Waiting on Approval… Continued

Waiting on Approval - Foster Adoption Process - Momma Meesh Blog

My two week wait turned into a two month wait… and is now looking closer to a two year wait by the time I will get my first placement.

I talked to my Home Study worker today as I wanted more information about future adoption (I plan to Foster first, but my five year plan includes being open to adoption). She informed me she has not started my write up yet about my Home Study for her Supervisor to approve. She is going on vacation for two weeks and said she will not be starting my write up until mid to late September. Due to vacations in her department, and kinship and child specific Home Studies she has had to complete, she had to push back my write up.

My heart broke.

Mid to late September?? That is four months after my final Home Study appointment!

I am blessed to have two bio children who I can focus on while I wait, so I will focus on that. My heart breaks for the others who are also waiting along me for such a long time who are waiting for their first child to come home!

New timeline:

  • Mid to Late September – Home Study Worker prepares Home Study Report
    • She will send the report to me to review and comment/mark up
    • Once I approve her write up (to be sure everything is correct) she sends it to her Supervisor to review
    • Depending on her Supervisor’s workload it could take days to weeks to receive final approval (although my worker has stated it is usually pretty quick…)
  • Mid to Late October – Final Approval Received (hopefully)
  • Within 7 Days of Approval a Social Worker will be assigned to me (end of October?)
  • Within 30 days, my Social Worker must set up a meeting with me (could bring me to late November?)
  • December?… open to placement calls.

Based on the new information I think it is more likely that I will be waiting until January for my first placement calls, but am praying things run smoother come Fall when there are less people on vacation.


 

Final Home Study Complete!

Home Study Phase Complete - Safety Check and Interviews to become a foster parent - MommaMeesh WordPress Blog

I am now complete the application process to become a foster parent! I have completed all of the paperwork, background check, medical check, home safety checks and personal interviews! Now, I wait… up to two months to be officially approved.

Final Home Study Appointment

My final home study appointment was the easiest one, by far! It was not what I expected. My home study worker had mentioned the last appointment would be a personal interview about my parenting and then the final walk through of the house.

The personal interview about my parenting was a lot easier and more vague than I thought it would be. I had thought about different questions she might ask, about scenarios that may come up and how I would handle them, but we didn’t touch on any of that. It was more about what I enjoyed about parenting, what I found the most stressful about parenting, what we do for fun and also touched on how it will work with the kids going to their Dad’s every other weekend while the foster child stays with me (will they be okay with that, what if they want to stay and not go with their Dad, etc.). We also talked more about potential placements and what my feelings were on certain placements and their past. For example, we talked more about FASD and how I am willing to accept children with FASD but would like to sign up for additional training as I don’t have any experience with it. Also, with sexually abused children, we talked about what the “line” was for me since I have two bio children and they will share a bedroom with them. We also talked more about training and gaining “credits.” Whenever I talk courses that relate to parenting I can submit proof of the course taken to my worker to put in my file. I can receive credits for the courses. More credits means I am more specialized and therefore will receive a higher per diem rate.

The final walk through of the house was exactly as expected, we just went over the outstanding items from the first walk through; my TV had to be mounted on the wall, a lock added to the basement door, etc.

The final appointment lasted only about an hour. Half an hour for the personal interview and general discussion, then about half an hour (maybe a bit less) for the final walk through.

Next Step

Waiting… again. Due to the workload right now and the number of home studies on the go, my worker confirmed it would be around two months to receive my final approval.

Once I am officially approved a worker will be assigned to me within 7 days of the approval. Then, the worker has to meet with me within 30 days of being assigned to go over everything. From there, I can receive calls about placements from my worker.

  • Official Approval: estimated at 2 months (brings me to the end of June)
  • Worker Assigned, Meeting set up with new worker: Within 1 month of being assigned… Could be Late July or the first week of August before I meet my worker.

Based on the information given, it looks like I won’t be receiving calls for potential placements until August.

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Placement Calls – Questions to Ask

Foster Care Placement Call Question List - Becoming a Foster Parent blog

I am currently brainstorming questions for when I receive my first placement calls. I would love input from people who have gone through the blur and excitement of the first calls.

My Home Study worker suggested I create a list of questions to keep with me for when I receive a call. I am drafting it right now and plan to have her review it at my final home study appointment coming up next week.

Have a look at the PDF (Foster Care Placement Call Questions (PDF)) and let me know your thoughts. Is there information missing or are there too many questions for the first call?

I should add these questions are for school aged children, age range of 4 to 7. I don’t have baby-related or teen-related questions.

Edited to add:  A Commenter gave some great question ideas which can also be found here: No Bohns About It

I am sure there are lots of lists similar to this one out there. If you would like me to add your list, please let me know and I will add it to this post 🙂 

 


 

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Home Study #2 – Personal Interview

Home Study 2 - Personal Interview (Becoming a Foster Parent Process) Mommameesh-wordpress-com

A few days ago I had my second Home Study appointment with my Home Study Worker. She came to my house for an interview with me. We did not go through my house like in the first visit, this was just to go over a list of questions. Some Home Study workers complete this at their office; however, my Worker prefers to come to the home for all of the appointments.

The time booked for this appointment is 2 hours, but we were done in just over an hour.

Discussion about Possible Placements

We went over the checklists and forms relating to the types of children I am willing to accept into my home. I talked with her about the age range to get her opinion on the range and she agreed I should stay with the 4-7 age range to keep my son older than the placements. She said some people do not stick to that, but she recommends it. I am also open to taking a sibling group, but it has to be one girl, one boy due to bedroom arrangements and they have to both fall in the 4-7 age range, so that could be tricky.

We also went over the types of behaviours I could/could not accept and why. Most of my “could not” accepts were based on known behaviours that could affect my own children. She was happy to see I had some “could not” accepts as she said some people say they will accept anything, but that usually isn’t truly the case. She let me know being open at this stage is good, but also being honest and sharing things you are hesitant about is what the workers like to hear.

Some of the items on the checklist included special/higher needs and whether I would be willing to accept. My response was not a yes, no or maybe, but more of an explanation. I am willing to take a wide variety of children, but I require:

  • information on the needs and history (as much as they know at the time)
  • further knowledge/education/training available for me, if needed
  • expected amount of appointments that could affect my work since I work full time outside of the home

For most of the items on the list I told her it would really depend on the case. I can’t say a Yes or No for a lot, because each case will be so different. If it is a medical need such as diabetes, I am open to that. If it is a child with FASD, I am also open to that as well, but require more training as I have no experience with it and need more information specific to the child (behaviours, etc.).

She let me know about some training that is available once I am approved, which is great! I intend to take a few courses through CAS about different behaviours and ways to work with children with different needs. Also, she let me know that any courses I have taken in the past three years that relate to parenting I can submit to my worker to put in my file. If I take courses approved (relevant to parenting) it will give me “credits.” Having more training will result in being a more specialized foster parent (higher number of credits), which also entitles me to a higher daily rate. So far I have taken two online courses through the Foster Parent Society of Ontario (Life Books and Safeguarding Your Family) and also attended Mindfulness seminars.

From that she asked if I would be willing to learn special skills such as ASL (sign language). This is something that is very interesting to me, I would love to learn a new language such as ASL, so I am going to look into it. My only concern is the time commitment to learn special skills such as ASL and the fact I am not in a city (so to attend classes, it takes more time to account for travel into the city and takes away time from the kids/requires babysitting arrangements).

Personal Interview

The main questions she asked in this appointment were about my relationships with my family and my ex-husband and about my past. I have a pretty boring, “normal” history and a close relationship with my parents so it went pretty quickly. I also had to list all of my jobs I’ve had since college. I basically just read her my LinkedIn profile since she needed the company name and time frame for each position I have held. She also asked if I had ever been fired from a job (I haven’t, and it seems kind of odd to ask, but I guess going into why a person may have been fired from a job could tell them more about a person).

Some of the personal questions she asked me were:

  • What is your relationship like with your parents now? How often do you see them?
  • What is your relationship like with your siblings now? How often do you see them?
  • What was your relationship with your parents growing up?
  • How did your parents discipline you as a child?
  • Did you suffer any abuse (physical, emotional)?
  • How is your relationship with your ex-husband now?
  • Why did you split from your husband?
  • How often do your children see their father?
  • Will their father be involved with the foster children at all?
  • Do you foresee any problems with the children not wanting to go see their father if the foster child stays with you while they go there?

That isn’t the complete list, but some other questions spawned off of the above questions. Those are the main ones I remember.

What Comes Next?

My next appointment is in about a week and a half. In that appointment we will be going over the items outstanding from the first Home Study SAFE Assessment (such as checking to be sure I mounted my TV on the wall, and that my water heater is turned down) and then doing an interview about my parenting style.

My worker explained it takes up to two months for some approvals because the Workers take notes during the appointments, usually by hand, then they have to rewrite them in electronic form for their supervisor and the applicants to review. The time it takes to enter all of her notes into the electronic document takes the most time. Now though, she is trying out using her laptop during the interviews to speed up the process. It makes complete sense to me, so I was on board. It was her first time trying out her new method and she was a bit worried it would make it more impersonal or distracting but I think it worked fine. Hopefully that means a faster approval once my last appointment is finished.

Next steps:

  • April 21, 2016 – Final Home Study Appointment
  • Home Study Worker writes up all information from all three visits
  • Copy of Home Study report is sent to me to review before being finalized
  • Once the report is finalized, her supervisor will do a final review
  • Final approval is received from her supervisor

Best case scenario: May approval
More realistic scenario: June approval since they are so busy with Home Studies right now


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The Process of Waiting… and then waiting some more

Waiting_Foster Parenting_Becoming a Foster Parent Blog

I started the process of becoming a Foster Parent about 10 months ago. It was May 2015 when I first contacted the Children’s Aid Society in my area for more information. It is looking like it will be at least May before I am officially approved to accept placements, making it a full year (or more) in the process. It has actually been a number of years in the making as I have wanted to be a Foster Parent for a long time, but for the actual official process, it has been 10 months so far.

I am eager to get the process complete and welcome children into my home, but am trying to learn patience and to accept the timing. It will all come together… eventually. Right now I am currently waiting for my second appointment in the Assessment Phase. The first appointment was the Home Study to go over the SAFE Checklist in January. The second appointment (coming April 7) is a personal interview. My final appointment is on April 21 and is another personal interview and to go over any outstanding items from the SAFE Checklist. Some people have 5 or more assessment appointments but for my situation, I am able to complete it in three (partially because I am single, and also because I do not have a past which included abuse or significant events that would affect my fostering).

I want to be clear and say I know there are some who have had a longer wait than me and a much harder wait as well, I completely get that! I am blessed to have two bio children at home already and recognize my wait is eased to some extent because of that. This is just an expression of what I am feeling and how I am working through it right now.

Emotions

I had my second appointment set up for last week (March 2) but due to bad weather it had to be postponed. The earliest she could fit me in was April 7. I cried… okay, that isn’t the right word… I completely broke; it was a big, long, ugly cry that you feel tired  after sort of cry. I had been so excited to move forward with the second appointment and was emotionally ready for whatever she may ask (this is an interview appointment where we go into more about my relationships, my past, my parenting style, etc.). I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was ready for it.

To get it postponed took the wind out of my sails. I started to wonder if that was a sign. I wondered if I was really ready, or if maybe I shouldn’t be doing this at all. I’ll be honest… I may have overreacted to the news of the canceled appointment.

I did rebound from that, but it was hard. I had a few days of feeling completely lost about what was going to happen.  I am a bit of a control freak, so having it postponed and not go as planned threw me off (which I know is something I am going to have to work on… since this is bound to happen once I actually start fostering as well!). I found out just how important having a support system is too!  Without a significant other going through the same thing I felt very alone. I had to reach out and share what I was feeling with friends/family because I didn’t have anyone at home going through the experience with me that could see it. That made me think about how I will handle things when I am having a hard day as a single foster parent. There will be hard days with information I can’t share with my support network of friends/family since they aren’t in it with me as a significant other (and can’t know details of cases). I think that experience helped me think more about what will  happen down the road when I need support and how important it will be to take advantage of the Foster Parent Mentoring program through the Children’s Aid Society.

Staying Positive

After a few days of being miserable, I thought more about the coming month. I am going to be able to get some more renovations done around the house and get more things organized before my next assessment.I started to feel excitement about organizing more things and setting up more to do lists (yes, I get excited over to do lists!) I started to regain my enthusiasm and see how waiting another month may be exactly what I need in order to fully prepare my house for new children and more workers to come to. Maybe I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was. Maybe what I needed was some extra time to not only prepare my house more, but maybe prepare myself and my kids more as well!

What Now?

I am back on track and more accepting of the longer timeline. I have taken it as a positive and have developed new to do lists to keep me busy. See below for some of the items on my lists…

Finish Getting the House Ready

I had the basics done that I needed to wrap up for my Home Study Checklist. My TV was mounted on the wall, my water heater turned down, etc. Now, it’s time to add finishing touches and do the little renos I have been putting off.

  • Organize the basement — I keep saying I am going to do it and actually make a space for the kids down there but I still haven’t done it. Now I have time to!  I think I will make a game room and a hockey room. It is an unfinished basement so I plan to make it an unfinished, finished space… not a full basement redo, just enough to make it usable and clean down there.
  • Update trim around the house
  • Update the bedroom doors
  • Hang more pictures
  • Put trampoline back up with netting (Spring is coming!)

Finish my Welcome Baskets for New Placements

I had started a Welcome Basket for when I bring in placements. I have switched though from a basket to a duffle bag so they can have a bag for their stuff to keep. This consists of some necessities such as a new toothbrush, their own toothpaste, hairbrush, a body puff and body wash, etc., etc. It also includes some small snacks and non necessities as well so they can have some things that are their own. I plan to add in some small play items and colouring kits, a teddy bear (or other stuffed item), a blanket, maybe a book or two and other items like that. I want to have a couple made up so I am ready for when a new placement comes, then as I use them I will make more and always have 2 down in storage so I am ready. If you have ideas for what is good to include, please let me know!

I was thinking of putting a little welcome letter in there as well to introduce our family and have a couple pictures of us and the house for reference and a keepsake if they want it.

Once I have one complete I will post more about it to share.

Finish my Welcome Packages for Me

This is different from the item above… these are items that I may need on hand as extra items for welcoming placements. This includes GoodNites Bed Mats for the first few nights in case of bed wetting (which will be on the beds under the cover and not visible to the kids), GoodNites Underwear for the younger children who need them, lice treatment kits (just in case), extra bedding, blankets and pillows, etc. that are reserved for placements.

I also have a bunch of containers with my children’s old clothes so I need to sort them by size and plan to create a tub for each size, labelled and stored in the basement storage so they are easy to pull out when needed… they are all sort of just jammed into a couple of big Rubbermaid containers right now. I also want to pick up some more to fill in gaps so I have a few outfits for the ages I am open to accepting. I want to have enough on hand that I don’t have to drag the kids out to the store right away. I shop the 50% Off days at a local Second Hand store and will typically purchase a whole season’s worth of clothes for $50, so this will be the fun part.

Let me know what you keep on hand that I haven’t thought of 🙂

Book in Family Appointments, Now

I want to get our own family appointments out of the way before bringing in more children, for example, my son is due to go to the dentist, so I should book that now. Obviously there will always be appointments, even when we have placements, but I will get what I can done now to ease the first few months of fostering since it will all be new to me and I will have lots on my plate.

Learn to Knit

I am completely serious… right now I need something to keep me busy, so I plan to learn how to knit! I run to clear my mind and have “me time” but I think it would be fun to just sit on the couch, watch the kids play and knit something useful! Or maybe crochet… I am not completely sure what the difference is… but I will learn!


 

I’d love to hear about what you are doing while you wait, or maybe you are done waiting and have some tips that helped you get through the process! Once I am done waiting for these last two appointments in April I will have up to two months of waiting for my official approval to come through… then waiting for a placement! So I need all the advice I can get!

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Revised Checklist – Home Study Review from Worker

Revised Home Study SAFE Assessment Inspection foster parenting adoption application

Today I received the list of items to review from my home study worker based on last week’s SAFE Assessment (home inspection).

The green highlighted sections are things from the checklist that were found to need fix ups or double checking. The purple wasn’t on the SAFE Assessment checklist, but are things I plan to complete before our March 2 appointment.

Home Study 2 checklist - from Home Study 1 list - foster adoption home inspection

Items to review (detail):

  • TV – I forgot about my TV in my last post! It is a flat panel TV and not mounted to the wall. It is against the wall, but needs to be anchored to something (either the wall of the furniture it is on)
  • Water Temperature – As mentioned in my last post my water was 2 degrees too hot when it was ran to its hottest temperature. I thought it  had been on the lowest setting, but it isn’t, so I have to find out how to lower it 
  • Door locks
    • my patio door handle doesn’t lock well right now, so I need to get a new lock or handle for it (my wonderful son decided to lock his sister out one day and broke part of the handle where it locks)
    • the garage and basement both need to be locked at all times since they are only used for storage
  • Blinds – the cords for the blinds were out of reach but I need to pull the cords down and make sure there aren’t loops. We didn’t pull them down at this appointment, she liked that they were out of reach, but I need to check the loop thing since it specifically says that on the list. Also, in the laundry room I had the cord wrapped in a cord holder along the side of the window, but an older child would be able to unwind it, so I have to move it higher.
  • Cleaning Supplies – the cleaning closet I had mentioned in my last post; the supplies are in a closet in my laundry room (on a shelf about the height of my shoulders) but they need to be moved higher to be sure an older child can’t reach them. I am just going to add a lock to the closet door so I can use the whole closet and not be limited in my space for supplies 
    • This item I think depends on the worker as well… I talked to people I had training with and some had the supplies at the same height as me and they were fine (or their worker didn’t even check if they were in a closet and not out in the open – as long as they weren’t under your sink)
  • She didn’t include the vitamins in her email of items, but I have to remember to lock the vitamins away as well in the medicine lock box (they were in the cupboard beside the lock box, inaccessible to children, just not locked up)
  • General organizing of my storage spaces is on my Spring to do list – I might also tackle more basement renos to make it more of a usable space.

Other items on the list – that either don’t apply or I can’t complete right now:

  • Trampoline netting once put back up – I can’t complete this until Spring when we get the trampoline back up. She just noted it to be sure I remember the netting is necessary (probably won’t be put back up until April due to snow)
  • If the gas fireplace in the basement gets used in the future the guard and screening requirements need to be checked. She didn’t look at it since it isn’t used, but noted it in case I finish the basement and start using it.

I am a  bit disappointed about the number of items that are listed, but at the same time, some things I could not have known she would wanted like locking the basement and garage doors at all times since they are only used for storage and the cleaning supplies I thought were at a good height. The vitamins were just an oversight on my part from that morning after giving my kids their vitamins (and she didn’t include that on the official list). The cords I hadn’t worried about since they were out of reach (and out of site).

So now I just have those items to look at and wait for our next interview on March 2 (which isn’t a Home Assessment or Inspection, it is just a personal interview session).

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Car Seat Training Session

Car Seat Training - Becoming a Foster or Adoptive Parent - Application Process

Car Seat training was the last training session I had to complete in my journey to become a foster parent. It is not part of the PRIDE training I had to complete but a separate 2.5hr course taken at the Agency.

In this course we learned about the different stages and then installed different seats with the trainers. It was great to go over and learn the changes that have happened since my children were in car seats (I only have one in a booster seat now). I really think this should be a course that all parents have to take before using a car seat! So many people use them incorrectly!

We watched 5 videos in this session, but they were a bit dated and the trainers advised us of changes since the videos were made.

Here are some links to websites they told us about to gather more information (note: these are Canadian):

Infant and Toddler Safety

Buckle up Baby

Safe Kids Canada

Also recommended was to watch crash test dummy videos on YouTube relating to car seats.

Some items in the training that stuck out for me:

  • Rear facing seats should be used to two years old now, not one
    • I knew it was always recommended for as long as possible and I remember having my daughter rear facing until she was about 18-20 months due to her being small (preemie, took her some time to catch up), but now they are starting to put it in pamphlets and some manufacturers are stating 2 years. This is a change that is currently in process.
    • Also, the child should be able to walk unassisted before moving to front facing, that is also something I had never heard before
  • The old practice was to use your body weight and kneel in the car seat to get it as tight as possible. That can cause stress on the car seat and weaken the frame, so now you should only use your hand to push on the seat when tightening the belt. I did it back when they told you to kneel in the seats, so that was good to know about that change.
  • Booster seats are recommended to 11-12 years old now. 8 years old is the minimum, but it is recommended to keep them in a booster much longer.
    • My daughter is turning 10 this week and has been out of a booster since she was almost 9. Now I am rethinking that based on the information received. Pelvic bone development is one reason they recommend the extended use.
  • Foster parents are provided a car seat through the Agency, but if you are a View-to-Adopt family, you provide one.

There was lots of great info, if you have never taken a course about car seats but have children who use them, I highly recommend you find a local course. It has great info!

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