Hi! My name is Clarise. I'm currently going through the process of becoming a foster parent. I started this blog to share my journey with readers. I am not a writer, an expert on parenting, or even a parent... but so many folks have asked questions, I thought I would share. I am also an avid runner, nutrition coach and devoted Sunday school teacher (which is where I learn most of my patience with preschooler's :-)). I also work for a small agency called the VA. I hope you enjoy!
Quick blog post. Last night my dear foster daughter (DFD) called me Mommy. It took me by total surprise. I had just picked her up from her biological mom and dad, who she has visits with every weekend. She knows her mom… she knows her dad… AND then there’s me. When she called me “Mommy” she quickly said after, “can I call you mommy?” I asked her if that is what she wants to call me and she said yes. So the entire ride home it was “Mommy this and Mommy that,” I mean… it was like she couldn’t say the word enough :-). After we got settled at home and she was getting ready for bed, she said “CC (what she calls me) … I mean mommy, when I go to sleep then I will wake up and see my mommy again?” I agreed with her. I asked her, “why do you want to call me mommy?” She shrugged her shoulders. I said, “Is it because I take care of you like a mommy?” She said yes. Me: “You know ______ is your mommy, right?” She said yes, she knows that. So I told her that maybe she can call me Mommy CC so that she doesn’t get confused with her mommy and myself, she said okay. When I went to her room this morning… I thought she may have forgotten about this “mommy” business and she was back to calling me CC, nope as soon as I opened her door… she said, “Good morning Mommy!”
Last night, I was in total internal turmoil. Although I am flattered that she would even want to call me mommy, the thought of it made me sad. I just feel like at such a young age, this little one has had to call her dad and foster dad “Poppy” and her bio mom and myself “mommy.” She talks about her previous foster dad and brother all the time and how much she misses them, but also how happy she is at my house. At such a young age… she has been through a lot. Every time I take her to someones home… she always says, “then we are going to the ‘nother’ house?” I hate hearing her talk about going to the “nother house and the nother house.” It just makes me realize how many houses she has seen. This journey as a foster mom is new for me. I went from an 18 year old that was mostly out on her own, to a baby who couldn’t verbalize who I was to her, to now a 6 year old who can identify me with “Mommy.” I just don’t know how to feel about that and to be honest, I am not 100% comfortable. One of my friends who is also going through this process, but as an adoptive mom told me to let this little one decide what she is comfortable calling me because she needs to sort this out for herself. That I have to meet her where she is, that this is not a competition with her bio mom and that it is okay for her to have multiple moms… and that I am not replacing her bio mom (in her eyes). Even thought it can be messy at times… that this is her journey to navigate.
I am trying to embrace this new journey of “Mom” and trying to accept it.
I haven’t updated my blog in a few weeks and honestly, sometimes I just don’t know what to say! LOL! My Dear Foster Daughter (DFD) has been with me for almost a month now and it seems like we are getting used to having each other around. She is still sweet as pie and as silly as she can be, but we also still struggle with tantrums and meltdowns occasionally (like I am sure most bio moms would say as well). Over all, things are going well. I am very grateful that all of my placements have not been tumultuous so far. I’m going to break this entry down into sections, so I can try and capture all of my thoughts.
This has been my first dealings EVER with the public school system as a parent. It started out a bit rocky the first week as I was trying to switch my DFD contact information from her previous family. It seemed like the school staff wasn’t sure of what information I needed to bring in to make the change. Usually all that is needed is the placement letter from DSS which lets them know that this child is supposed to be with me. The school did take that, but they were unsure of what other proof I needed. So… I waited. We got all of that sorted out within 3 days. I also got to meet her teacher to learn more about the classroom dynamics and to actually learn more about how my DFD interacts with other children. Come to find out she is a social butterfly! Always helping and talking to other students. For 3 weeks, I had to drop her off and pick her up from school which was a HUGE deal. She has an early start and end time… so I had to take a late lunch to pick her up. We finally got the bus last week (after I threatened DSS)! It was great the first day, but the second day we missed the bus because the substitute bus driver came 10 minutes early and left the pickup location 6 minutes early. I learned to just sit outside 10 minutes early each day. I also learned from this that if I have another school aged child I will have to think long and hard about taking the placement if their school is far away. Luckily for me, her school is only 10 minutes from my home… but if her school was further south in the county, that would have been a nightmare for me logistically.
After School and Adjustments
So my DFD is not an only child. She is used to having siblings around to play with… which has been a huge adjustment for her… AND ME! I grew up as an only child plus I am an introvert. I know how to entertain myself and I actually like being alone (or at least don’t mind being alone). My DFD is the total opposite of me! Like I said, she is a total social butterfly! In her previous home, there was a sibling there with her to play with and they also went to aftercare after school. So she is used to always having someone to play with or a lot of options for play after school. Here… there is only me and I am still working when she gets out of school, so she has to learn how to entertain herself. I have plenty of toys for her to play with, activity books, coloring books, Lego blocks… you get it :-). When she gets home she has a snack and can either have one hour watching TV or on the tablet… then she has to go play. Do you know what this little one told me last week?? “But, I only have 11 toys to play with… not 100!!” First of all… she has more than 11… LOL… second of all… pick one of the 11 to play with. So she chose to sit here and stare at me working for 30 minutes…. and pout. Sometimes she annoys me! LOL!
Discipline and Small Victories
So if you know me… you know I am a rule follower. I don’t really rock the boat, if I’m asked to do something… I do it… no real push back. As an adult that has turned into being a fairly disciplined person that expects people to do the right thing also. **Side note… I am often disappointed in life.** LOL! As I said, this little one is extremely well behaved. She is sweet and she listens for the most part, but like a normal child… she likes to have certain things her way. Most of the time I let her do what she wants, as far as what she eats (at my house… it’s always balanced), what she wears, what she plays with, and what she wants to watch (My Little Pony ALL THE TIME). We have 3 non-negotiable’s. 1) You have to go to school, 2) You have to take a bath, and 3) You have to go to bed. I actually had to ask a friend if I was being unreasonable asking her to take a bath everyday because it was always a source of a meltdown. We have gotten through these meltdowns with the implementation of a behavior chart. She earns stickers for each day she makes good choices. This morning I was very happy that she turned her meltdown around. I always tell her that she has the power to make a good choice and have a good or not so good attitude. She changed it this morning, made a good choice and even apologized to me for her not so good attitude! Whew, glad she did because I really didn’t want to cancel her Halloween fun tonight. LOL!
Appointments and Parent Visits
Since my DFD has been with me, we have gone to plenty of doctor, dentist and therapy appointments. At one point it seemed like all I was doing was trying to get her to all the places she needed to go. It seems like that is slowing down a bit (yay!) so we can kind of get back to normal. I also had to go to a training on becoming her educational surrogate. I was really annoyed because the trainer read the slides to me. I could have read the slides in the comfort of my own home! LOL! As far as her parent visits, she has visits each weekend… unsupervised. Her family seems nice. Her dad, he is a little touchy feely in a creepy way. I’ve had to place boundaries in place around that interaction. I’m not down for that… at all!
Play dates, my schedule and Races
Have I mentioned that I like running? Well, I am an avid distance runner and I spend most of my free time either running or at the gym…. seriously. When people ask me what I like to do for fun, I usually say “nothing” because a lot of times I get weird looks for my love of distance running. ANYWAY, this is about foster care! LOL! I have had a few races while my DFD has been with me and I was very worried about how to manage having her and still running. I’ve had friends totally help me out with picking her up for me or allowing her to spend the night at their house. Total life savers! If anyone cares, my races all went well! After my hip injury last fall and not running for 4 months, I am so proud of my recent accomplishment (running the Baltimore Marathon a full 26.2 miles)! I’ve also had friends bring their kids over to play… which helps my social butterfly AND me (so that I can rest my ears from all of her interview questions! LOL!).
As far as her case, it seems like this little one may be with me for a little longer than I anticipated. I was a bit sad about that. Not that I want her to go, but when I took the placement the plan was reunification and she already had unsupervised overnight visits with her family. That changed and it seems like things are changing weekly. Why did I say that made me sad? Well, I always feel sad for her shuffling back and forth between her parents and myself. She is old enough to know that she wants to be with her parents and she asks me all the time when’s the next time she will see them. She has no concept of days and times… so I am constantly trying to help her count the days until she sees her mommy again. Secondly, selfishly… I miss my schedule! LOL! I miss being able to run with my friends, go to the gym early mornings, and sleep in ANY DAY of the week. On the weekends I meet her dad at 6 am to drop her off. I appreciate the time she gets to spend with her family and that I have to myself… but every morning is early and sometimes I just want to relax! So, it seems she will be with me a while longer. Her siblings are moving homes today because their foster mom couldn’t do it anymore. I may/may not have been the one who inadvertently told her that they were removing the children (oops). I thought it was common knowledge… but she didn’t know. I felt horrible… but she was happy I told her to soften the blow of DSS calling her. That is sooo another story, but it just presses my point that these kids may be in care for longer than we all thought.
I guess I had more to say then I thought! Hopefully it was an interesting read! Happy Halloween from my little one!
Welcome to my favorite time of year! FALL! I love it! Not only was I born in the fall, but during this season I can drink all of the tea (hot) that I want and wear ugg boots! LOL! Long sweaters and scarfs! Yes, my favs!! But enough about me… you don’t come here to read about me. LOL! I received a new placement almost two weeks ago. A six year old little girl… she is a sweetie and it has been a joy to have her in my home. It has not been easy, today was a hard morning for me… I will get to that, but I wanted to give an update on the new little one in my home!
When I see the Social Services number on my phone, my heart always starts to race. I know they are calling me for a placement and I am anxious to hear what my worker has to say. So, my worker called me on a Monday and asked if I would be open to taking a six year old girl who was moving from another foster home. She told me about her case, and let me know that her plan is reunification with her family as she has unsupervised overnight visits. I knew that the next few weeks were very busy for me, my mom was having surgery, I had two races, and I was going out of town. I hesitated on the phone… my worker kept saying, “It’s okay if you can’t, you have to what works for you.” To be honest, I said no to the placement. When I hung up… I felt so bad. I chastised myself. “Why did you say no? Why can’t you do it? You are busy for the next few weekends, but she will have family visits… so what’s the real reason?” Nothing… so I called my worker back and told her I would take the placement. She was coming on Friday, so I had a few days to prepare. On Friday, I called her social worker to ask what time she was arriving and what time I needed to get her to her family for the weekend visit. I was then informed that her weekend visits had been rescinded. FREAK OUT MOMENT!!! WHAT??!! I had a race that weekend… what am I going to do? Called my worker, she asked me what I wanted to do… do I want her to be placed somewhere else or do I want to put her in respite for the weekend? Geesh, it looks bad when you accept a child and then tell the workers that you won’t take them, so I took her. Hindsight… ???
So little miss arrived on Friday evening, she came in a gave me a big hug. Again, her worker gave me all of her information and belongings and then 1,2,3… she was gone… leaving me and the little one on our own. We played most of the night, but when it was time for bed… she did not want to go to sleep. This would be indicative of our next couple of nights. So far, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are good and some are bad. Going from a 6 month old to a six year old is a big jump and to be honest… the baby was easier! LOL! Babies don’t talk back or have meltdowns! I feel like I am on a job interview every day with all the questions she asks me…. as soon as she gets up and as soon as I pick her up from school. That has also been a big adjustment. I have to drop her off and pick her up from school each day. I am trying to get a bus for her… hopefully by next week she will have one. When she first arrived, she didn’t want me to turn off the lights when she went to sleep. I tried dimmer light bulbs and it still didn’t work. My running group moms told me to just put more nightlights in the room. So, I ventured out to Target and found this great projection nightlight that projects Anna and Elsa from frozen on the ceiling. So she has to turn off the lights to see her friends :-). Parenting win! LOL! OH, but we do have meltdowns…. every other day we have one. Yesterday was the first time I had to put her on timeout. I was telling my mom that I had to start giving her consequences for not obeying me when I ask her to do something. What I am asking her to do are normal kid things, examples…. brushing her teeth, going to bed, going to school, doing her homework. I mean, things that she has to do! LOL! When I ask her to do these things, she starts pouting or crying and won’t move. She just gives me puppy dog eyes and starts dropping crocodile tears. Which really don’t move me. If you are not hurt or something is not really wrong and you start crying… that annoys me. I now understand why my mom used to want to “give me something to cry for” when I would cry for no reason! LOL! Today was a hard day because it started with her not wanting to put on a coat. Here, it was 45 degrees this morning… baby doll has to wear a coat. So that discussion turned into a meltdown. I also found that she says, “I miss my mommy” as a way of manipulating me. I know she misses her mom, and I feel bad that she is in this situation… no child deserves this, BUT she only says this to me when I am disciplining her or speaking sternly to her. She never misses her mom when she is watching her show, or playing on the tablet. Only when I tell her it is time to go to bed, or she has to turn off he tablet. LOL! It’s not funny… but I laugh to keep from crying… literally.
I get so frustrated because although this is something that I want to do… it is frustrating because I have had to change my entire life around to take care of this little one. My time, my resources, my energy, my love and all I get are meltdowns over small things! I know that other moms probably are thinking… my kids do the same, but it’s just hard for me. I am doing all of this for a child that I am choosing to love… not that I birthed… so it hurts just the same.
She really is a sweet girl, she has a great laugh and she is so silly! I’ve gotten better at washing and styling her hair! It’s the little things. Today just happened to be a not so good morning. Like I told her when I dropped her off at school today, she has a choice on how the rest of her day will be… It can be good or bad, it just depends on her attitude. Same goes for me… instead of staying frustrated at this moment, I will choose to make it a good day!
It has been exactly one month since my placement left me. I miss her so much! I pray for her each day and hope that she is happy and safe. The hardest thing for me has been the “unknown.” Not knowing how baby girl is doing, how she is adjusting back to her home, and just all of the new things she has learned how to do (crawl, say words, eat solid foods… all of the baby things!). Two days ago, I text my mom… I was sort of emotional realizing that baby girl turned 7 months that day. She’s growing up… I’m so proud of her! I have not heard from her family, I don’t know if I ever will and that is hard also.
I learned a lot during this first placement in regards to dealing with Social Services. What to do… and what NOT to do! LOL! So being transparent (for anyone who may be considering fostering), foster parents do not make a lot of money. Actually, you do not make any money… when you get paid, you are basically repaying yourself the money you put out to care the child. I learned during this journey that you do not get paid for the child until the end of the next month. To explain, baby girl was placed in my home on 9 July. I received a statement from the state on 4 August for the time period baby was with me in July. The state doesn’t cut checks for care until 23 August… and I didn’t get payment until around 27 August… for care I gave in July. So, if you are waiting for money to help care the child… DON’T! It does not come quickly. Also, I learned if the child has a court date coming up… do NOT make any major purchases. I pre-paid daycare for the month of August, and just received the refund for care yesterday (9/6). The state does not pay daycare until the end of the month. So now I know to wait until I know the child will be with me, to pay everything up front. Lesson learned :-). Foster care is great, but financially it can be draining (like actually being a parent) so I just want to let you know that. I feel like folks don’t like talking about the financial aspects of foster care because there is a stigma that foster parents do it for the money. While there may be some folks that do… the majority do not. I am just talking about it here so that if you are thinking about it… you will be more prepared than I was.
Most people ask when I will get another placement. I received a call a few days after baby left to place a 10 year old girl with me. I declined for two reasons. One was totally selfish, I was so looking forward to sleeping in that Friday morning (they called Thursday evening) and I really just wanted to relax that weekend. It was my first weekend without baby and I just wanted to chill. The second reason was the fact that a 10 year old is quite different from a 6 month old and an 18 year old. I would actually have to find something for her to do. LOL! School didn’t start for two weeks and most summer camps were winding down for the summer… I just didn’t want to deal with (and not know how to) having to entertain her for 2 weeks. I am still waiting for a call for my next placement, but I have gone back to normal life.
I am back to running with my run group at 0’dark 30 in the mornings. I am also training for a marathon, so I am able to get my long runs in without the pressure of getting back home to relieve a sitter and also being able to rest after a long run. I’ve been able to go out with friends, go to the movies, and go get my nails done at the drop of a dime. It’s great, but once you have a little one in your life… all of these things although great just feel… “OKAY”. Also, to keep your foster license you have to take training. So I have taken some classes with DSS which have been actually very informative. Recently, a woman in small group gave me four bags of clothes for a baby girl. So I have been organizing clothes and just making sure I am prepared (as I can be).
Lastly, my birthday is this month! So I have been planning a small party. I am a detailed person, so this has been taking quite a bit of my time. I’m happy to have the time to devote to this and looking forward to spending time with my friends. So cheers to free time, but also waiting for the next call. I was getting anxious, but I was reminded while washing baby clothes last weekend that God sees this little one and knows who she is and when she is coming. I am just praying for her in this between time for whatever she has to go through to get to me. That God will keep her spirit strong that this won’t break her and that she will know that I am a safe refuge for her when she gets here.
My little one left me last week. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know it would happen so quickly. I thought she would at least be with me for two months… that is what I was told when they dropped her off. But as it usually happens in foster care, things can change in an instant. I am learning as I go…
I knew my baby girl had a court date coming up on 8/7/18, I had already been told by her social worker that I did not have to attend. I didn’t think the ruling would be a big deal because NO ONE else did, everyone from her social worker to lawyer made plans like she would be with me for a while. So, on 8/6/18 I took baby to her 6 months visit. I think I was more nervous than she was. This would be my first time seeing a baby get vaccinated in person. I was afraid how the pain would affect her and the after effects of fever or excessive crying. I had to do it and it went off without a hitch. Baby girl cried, but as soon as I picked her up, she nuzzled her head into my neck and quickly stopped. I was so proud of the rock star she was that day! Interestingly enough, my mother suggested we celebrate the baby’s 6 month birthday, her half year. I thought it was kind of funny, but went along with it. My mom’s logic… we didn’t know how long baby would be with us. I am so glad now that we celebrated her!
I can say that baby introduced me to my first diaper blowout on her 6 month celebration day and plenty of spit up (she suffers from re-flux). I also had the pleasure of soaking and scrubbing “poo” out of her clothes from daycare as she blessed them with two “uncontained” diapers (as they call it) during the day. I know moms out there are like “big deal!” well… it was to me! LOL!
Baby girl was starting to grow – rolling over, self sleeping on her side, holding her bottle. It was fun to see her blossom. I introduced her to solid foods… that was probably one of the most funniest things I have ever witnessed! Her little facial expressions when I fed her. She acted like I was killing her with each spoonful! LOL! She came to the point where she would not even open her mouth for me… but she did it for the daycare. So I just gave them all of her food… so I only had to deal with feeding her solids on the weekend. LOL! Even though she is only 6 months, we had such a good time together… I can’t say enough times how good this little baby is. So happy, bright, and loving! She loved my kisses and to snuggle on my face!
I found out she was leaving me on Thursday morning, exactly a month after she arrived. Her social worker called and told me that the judge made the decision for her to go back… during the court date on Tuesday! I was kind of upset, why didn’t anyone call to tell me what decision had been made. On Tuesday evening, I thought that nothing interesting happened in court because I didn’t hear from anyone. My heart sank as the social worker told me the news, but I knew that it would come eventually. I tried to sound upbeat as she told me the details, but I couldn’t really focus. I was kind of upset that everyone knew except me what was going on. The baby’s grandmother told the social worker (on Tuesday) that she would just wait until our regular meeting time on Friday to pick up baby girl. What??!! I mean, I am grateful she wasn’t snatched from me same day, but I would think you would want her back immediately… “no?”. On the day of the exchange a friend called and asked if I wanted her to come with me. I was truly grateful because I didn’t know how I would feel. I was starting to get anxious and I just wanted it to be over with. I didn’t want her to go, but the pain of snuggling her knowing she had to go was very hard. Another friend and her kids met me for lunch and they brought me flowers! That almost made me cry… my emotions were on high all day! I got to meet her mom during the exchange. I handed baby to her… and baby reached back for me until she realized who I gave her to. She started touching her mom’s face and pulling her hair :-). Mom tries to give baby to grandma and grandma tells mom to continue holding her. This happened twice! I was so mad, I wanted to yell… “Give the baby to me!! I’ll hold her and love her and kiss her!! Geesh people!” But I didn’t… lol! Then we walked to the car to exchange her things. Her mom immediately put her in the car. That made me sad. I didn’t know if I would be able to kiss/hug her goodbye. Grandma, said to me that she was overwhelmed with all of the things I was giving her. She noted that the baby did not come with that many items. I told her about the kindness of my village and because they loved me… they loved baby. Grandma was grateful. I finally asked if I could kiss baby goodbye and they let me. The look on her face was so sad, it was like she knew that I was leaving her (I wish I could show you that picture… but too much of her face is seen). And then… it was over!! She was gone.
I already miss her so much! I often wonder if she thinks of me and wonders where I went. I am grateful for the time that we did share together. I did tell her grandmother that she could always call me to babysit. I really hope I get to see her again. I loved that baby, she was the first real human that I had to take care of… not for a day… or a weekend, but all of the time. She taught me a lot about myself and she even pulled me out of my shell a bit. I will miss my bouk-a-lukes (however you spell that…lol)! My house has gone back to normal. Everything has been put away, wiped down, and washed. Although I do not have any outward reminders that there was a baby here… she will forever be in my heart. I sent her with a note and photos of us together. I don’t know if she will ever see them, but I have printed a photo of her to place in my house to remind me to pray for her. A lot of people, some that don’t even know me have said that they are worried for me. Please don’t worry, although I am sad… I knew this day would come. It’s like breaking up a relationship or friendship… it really hurts, but day by day you get back to your old self. How I got through it was just thinking of all of the things I got to do the next week… hello running buddies… hello yoga class. Sad, I know… lol!
The note I left for her
I promise…. she is in the pictures too!
Now, as my social worker friend has told me… it’s okay to be sad… but get ready for the next one!
So, baby girl and I have been together for a little over two weeks now. She seems to be doing really well! She is such a happy girl with bright eyes and a great gummy smile. She is literally a light when she is in a room. I often think about her spirit, how light it is despite what she has been through in her short life. It amazes me how resilient she is, but my caseworker did tell me that I would be amazed at how children in care adapt and thrive in the right environment.
It has been a world wind the past two weeks, but we are falling into a great rhythm. Last week was very busy for us. Baby girl FINALLY got a social worker assigned to her and I was able to get her placement letter! A placement letter is a very important document that states that you (the foster parent) are providing care for the child in care. It gives you access to EVERYTHING!! In my last post I spoke about the difficulty I had finding a daycare for baby girl, I did find a great facility (praise God)… but in order for baby girl to enroll I had to take her to the doctor… and of course in order to take her to the doctor, I needed the placement letter. So, I received the placement letter on Tuesday, took baby girl to the doctor on Wednesday. I had to show out a bit in the doctors office because they wanted me to drop off the daycare forms and pick them up in 3 days. I explained that I couldn’t wait 3 days, and although I know it is not their concern, I had already waited for over a week to get the placement letter and I couldn’t wait any longer to get baby girl enrolled into daycare. I tried to remain calm, but my frustration was at an all time high I could hear my voice rising as I exclaimed, “It’s only 5 questions!!”. I was not frustrated with the doctors office, just in general because of the slowness of the process. My plan was to just beg the doctor to have mercy and fill out the forms when I got into the examination room, but the receptionist asked the nurse to fill out the forms for me (Thank God!).
Thursday we met her social worker. Seems nice, don’t have too much to say about her yet. In general, I feel like DSS is very unresponsive. I have asked several questions and I rarely get a response. We also met up with her grandmother… this visit went well… grandma, although kind… still had to point out something I failed to do (bring a toy for her to play with to entertain her during the visit… I have a reason why rarely put toys in her bag… but I digress), but overall she opened up a bit more to me. As I explained in my last post, family visits make me very uncomfortable. I gave baby girl’s grandmother the social workers card and told her to contact her to set up the visits at the department in the future. I don’t like feeling like I am the one responsible for coordinating the visits. Each week, I have been calling the grandmother to set up the visits… but I am not doing that anymore. If grandma wants to see baby girl, she can call me. I do not want to initiate the call this week. It’s Tuesday, I will wait to see what happens. Again, I do not like family visits… the actual visit is okay… I just don’t like being in “charge” of the when and where. Can the department do that? They act like they don’t care.
On Friday, we went to the WIC office. I am so glad that another foster parent blog emphasized using WIC. Baby girl is eligible as a child in foster care. Dealing with the WIC office was not fun, but when I got to Target to purchase her formula… whoa!! I am so glad I had that benefit. $207 for formula… I bought 8 cans, she is eligible for 11. I was so happy that I did not have to pay for that out of pocket. She came to me with 4.5 cans of formula and in less than two weeks that was gone. I was down to the last bottle when I bought the formula Sunday.
Saturday, I took baby girl with me to the reggae wine festival. She had a great time people watching (my kind of girl, lol!) and making everyone in attendance fall in love with her… lol!
Finally, we started day care yesterday ( Mon 7/23). On Friday, I took her in to finalize her paperwork and when we were leaving, I got misty eyed!!! LOL! Why??? I have no clue. Baby girl had been my little buddy for 2 weeks, it would be strange for her to leave me all day. She had a good first day at daycare, the teachers said she did a great job and of course she was very friendly and played a lot. I was that mom, the center director had to say, “bye mom… she’s in good hands.” That was my cue to go. LOL! I did stalk her a bit on the app they provided and I know she is in good hands. When I went to pick her up, she was sitting in a bouncy seat. As soon as she saw me, she started smiling, cooing and kicking her feet. I felt good. She recognized me!!
People still ask how will I take it when she leaves. It will be very hard, but I know that I am doing what I am supposed to do for her at this moment. Only the Lord knows how long she will be with me… and I cherish each moment and try to do my best for her.
Personally for me, I am still getting in my weekly and weekend runs and gym time. I signed baby girl up for the gym, lol! She is a member now… so that I can take advantage of the childcare while I workout. That has been great! Now that she is in daycare, I am able to go to the gym in the morning after I drop her off (thank goodness for a flexible work schedule). Marathon training is no joke! It takes a lot of time and as I am functioning as a single parent at the moment… I am heavily relying on friends and my mom to watch baby while I run. I am very appreciative that they have offered to help me at this time :-). Still so grateful for all the folks that have helped me through gift cards (they have come in handy), offering time to sit with her, and even bringing/sending clothes for baby!! Thank you!! It is so needed!
That’s all for now, can’t think of anything else to say… but if you have any questions… let me know!
So, I decided to write this quick blog to discuss another aspect of foster care, the one that I had the most trouble with during training, the “thing” that made me say out loud to myself, my instructor during training, and my caseworker…. “I Can’t DO THIS!” That thing… FAMILY VISITS.
Family visits scare the crap out of me (yes, I said it) because you have to deal with the family. The family may be hurt, angry, scared (insert all emotions here) and may take them out on you, the foster parent, because lets face it… they can. I have heard horror stories of foster parents dealing and interacting with parents and I just didn’t/don’t want to deal with it. But I have to…
So Friday, I took my little one to visit with family. Her grandmother and aunt. I was very nervous because I didn’t know how they would react to me. I trimmed baby girls nails, washed her hair, gave her a pretty bow. LOL! Polished her as good as I knew how :-). However, the reaction I received from grandma was not what I thought. I don’t know what I thought would happen… but as soon as I opened the car door (oh, we met at a mall in the area) her grandmother burst out in tears. She was so overcome that she couldn’t come near the baby for a minute. I wanted to cry, because I couldn’t imagine the grief and sadness this woman felt as she looked at her granddaughter. She just kept saying, “I miss her… I miss her so much…” I know she does. I can’t even imagine. Auntie was not as kind to me… but she doesn’t have to be. I know that I didn’t cause the situation, but like I mentioned, most of the time the family tends to take out their anger and hurt on the care taker. I got a couple of snarky remarks at the end… I try to dismiss them because I can’t make them treat me better. The only thing I can do it take care of this baby entrusted to me, make sure she is being loved and cared for… make sure she sees her family and overall make sure she is happy and safe. That’s my job. Folks also ask me how I will keep myself from getting attached. Well, I am already attached… but I know what my job is with her. To keep her safe until she can be reunited with her family. I looked at her Saturday and I said, “I wish I could see you when you get older… how you will look, what your personality will be.” I can admit… that part does make me sad, I pray for her and ask God to protect her heart and mind. But as long as she is happy and giving me these big gummy smiles… I will hold that in my heart.
Where do I even start? So much has happened over the last week. I guess I will start from the beginning. Friday, 29 June, I went out for a walk during lunch time. Before I could reach the main road, my phone started ringing. It was my caseworker calling to tell me that she had a possible placement for me, an 8 month old baby girl. As my caseworker was telling me about the case, she informed me that this baby was pre-adoptive meaning that the plan was for her to be adopted by the family who took her in to foster. My heart dropped, at this time I am not sure if I want to adopt and to know that going into this placement… I just couldn’t do it. I was so sad, but I turned the placement down. I know the right family would welcome that little one so quickly. Someone who knows in their heart that adoption is their next step. Once I turned the placement down, my caseworker told me that she had another opportunity for me and to hear her out. Well, I was walking and my phone was breaking up really badly so I couldn’t hear a lot of what she was saying. I kept asking her to repeat herself and then my phone went silent. I tried to call her back, but I had no luck… so I started to walk back to my house to get better reception. My caseworker called me back and explained that she had a foster family that needed respite care for an 18 year old while her foster mom went on vacation. “WHAT??!!” You wan ME to keep an 18 year old? That’s a grown woman. What will two grown woman do in one house… who will win and be alpha dog (of course me)? LOL! I told her I would do it. I don’t know how to explain in, but in my gut… I knew it would be okay. She would be arriving on 4 July. (And to explain children in care can go on vacation with you, her mom was taking a girls trip and the family was going on a family trip the next month).
I was extremely nervous to meet this “kid” I mean, I haven’t been around teenagers since I was one! AND by nature I am really shy, so I wondered how I would interact with her. Well, I prepared the guest room and made a special space for her to hang out and watch TV in the basement. Then I waited…. She arrived around 1:30p on 4 July. Her foster mom (FM) told me she would be there by 11a (so now I know all placements are late… no matter if they are coming from the department or another family. LOL!) When the FM and the Dear Daughter walked in the door, I did not know who was who… LOL! The dear daughter was so tall! My anxiety spiked! She’s bigger than me!! I showed her around the house and then we sat down and talked. She really is a great young lady. We went to the Bowie Baysox game to watch fireworks. It worked out because she had never been to a baseball game before and she really enjoyed it.
Thursday, she hung in the house ALL DAY. I tried to get her to go out… but she was in love with my firestick. LOL! I think she told me she watched over 25 movies (not including tv shows) while she was with me. LOL! Thursday night I watched a movie with her… we had a good day. Friday, I took her bowling along with a friend of mine. She complained a bit, but in the end… she had a good time. Saturday, we went to Dave and Busters with a friend and her daughter they also invited us to their house later to watch a movie on the lawn. She really enjoyed that, she said she never watched a movie outside under the stars. Sunday came, she didn’t want to go to church or really leave the house… so we just hung out. I didn’t really have any drama with her. When I explained things that baffled me, friends that are mothers of teenagers told me, “that’s just teenagers.” Oh okay… LOL! She left around 9:30p and I was relived! Back to ME and my schedule… I don’t have to worry about anyone!! YAY! Boy was that short lived…
Monday, 9 July I get a call from my caseworker for a 5 month old baby girl. She tells me about her case and asks me the popular question… “would you accept the placement?” Yeah, sure. So she tells me a CPS worker would call me to let me know when I can expect her to be dropped off. To be honest, I didn’t think she would call. A family member usually steps up to keep babies out of the “system.” So I went about my day, around 11a the CPS worker told me that she was going to bring the baby at 2:00p. 2:00 comes and goes, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30… no baby so I figure she wasn’t coming. 4:00p she arrives. The CPS worker gives me so much information that I’m like “WHAT??!” The entire drop off took about 30 minutes. I called my mom and said, “Now what?” LOL! This little baby is smiling and looking at me. My mom comes over after work and helps me bathe her and dress her for bed (which is a joke cause the girl is a night owl)!
Tuesday was a flurry of trying to take care of her and find a daycare that had an opening for an infant. Side note, infant care is toooooooo expensive! Whew! I visited one in home daycare… I did not feel comfortable. Wednesday I went to my local center… it was nice, but way too expensive. Thursday, I went to a center about two miles from my house…. I really liked it an enrolled her, so hopefully she will start week after next.
She also came to me without a sleep schedule. The first two nights were rough! I called my cousin and asked her how she got her babies to sleep through the night. She gave me the magically tips (lol!) and they worked! She slept through the night two nights in a row!
I’ve had friends come visit, bring food, bring clothes, sit with her while I run out for an hour, call and “check-in” and offer much needed advice. It has all been great! I did get a little overwhelmed one morning and cried, my mom said “that’s motherhood.” I miss being able to do what I want when I want. LOL! But grateful for friends that have helped me (and offered to help me) get a break! Special thanks to my mom, who has been an extraordinary “Aunt B!”
I still haven’t gotten everything from DSS to get her enrolled in daycare, doctor visits, social worker (for her), that process has been an exercise in patience… really. HELP ME HELP HER! LOL! But I am doing my best to keep the little one safe and happy.
On Sunday, I am getting another respite placement of TWO three year olds! I accepted this respite before I got the call for the baby. Please pray for me! It’s only for one day, but 3 kids and I am a newbie… yikes! LOL!
This little one is THE BEST. Her smile is great! Everywhere we go… people fall in love with her. She has the best spirit. I don’t know how long she will be with me, but right now… I am truly taking in the idea of being “mom”… better known as CC :-).
First of all, thank you to everyone who has reached out to me through my blog, Facebook or Instagram with your words of support! I really appreciate the kinds words and perspectives that were given.
This week has sent me on a different emotion! I went from anxious, to excited, to disappointed… in a matter of 1.5 hours. On Monday, I received a call from DSS at 1:08 pm. Of course I recognized the number and answered… heart beating fast (of course). My social worker exchanged nice pleasantries with me… so at this point I am thinking it is a social call, but also thinking… “why sway?” She quickly changes gears and lets me know that she has a placement for me. Young siblings one and two years old. My mind went NUMB! What??!! TWO Babies? I listened while she gave me the reason the children were coming into care and their health report. So now it was my turn to speak, these children fall within the age range that I desire and they seem to be healthy (from what my social worker could tell me)… so what am I going to say??? My mind started thinking of having two young kids in the house, I only have one crib… I only have one car seat… there may be a language barrier. BUT I will do it! I just had to ask my caseworker one tiny question. Me: “You said there are two children coming into care, can I take two kids… I am only licensed for one?” Caseworker: “Let me look at your license…. oh yeah, darn! Okay, false alarm. BUT I will be calling you soon.” Me: “okay, thank you.” Insert small tear of disappointment.
Called my mama, my cousin, and my good friend to tell them what was up and how I almost had a placement. While I was on the phone with my friend, I get another call from DSS, this was about 1:25 pm. “I have a placement for you!” My caseworker again starts telling me about this particular placement. This time a four year old! Okay, within my desired age group… and here comes the magic question, “Will you accept the placement?” Yes!! I accepted the placement as was told that someone from the department would be calling me to schedule a drop off time. So, I know not to get too worked up and start buying things, but I did make sure I knew how to remove the crib rail from the bed (to turn it into a toddler bed.) **side note: I was really impressed with myself that I could do this without help or even calling someone to walk me through it! Yay me!** Called my mom and let her know that YES!!! I will be receiving a four year old that evening. Well, that excitement was short lived! At 1:40 pm I got another call from DSS, apparently they were able to contact the child’s grandmother to place her with family. I was happy that she was able to remain with family, but couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. I am glad I read in another foster blog to NOT get too excited about placements. This blogger stated that placements actually come to your home less than 50% of the time (because they find family members to place the child with), so I accepted the placement with a perspective of “I’ll talk about it when I see it happen.” I was glad for that nugget of wisdom, it helped to keep me from posting on social media or writing a quick blog about it… LOL!
On another note, I attended the PG County DSS Foster Parent Conference on Saturday, I met a lot of other foster parents, two who I used to be co-workers with, and expand my support system. I also got to see a lot of children in care… and that they are not all scary monsters (like tv makes you believe). I also got to see that there is a possibility for the care of younger children as the children at the conference were between 2-12 years old.
So, back to waiting for now. I’m not complaining or even in a rush. I know God will put me in the path of the right child… at the right time.
Last night, I received my first call from DSS for a placement. I was at the gym, about to workout and heard my phone ring. I immediately recognized the number as social services… and my heart starting beating… QUICKLY! The social worker introduced herself and let me know she was going down her list to place a 16-year-old in care for one night… possibly two. I thought about it, asked questions, went back and forth in my mind for a few minutes (which seemed like an eternity), but in the end said no (I did not accept the placement).
All through my workout, I just felt so bad. I didn’t expect to have this feeling of sadness because I guess I never really thought about placements that I would not accept. I gave DSS a preferred age range of 0-5 (and maybe accepting 6-8) and was told in training and during my home study that I would get a call for any age from 0-20, but I guess I never took time to understand how I would feel about “rejecting” a placement for personal preferences. I always knew that if I already had a placement, I could not take two… or if I was about to go out-of-town or had house guests, I would have to turn down placements. BUT I never explored how I would feel about just saying no. I was so sad, I felt like I let the child down… I really wanted to help, but something on the inside told me no… not this placement… not this time. It really hurt my heart.
I am grateful for friends and family who encouraged me afterwards (did I mention that I was really bummed), to stay true to myself and listen to my “gut” otherwise named the Holy Spirit. That it is okay to say “no” and stick to my boundary. There were other factors I will not discuss that I learned through my questions… and I just didn’t think I would be able to deal with them properly. I went to bed really early last night… just because, did I mentioned I was bummed… LOL! But woke up to one of the most encouraging text messages from a friend that changed my entire outlook.
So here’s to documenting my first “call.” I’m pretty sure this will not be the last, but now I know that all calls, whether accepted or not, will have some sort of effect on me… in some way.