Starting classes tonight
For my county's foster/adoption licensing program. We have to get licensed before we can enter the system and these 8 classes (ugh - late nights after long days, costing us about 1000 in babysitting feed) are one of the hurdles. It's supposed to train us but more important to us, it will answer many of our outstanding questions: what do you do when you fall in love with a kid only to see them go back to a bad home? Or you don't fall in love with a kid and they have to go back? Or how does our 3 yo adjust to having playmates and potential siblings coming in and out of the house? What if a child is volient towards our son? etc.
My husband is doing this somewhat reluctantly. Maybe not kicking and screaming but he's clearly not thrilled. He says that he's open to hearing what they have to say, but it's mostly b/c he thinks that I'll resent him for the rest of our lives if we don't do this. I don't know if that's the case, but I know that the desire to have a bigger family, to help these kids, is overpowering. For me. We'll see how it (and the home study, safety inspection, etc) goes.
(Posting here b/c few people know that we're doing this. I think that most believe that it's just something that we're saying, not doing. And the rest, I guess it's worth mentioning if we follow through. So I'm telling you b/c I have no one else to tell.)
Do you mean DH is doing foster/adopt reluctantly or the classes reluctantly? I wasn't sure how to read it and didn't want to assume something when that's not what you meant :).
I think it is harder for our DH's to be as "into it" all as we are. My DH was definitely on board but he wasn't overly thrilled either. Then again, he's like that when I'm pg too :). And just like the newborn phase isn't very interesting to him, he wasn't all that lovey, lovey during visitation with DS or when he was first placed with us. He went through the motions of what he "should" do but I could tell he still felt more distant than I did.
It takes time for them to wrap their brain around all of it I think and it'll probably take him a bit longer to attach to the child(ren) than it will you :). We have the maternal, protective instinct that kicks in...we're naturally more nurturing.
Let DH have some space and time to acclimate to all of it maybe?? Meaning, don't expect too much :).
I understand, it is hard...usually feels like you're going it alone...that's how I felt anyway. DH didn't really know how to articulate his emotions about it all and he didn't know how to handle all of my "articulation" and concerns :). I really doubted sometimes if we were doing the right thing even though DH kept reassuring me we were in it together.
Yeah, the classes...they're never convenient :D! We had to drive 50mins for ours. They were very helpful though and a lot of our questions got answered. We didn't have to attend all of the classes because we were doing adopt-only so I'm not sure what was involved with the foster-care specific ones.
Praying class goes well...honestly, I'm so excited for you! I hope you get your questions and concerns addressed :).
I'm so glad that you are getting started. We haven't started yet (our house is too small for us to have a child placed with us) but my DH is willing but not nearly as excited as me to add any child to our family (biological or foster or adopted). Maybe it is a guy thing? He wasn't even excited about any of our kids until after they were born - it wasn't real to him until they were actually here.
I'm another one with a spouse who isn't that into it. He has said, he's doing this for me. He wants to have a kid....sort of. he likes our friends kids and my grade school age cousins but is very scared of the unknown's of having a child (he felt this way even all the years we were still trying to get pg). And he's not really into babies. I did give him outs and said we didn't have to do this and that would be ok but he's agreed to it.
And yeah the classes are a pain. Ours were during the day with one night. Weekdays. So we both ended up using like 5 days each of PTO. That sucked but it was helpful to learn about issues that would pertain to our situation and to meet up with others going through the process. We did it March of 2011 and since than our group has gotten together a few times a year on our own. it's been nice to connect with ours going through the same process we are.
Yay for starting classes! My DH has also been a lot more reluctant than I would have thought. I think it's harder for them to understand the whole bonding aspect of it. That's my DH's biggest worry. That I'll bond and he won't or that he just won't know what to do and get completely overwhelmed. He wasn't worried about that when he thought we'd have a bio child though, but I guaranteed him time and time again that he'd feel completely freaked and overwhelmed with a newborn too. Especially since he's not used to little ones much. He's completely on board now though and while he's still really nervous he's excited too. It's a scary thing to enter in to and I think men just respond differently. As a woman who works with kids already, I feel this overwhelming urge to DO something whereas DH doesn't have the same feelings. I think to him the idea is great but putting the plan into action is a little scarier. Does any of that make sense? Lol. I hope your classes go very well and that you get all of your questions answered. Good luck! :)
How did the classes go last night?
Sorry DH is struggling a bit but getting started doing anything progressive is a good thing! Good luck with the classes, hopefully they go by fast and answer all your questions :)
Thank you for all of the replies.
The class was actually very good. The woman teaching it has done these licensing classes for 17 years and it shows. The class is quite large (b/c the county hasn't done one since May) but even with 26 people, it seems that people are getting the chance to have their questions answered. Well, to start: I still have a ton. A few are restricted foster parents (with a specific child, e/g., a family member from out of state - or in one case FIVE kids to add to their 4!!!) but most are looking to adopt. Two are single women hoping to foster teenaged sibling groups! There was so much laughter, alot of jokes, and good info, as well. I'd expected it to drag on but it was really a pleasure.
That said... The class has me both more certain and less certain about this path. I'm going in two different directions. On one hand, as the instructor is talking about some of the stories of children needing homes, I'm ready to jump in and sign whatever papers today. But then she reminds us that few adopt (just 29 in the county last year - of 470 in foster care- and most were family adoptions). And that most foster placements are short-term (i.e., a few months). And we talked a little about the relationships with traumatized kids, emotional problems, attachment to the birth parents no matter how horrible those parents were. The need to not be judgmental about the birth parents, to speak highly of them, possibly to spend time with them (i think i would have a hard time pretending that the problem is the sin, not the sinner, in many of the cases described -even when i know that maintenance of the familial relationship is one of the five directives for foster parents. That the kid needs to hear nothing but sugar-coated niceties about the mom or dad who hurt them.), and then... the kicker for me... to hand the kids back to those parents. Which, of course, I know is the whole point of fostering, but that's one of my biggest worries: that i'll fall in love with a kid who has to go back to horrible circumstances. Or that my son will fall in love with a kid, period. Or that we'll start that road to adoption (or just long-term placement - I don't care about the legal technicality) and have a child reunited with birth parents at the last minute. I don't know if i can handle that emotionally. All questions for later classes.
Then my husband said what may be the truth: if I'm looking to add to our family, then this sounds like a really iffy, unlikely way to do it. The odds that we get a kid to become a part of our family versus being a revolving door are not in our favor. (To which I replied that if we aren't having another baby naturally and if we can't afford adoption or screened IVF, then this is my only hope. Even my son talks every day about having a brother or sister. Just a stage, I'm sure, but with so many new babies and siblings among his peer group, I guess it's on his mind. LOL, yesterday, he told me that we had to go now because we have to get married and he's having a baby. Floored by that one. He'll get over it if we reach the end of the line; i don't know if i will.)
So i don't know. We go back tomorrow. We'll see how it goes and i will try to get the instructor at a break to ask some of my questions. I have doubts anyway. Time, impact on my marriage, those emotional concerns...
That would be hard, I agree. I think sometimes they try to tell you the worst to weed people out who aren't committed. I'm surprised at how few adoptions there were though. I wonder how many people will drop out of the classes....I'm sure that many are having the same feelings you are.
Have you thought about kids that are already cleared for adoption placements?
Otherwise domestic might not be as expensive as you think. Do either of your employers offer adoption assistance? Many of them offer 5K. And than there is the tax credit, which hopefully will be extended.
Adoption of any kind though is definitely not an easy process.
(((HUGS)))...lots to think about for sure :). Praying the classes continue to shed light on your decision and you get more of your questions/concerns answered tomorrow. I think some things you're just not going to know until you're in the thick of it...I think that's part of the risk with foster-adopt...it's a huge unknown. Even with adopt-only I prepared as much as I could but that only goes so far :). I never dreamed how hard it would be to work through DS's grief of losing the only family he had ever known (he was placed with his fmom from birth and had only been away from her for an hour in his entire life...he was 20months when we began visitation). I didn't attach right away...it was hard...he threw violent (he would hurt himself and others), screaming fits and I had no idea what to do. I spent a lot of time crying (and I don't cry easily)...I felt so helpless to help him and DH had no idea what to do either. But over the course of the 6month "supervisory period" things got better and better. 3yrs later, we can't imagine our lives without him :).
To put a face to him:
I was wondering that too :).
Originally Posted by Cosmosmom
Also, you don't have to take any placements that you feel are too big of a risk or in a situation you just can't cope with. If you're looking at this as long term then be very selective in which children you accept to foster. Lots of situations come through the system every year and a really great opportunity may come along if you're willing to wait for it :).
Maybe try not to think of it all right now...one small step at a time. Continue with the approval process and then consider each case as it comes :). If you need a breather after you're approved, then take as long as you need before accepting any placements. If I'm not mistaken, your license doesn't need updating for a year. Time is on your side...there's no rush :).
Just wanted to offer hugs as well. Fostering is not an easy road to travel which is one of the reasons DH and I have never considered it. You really have to know for sure how strong you are. Good luck and I hope you get more of your questions and concerns addressed.
Thanks to everyone again. So the last class was very, very tough for me. I almost got up and walked out. I just don't know if this is the right move and as I said earlier, I get more committed AND less sure, with every day that goes by.
The class started with discussion by one of the social workers, a guest to the class. She talked about a family of 3 kids, 2, 3, and 11. The 11 year old was very quiet and wasn't really saying much. I guess in the situation where they're being removed, typically, they talk alot, cry, yell, do something. But he was just going along with it all. She finally said to him that, well, it's unusual, are you okay? He said "oh yes, this is the BEST day of my whole life!!!" He was thrilled that he was going to a home where he would get a hot shower because in his home, they never get to bathe and never get hot water. (Something like his first in a whole month.) And he got a hot meal. And got to watch football with the foster family after dinner. A tv... and to watch with other people, to interact with them. He was so excited by these little things that we take for granted. I wanted to sign up for real, then and there. (Tearing up just typing this.)
But later in the class, a foster mom came in. She is taking care of a 3 and 11 year old set of siblings. Long story short, barely a minute has gone by when the kids weren't staying/going/staying/going/staying/going. They're now in the process of doing a termination of rights/ adoption, but with the court orders and odd family members (the uncle who can't make up his mind and the mom in prison who's refusing to terminate rights...), she has to have been a basket case. It's been almost two years of this and the adoption - if it happens at all - may be years more. And after all of that, she could still lose these little girls who have become the center of her whole life. Can I survive that? (I'm ready to break down in class just hearing about someone else's story... how the heck will I deal with my own?) Is it fair to put my husband and son through that? (One of the other moms in our class was a foster parent to two relatives many years back. Took them b/c mom had disappeared, been addicted or something. No legal rights; just a family arrangement. Well, birth mom showed up one day while she was at work - 10 years after they'd been living with her - and took them. Gone without a trace. Not until this month - 5 years later - did the good mom's birth daughter find them on facebook, living not 50 miles away. They were reunited this weekend (since the kids are now adults). Hallelujeah... but again, how can one withstand that? I don't know how this brave women got through such heartbreak and worry.)
The instructor is going to bring in a foster mom who does only the short-term placements to talk about how that works. Juggling kids and social workers, court dates, and birth parents, etc. Not per se b/c this parent wants it that way, but b/c that's the norm: most kids do get reunited. (So it's more like 3 mos with a foster kid and not 3 years. Also, she explained, that it's unusual to find foster kids in the system for 8 years or whatever. It happens, but with the law as it is now, they're less likely to bounce from home to home unless the kids themselves refuse to be adopted.) The instructor also said that there is a possibility of only taking at-risk placements (ones ready for adoption, 6 mos after living with us) but that could be a very, very long wait. She's got a woman who's been licensed for five years with not a single placement b/c she's awaiting a child for whom adoption is the only possible outcome.
Anyway, I'm writing this for myself but also in case there are other parents thinking about fostering. This is what we're learning in class - what you would learn, too - and the questions that come up. If we don't end up doing this, I might still pursue guardian ad litem (or CASA in my state). Or just donate Nicholas' old clothes and toys to other foster families; I've been giving those to friends but that would be a better use for them. Going through the classes opens up alot of possibilities to support these kids and the system if nothing else.
One of you sent me the nicest note this morning. Your inbox is full and that means that I cannot send a reply. I don't want that to go unanswered so I'm posting it here:
I am so appreciative of your message. Thank you for sharing your story and the heartbreak. I'm so sorry that it's been such a painful, tumultuous ride for you. It seems that there are those willing to put themselves out there - really far out on an emotional limb - for kids who aren't their own and the punishment outweighs the reward. Perhaps that just makes the reward (finding a child to love and who loves you back... and who can stay for the long term) that much sweeter? Seems like it's walking on alot of hot coals to get, perhaps, to more hot coals.
Anyway, I will keep pushing through the classes (for now), but I may examine other options. I don't know that we have any to be honest, but I am still feeling compelled on this (adding to my family, helping kids in need)... Your point about needing the support of one's husband is not lost on me; I am already worried that this whole thing could be an unecessary strain on our somewhat shaky marriage so maybe that's a red flag in itself. Ugh... Facing such quandries is life, I guess. Just wish it were easier (as pointless as that may be). Sounds like you deserve all the happiness that comes your way. Good luck to you and your growing family!!!
(And thank you again!)
:hugs::hugs::hugs:...it sounds like the classes are helping you think things through...which is what I think they're designed to do :). Praying you come to the right decision for you and your family.
Have you considered adoption-only? What is the age range you're hoping to adopt? We were approved for a child up to 10yrs old and a sib group of up to 2 children. The same day we were approved we were given DS's referral...he was 18months old at the time :). I was expecting a 6-8yr old so it was quite a shock to be referred a toddler...especially since I already had a toddler (she's 4months older) :)!
(((HUGS)))...thinking of you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts through all of this!!
If we do decide to fully commit to the adoption path again in the future (slim chance, most likely we will only do emergency placements, 1 month or less...years from now) we'll go through an agency like WACAP or Spence-Chapins ASAP program that has a more targeted group they work from. While (at least with WACAP) it's still working with the foster care system, there's a much better support system.
I walked out on the activity where they have you make a list of everything/one important to you and then take them all away. I was having a bad day and just at my breaking point. The classes had Dh opening up about his time in fostercare and I had a total adoptee meltdown. They happen. We had a really good talk with the trainers after that but withdrew our application during the homestudy due to a family member causing a conflict with our worker and threatening us. It was fun :pokey:
Despite all we've been through, and it being more hurt than anything, I wouldn't change our experiences for anything. I know that there's a little girl out there who somewhere in the shadow of her mind knew at least for a few months what family was (before being sent to sisters who beat the snot out of her. I hear she's in a good place now) and still calls me mama when she sees my picture. And there's a great kid out there who knows if he ever needed anything, we'd have his back, no questions asked. If he comes to us at 18 and still wants to be part of this family, we'll let him in. So yeah, the hurt is worth it because it's not about hurt, it's about all the good done for the child that makes it hurt so bad. You know that even if they leave, at least for a moment, they were a part of something really good.
:hugs::hugs::hugs:...you'll always be a part of them (((HUGS))). Thinking of you Momma!
Originally Posted by As Is
Haven't posted in a while. Tonight is our last class. Then we still have the home study and a few more smaller hurdles. So far so good. I definitely got down on this around class 2 and 3. I started to see that alot of what was described about behavior etc was worst-case and even normal for any kid around class 4. I mean, if your kid is natural born, you can be dealing with depression and adhd, too. So it's mostly a choice to go through this process, possibly with the extra work and disappointment as a result. But fingers crossed, you get a great kid who needs a great home...
So I think that at this stage, we'll move forward. We'll see what happens and we can always drop out. Either way, I'm glad that we came this far.
Thanks to all of you for your support and for sharing your experiences. I'll check back when we get closer to getting our license.
Thanks for the update!!
I'm glad you're at a good place with everything :). The process can be very up and down emotionally (((HUGS))).
Very true with bkids...there are risks no matter what when it comes to growing your family whether by birth or adoption.