Going through the process of becoming a Foster Parent is starting to remind me of my pregnancies, but thankfully with a lot less nausea! Although they are quite different (in many ways), I am finding similarities. Below is a list of things I have noticed so far.
Becoming a parent takes time – whether it is through pregnancy, adoption, foster care or other ways one becomes a parent. When I found out I was pregnant with my children I was about 5 to 6 weeks along in my pregnancies. I waited about 30 weeks (7 months) to meet my daughter after finding out about the pregnancy and 34 weeks (8 months) with my son. It has been estimated my foster training and application process will take until the New Year. My training runs until December 1st and then we need to wrap up the Home Study appointments if they aren’t already completed. A conservative estimated date for the process to be completed is end of January/early February. That will be approximately 8-9 months after my first contact with CAS about becoming a foster parent. So, the timing is about the same as my pregnancies.
Announcements / Discussions
I did not send out official announcements for my pregnancies, I just told friends and family (some sooner than others), which sparked discussions about the future. Similar to when I was 20, unmarried and announcing I was pregnant with my first child, the announcement of becoming a Foster Parent has sparked discussions about whether my family is ready for that step and where we see ourselves.
When I was pregnant I read lots of books, browsed online, and Googled all my symptoms and things I was experiencing. During my first pregnancy I encountered a lot of issues and was constantly looking online for what terms meant, what each symptom I felt meant, and for other people experiencing what I was going through. I am doing a lot of that this time around, just the search criteria is a bit different. Instead of looking up IUGR (in utero growth restriction), Spina Bifida positives (later confirmed a false positive), stress tests and other things I experienced in my first pregnancy I am looking up processes, risks, and “what to expect” about Foster Care.
Home Set Up and Nesting
One of the main items I am noticing right now is my nesting. During pregnancy is starts as the baby’s room. Getting it perfect for that little bundle of joy that might not arrive for months. I am starting to redo my children’s bedrooms to make room for a little girl or boy who might arrive… months from now. I am obsessed with searching Pinterest for the perfect way to incorporate everything my children want in their new rooms, mixed with areas I want for the potential foster children. Later in pregnancy (for me anyway) it became more about the whole house. Getting toy storage set up, bathroom set up for bathing a little one, bottles washed (which I had no intention of using, but had to have them prepped ‘just in case’) and cupboards reorganized. Even the furniture was rearranged to accommodate the new baby items. For my Foster Care prep, I am double checking the items on their Safe checklist (fire extinguishers, getting new batteries for the smoke alarms, etc.) and making room for additional toys, beds and clothes. Although it is months out, and who knows how long until I actually have a placement, I feel the need to have all of this in place as soon as possible and to keep my house neat and organized. I am repainting and reorganizing the whole house. Even the basement that doesn’t get used is in my plans for reorganizing and decorating.
The Fear / Anxiety
When I was pregnant I was constantly worried about the “what if” scenarios. What if something happened and I lose my little one? With my first pregnancy this was an actual risk as I was determined to be high risk within a week of finding out I was pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy I was told there was a possibility I would not carry her to term (which I didn’t) and that she would not be able to survive “on the outside.” Thankfully, with a little help from the NICU, she was able to come home with me about 3 weeks after she was born. My second pregnancy I did not have the same issues (although I was automatically high risk based on my first pregnancy), but I still worried about the “what ifs.” With the Foster Care process I have worry as well. What if something happens during my training or home studies that makes me ineligible to become a Foster Parent? What if I go through the whole process but there aren’t children who will fit with our family? I think fear is part of the process of becoming a parent, no matter how you become one.