foster care started tugging at our hearts again. I approached my boss and discussed what level of flexibility I would need. All was a go so I contacted the State about where we were in the process of things.

Long story...the state of Iowa had lost our paperwork. They took full ownership of the mishap and, despite the training requirements having been changed, they grandfathered us in based on the training we had already completed. Social workers were sent to our home. The home study was completed. We marked the box "fostering only" as we had no plans to adopt at that time.

We had been told that the need for foster parents was quite high. Still, after we had our license in hand, no children came. We did respite for an adoptive family several different times. An amazing family had adopted three children all so close in age it was almost like having triplets. (When the kids came to my house it was like having quads as they were all the same age as Herman too!) At least one (if not all three) of her kids had RAD. At the time I had no idea what that really meant. I just knew she was thrilled when our family was able to help them out and watch the kids every now and then.

Still, no official placements came. So...we got puppies. Two of them. Yellow labs.

Three weeks later, we got the call for TT. Thank God the social worker decided to "fix" our paperwork so that we could make TT a permanent member of our family.

Herman was thrilled to finally be a big brother. Our little family was so happy.

Then, when TT was five months old, we got what I consider our first "real" call to foster. It was an 18 month old little boy named Jordan. I feel bad, I don't really remember all the intimate details of everything. I kept a journal though of the entire time Jordan lived with us. In fact, I got it out the other day and read it from cover to cover. He was an easy kid to care for all in all. Fostering in general was easy for us back then. Literally almost no documentation. All I had to do with my babysitter was give our social worker her name and address. Anyone could come into my home without issue. We went camping. We went shopping in Minnesota. I didn't have to have permission for much at all.

Jordan had some issues of course. No child comes into Care without suffering some kind of trauma first. He may have shown early signs of RAD. Any time anything stressful happened the child could shut off his emotion and go sooooooo deep within himself. I mentioned this many times in my journal. It was very surreal how detached he could become. Hollow. Blank. Deep within himself. Much deeper than any 18 month old should ever be. Jordan also suffered from night terrors. Not nightmares....but night terrors. They were frightening to me at first but I learned how to just hold him through them until he settled back down.

Jordan's parents lived together in a town not too far from us. They had problems with methamphetamines. Jordan had come in to Care as a result. I had a social worker go so far as to indicate that the chances would be high that we might be able to adopt Jordan. But both parents worked their case plan. Everything worked like how I imagined foster care should work. Jordan had visits. We all participated in a Family Group Conference. Jordan's visits were increased. Jordan's visits moved up to unsupervised weekend visits. Jordan went home.

The only reason I think I didn't completely lose myself in sadness when Jordan left is because...just two weeks after he had arrived that spring...I found out I was pregnant. Then, in the fall, Jordan's baby sister was born. She was immediately taken into custody and I, a woman who had so desperately wanted another child, had to say "no" to a baby. They let Jordan stay with us though and just worked things out so that the children had visits at the same time with their parents. His sister was beautiful. But there was no way I could agree to having TT, Jordan, Jordan's sister and then my own newborn all at the same time. Four children two and under?! Um...no. Not only would that have been nearly impossible, but I also worked full time outside the home and I freelanced on my "off" time.

After six months (May to October), Jordan went home. Reunification with mom and dad. I was happy for them. I felt like we had done a good thing. I even stayed in contact with their family for a bit. I babysat a couple times for Jordan and his sister after reunification.

Then, my husband got a job. (He had finally graduated college.) We sold our house and we started our cross-country tour that kept us from fostering for what seemed like an eternity to me. During that time God put many children in our path that needed us just as much as any foster child would. Looking back I know that God's plan has been perfect. I used to get mad. I felt such a call to help the abused and neglected. But God put us in a duplex right next door to a little boy that needed us oh so badly. And then, He put us in Deep South Texas where we were able to foster again.

So that's that. Did I answer enough Mama Foster?  :)  Is there anything else you want to know?

1 comment:

MadHatter said...

Thanks for sharing this piece of your story. The hubs and I have been licensed since May and have only been doing respite. Although I am glad to help in this way, it is NOT what I want to be doing (b/c it is all about me, right? hah!)I am learning to be patient in the wait, trust God in His timing, enjoy an easier normal, because those longer term placements will come. Seeing your months of waiting was just what I needed today!