Alright, since not everyone loves or has time to watch our 27 minute long videos I am writing up the latest and greatest on our journey. I will warn you that I am the writer of the house so reading entries may take you just as long as watching a video, unless you are my grandmother who practically speed reads. Either way I am documenting each step publicly and privately so that we can always remember and one day help others.
So, as most of you know our biggest delay thus far has been me and my shady fingerprints. I was fingerprinted twice, and both times the FBI rejected me. Conspiracy? We did ask (which I was very paranoid to do) if there was anyway we could revisit the conversation of us continuing moving through next steps while waiting for my fingerprints to come back. We understood and sympathized with the delay, but we are also excited, anxious, and let’s be honest I am the most impatient person on the planet Earth. I am a “let’s get this ball on the road” kind of girl. Most people would probably not overthink even the thought of sending that email with the ask as much as I did, but these are the folks we are working with to be approved to care for children, and I simply didn’t want to piss them off with my lack of patience. Nonetheless, I sent it, sober even, and it worked in our favor. We were assigned a social worker to begin next steps.
A week after we got that wonderful email our social worker called, and like we stated in our video she shall be named, Fred. Fred wasted no time asking “Can I come to your house tomorrow?” and suddenly things began moving very quickly. Dillon and I are overly ambitious people, we definitely believe if you are not first you’re last (thank you, Ricky Bobby) so you bet your butt when our paperwork came in after orientation even though we had 30-60 days to turn it in we turned it all in within a week. We completed training and sent off certificates. We talk every night in bed about our future “babies”. We bought bunkbeds. Yet, I believe everyone can understand the feeling of that buildup finally coming to life, and it shakes you a little bit. This is the call we have been waiting for, this is the call we have been working for, but all in the same motion it is the call that breathes life into our journey. We said what we have been saying since this journey began, “yes”.
We were quite proud that we did not completely lose it over Fred coming to see us the day after she called. We did not run around our house frantically trying to clean or improve things. I did light a candle and tidy up, but we truly spent no more than 15 minutes “preparing” our house. We went into her first visit as an educational opportunity. We really don’t know what we don’t know and were relying on her to guide us. Our home visit turned out to be nothing as we expected. I thought she would be very nosey and poking in drawers, cabinets, and judging us for not making the bed. We were very underwhelmed. We were asked to show Fred where we kept cleaning supplies, medications, and she made some recommendations, but all in all the “home-check” piece was maybe 15-20 minutes total, and most of that time was corralling the dogs out of the backyard so she could walk out there without being licked to death. The home visit was more paperwork, and though at this point we should not have been surprised by more paperwork, we just really didn’t think there was much else they could ask us to disclose, prove, or sign. There was.
While Fred was here she scheduled what is referred to as the “Couple Interview” for that Friday. Call on Monday with Fred, Home Visit on Tuesday with Fred, and Couples Interview on Friday with Fred. The process decided to drink a Red Bull and finally get some wings.
During this journey I have only met three people that have been through the foster care system. One fosters but does not adopt, another one adopted a teenager, and the other adopted an infant. The only one that still is involved with the foster care system is the mom that strictly fosters while the other two adopted 10+ years ago. I have so appreciated and definitely leaned on their guidance and support, but the fact of the matter is – their experience is dated. I will smoosh in some of our negative experiences thus far here because I am a believer in the sandwich method: good news, bad news, and end with good. Foster to Adopt is not something Dillon and I woke up and decided to do one day. I also am an overthinker and try really hard to have all my ducks in a row prior to jumping off a ledge, but the foster care system tells you there are ducks, but really they are apples, cows, weeds, candy wrappers, and all floating around somewhere on the internet. There are NOT enough resources out there to educate potential foster care parents on what the heck to do to even begin. There is NOT enough education to the general public regarding just how many children are in foster care at any given time. No matter if we like it or not it is a very political issue and I wont get too deep into it today, but the system is dated, neglected, and rusty. The folks that are out there guiding, educating, and helping have been doing this for years. I truly understand how once you are apart of something this big, but also this broken you either see people that submerge themselves into the work for the rest of their lives, or you see folks that run and never look back. Regardless of where our journey leads us my eyes have been opened. I have felt this system and while I am blessed to now be apart of it and hopeful we find our child(ren) through this system I also already feel a lot of the reasons why this system is so neglected. We as humans tend to run away from pain. Most people don’t run right into its arms. We put foster care in a corner because it’s easier to not look at something so sad. Really, foster care should be in the forefront with a light shining on it 24/7. It’s America’s Children after all is it not? They are children.
Friday comes around and our Couples Interview Time has arrived – all orchestrated over Zoom. Although the interview went much longer than we expected we think it went well. The interview started with Fred asking some more personal but very basic questions: when did we meet, how much money do we make, do we have secure jobs, what do we like to do in our spare time, etc. Fred is an expert at saving the hard questions until the end. Someone asked on our blog if we “like” Fred, haha. Yes, but she is very neutral and I don’t take offense to it. Her job is to literally judge us and make sure we are not freakin weirdos asking for kids to come into our house. She is friendly, nice, and has a bit of a sense of humor, but she is also very direct which I believe is needed. This is not rainbows and butterflies, in fact it is barely even sunny, and trust me when I tell you, Fred and everyone that our approval review is based on reminds us of it often. So, yes, we like Fred and she will be our saving grace as we continue forward but I can tell and appreciate that she has literally no bias.
Now, we went over our “Comfort Sheet” in the Home Visit, but I can go over it here as well. The “Comfort Sheet” is the very opposite of that because it makes you VERY uncomfortable. It is literally a piece of paper with behaviors, disabilities, and certain types of abuse listed on it in check box format, and we as the applicants go and check what we are “comfortable” with. I cant remember the whole list and I don’t really wish to remember it, but it has items such as: tantrums, incontinence, learning disabilities, diabetes, blind, autism, tantrums, kicking, running away, neglect, physical abuse, etc. The list feels about 100 miles long when you look at it. We had more “yes” boxes checked than we thought we would when initially hearing about the famous list. The age range of the children we are hoping for guided a lot of our decisions. We are hoping for 0-6, boy(s), and that’s it. We don’t care about sexual identity, culture, or ethnicity. What 3 year old doesn’t have tantrums? I believe this is the part of the process where Dillon and I start to get really uncomfortable ….. in a good way …. if that makes any sense. Again, very little resources or information regarding this process when you begin, and knowing very few people that have done it we went into the process with blinders on. How could we not? Well, this interview gave us a tiny glimpse of what is behind the curtain. Dillon was honest with Fred when he said “We have not heard bad stories about foster care kids” and let me tell you – that opened a can of worms. We then got to sit there, probably with our mouths open hearing about some very scary stories regarding children in the age ranges in which we are hoping for. Now, I am not talking about the what or how the kids got into foster care because I think we all know that kids don’t end up there for GOOD home lives. I am talking about the behaviors of these children that are a direct result of their traumas and abuse. We were uncomfortable and shocked. Yet, we continued. I won’t share the stories. You have to have blinders on to begin this process, but at some point they are quickly torn off.
The one tone that is made very clear from beginning to end through this journey is that the process is not in our favor. The ultimate goal of the state of California is to reunite these children with their birth parents or birth families. We are simply the in-between to get them there. Yet, we continue. These odds are not in our favor, we were told about cases that Fred or her colleagues considered “closed case”, that the kids would be adopted by the foster parents, and the court day comes and the judge says no – kids go back to their parents. There is no insurance, there is no luck you can buy, because our chances of adopting are less than a flip of a coin – at least then we would have 50/50. Yet, we continue. We made it through our Couple Interview – Fred didn’t fire us on the scene. We now go through our individual interviews. Mine is Tuesday and Dillon’s is the following Tuesday. I will probably post a video update regarding mine and another write up once Dillon completes his – I can’t let him steal my answers 🙂
Thanks for tuning in and joining us on our journey.