Today is Bubba’s third birthday. He is an absolute joy and I can’t imagine my life without him.
- His energy. I am exhausted every night he goes to bed but I love that he is so outgoing.
- His facial expressions. I wish I could show pics of his face because he has the cutest facial expressions in the world:
- How smart he is. I know everyone says there kids are geniuses but this kid learns everything so quickly.
- The stuff he says. Every day he gets more and more verbal and repeats things we say. He is pretty adorable on the phone too:
- His love off all things animals. We only watch movies with animals as the main stars (Zootopia, Sing, Secret Life of Pets) and there is nothing he enjoys more than going to the zoo.
- His athletic ability. He loves playing all sports. I love watching him learn new techniques for shooting the ball in basketball or kicking the soccer ball.
- His love of athletics. I have never seen a young kid so inthralled in a Cubs game as he was when we went a couple weeks ago. He just sat and watched and asked questions. As someone who loves to go to baseball games I am so excited to see he enjoys it.
- His problem solving skills. He loves to figure things out and solve problems. I love to watch him take apart toys and put them back together.
- His attachment to me. Sometimes I do wish I could have some space. But his need to be near me at all times it is adorable how much he loves.
- The fact that I have him and his siblings in my life. This case has been a world wind but I am so thankful every day that I know these kids.
Now that you know the child(ren) a little bit better it is time to take care of business. That first month is full of meetings and asking questions.
- Talk to a caseworker. If after the first week you don’t hear anything, start calling the licensing worker and agencies office. Have a list of questions ready.
- Find out about the court case. When you do finally talk to someone make sure you are all caught up on how the first court hearing went and when the next one will be.
- Find out information about the parents. Are the parents together? Is there any other family they are close to and will be seeing? How will you communicate with the parents?
- Meet the parents. This might not happen in every case but if you have the chance jump on it. Introduce yourself, ask them if there is anything you should know about their child, and let them know you are there to support them as well.
- Set up visits. In some states you make have to drive the child yourself. In Illinois we have a program that drives the child and monitor visits. I have to spend a lot of time on the phone though making sure the days work with the kids school schedule.
- Set up therapy. I am a firm believer that any child 3 and over in foster care should be in therapy no matter what. Children need as many positive adults in their life that they can talk to.
- Go to the doctor. In Illinois you need to set up a doctors appointment within 28 days. I would set it up as soon as you get a placement. I would also make sure you have a list of questions ready especially if it is a younger child.
- Get a health history. You might be able to ask the casewoeker for a health history or the parents. It is very important to know as much information as you can about a child’s health.
- Ask the child if there is anything that you can do for them. Is there a sport they want to join? Friends or family they are hoping to see? A church they are part of? Try to see what you can do to make this time for the child as easy as possible.
- Take time for yourself. That first month is exhausting and especially if it is your first time parenting it can be very overwhelming. Find some time for yourself even if it’s just eating Oreos while watching tv (my favorite pastime)
Today is Princess’s 10 birthday! Happy birthday baby girl. To celebrate here are 10 things I love about her.
- Her kindness. She is so thoughtful and does cute little things to show she cares like drawing one of us a picture or picking me flowers.
- Her acceptance of everyone. She has been so accepting of my foster children and doesn’t judge them.
- The fact that she is an amazing big sister. Whether it’s her baby brother or my foster children she is always there for her younger siblings and helping them out any way they need.
- Her art skills. This kid can draw. I have always been jealous since I don’t have an ounce of artistic talent.
- Her bravery. Princess has always been scare of a lot. However, she isn’t afraid to try to conquer her fears whether it is water slides or food that looks weird.
- Her musical talent. This kid can sing: I am so jealous.
- Her love of reading. She reminds me so much of myself when I was her age. She is never bored because she can always just grab a book.
- Her hair. I would give anything for ringlet curls. I am so jealous.
- Her love for me. This kid thinks I can do no wrong. There is something amazing and slightly terrifing about having a child trust you and love you unconditionally.
- The fact that I met her. I thank God every day that I am lucky enough to know her.
The first week with a new foster placement is all about getting to know the foster child and allowing them to get to know you. It is an overwhelming week but these steps are crucial in starting the foundation for them feeling at home and loved.
- Sign them up for school/daycare. This is always the first thing I do (during the school year). I take off the first two days I have a placement so that I can sign them up and then take them to school for the first day.
- Learn about any court dates and visits set up. The caseworker or licensing worker should call you within the first week to let you know when they child will be seeing their parents.
- Establish rules/chores. This is something I do very slowly. Everyone has their own way of setting down ground rules for foster kids. I prefer to just mention things as they come up.
- Be patient with the rules. They are in a brand new house and probably have forgotten your name already. Gently remind them the rules in your house. These rules are brand new to them and will take time.
- Go to the store with your foster child. Allow them to pick out food they like and clothing they like. Also maybe allow them to pick out a special toy. One time the day after I got a placement I took all my foster kids to a garage sale and let them pick out a toy.
- Take lots of pictures. It is always nice to have pictures to look back at. However, the point of taking pictures the first week is to be able to put pictures of your new foster kids around your house so they feel at home.
- Allow them to decorate their room. I always let my foster kids pick out wall stickers to put around their room. They always love it.
- Find out what they like to do and do it. Even if it is something small like building a puzzle together, show them you care about their interests.
- Go on a family outing. It can be something as simple as going to the movies together. Just do something to make them feel like part of the family.
- Know there will be some hiccups. Like finding out your new foster child only eats oatmeal for breakfast and you don’t have any in the house. It happens and you will figure it out.
That first night is scary and overwhelming for a foster child. Here are some tips for making them feel at home or for you to not be a nervous wreck (though to be honest I always am anyways…but these tips help me calm down a little)
- Breathe. After you hang up the phone it is a little nerve-racking. Take a deap breath and pray for the child(ren) you are about to meet.
- Prepare their room. I always have clothes for every age/gender I am licensed for so I can grab a couple outfits.
- Welcome them to your home. The children could be scared or they could open up to you right away. Have a movie going or toys out for them to play with while you talk to the placement worker
- Make sure to get all the information from the placement worker you need. In my experience placement workers are always rushed. Make sure you get the placement paperwork, medical card information, and ask any questions you might have. Also, always make sure you have the phone numbers you need.
- Introduce everyone in your family (including pets). I always have foster children call me by my first name as well as my parents.
- Give a tour of the house. Show the child the whole house so they are familiar. This is also a great time to go over the rules. Such as, make sure you lock the bathroom door when you are in there or no one is allowed in my bedroom.
- Make a kid friendly meal for dinner. I always have frozen pizza and mac n cheese on hand and I let them chose what they would like to eat.
- Get to know them. Ask them questions as long as they seem open to it. The first night I learned my first foster son loved the Seahawks which was my dads favorite team. My dad brought over a Seahawks blanket for him immediately and he still has it to this day even though he is no longer in my house.
- Have them get to know you. Allow them to ask you any question they want and tell them silly things about you.
- Allow them to have control. I’m a strict believer in very few rules that first night. I allow them to watch as much tv as they want, eat what they want, and go to bed when they want. They are usually scared and unsure of what is going on. I feel it’s important to not expect too much of them that first night.
It is so important to have a list of questions to ask a licensing worker. The first time I got a placement I was rediculed by the person on the phone for asking so many questions and I let it get to me. I ended up taking a placement that didn’t work out because I was afraid to ask questions.
- What are the ages and gender of the children? It is important to make sure that you are licensed for that age and that you have a spot for them in your house. Many times placement workers try to place kids with people who aren’t licensed for that age.
- Why were they removed? Or why are they being moved from their current foster home? This can help you understand what the kids have been through and what has happened to cause them to be removed.
- Is there any family wanting to have the children placed with them? Sometimes they will move to a family member as soon as they have a background check. This is good to know since chances are the placement will be temporary.
- Is this their first time being removed? Sometimes licensing workers can give you information on the history of the case.
- How did the health works check go? Does the kids have lice? Are they injured in anyway? Are there any special directions on their care?
- Do they have any allergies or medical conditions? Are they coming with medication? Is there anything you need to know medically?
- Is a visit set up with the parents? Make sure you write any dates down for upcoming appointments?
- Are they coming with anything? I have had children come with nothing and children come with a couple items. In my experience there is never time for the kids to grab much.
- What sizes are they? What size diaper do they wear? What formula are they on? If you know these things, you can run to the store or go through your storage. All of my foster children have come at night, so it was important to have atleast enough to get us through the night.
- When are you dropping them off? This gives you an idea of when to expect them so you can start preparing.
This summer I finally was able to get the siding put on my house. The wood on my house probably hadn’t been painted in 20 years and was rotting. Though I was very excited to finally get this project done, I was not excited to have my house turn into a construction site. I decided to go on a road trip for 10 days. Though there were some problems I have to say overall it was an amazing trip.
1. Bring snacks and comfort food. Both kids were tired of eating out pretty quickly so it was nice to pull out a mini box of their favorite cereal, some ramen, or easy mac when they wanted something they didn’t have to wait in line for.
2. Don’t drive a lot in one day. I planned my trip so I was only traveling three or four hours in one day. It was perfect because we were not in a rush and we could stop at tourist places on our way. The last day we ended up traveling 9 hours in one day and I have to say it was exhausting and I wouldn’t do it again.
3. Go somewhere kid friendly. I really wanted to go to Springfield and Kansas City since they are not places I have been been able to explore a lot. I made sure I had a list of good kid activities we could do at each destination in between doing what I wanted to do.
4. Stay at a hotel/campground with a pool. Everyplace we went had a pool and we even stayed at a water park for part of it. Kids love pools and it gave us something to do every night.
5. Do things that might seem too hard as a single parent. I went on a tube water slide with both kids at one time. I was absolutely amazed that Great Wolf Lodge had a water slide that fit three people on it and they they allowed children smaller than 4 feet to go on. I was even more amazed that both my kids wanted to go on it. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work since both kids are terrified of water slides. We got up to the front and my two year old started to cry. I started to freak out wondering what I was supposed to do now. The life guard took my two year old out of my arms and held him as I got myself and my nine year old situated. Thank god for nice strangers or I think we would have had to walk back down those scary steps. We were able to enjoy our water slide but sadly I could not convince my two year old to go back on.
6. Get extra help when needed. There were three points along my trip where I met with friends. It was so nice to have extra hands at the dinner table and to have adult conversation.
7. Give each child individual attention. I know it’s not always possible but kids love when they get special attention. A lot of times on the trip I had each kid take turns picking an activity. I also always spent nap time hanging out with my older daughter so she didn’t feel like the “baby” was getting all the attention.
8. Treat yourself. I spent every night watching my favorite show and eating Oreos. I love my kids but it was important for my sanity to make sure I made this trip about me as well.
9. Don’t be afraid to change plans. We drove home a day early because we all needed to sleep in our own beds. It’s okay to change plans based on how your kids are feeling or doing.
10. Have fun 🙂 🙂 🙂