All In

My adventure as I jump into life all in!!

Goal Progress – September

The month is almost over and I just remembered that I haven’t tracked my goal progress yet!! I have done better than last year by just keeping up with tracking my goals, if nothing else, lol! Here goes:

Financial Goals:

Start a Side Hustle – Fail. – As our debt seems to loom into eternal payments, I am seriously considering making some time to purge stuff from our home. We have extra strollers, way too many clothes and some junk. I just need to set aside a time to get it done!

Earn $100 extra each month – Pass – Although I’ve been slacking on a side hustle, I got barely enough overtime last month to bring in $100 extra dollars.

Pay down vehicles so they aren’t upside downFail – Our bank account was just too low this month, so I only sent in an extra $10. It’s something, but not where I want to be with paying down our vehicles.

Grow our Net Worth by $10,000 (20%) – Fail – Our net worth hardly moved last month. We ended up charging a bit too much on our credit card, so I think this had something to do with it. How are we ever going to become debt free if we keep up like this!?

Personal Goals:

Read the Entire Bible – Fail – I am still struggling to remember to make this a priority.

Write at least two blogs post per month – Pass – I did my usual goal update, as well as start a series on our foster parenting journey.

Read 13 books – Pass – I took a break from the Christian reading list I had been going through and read a fiction book. I also finished reading the Christian book I was in the middle of reading.

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God – Work in Progress – Definitely something I need to focus more on, but I wouldn’t say it’s a “fail” this month either.

Keep Our House Tidy – Pass – Still a continual work in progress. I feel like we did a little better last month, but we also had a few case worker visits, so we made sure to keep the house clean.

Well, there you have it. Not too shabby and still chugging along.

What about you, how are your goals or resolutions doing? If you are hitting your goals, great! If not, don’t get discouraged and keep pushing towards those goals! The best way to stay accountable is to share you goals and progress, so feel free to comment below.

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Foster Parenting Series: First Placement

In my last few posts, I talked about what led us to becoming foster parents and the process we went through to become licensed. Today, I will talk about our first placement.

When we got licensed, we could chose an age range of children we would prefer to have in our home. (We could have limited gender and race as well, but we chose to take both genders and any race.) Because we don’t have our own kids, we chose to foster children from age 0 to 2. We figured that would be a good place to start and assumed that children this age wouldn’t come with some of the severe behavioral issues and defiance that older children sometimes have. (I’m not saying those children aren’t worth our time, quite the opposite, but we wanted to start out parenting younger children so that we could be more prepared to eventually take on older kids; I hope someday we feel confident enough to take older children because there is a huge need for homes for older kids)

You also get to choose how many children you are willing to take at a time (as long as you have the necessary space for multiple children). At the time, we had one spare bedroom, so we got licensed for two.

Then the calls began. Because there aren’t as many babies in foster care as there are older children, we got calls for kids of all ages. Most of the calls we got were for children age 3 or over. We got a few random calls for babies, but we either missed the call, or said yes but the child went to another family instead. (The process our agency goes through is to call families and get a handful of yes’s, then they give those family’s names over to the placement agency and they set up the placement, so we just weren’t the family picked by the placement agency I guess.) This only happened a few times, mostly we got calls for older children and said no. But even the amount of calls we received outside of our age range wasn’t super often.

I always heard about how foster parents are needed and there are so many children and not enough homes, and I had heard of families that got licensed one day, and the next day had 3 or 4 kids in their homes. We thought a placement would happen almost immediately like that, but for whatever reason, it didn’t.

Finally, after about 6 months or so, we finally said yes and got a placement of a sibling set. Two girls, aged 2 years old and 11 months old from a different town in our area. I got the call on my way home from work and I picked up the girls that evening. My husband was working so I went to get them alone.

They both took to me pretty well (as well as they could at their age, not really understanding what was going on). The next morning, we all just hung out and I let them watch cartoons. They weren’t too sure about my husband, but by the end of the day, he had won them over. I had gone to bed on Friday a nervous wreck. I was thinking “Oh my gosh, this is really happening! There are two kids in my house who expect me to know how to take care of them….Can I do this? Am I doing okay?” I later realized this was probably a normal ‘new parent’ freak-out moment, but in the moment, I was terrified of what we had worked so long to do, actually being a parent.

The older girl was underweight, and basically all she would eat was pediasure drinks. We tried to be firm, yet loving and get her to eat more food, but the most she would eat was a few chicken nuggets, which worried us. Kids need to eat real food, right? At the same time, we were also struggling to line up day care, since we both work full-time. We called all the places on the list of state-licensed daycares and no one had an opening.

While I had been having my ‘new parent freak-out,’ my husband kept assuring me that everything would be okay and that we were doing fine. I finally started to believe him, but as soon as I became calme, he hit the ‘new parent freak-out.’ He was concerned about the older girl’s eating habits and our inability to find daycare. I ended up taking the following Monday off since we still had no daycare, but after calling all day Monday, we still hadn’t lined anything up.

We reached out to the girls’ case worker about this and they said the girls’ grandmother was willing to take them and could do so immediately, if needed. We decided that since that was a possibility, that we would go ahead with that. Plus, it is in the child’s best interests to be with family, it just took the state a little time to get in contact with family.

After they left, I experienced a range of emotions. I cried, because I missed them; we had bonded in just those few days. I also cried because I felt like we failed as parents because we got so stressed in the span of the few days. My husband was so overwhelmed by the struggles we had with the older girl not eating, that he wasn’t sure how well he could parent. We actually ended up closing our foster license for a few years. But I still felt called to help kids in this way, and we both agreed there are children out there that need love. So, last year, we got re-certified and chose to only take 1 child at a time, hoping we wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed if there was only one child to worry about.

In my next post, I will talk about our first long-term placement.

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Foster Parenting Series: Paperwork

In my last post, I talked about what led us to becoming foster parents. In this post, I will talk about the process we went through to get licensed as foster parents.

In 2012, we decided to look into becoming foster parents. We attended an informational session that was a sort of overview of what becoming a foster parent entailed and a bit about being a foster parent. After the session, we signed up to take the classes required to become licensed.

We attended classes for three months, once a week for 3 hours in the evening at our local community college. The classes were provided free of charge. There were about 10 to 15 other couples in the class with us, all of different ages and different reasons that led them there. The class was taught by a current foster parent and someone from the licensing agency. Throughout the class we talked about issues that foster children may have, the circumstances that may lead them to foster care, and tips on parenting them and correcting behaviors. It was highly stressed the corporal punishment (spanking or hitting) was a no-no, so we talked a lot about other ways to correct behaviors, and how some of their behaviors could be caused by their previous environment or their lack of control over their current environment. After all, the children don’t choose to leave the only home they’ve ever known, and they usually aren’t happy about it.

After the class, everyone was given the choice to continue and become licensed, or decide that foster care isn’t for you and leave it at that.  We chose to move forward and become licensed. Thus began the barrage of paperwork and home visits.

I cleaned our house like it had never been cleaned before and we filled out mountains of paperwork. I swear we even filled out the same papers twice because it was misplaced by the licensing agency. I felt like I filled out my name, birth date, and address hundreds of times by the time we were done.

People are often curious of what a home visit entails. What is the agency looking for, why so many visits, etc.? They are not looking into every nook and cranny of your home, they will not dig through your underwear drawer or the back of your closet or anything crazy like that. They simply want to make sure you have a clean home and that you have things necessary to take care of children, like a bedroom with a bed and dresser for them (and a certain amount of square footage per child, including your own), a bathroom, and functioning kitchen, and functioning fire alarms and CO2 detectors. They also want to make sure there is nothing in your home that is dangerous for a child, and that your cleaning supplies are locked out of reach of children as well as any firearms (if you own any).

As for the mountains of paperwork, they want to fingerprint you, learn about your past and how you interact with children in your own life (the licensing agency in our state asked for references and then ask those references for more references about us). They also need to do a background check, and they want to make sure you make enough money to take care of the child(ren) placed in your care (although you get paid by the state, they want to make sure you can function without it, so you aren’t just ‘doing it for the money’).

After what seemed like an eternal mountain of paperwork and multiple home visits, we finally got the news that we were licensed in the Spring of 2013.

In the next post, I will discuss what it was like to get our first call and placement.

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