Still Being Hopeful

So I was late. Late, late, late. I hate being late. Especially to new places with new people that don’t know me. But there was nothing I could do about it since I couldn’t leave my 2 year old home alone while I went to the county foster care info session! My dear husband left work early, right on the dot at 5:30. He entered our front door at 6:30. Ugh, traffic! Luckily, I wasn’t the last person to arrive and everyone was still filling out the preliminary questionnaires so I didn’t miss any of the important stuff.

The county foster care recruiter played a video regarding foster care and it was nice to see foster kids who were positively impacted by their foster families. Then the group broke into two, one for those who were only interested in adopting, and those who were interested in fostering/adopting. I stayed with the foster group. The recruiter mentioned that about 60% of the children in foster care in my county end up being adopted by their foster parents. That is so sad to me! Good for the parents who want to adopt, but sad that we cannot help the parents enough that they can regain custody of their children. The recruiter also said that many birth parents that turn their lives around do so with the help of the foster parents. So that was good to hear. The recruiter talked about the high needs of the county. This group includes foster parents who are willing to welcome sibling groups of 2 or more, teens, newborns (must have one parent that stays at home since newborn children cannot go into day care) and teen moms. We are most definitely willing to have a sibling group so I am glad that we could help with that big need of my county. The recruiter said there are 185 foster families in my county and over 600 children so many of those children are contracted out with private agencies like the ones that I have contacted over the last month. She also discussed that of the children who are in foster care in my county, approximately 85% have been victims of sexual abuse, so there is a special part of MAPP training to deal with that subject. I am sure that I will write about this at a later date, but 85% sounded terribly high to me for these poor children that already have to deal with an upheaval of home.

Next, the trainer for the MAPP classes spoke about what to expect with the application, background check and starting MAPP classes. Nothing else can be done until the MAPP classes are complete, including the home study. She said that licensing takes about six to nine months from the first day of MAPP training. She was pleasant and kept cracking jokes so I can see how she would make a good trainer.

I was encouraged by the number of people in attendance along with the number of people that stayed for the foster care portion. I was also encouraged by the number of African American families that were there to start their journey, as I understand that is a great need in the foster community.

So here comes the tough part: scheduling MAPP training. I knew going in that this would not be easy with my husband’s work schedule. But man, I didn’t know it would be this hard!! So the county has training starting next Monday for five weeks from 6:00-9:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays. Well, my husband works until 9:00 on Mondays so that entire session is out. Then, there are NO sessions in July or August so the social workers have time to get everyone licensed from the Spring. Which I totally understand, but I also totally wish they had enough workers to have separate social workers that do the training and licensing so they can get more families in the door. All right. So that puts us to September. The next session is a 10 week, 6:00-9:00 Thursday class from the middle of September through the middle of November. My mom (who watches our daughter) cannot commit to 10 weeks of Thursday evenings. And besides, the 6:00 poses a huge problem for my husband who had difficulty getting to our house for me to be on time to a 7:00 pm meeting. The last session for the county of the YEAR starts the middle of October, and it is from 9:00-4:00 on Saturdays for 5 weeks. But my husband works every Saturday. And my sister is pregnant and due October 20th so there is a good chance my mother would be out of town around then and unable to watch our daughter for me to attend session. So there are no other options this year for the county. And both of us have to go through training. His job is not very flexible, it’s not like he can just take off a morning if I have to go to the doctor or our daughter is sick. So for him to be somewhere at 6:00 pm for 10 classes is really tough.

I was hopeful for the daytime 5 week class, because he could do it on a week day off. I did not see anyone from Lutheran Family Services at the info session so I am not sure what the woman was emailing me about regarding the daytime MAPP class. I wrote to her after the info session to see if she had any more interest in a daytime class and to let her know that I am unable to attend any of the county training sessions for the rest of the year.

I guess that I should have gone with the adoption group! Has anyone adopted a legally free child from foster care? Did you still have to go through MAPP classes? Anyone else have difficulty scheduling your MAPP classes?

I feel like we’re stuck right now and I would love some insight!

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China Campaign

China Campaign

I am cooking dinner and about to head off to the county’s foster care info session (I am SO excited!!), but in the mean time please help Bethany and their quest to find homes for 30 wonderful children (link above)…

“Help a child with special needs in China

Bethany has been exclusively commissioned to find loving homes for 30 Chinese children. These children are currently on a long list of waiting children with special placement needs. We have been asked to use all of our resources to identify potential adoptive families for these 30 children – in the next 180 days. You are their greatest hope! Could you welcome a waiting child into your home?”

Finally Getting Answers

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all of our soldiers and their families for the daily sacrifices they make for freedom!

 

After over a month of work, I was finally able to determine the day, time AND location for the local county information session! I was also able to speak with several people regarding their programs.

I finally got a hold of the recruiter from one of the agencies that I requested information from back in April. She had called me several times when I was at work, and we emailed a few times back and forth. She was very nice and we discussed what her agency focuses on as well as the age range that my husband and I feel comfortable parenting (we are trying to keep it close to our daughter’s age so that they will be playmates).  Their program includes level 2 therapeutic fostering, and the age of their children is around 12-17. So this was much older than my husband and I would prefer. She wished us luck and I thanked her for her time. She recommended that I go through the county, as they have much younger children. I told her I was trying!

I also received information in the mail from another agency, who is in the state of North Carolina but not in our area yet. They plan on opening their office within 6-12 months. Hopefully I will have completed the training by then! The brochures were nice but informal and pretty much everything I had read already online regarding the foster care process.

I also tried the hotline number for the foster care office in my county. This was the fourth time I tried! I actually got to speak with a person! I did not get the old recorded message, and the woman gave me the address for the information session. So I am heading there Tuesday at 7:00… so stay tuned! It looks like we might get in our training before the year is out!

Lastly, I spoke with the woman at Lutheran Family Services again, to find out whether they have Saturday classes for the MAPP program. Their usual training is Tuesday and Thursdays from 6:00-9:00 for 5 weeks. Unfortunately, my husband is rarely home from work before 7 so being somewhere at 6:00 is pretty much not going to happen! The woman at Lutheran Family Services said they work with the county to do their training so they will be at the info session on Tuesday. As well, she said that they are considering adding a weekday daytime class (WOOHOO!), which would be perfect. They need four families to sign up for it and they can make it happen! So I am hopeful for that. My job is pretty flexible, so one day a week for 5 weeks would be perfect to get the training completed quickly. My husband, on the other hand, who knows how he will maneuver the training!

I have found that it has been very difficult over the past month just to find an information session to attend, even prior to beginning the training sessions! At one point my husband asked if we just weren’t meant to do this! It was disappointing, frustrating and sad all at the same time. I know the employees at the foster care agencies are overworked and understaffed. But every single one I spoke to was in dire need of new foster families. There has to be a better way!

Even More Diligence

Today I continue the saga of trying to get information on foster parenting in my area…

After I realized that it would not be as easy as I thought to gain information on foster parenting through my county, I tried gaining information from some of the non-profit agencies that work with the county where I live. I was successful in getting a quick answer from Lutheran Family Services in my area, but their information session was two months away! The woman that I spoke with at Lutheran Family Services was very encouraging and even gave me the contact information for their adoption specialist. She also suggested that we foster for a while before we adopt, as she said “think of how many children you can serve in a short period of time.” This statement was not lost on me. I know my husband is strong but I have a huge soft spot for children (and animals!). And I think that giving up a child after you’ve bonded for years would be very difficult. I guess I need to pray about it.

I also sent an inquiry to a few other private agencies regarding their foster care family services. One woman called me from an agency while I was at work, so I called her back (three times!) and left messages but she never returned my call. And I don’t have her email address to contact her in another way! Another woman from an agency called me twice while I was at work, and when I called back I just received a recording, no way to speak with a live person! I have a fairly flexible job, but when you call at 3:00 in the afternoon or 10:00 in the morning, I am apt to be working hard!

So, after I struck out with my county and the local agencies, I decided to look at the county next to ours, since it is only a few miles away. I filled out their inquiry form online and received an email from their Foster Parent Recruiter. Now, I try really hard to have thick skin. But sometimes the tone of an email can just rub you the wrong way. And this was one of those. I mentioned in the inquiry form that we were mainly interested in providing respite care and foster-to-adopt. The Recruiter took this to mean that we wanted to adopt a newborn baby. A “normal” newborn baby. Literally, this is an excerpt of her email:

“Yes, there are foster parents that have had the opportunity to adopt, but as the Foster Parent Recruiter I like to make it very clear that if your primary interest is to adopt there are other alternatives. I was informed by Children’s Home Society that they complete home studies free of charge if you are interested in adopting a child from foster care.  However, there is a fee for the program that they have for families who want normal, healthy infants. I have attached an adoption information sheet for your review.”

Just because you wish to adopt doesn’t mean a) you aren’t interested in fostering first, b) that you only want to adopt an infant, c) what child is considered “normal” anyways?? and d) there are children in foster care who eventually need adoption, why is she discounting them? After her email, which I felt was really to put fear into potential foster parents, I gave her a call. She was short on the phone, until I explained that we really are interested in foster care and respite care. Then her entire voice changed, and I could tell she was excited to have us come on board. We had one issue though, that county only accepts foster parents who live within county lines! So since we live in the neighboring county I would not be eligible to foster parent children from that county, even though they are in dire need of foster parents. Bummer! She was quite nice by the end of our conversation and said that she was sad that we did not qualify.

So I got a little farther on the path to finding information, but it made me even sadder that we are able and willing, but turned down from so many of these offices!

Due Diligence

I have been amazed at my inability to gain information regarding foster parenting through the county where I live and the local private agencies. I realize that these offices are super busy, are probably understaffed, and do not have ample resources for the volume of work that they produce. However, each office noted their great need for new foster families. So it makes me sad that there are so many children in foster care and these offices need help, but it is so difficult to get any answers! (Just the county I live in listed their total children in foster care to be around 600. Wow. Sad.)

I decided to start my research into foster parenting by looking at our local county and their family services. I emailed the official foster care address, called the foster care office for information and signed up for a future information session. I received a form email back saying that I would receive information in the mail from the county, as well as a follow-up phone call in order to confirm my attendance at the next information session. That was a month ago and I have yet to hear anything!! I even tried emailing back to confirm the date and time of the next information session… No luck. On the website each information session is listed, but the location is “to be determined.” I called the foster care hotline which includes updates for their information sessions, and it obviously hasn’t been updated recently because the recorded message speaks to the “upcoming” April 30th session.  So while I would love to start our foster parenting process now, it’s probably not going to be through the county since I can’t even get the address for an information session!

I am ready to go, but trying to be patient!