All In

My adventure as I jump into life all in!!

Foster Parenting Series: First Placement

on September 25, 2017

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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