Friday, June 13, 2008

Foster Care Information

So, T and I attended a Foster Care Informational Meeting on Tuesday night. There were 7 other people there. I'll just go around the tables:

Persons 1 & 2) a couple about our age and apparent socio-economic status, who have been TTC for 2 years unsuccessfully and are now expanding their definition of family. I was kind of hoping we could make friends with them. I pictured us going out for coffee after the class and bonding together, but although they were sweet looking, I was too shy to even give the girl my card.

Person 3) a 20-year old girl who was legal custodian for her cousin who is now turning 18 and leaving the home. The 20-year old thought she would find another young person to live with her, because she was doing okay on her home and thought her house would be quiet if she was all alone.

Persons 4 & 5) two older ladies from the same church who were switching agencies. They didn't say much. And ...

Persons 6 & 7) scummy couple about whom you will now hear.

I am not a snob. Well, okay, I am kind of a snob. But its only because I'm so darn competitive and I strive to be better than everyone else. So, please don't hate me for being super judgemental and critical about these two. I just wouldn't want my child to have to live with them if I died.

I noticed right away that this couple appeared to be below the povery level themselves - they were adorned in cut off jeans and faded, hole-y tees, but I tried to assume the best of them. I was a bit concerned when they mentioned that they already had 6 children living in their home. I looked past the blue tooth in the woman's right ear during the whole meeting (which is not a sign of poverty, just poor manners). I pretended that her dye job was professional, or at least recent. I ignored her obvious prison tattoo. But I will admit that I began to question whether or not I thought they would be accepted as foster parents (please God, say it a'int so!!!) when they got into a heated argument during the meeting. She literally hit him at one point during their discussion.

Lest I appear completely un-Christian, I was blown away, I mean totally and completely inspired by the 20-year old who was there. When I was her age, I was more concerned with where I would be getting my alcohol that night or gathering enough tips to cover the 'minimum payment' on my credit cards. And here she is, taking care of other peoples' families. Truly amazing. And I was honored just to have been in the same room with her. Wow.

The next day, I had the opportunity to go on a road trip with my friend from work who has just completed his foster care classes. He is always a riot, and it was a good day of work. We got to talking about his classes, and my experience the night before, and he tells us (there were others in the car) about one of his classes when they were being prepared for unusual behavior:
Teacher: What would you think if you came home and saw your foster child riffling through your mail?
Friend: (says to self, but not out loud so as not to get in trouble from his wife) I'd think the little bastard was trying to rob me, find my credit card numbers or something.
Teacher: Whatever you're thinking, you'd be wrong. Children may sometimes rifle through the mail looking for utility bills to be sure you've paid them. They're so used to their power being turned off, and having to move, that they live in constant fear of the utilities being shut off.
Can we all pause for a moment to let this sink in? Because we in the car were awe-struck.
He went on to tell us about how the simple act of lighting a candle can frighten some foster children, because that can be taken as a sign of the power being off. Candles?!
I am sure I will hear many many more gut-wrenching stories like this in the coming weeks as we begin our classes. And I may even witness these behaviors in the children who will come to share our home. But it was very sobering to hear this story and to have my world realigned like this.
Overall, I am so very happy that T and I are going to do this. I feel so empowered by my confidence in this decision. And I feel strong. Like I can do this, like we are right for this, like it was meant to be. I have no doubts. And it feels so amazing to be doing something that feels absolutely spot on.
At the same time, it feels good to be able to work toward a goal. So many times in our TTC journey, we haven't had any control. It's been hurry up and wait, over and over and over again. But now, its fill out this form. Buy this thing. Go to this class. I can do this. I can control this. And it feels good to be headed toward a goal and to feel like there's something I can do that will impact the outcome. We obviously don't have that in the IF world.
So, this weekend, I hope to begin some foster care preparations around the house, in advance of our first, unofficial home visit from our chosen agency. They are small things, but good to get them started, since I can't tackle the spare bedroom until after the garage sale. I hope that by writing them down, I will kind of commit to them and force myself to at least get started. There is a lot to do. So, here goes:
  1. Install smoke detectors in all bedrooms on the first floor. Currently, we only have one in the hallway and I have N.E.V.E.R. once checked the battery. Yes, I'm lucky I haven't been killed. We have lived here almost 6 years. Yikes!
  2. Install CO2 detector in hallway on first floor.
  3. Purchase hand rail for basement staircase. If needed, stain to match rest of woodwork in home.
  4. Purchase and install plugs for wall outlets throughout home. This, of course, is step B, after the all important step A: count wall outlets throughout home.
  5. Purchase and install baby gate for top of basement stairs.


In IVF news, there is no news! Another day, another BCP. Should probably call RE's office on Monday to update them on leftover drug inventory and schedule blood work for communicable diseases check.


DC said...

Yay on getting the process started!! The classes sound very interesting. The prison couple sounds . . . um . . . scary. I can't believe people like that are permitted to care for children.

JamieD said...

It makes me so sad to think of the lives some foster children have lived thinking that is 'normal.' When I was a child, having our utilities cut off never even crossed my mind.

Thank you for sharing your foster care journey with us. It is very interesting!

Jill said...

Sounds like you a moving right along. Congrats! It's very admirable that you are willing to be foster parents. :-)

Nit said...

Hola from NCLM :)

I think it is wonderful that you & your H are going to do foster care. I've thought about it, too. There are so many kids who need a GOOD home.

I'm sure you are not being "judgmental" in your assessment of the couple. I know someone who only does foster care for the money...seriously, it's not even that much!

Good luck!

Lost in Space said...

Best of luck on your foster journey. The scummy couple sounds awful. I don't think you're being judgemental at all.

The story of the utility bills and candles breaks my heart. How sad that this is the norm for so many.

Your plan to get things done sounds great. I'm a planner too.

seriously? said...

Yey to you! I think that you guys are amazing people for looking into becoming a foster family. We aren't there yet and not sure we are strong enough for that but I will look to you if/when the time comes.