As I sit here in my family home on the last full day of Thanksgiving vacation I realize how much life has changed over the past year. A year ago I was deeply saddened at the fact that we still weren’t pregnant and there was still a long journey ahead of us before the titles of “Mommy” and “Daddy” would be gracing our ears. This year is so much different. I have spent every waking second of this break planning, preparing, and dreaming about the beautiful children that will come into our care in a few short months. It’s such a beautiful journey to watch the Lord lay before us and I cannot wait to see where we are another year from now.
Realizing that life will probably be drastically different another year from now I want to be able to document my current viewpoint of the fostering process, the one where we are not yet in the trenches and still in the process of going through “Fostering Boot Camp”. So here it is, the answers to all those questions you’ve been dying to ask but are too afraid to do so!
When will you start getting little ones?
We are currently finishing up our last 3 fostering classes and will be done the week before Christmas. Due to the craziness of the holidays we won’t be able to have our home visits until after the New Year. Our tentative goal is to finish our homestudy by the middle of January and hopefully receive our license by the end of January/beginning of February. Of course this is all based upon how quickly our licensing agency can fit us into their schedule and how fast the state moves on our packet. So there could be a chance we won’t be licensed until mid-to-late February. Once we are licensed then we just wait for a placement call. It could be as quick as a few minutes after being licensed to a few months. It really just depends on a variety of factors we have no control over
What ages are you taking? Do you get to choose age/gender/race?
The wonderful thing about foster care is that you do get to choose what ages you want. Due to our current living situation and the fact we are first time parents we are hoping to do ages 0-2. We won’t know for sure until we do our homestudy but as of now there shouldn’t be any factors that would disqualify us from that age range. We would be willing to go up to age 5 but that would only be if there was a sibling group that really needed placement. Also, due to having to put our foster children into daycare we would not be able to take a child younger than 6 weeks since that is the earliest a daycare will accept an infant; unless of course it’s during the summer and I’m at home, then that could change. As for gender and race that’s where it gets a little more tricky. Race is definitely not something you can choose which of course we have no problem with. Gender is tricky because there are certain rules for gender and age range sharing a room. We could not have a child over the age of 3 sharing a bedroom with another child of the opposite gender. For example, if we took in a 1 year old girl we would not be able to take in her 4 year old brother since we only have one room and they would have to share a room.
When will you know when you’re getting a child?
That question is a little harder to answer than you may think. Once we’ve agreed to take a child the caseworker will usually let you know the time frame that they will be there to drop the child off. That could be anywhere from 15 minutes from when you get the call to a couple days. It really just depends on where the child is coming from and how urgent it is to get the child placed in the foster home.
How long will you have the child?
There is no average time you have a child. Each case varies so drastically causing time frames to be majorly different from one child to another. I’ve heard of children staying in homes for as little as 5 hours to as long as a few years. It really just depends.
Will you stay home or will you keep working?
The nice thing about fostering is is that you qualify for a daycare voucher that covers a big chunk, if not all, of the expense of child care. Josh and I will continue to work and use the voucher to offset the expense of daycare. Since each child comes with a stipend of around $17 a day the money we get from that will help in making up the difference that we have to pay out of pocket.
Is there a chance you’ll ever be able to adopt one of your foster children?
The whole point of foster care is to reunify the children with their birth parents or at the very least place them in the care of extended family or close family friends. Of course there are many times when reunification with bio parents isn’t possible and there isn’t anyone else willing/able to take the child. In this case that is when we would be able to adopt our foster child. This whole process usually takes a minimum of a year or more so it’s definitely not something this is quick or easy. Because every case is different there’s no guarantee we will get a child that will come up for adoption. Of course we would love to adopt if the opportunity presented itself but we’re not banking on that happening.
Won’t your life be so much more restricted with foster children?
Over the past few years laws and acts have been passed to allow foster parents and children to live more of a “normal” life. For this reason everyone that comes in contact with our foster children no longer has to be background checked which is awesome! Also we are still able to go on vacations with our little ones, even vacations outside of Florida. We just have to have permission from the bio parents or a travel order given by a judge. Since my sister is graduating high school in May we are already thinking about what will need to be done to allow any children in our care at that time to come with us. The more we include our foster children in our normal day to day activities the easier it is to bond with them and make them feel like part of our family.
We know there is still so much for us to learn throughout the next few months and I am trying to soak up as much knowledge from others as I can so I am as prepared as I can be before we get our first placement. It’s a huge change in our lives and it’s definitely not the easy route to building our family but none the less we are excited to see where this adventure brings us. If there are any other questions I didn’t answer please feel free to ask! Don’t be shy! I love being able to share what we’ve learned so far.