As I settle in for dinner and cozy family time on this chilly December evening, my heart and thoughts go to three little boys on the other side of town, boys with no home tonight, no one to love them, or hug them, or hold them, boys who I denied a place in my home earlier this afternoon. We finally got our foster care license in the mail two weeks ago. Our first call for a possible placement came today. Three little boys. Brothers whose home life was so bad that they were being fast tracked for adoption, boys who had witnessed too much pain and violence in their short lives and knew little else. They could be ours, ours to help, ours to love, part of our family. We could help them and hold them, teach them that Daddies can be gentle and Mommies can be kind. But, we have our five children to consider, gifts from God placed under our protection, children we need to safeguard. With two little girls, only one and four years old, how could we bring these children into our home? Children who knew violence and are likely to act out what they’ve been taught? I didn’t consider it long before saying no. The oldest two boys were big enough to be threats to my daughters. It wasn’t …
Well, I planned to continue this entry nearly five months ago, but life happened, as it is so wont to do. So, here, at last is the second part of our home study which was done back in June…
After Greg, the DHS (Department of Human Services) licensing worker, finished interviewing us all, it was time to walk through the house. I had planned for this day for months. Being a bit anal, every room in the house was cleaned and organized- from the basement workroom to the freshly vacuumed attic with it’s neat rows of carefully labeled boxes. The bathrooms were scrubbed, the fingerprints were scoured from the railings, the fireplace doors gleamed, the pictures were carefully straightened on the walls. All of the drawers and cabinets were cleaned and organized. (This was all in addition to the miracle of having all of the laundry and dishes done at the same time!) The house looked amazing and was ready for a thorough inspection.
We began on the main floor. Greg took a cursory look around. I asked if he’d like to see the garage. He shrugged and said yes, looking in through the doorway for about two seconds. I don’t think he could see much beyond Moby, our massive twelve passenger …
All Done with our Home Study! I didn’t realize that I was nervous about our foster care home study until Matt got home from work. At the sight of a car in the driveway, I felt a sudden pit in my stomach and knew that it was time to pray. We gathered the family on the porch and said a quick prayer that things would go smoothly and God’s will be done.
Greg, the licensing worker, arrived about five minutes later. By then, all nerves were soothed and peace prevailed, well as much peace as there ever is with five kids running hither and yon. After a few awkward moments of pleasantries, we sat at the dining table. Greg went through our three questionnaires. He said they were very thorough, usually it takes about a half hour to go over each one, but he asked me one question (what was my college major) and that was it. He had three questions for Matt (how often did he see various siblings) and then it was time to interview the kids.
He had said that he had to interview all the children. I wasn’t sure if this was going to involve a parent being present or not. Fortunately, it wasn’t even an issue. We all sat right at the table and he asked away. He decided to forgo interviewing our …
The phone rang at 7:56 a.m. Monday morning. Pretty early for the morning after Daylight Savings Time began, but I wasn’t upset; I was glad that DHS was up and eager to get the week off to a good start. It was Trisha with DHS calling to inform me that the PRIDE (Foster parent training) Class would be meeting at the Juvenile Detention Center that evening. I know… kind of ironic.
Each prospective foster parent must go through twelve hours of PRIDE training before licensing will be approved. Matt and I signed up for the March classes. When the day of the first class arrived, I was a little was nervous. I’d never been to the Juvenile Detention Center. I didn’t know what to expect from the classes. I called my sister who has walked this path before me. She gave me a quick rundown on how things would go.
We got to the meeting a few minutes before the 6 o’clock start time. We had to be buzzed in the front door, walk through a metal detector, be buzzed into the hallway, and then cameto a conference room that was very full of people. Apparently there had been a scheduling snafu which led to our being in a much smaller room than usual.
There were three young women from the …
"Any form of physical punishment including the use of the hand, switch, belt, paddle, extension cord, or other objects to strike a child.” -From the Department of Human Services foster parent list of prohibited forms of behavior management.
It seemed to me almost amusing that anyone would think they even needed to state this. Obvious, really. Hit a child? Hit a child with an extension cord, no less? Unimaginable. And, in truth, does it really need to be said? I read the above to a friend, who found it anything but amusing, stating matter of factly, “I was beaten with all those things when I was a kid.” So, sadly, yes, it does need to be said. Lord, deliver these children. Forgive us for our complacence.
Being fingerprinted brings to mind dingy cells, mug shots, and handcuffs. So, I was pleasantly surprised by our experience at Hands Across the Water, which is off Carpenter Road in Ann Arbor.
An envelope from DHS (Department of Human Services) arrived in the mail about two weeks after my husband, Matt, and I attended foster parent orientation. It enclosed instructions on how to get finger printed. Every prospective foster parent must be finger printed as a part of the comprehensive background check which is preformed to ascertain whether you are sick and creepy or relatively normal.
The letter contained form and receipts that we were to bring to the finger printing location. The receipts contained codes to show the fingerprinter that our fingerprinting had already been paid for by DHS- to the tune of $58.00 each. It told us when and where we should go. The hours were pathetic, (10-2 on 2 or 3 different week days) and the directions were terrible. But, on the Tuesday afternoon that I went in, I was pleasantly surprised.
I arrived at Hands Across the Water, waited about five minutes in a small but cozy waiting room, and was called into an office by a sixty-ish man with a ponytail. …
After attending foster orientation, I turned my attention to packing for our trip to Florida two days hence. I thought we’d get back to it when we returned. However, once on the airplane, I saw that Matt had brought all of the foster care papers with him. The application was only two pages long. He very carefully completed most of it, turned it over, read the directions, said, “oops,” then went back and fixed some things. For example, “when a heterosexual couple is applying to do foster care, the name of the man must be written first.” Who knew there would be a correct gender-order specified on the application? Sometimes I think that the government has too much free time.
It began by asking for basic things: name, address, birthdate, social security number. Then it moved on to asking for three people who we would list as references. These people are not to be relatives. Well, that stumped me for a minute. Between us we have 3 grandparents, 4 parents, 25 aunts and uncles, innumerable cousins, 22 siblings and siblings-in-law, 21 nieces and nephews, and 5 children. Now, here they all were - left out in the cold. So, we tried to think of people we know and trust, who know …
Having made the decision to look into foster care further, I called DHS (Department of Human Services) to inquire about orientation. They have orientation once a month on Wednesdays. It’s at two in the afternoon one month and at seven in the evening the next. You don’t have to sign up, you just show up. I spoke with Greg, the man in charge of licensing, and let him know that we’d be at the January 12th orientation.
On the day of orientation our babysitting fell through. Jenny’s kids were sick. We wanted ours to stay healthy. Finding replacement babysitters for five children at the last minute is no easy task, especially when said children have a reputation for being a bit of a handful. So, I prayed, “Lord, I’m trying to proceed according to Your will. If You want us at that meeting, please make someone available to babysit.” Then, I called my mom. My sister Amy answered the phone. She was not only willing to babysit. She’d make us dinner while she was at it. How’s that for answered prayer?
Matt and I were a bit nervous as we drove to the DHS building in Ypsilanti, not sure what to expect, anticipating where God might lead. DHS is deep downtown, near Value World. I was expecting …
Foster parenting is not something that I had ever given much thought. If anything, foster parents were trailer trash on TV, visited every so often by smooth talking detectives in pursuit of a killer. And the children in the foster care system? I never knew any, so I never gave them much thought. Then, I grew up, and so did my sister Jenny.
Jenny and her husband felt the call to foster long before they were married. She went so far as to get a family life degree in college so that she could be a better foster mom. As she awaited the approval of her foster application, I worried. How would she deal with losing a child after she’d grown to love it? How would I be able to support her through something like that? Then, her first foster child arrived, and our whole family fell in love. Then, her second, then her third. And yes, there has been plenty of agony, a whole lot of prayer, and most of all- joy and love.
I began to feel the tug in the foster direction around the time Jenny first started talking about it. God has so richly blessed us. We have all of our physical needs met quite well, we have a lovely house and yard, new cars, a happy solid relationship, wonderful children, …