Although I’ve just begun the process of becoming a foster parent, I’ve already encountered a lot of questions. I have a feeling many of you will have similar questions. So decided to address them here. If you have any other questions you’d like answered, please leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to add to this list.
Maybe I’ll use this as a study guide to prep me for my home study. ;o)
What are the steps of becoming a foster parent? I can only tell you what I know. But what I’ve learned so far is that the steps are 1) phone interview, 2) pre-application with a background check, 3) another phone interview specifically addressing finances and work schedule, 4) official invitation to foster care training 5) attendance at the training (an 11 week, almost 40 hour course), 6) a formal application including fingerprinting for another background check, 7) a home study to assess your home and everyone living there for the suitability of foster care, 8) phone interviews of references, 9) health exam, 10) acceptance as a foster parent. I may be missing some of the steps–they have really only told me about steps 1-5 right now, the rest I’ve learned from trolling the web.
How soon could you have a kid? I’m not really sure. I’m guessing by the steps listed above and the date that my classes would end that it would be about December sometime. That is totally a guess. But wouldn’t it be awesome to have a child at Christmas that I could spoil?!! I’ve worked in a shelter before, and although I totally believe in what we did, a shelter is no place to be at Christmas time.
What kind of kids do you want? For those of you that don’t know, you can specify A LOT about what kind of kids you’ll accept: race, gender, religion, age, special needs, medical needs, etc. I totally don’t care about race or gender. I also don’t care about religion, as long as the parents are ok with my job and the fact that it is inevitable that the child will be around that environment. I’m open to kids with special and medical needs depending on the severity. (Sometimes the needs are such that the child really needs a stay-at-home parent, which I can’t be.) As far as age . . . I haven’t decided yet. This is a catch-22 for me. I LOVE kids, I’m not so great with teens. I’m also not as good with pre-teens who have reached the stage of total disrespect of authority figures. But there are pre-teens that I do great with and who have told me they’d like to come live with me. (Totally unprompted by me, just for the record.) And there are teens that I really click with. And then there’s the guilt factor. The shelter I worked at had 3 sister shelters, that I would cover for from time to time. There was one for women & children who came in together as victims of domestic violence, one that was similar to ours but served high schoolers, and one that was a long-term residential home for some pretty amazing teen girls who couldn’t be placed because no one wanted teens. HEART.BREAKING. I would take any of those girls without a second thought. But some of the teens in our emergency shelter . . . I would not be a good fit for them. So, what age, you ask? I have no idea.
But, won’t it be hard? Um . . . yeah.
One of my favorite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt. He said,
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
It won’t be easy. I imagine that it will be very hard at times. I imagine that my whole schedule will change. Dramatically. I pretty much rule my schedule right now–I have a wonderful and fairly flexible job, I stay up late, I NEVER get up at 6am, I work late at the office, I sometimes don’t want to cook dinner and eat popcorn instead. All of that will change.
I imagine that sometimes I’ll have to deal with people who will drive my crazy. I imagine that sometimes “the system” will drive me crazy. I imagine that sometimes the people in the system will drive me crazy.
I imagine that I will not only have to give kids back (which would be incredibly difficult in and of itself) but what’s worse, I’ll sometimes have to give them up to a situation I don’t feel is safe or healthy for them. Does it get harder than that?
But the things that come easy in this life . . . most of the time they’re not worth much.