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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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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Quick Update

I still have a few more weeks before my next appointment with my Home Study worker, so I am trying to patiently wait and also complete the items on the list I previously posted. Those items don’t have to be complete until my third visit, but I plan to get them complete for the next one to be sure I am on track.

Last weekend the group that I had PRIDE training with met up for supper at a restaurant in the city. I wasn’t able to go, but I got an update from one of the girls I have kept in contact with. There are a few couples in that group that are complete with their Home Study and interviews and are waiting for the official approval! That is very exciting! They have been advised this could take 2 months though. So, more waiting ahead!

My worker had let me know that the waiting period to be approved differs based on the agency’s current need. If they need more foster parents for school aged, you will be approved quicker than those looking to adopt an infant for example. My worker also let me know that based on the fact I am looking to foster school aged, I should be approved in a shorter amount of time than some of the others who are looking to adopt. There is a long waiting list for adopting, it is fostering that they need at this time.

Once I complete my next interview at the Home Study appointment #2 (March 2, 2016), I will post all about it. Until then, I may post about some of the little things I am doing to prepare including making packages for the children who will be placed with me. I also did a short course about Lifebooks and will share that information as well.


 

 

 

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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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent – Training Session Nine: Panel Night

Adventures Are the Best Way to Learn_Foster Parenting Blog_Quote

I have now completed my training sessions in order to become a Foster Parent.

The quote above reflects my reaction from last night’s panel discussions with groups of people who have either been a Foster Parent, Adopted a child, or been the ones in the Foster Care system or been Adopted themselves. There are so many different scenarios and things people have gone through, this journey is not the same for any two people going through it. What I took from last night’s session is to look at every child differently and use your supports available (their worker, your assigned worker, groups at the Children’s Aid Society, further learning courses, etc.) and be open to a wide range of scenarios and people who will come in your life.

It was great to hear from the children who had been in Foster Care. I asked questions mainly about how it will affect my bio-children and how to make Foster children feel at home in the strange new place. The girls on the panel who answered my questions were now 20 and 21 years old and had been placed in a Foster home when they were 8 and 9 (sibling set). They mentioned it was great having another child in the house where they went because they felt more comfortable asking them for things or where things were. They also said having a pet in the home was great because they liked to talk to the dog rather than the parents at first, until they were able to trust the Foster parents.

There were some great items discussed and it was nice hearing from actual experiences rather than book learning.

With the completion of my training sessions I am now at the point of scheduling my Home Study assessments. Here they will go through my Home to be sure it is safe and can accommodate children I am inviting into my home and they will also go over in more detail with me the children I am able to accept into my home (limitations, preferences, etc.).

Right now I am debating on moving before starting the next phase. Currently my children and I are in the home that my ex-husband and I shared. I had planned on staying at this home since it is the only house the children have known, but I think I am in need of a fresh start…. so we may sell this home and move before starting the Home Study phase.

On to new adventures!

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First Steps: Talking to my Children About Foster Care

let your faith be bigger

I have talked to my children a few times about the possibility of us becoming a Foster family. I have only grazed the surface so far as to what that means for us and have just introduced what Foster Parenting is in general. Their reaction was about what I expected, excitement and the idea that is it like having a long sleep over and making a new friend.

I am going to be introducing more aspects of it as I go through my training and learn more myself. I don’t want them to have false hopes and misunderstandings going into it, making it harder on everyone. I believe they are old enough that I can have deeper conversations with them about what to expect (they are 7 and 9 years old).

Some of the items I plan to discuss are:

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