My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Training Session Four (Loss)

Becoming a Foster Parent -Training Session 4 - Loss (mommameesh.wordpress.com)

In training session four, we talked about loss. It is important to realize all of the children coming in to care are suffering losses and to figure out ways to help with with their emotions. More to that though, their families, as well as the foster, kinship or adoptive families also experiences losses. We talked about the different types of losses, how it affects behaviour and what we can do to help children in these experiences. It was a full session with lots of information, so I am only going to touch on a couple of the items we talked about.

Agenda

  1. Welcome and Connecting with PRIDE
  2. Loss and Grieving
  3. Living with Loss
  4. Closing Remarks

The Pathway through the Grieving Process

We reviewed a chart which goes through the process of grieving a loss. Before we started, we were warned our own losses and emotions previously dealt with could resurface from this session. I am sure for some this is probably true. Grief is something that doesn’t always follow a path, so you will notice on the chart we have in our training binders, shown below, that the arrows go both ways.

Grief Process Chart - Foster Training Session four - Loss - MommaMeesh.wordpress.com

Group Exercise

For this week’s group exercise we identified the different losses of people involved with a child in care. Below shows some of the items we came up with and discussed.

1. Birth Family Losses

  • Loss of Access (to the child or children)
  • Potential loss of support from family and friends
  • Role of Parent is lost
  • Could lose their home if it was based on having dependents (low income housing)
  • Could lose a partner or spouse based on circumstances
  • Self esteem

2. Kinship Family Losses

  • Potential loss of family or friend support
  • Could be a loss of “freedom” if not a parent already
  • Could be a loss of “perks” with the child (in case of a grand parent, or other family member)
  • Loss of privacy

3. Foster Family Losses

  • Loss of routine
  • Loss of control or security
  • Future is unclear
  • Compromised privacy
  • Loss of ability to travel and go to some social activities (possibly)
  • Bio children may get less of parents’ time
  • Possible loss of self esteem (if you feel you have failed the child)

4. Adoptive Family Losses

  • Loss of freedom
  • Possibly the loss of fertility brought them to adopt
  • Loss of bloodline
  • Loss of ability to provide a child with history
  • Loss of the “expected” family experience
  • Loss of the fantasy child (if hopes of own children were there previously)
  • Potentially lost early years/experiences if adopting older child

5. Adoptee Losses

  • Loss of culture (family culture, possibly spiritual as well)
  • Loss of history/family ties
  • Loss of personal belongings (if not brought into care with them)
  • Loss of trust
  • Potentially loss of name
  • Pets
  • Loss of Foster family, if moved to a new home to be adopted
  • Loss of control

Session Four Homework

My homework this week is a chart about my own personal loss. The chart includes the following headings:

  • Age when loss occurred
  • Type of Loss
  • What Happened?
  • Effects on You as an Individual
  • Help Received

For me, I have not lost many people in my life, and am grateful for that. For my chart I am not going to talk about a loss of a person, but instead talk about my loss of my ability to have more children when I had a Hysterectomy at the age of 27. Although it was ultimately my choice, it had been brought up due to medical issues I was having. Since I had two children already and my husband at the time did not want any more bio children, I agreed to have a Hysterectomy to resolve issues I was having. Although I do not regret the decision, and have been happy to not have to attend those doctors appointments any more (since getting an all clear 6 months after my surgery) I still grieved the loss of my fertility.

Next Session: Strengthening Family Relationships

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Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent: Information Gathering Stage

Information Gathering Stage - Becoming a Foster Parent - mommameesh.wordpress.com

Now that I have begun my training I have been assigned my Home Study worker. There are a couple steps to this process. First, we enter the Information Gathering Stage. Once that is complete, my Home Study worker will come out to my house to complete her Home Studies in the Assessment Stage.

Information Gathering Stage

I received an email from my Home Study worker the other day with instructions for the next steps of this stage. I had thought this stage was just reaching out to my References, me handing in my Police and Medical checks and reviewing my training homework. Nope, I was wrong. There is much more in this stage.

  • Home Study Worker sends out Reference requests to the people I had put on my Application Forms as references
  • I have to complete AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) training – Parts 1 & 2 (online)
  • Register and Complete Car Seat training
  • Homework sheet – Six Competencies (to be done once training is complete for review in Home Study)
  • Complete the “Resource Family Profile” sheet
  • Review information handouts – review and be able to sign off on reading and understanding the information given
  • Submit Police and Medical reports.

References

My references have been contacted and sent a form to fill out. I did not ask to see the form, as I don’t want them to feel like they need to share what they put on the form, so I can’t speak much on this right now. I am not sure if any of them will be shared with me during the in home visits or not.

AODA Training

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is a mandatory training sessions for all employees and volunteers. I was able to do it online, which made it easy to complete. It went through different types of disabilities and ways to communicate and act with people with disabilities and made you aware of things not to do, and things you should do to assist. I can understand why this training is mandatory and felt it had a lot of good information in general. This took me about an hour and a half to complete.

Car Seat Training

I didn’t even think of this as being a requirement until I saw it on the list, but makes a lot of sense! So many people use car seats incorrectly, just out of lack of knowledge. I did not take a course when my children were younger, I had looked into it, but there weren’t local ones that were easy for me to get to when my kids were babies. This training is held in the same spot as my PRIDE training and I have signed up for the one that is the week after my PRIDE training is finished (December 8), so it will fit into my current training schedule nicely. It is about two and a half hours long.

Homework for Home Study Review

There is a sheet to fill out about how you will help children in care for each of the “Six Competencies.” The Six Competencies are what our training is based around. Each session we learn about items that help us with these categories.

  1. Protecting and nurturing children
  2. Meeting children’s developmental needs and addressing developmental delays
  3. Supporting relationships between children and their families
  4. Connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime
  5. Participating as an equal member of a professional team
  6. Reinforcing a child’s heritage and cultural identity

Resource Family Profile

This is a profile sheet about your family. The pictures included may be shown to potential placements (if they are old enough). This sheet also helps when a pre-placement visit isn’t possible so they can show pictures and information about you.

Information to fill out (maximum two pages, including photos):

  • Names of Resource Parents and Children
  • Length of Time Fostering (I left blank, as I haven’t begun)
  • Pets
  • Languages Spoken in the Home
  • Activities the Family Enjoys
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Summary (write a blurb about what you have to offer as a foster/adoptive family)
  • Photos (it says embed three photos… I think I included 8 on the sheet… oops.)

Information Review

My Home Study worker sent over information for me to review which will be discussed at one of our in home assessments. At the in home assessment I will have to sign off on reading these and we will discuss them.

11 Safety Policies and Procedures

  1. Acceptable and Unacceptable Disciplinary Practices (5 pages)
  2. Bathtub Safety (1 page)
  3. Child Restraint Car Seats (5 pages)
  4. Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Need (2 pages)
  5. Effective Communication and Transfer of Medical Medication Information (4 pages)
  6. Safe Administration, Storage and Disposal of Medications (7 pages)
  7. Second Hand Smoke Policy (2 pages)
  8. Serious Occurrences (4 pages)
  9. Use of Motorized Vehicles (2 pages)
  10. Use of Physical Restraints (3 pages)
  11. Water Safety (7 pages)

Police and Medical Reports

As mentioned in my Application Package page, I have to complete a Police Clearance and Medical Report.

Police Clearance

All people in the Foster/Adoptive process have to complete this as well as any children who are 18+ living or are frequently in the home. I have to go into the Police Station to get this and will receive it about 3-6 days later. There is a fee for this, but it is covered by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), I just have to claim it as an expense using the receipt and they will reimburse me the cost.

Medical Report

There is a form to be taken in to my Doctor or Nurse Practitioner to fill out. You can see a copy of it on my Foster Application Package page. The cost of this varies by Doctor, so the CAS will cover the first $25 of the fee charged (once claimed as an expense). I was told some Doctors charge $20, some charge $60, it all depends on the Doctor.

Now.. to find time to make these appointments!


That is all the information I have on this stage at the moment. Once all of those items are complete, on to the Assessment Stage, which is the in home visits and interview with my children. Due to timing of things, I probably will not start my in home assessments until after Christmas.  I will keep you posted on all training and Info Gathering until then.

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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Training Session Three

Becoming a Foster Parent - Training Session 3 (mommameesh.wordpress.com)

This week’s session focused on Attachment. With this, we discussed ways children may show attachment, and one of the trainers shared her experience with caring for children with attachment disorders. This session was packed full the entire session with lots of information and stories of experience. With that, we talked about reasons the children come into care and how that affects their attachments.

Reasons for Admission into Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Care

This is based only on the reason the child was first admitted into care. Other reasons for needing the care may come up at a later time that aren’t known at time of admission (example, only 7% come into care because of sexual abuse, but there is a higher percent of children who they realize experienced this once in care). It does not work out to 100% due to some children being admitted for multiple reasons.

  • 65% Inadequate parenting skills
  • 51% Mental health issues
  • 43% Children’s behaviour
  • 39% Drugs / Alcohol
  • 29% Abandonment
  • 27% Poverty
  • 26% Domestic Violence
  • 21% Lack of Supervision
  • 13% Physical Abuse or Risk of Abuse
  • 7% Sexual abuse

Group Activity

In our group activity this week we were divided into two groups. Our instructors then read out two scenarios. One group was Baby Jessie, the other was Baby Robin.  They were born at the same hospital, the same hour.  However, their parents were very different. They went through the first few years of the children’s lives and we talked about our feelings throughout and the attachment (or lack of) that came with how they were raised.

Baby Jessie was born to a young married couple who had tried for the baby and were eager to be parents. When Jessie cried, her mother picked her up, fed her and comforted her. She learned to build trust since when she cried her mother would meet her needs. It continued through development with her parents teaching her to crawl, play and were excited when she started talking. She formed attachments with her parents and caregivers and learned the world was a happy place.

Baby Robin was born to a young couple who eagerly waited for her arrival and prepared the best they could afford. When Robin cried, sometimes she was ignored. She would cry harder and eventually someone would feed her, but would seem distracted. Her parents drank heavily. As she got older and started to crawl her parents would keep her in a play pen in a separate room where they would sometimes come to check on her. She would cry but did not always receive care when she cried, so she cried more. Eventually, Robin was taken into care. Robin learned adults were unpredictable and could not be trusted.

Other Items Discussed

Positive Interaction Cycle – this is where positive adult interaction results in positive child behaviour, which then gets praise (positive adult interaction), creating a cycle.

Developmental Delays – We did not go into depth, but for homework there is reading in our binders about this. Children who come into care may be delayed due to neglect. It could be physical, emotional or intellectual.

Trauma Case Vignettes – There are three cases in our binders to review. They describe a child who is in care and you have to review what kind of challenges their new adoptive families may experience with behaviours. We did not go through this in class due to time running out.

Placement Disruption – This is another item we didn’t have time to fully review in class but is in our binders to review as part of our homework. This talks about impacts on children who have been in multiple places of care. One of my trainers had experience with a girl who had been in 4 or 5 different homes, including a home that had the intention on adopting her (and later changed their mind). An important note was that when she found something that worked with this child she made sure to note it and it was passed along with all of her notes to her next prospective adoptive family.

Stories of Experience

We had different trainers this week (every couple of weeks they switch) and they shared a lot of stories from their years of experience. It was great to hear about real scenarios and feelings that presenting themselves. Something I took away from the stories was the fact there will be days when we all feel we can’t do it; that we want to give up. We need to persevere. There was a story of a child who had been sexually abused at a very young age (under 2 years old) and would not go anywhere near her foster father. She would scream if he came into the room. It took one year… ONE YEAR, for her to warm up to him. One day she decided to sit on his lap and relax with him. He had not given up on her. He gave her space she needed and after a year he was rewarded with her trust.

Video

At the end of class we watched a video – ReMoved, which I have previously posted (See my original post here). It is a great video and great resource tool that they use in training. I am hoping they show the second one in class as well. You can watch both below if you haven’t seen them yet (but I will warn you… you should grab some tissues! I balled like a baby watching these for the first time).

I encourage you to check out the website removedfilm.com as well!

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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Training Session Two

[I apologize for the late post – last week was quite the week including the dog being sprayed by a skunk… my kids coming home from school because they smelled like skunk, my house smelling like skunk and to top it off… Thanksgiving dinner at my house!]

Becoming a Foster Parent - Training Session 2 - mommameesh.wordpress.com

Session Two: Teamwork Towards Permanence

In this session we discussed the people involved with a child in care and their role in a team to help the child towards permanence (either back with their family, or with an adoptive family).

This week’s session helped me realize the reality of children in care and the unknowns they face. Our instructor had a great example to illustrate how it is for children in care. She gave all of us a hand out to complete. We had to answer questions such as “What do you plan to do tomorrow”…”Who do you plan to have with you tomorrow”… then one year from now, and five years from now…and what do you hope to accomplish and have with you to celebrate those accomplishments. Once we took the time to write out all of our answers she took one of the pages from someone and ripped it up…. and then taped it back together.

Children in care can make many plans, but they don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or a year from now, or five years. When they are taken from their family and placed with a Foster family their plans are ripped apart. With the Foster (or adoptive) family they can put their plans back together (taping the sheet back together), but it isn’t the same. The plans may be the same words, but it isn’t the same as it was.  That demonstration really hit me. We can help the children put their plans back together and start planning again… but it is fragile. It can be ripped apart and the children most of the time realize this (and may be hesitant to put the pieces back together). Each time there is a big change, their plans may be ripped apart again. As a team we need to look at this and help the plan stay as intact as possible.

Group Activity – Team Work

We did a second activity, this time in groups. We read a case study about a child who had been in care for fifteen months. Each group was assigned to be a person in contact with this child: The Foster Parent; The Teacher; The Counsellor; The Social Worker. The groups had to discuss the perspective of that person regarding the child. My group was the Foster Mother. As the Foster Mother we were the “hub.” We received information from the Teacher, Counsellor and Social Worker and saw the day to day activities and reactions of the child. We oversaw this child’s life and had the most detail in what was happening on a day to day basis at that time, whereas the other people in this scenario only saw snippits of the child.  The Foster Mother brought the parenting perspective and emotion to the table, whereas the others brought forward a professional opinion. The Foster Mother was able to discuss certain triggers for behaviour and reactions after meetings and talk about it with the other team members.

The Group activity was great for talking with others who have different views, or thought about things differently. It also helped us see how the different people involved with the children may have different views and input that is beneficial to the child.

Other Information – Bridging the Gap (Communication)

We also discussed “Bridging the Gap” and how to work as a team for this child. The “Team” being the social workers, the foster family, the birth family, counsellors, teachers and others involved with the child. We talked about positive discussions and sharing pictures and information with the birth family. We also discussed the different forms of contact. You may not have direct contact with the child’s birth parents, but may instead send pictures or progress updates. Or, it could be that the child’s parents come over for visits and are invited into your home. It differs with each family, so we talked about some ways to keep communication open and positive. The great thing about being taught by instructors who are (or have been) Foster Parents, they include some of their personal experiences in the lessons.

We also discussed a Log Book that Foster Parents keep of the children in care that goes with the child back home, or to their adoptive family.


There was a lot of information in a short period of time, so I am sure I missed a bunch of information discussed, but these are the points that stood out with me. Feel free to ask me questions about training items you want to know more about.

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Training Update Coming Soon

In the next day or so I will update on this week’s training session I attended.

It is delayed due to a skunk incident with my puppy resulting in my house being coated in a rather unpleasant scent! Working hard to get that cleaned up and get new necklaces made and packaged that were supposed to ship out today!

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Emargee Handmade Necklaces – Pendants with a Message

Emargee Handmade Necklaces (emargeehandmade.etsy.com)

I have brought my hobby of necklace making to Etsy. I mainly put Bible verses into my pendants but mix in some other words, sayings or quotes as well. I hope people can find a message that inspires or speaks to them. You can check out my new Shop by clicking HERE. I have only listed six items so far, but later this week I will be adding more (with different chains and messages).

All of my listings include shipping, so the price you see is the total you will pay (unless you upgrade to faster shipping).

Emargee Handmade Necklaces (emargeehandmade.etsy.com)

Enjoy 🙂

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Homework (Becoming a Foster Parent – Training Session One)

Homework - Becoming a Foster Parent (mommameesh.wordpress.com)

I have completed one session of my training so far and with that, one piece of Homework as well. The first session was pretty relaxed and an overview of what is to come and then we watched a short film.  I go into more detail of Session One HERE.

My homework for Session One was a two page sheet which did not take long to complete. The first question took the longest:

“When I think about resource parenting, I hope these three things will happen for me and for my family:”

They have this question in large part because they want you and your partner (if you have one) to talk about what this will mean for you and your family. Being a single parent I answered it only for what I hope to happen for me and my children. If I had to go over this with a partner, it would have taken longer as there would have been more discussion about points and different points of view… so, let’s be honest.. I am glad it is just me doing the homework 😉

The rest of the Homework was circling one of the options below for each piece of information or statement shown in relation to the film we saw.

Options for Section 2 of homework:

  • Not at all what I expected
  • Some what as I expected
  • What I expected

Most of it was what I expected, but there were a couple items that were “some what” as I expected relating to emotions and actions, which I know we will be covering in later sessions. I won’t post the questions in length here, as they relate to the movie we saw but will post more about the resulting conversations, if any, that we have in class.

On to Session Two I go….

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