Being a foster parent is one of the hardest yet rewarding things I have ever chosen to do. I was so naive to the process. I seriously thought it was something you could just sign-up for. Oh, to think of how funny that is now!
Patience is key with any form of foster care. Patience while becoming licensed and with receiving a placement and then patience once the little one is in your care. My journey to obtaining my license for foster care took around six months.
Before I called the department of human services, I should have written down questions. I should have researched. I was licensed before the social media craze, but if I were choosing to get licensed now, I would join support groups or gain information from others in my area. Luckily, I chose an agency only a short drive away in a nearby town and signed up for the required classes.
Once again, I was clueless. I was single so I attended the classes by myself. Brave. I also went in without having any parenting experiences of my own as I had never been a parent. I was young, but I felt so drawn to foster care that I went to each class every week, eager to learn more. Thankfully, in the classes, they tell you everything you need to know to make your decisions from there on out. I had to complete 30 hours of classes in the evenings for about five to six weeks. The classes were very eye-opening.
Along with the rules and guidelines for when a child comes into care, we learned about the foster care system. We watched videos to prepare us for potential situations. Most importantly, we talked. We talked about why we were there. We talked about our goals. We talked about our fears and doubts. When the classes were over, I felt completely different about the process. I was even more excited.
I took the classes in the spring then spent all summer finishing up paperwork and waiting. The waiting is the hardest part of the process. I had even received a call to foster twin girls that summer, but my paperwork hadn’t been processed, so I was not able to. It took the state about two to three months to process all of my information.
The day after I was told my license had gone through, I received a call for a little girl who needed to be removed from her current foster home as soon as possible, and they asked if I would be interested. I agreed and drove to meet with the caseworker.
The caseworker was explaining all of the details about this little girl when she comes to the part about the fact she has a little brother. She turns to look at another caseworker in the room and says, “I wonder if we could reunite these siblings?”
Whoa. She explains to me that these children had not had the opportunity to live in the same home for approximately a year. She explained that they have visits, attend the same daycare, and are occasionally placed in the same respite care but have not had many opportunities to live as siblings. The caseworkers asked if taking two foster children into my home would be an option. I said, “Absolutely!”
A couple days later, on a Friday, I picked up two beautiful children from two sets of foster parents. I felt as if the classes prepared me, but nothing can compare to living through something. These two children and I learned together. They learned how to be siblings alongside myself learning how to be a parent.
Our story is still not over, believe it or not! Picking them up for the very first time was over nine years ago, and they still live with me. What was supposed to be a couple of months turned into a few months, which—in turn—became an adoption decision. Almost two years after our “Gotcha Day,” we celebrated our new adoption day!