I have so many people around me who are waiting on their phones… families waiting for foster placement, for adoptive placement, for the call to set up travel for international adoption… It’s all so exciting! It makes me miss the days that we were waiting on that phone to ring. And that makes me think about those first few calls when we knew so little.
I thought I’d make a little list of things we would have loved to have known then…
- Just because they call and you say “yes” doesn’t mean that anything is going to happen. Until that kid is at your door, no need to do much of well.. anything! If you “have” to do something, clean! LOL! When they’re looking for a foster placement they are really just making a plan. At the same time as the agency is calling you to see if you’re interested, CPS is still looking for biological family. They’re also considering other options–is there another adult who could be in the home with the children as a safeguard? Could bio-mom go to drug treatment with the child? So, just because they call.. no need to panic. We have had a dozen calls or so that we said “yes” to that never were placements. We even had one that we waited 2 days to hear that we wouldn’t get placement.
- Don’t be alarmed when they call you the next day to see if you have the kid. Such an odd call to get, but, here, we’ve gotten that call several times. I chalk it up to different departments not talking to each other.
- Just because they call you for a little girl who’s 1, don’t expect to have a little girl aged 1 show up at your door. If you know us at all, you’ve probably heard the story again and again, but it’s one that, I think, bears repeating because it’s so crazy that I wouldn’t believe it if it didn’t happen to us. I was at the gym working out when B called because they’d called him about an 11 month old little boy. We were thrilled! Our boys were almost 3 & 4 and we knew that they’d do great around a toddler. Well, a couple hours later, A came into our lives. He was obviously *not* 11 months old! He was, in fact, a couple weeks shy of 2. So, we had said yes to a placement that was a disaster for our young family. All three boys were less than 2 years apart in age and within 5 lbs of each other as far as size. For the time that A was with us, the only time that there wasn’t at least one kid crying was when they were all asleep… which brings me to the next point.
- Just because you say “yes” doesn’t mean you’re right. As a foster parent, it’s drilled into to not take placements that you can’t handle and not to let placements disrupt and all that jazz. And those are good and valid points. But, disruptions do happen. And there’s no way for you to know what will come with each placement. Yes, use your best judgement, but realize that you’re human and your crystal ball probably isn’t any better than mine.
- Kids don’t need that much stuff. We were always really worried about having the right things. We went out and bought tons of clothes and toys for our boys before we’d even seen them.. and then, when they were finally moved in with us, they came with buckets of stuff! LOL! Don’t get caught up in the drama of trying to buy a whole wardrobe the first day… Or, you could end up like we did with a dozen dresses and a little girl who refused to wear them. As you foster longer, you’ll get to make a network of friends who can help you with new placements. We have been incredibly lucky to have such generous friends and family who have provided so much for each of our spoiled little foster kiddos!! But, the truth is that all of that stuff isn’t important. It’s more important just to be there doing the selfless thing you’re already doing.. they stuff will be there if you need it. It can be expensive taking on a child or two or three who often come with only the clothes on their backs.. don’t stress out about it though. It will be o.k.
- Lice aren’t the end of the world. They’re no fun, but they can be dealt with.
- Keep some disposable stuff on hand and frozen meals there for the first couple of days/weeks. Paper plates and plastic cups can just give you the extra half our each day that you might need. It’s o.k. to have a little extra waste while you’re adjusting. When people have bio-babies, family and friends bring meals.. Unfortunately, I’ve never had *anyone* offer to do this for us. But, you are going through even more of an adjustment than someone bringing home a newborn. After all, the newborn you’re bringing home will be going through withdrawls. And, yes, the 4 year old is potty trained and should be able to sleep through the night, but good luck getting either of those to stay true through such a traumatic time in his life.
- Laugh. It’s o.k. to make really inappropriate jokes. This is a really crazy time, but it will pass.