1) What has been the most difficult thing about foster parenting?
This is a tough one to answer…I hope I don’t sound too melodramatic, but every stage we’ve been in has had something hard about it. The licensing process was excruciatingly long and trying (at one point A was ready to throw in the towel!).
But then we were matched and those first few weeks were hard. Harder than I’ve really ever admitted to myself or anyone else. I was drowning in self-doubt and terrified that I had made a huge mistake by taking in these children. Could I really do it?? Can I handle these behaviors? Did I overestimate how much we could take on?? Did I just ruin a child’s life and my own in my desperation to be a mom? I cried a lot, and when I wasn’t crying, I was constantly on the verge of tears. I was exhausted and I just couldn’t see things getting any better. I was beating myself up for not enjoying something that I had waited so long to get. Thank God for A. She was my rock and there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through it without her. There is also no way I’ll ever be able to express how grateful I am to her for those weeks. I’m sure that time was also hard on her and she had the added weight of pulling me from my black hole. I now see her in a very different light. She’s amazing.
Now there is a beautiful balance to our life – and my emotions. I recognize that going from 0 to 2 kids has its challenges. Parenting is still hard. But I laugh way more than I cry and my heart bursts with love, no longer fear. In this stage the difficulty has been the uncertainty of the future. How long will I know these children? How are their lives going to unfold? Will they be safe? Will they be loved? How long do we have to wait before we know what the future holds? These questions have created a permanent knot in my stomach. It’s bearable, but its worse than I imagined it would be when we were in the training stages.
So there’s my somewhat depressing non-answer. The good news is, there is so much about foster parenting that is easier than I anticipated. It’s easy to love them. It’s easy to bond with them. Earning their love and respect and trust has been shockingly easy. Welcoming these children as a part of our extended family has been pretty flawless. The sleepless nights? No biggie! Dealing with bio mom? Not nearly as bad as it could be.
2) What advice would you give to someone just beginning the process of becoming a foster parent?
Throw out all preconceived notions and expectations now. Try to be patient – with the process and with yourself…when its meant to happen, it will. Open your heart as wide as you are able, but be honest with yourself in what you can take on. Helping one child is as great as helping 20. You won’t be perfect and that’s okay. There is not a single parent on this planet that knows what to do all the time. Get help – in fact, start asking family and friends now how they might want to be involved. I think you’ll be shocked at the resources you already have (I need to take this advice more seriously myself). Recognize and accept your bias, then do everything you can to put it aside for the benefit of the kids. Start shopping and stocking up now…it might seem premature, but once that phone call comes, things move quicker than you’d ever believe.
3) Are you hoping to adopt your current foster children?
Another tough question. My only wish is that at the end of all this, happiness and hope beat out everything else. I believe there is a plan for these children and I pray that they get to where they are supposed to be in the softest way possible. If we are called upon to adopt and raise these children, we will rejoice the opportunity. Then again, when I imagine bio mom finding the strength and power to be the mother they deserve, my heart sings.
4) Do you plan to take in more foster children?
Yes, absolutely. Its addicting 😉
1) What exactly do you do when you aren’t raising babies?
I’m a litigation consultant for an insurance company. I manage large dollar lawsuits for companies that buy insurance from the company for whom I work. Basically I spend my days negotiating, doing paperwork, and staring longingly at photos of my wife and kids.
2) As a SAHM, I always wonder how moms who work outside the house get everything done. How do you juggle it all? What does a typical week day look like?
How do I juggle it all? Well, I don’t. My house is never spotless and there is always a pile of laundry needing to be done. But, I’ve come to realize that I need to work for my sanity. I really like peeing by myself a few times a day and drinking my coffee while it’s still hot. I give stay (work) at home moms a lot of credit!
A day in the life:
5:30am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze 2 or 3 times.
6am-ish: We finally drag ourselves out of bed and commence the morning frenzy in which we somehow manage to get everyone washed, dressed, fed and into the car. Most of the time we also remember to take the dog out and feed all the animals.
7am-ish: A heads off to drop the kids at daycare and then to work. I usually stay behind for a bit to pick up the house or do some dishes.
7:45am: Arrive at work and stop in the lobby for a cup of coffee. This step is crucial.
7:50-4:30pm ish: See #1.
4:45pm: Race home to see the kids and A (they get home much earlier)
5pm: Throw some kind of something for dinner into the oven/onto the stove/into the microwave. While it cooks we play or take a walk or do workbooks (we’re trying to get Sprout caught up on his letter and number recognition and writing his name).
by 6pm: We’ve eaten and cleared the dishes.
6-7pm: Either baths or more playing/workbook time. One night a week we head to the library for story time.
7pm: Bed time routine. Brush teeth, pjs, books, bottle for the baby, back rubs and lights out.
7:30pm: Pack lunches, make bottles, prep dinner and pick out clothes for the next day. Load and run the dishwasher. Do a load of laundry.
9pm: Flop exhausted onto the couch, snuggle the spouse, and watch something off DVR.
10pm: Bed time.
That’s a rough outline anyway. To make it real-life, sprinkle in a few doctors appointments, late meetings, temper tantrums, play dates, and an errand or two!
Thanks for the questions and for reading! More answers to come…
Rosebud had her “4 month check up” yesterday at 5 months and 1 week thanks to an insurance nightmare that I can’t even blog about because it makes me so angry. No harm done,though – the doc deems her 100% perfect and I happen to agree! I couldn’t believe it when we put her on the scale and it showed she’s up to 15lbs 14 oz (46th percentile). It actually made me a little misty to think of her getting so big! And she’s long too! 26″ (75th percentile).
After she showed off her flirty smiles and newly discovered giggle, it was time for the shots. She was such a trooper! Thank goodness because I don’t think I could have survived another episode like last time.
All in all it was a very pleasant visit. I was quite proud when the doc gave Rosebud two thumbs up on her tone and development and we’ve gotten the green light to introduce solids in the next couple weeks.
Time flies…I swear it was just yesterday that I had an itty bitty baby sleeping on my chest…oh man, I better go before I start getting choked up again!
1) I find whistling very creepy. I get shivers up my spine every time I hear someone whistle.
2) I love cutting baby fingernails.
3) I’m just a little bit evil. My wife refers to it as having a “twinkle in my eye”.
4) Case in point: I work with a severe germophobe. She carries a napkin with her everywhere and uses it to press the elevator buttons. She stands as far as possible from people and goes through copious amounts of hand sanitizer. Whenever in her presence, I’m really tempted to cough, sneeze, or “accidentally” trip and touch her. I haven’t actually done it, but I’ve daydreamed about it.
5) In high school and college I picked 80% of my schedule based on the classes my crush du jour was taking. My transcript is very diversified.
6) I was caught drinking alcohol in the girl’s bathroom when I was 12.
7) I’m a real estate nerd. We aren’t house hunting nor will we be any time soon, but I still check the listings for my town weekly. I love to go to open houses and am obsessed with the section of my town paper that documents the home sales and prices. My wife has to endure lots of conversations that begin with things like “Can you believe they listed that blue colonial on Beech Street for $XX??” or “The cute craftsman around the corner sold in 3 weeks! The new owners got a great deal too”.
8 ) In the fifth grade we were asked to write essays on what we wanted to do when we grew up. My response was entitled “I Want to Adopt”. My mom still has that essay.
9) Growing up I hated my name and wished more than anything that I had been named Elizabeth. Now I don’t mind my name as much, I just wish it was spelled differently.
10) We got matched with our current placements because of a message board. Crazy, huh?
I think I was just asked if we’d be willing to adopt the kids.
The question was really phrased along the lines of “What would you think if the children weren’t reunited?” And its clear that reunification is still the primary objective. But it looks as though their concurrent placement plan is going to be changed to adoption by their foster parents. That’s us. Wow.
My mind is literally spinning, especially since we’re coming off of a bumpy couple weeks in which we’ve been address with some concerns regarding the children’s care (nothing serious, of course…mostly just some dry skin and an unapproved hair cut).
Roller coaster indeed! We’ll see where this ride lets off…