Foster Care at Our House

13 Jan

If I’ve learned anything in my three years as a foster parent, it’s that foster care looks different at every house. . . depending on which state you live in, which region within the state. . . even in the same region, it depends on who your caseworker is, who your judge is, and who your home development worker is.  When I received an e-mail recently, informing me that I needed to schedule my tri-annual fingerprinting, I mentioned to a friend and fellow foster parent that I am pretty sure that DCFS staff make this stuff up as they go along.  I’d never heard that I would need to do my fingerprints again – and seriously, they don’t change.  Why can’t they just resubmit the scans from three years ago if they need an updated record?  You know what?  That friend (who lives in my area and is working out of the same office) hit the three year mark a few months ago and no one has asked her to do tri-annual fingerprinting.  Sigh.

Since we’re introducing ourselves this time around for the linkup, let me tell you what foster parenting looks like in our house.

Foster parenting looks like a blog with no pictures because all of the pictures that I take these days have my little stinker in them.  It also means a pretty much non-existent blog because the whole point of my blog, originally, was to post fun pictures that I’ve taken.  It means ordering dresses off of Modcloth because I don’t have time to sew.  And it means more Happy Meals than I’m okay with because shopping and cooking with a toddler running around after a day at work is still apparently beyond my skill set.  In our house, foster parenting meant two very brief stints with some wonderful kids (each lasting less than a week) and then a hopefully never ending stretch with our little guy.  By hopefully never ending I don’t mean to imply that I hope that he lives with us forever.  I do hope that ONE DAY he gets a job and moves out on his own.  He was practically a newborn when he moved in with us and is just about to celebrate his second birthday!  Fortunately, in our house, foster parenting does not mean a lack of movement in his case.  Things have progressed through TPR, and adoption is going to happen one day.

We are so fortunate to be past the bulk of the stress and sleepless nights. . . but foster care did mean LOTS of nighttime feedings, wondering if we were doing the hard part only for him to leave us the next week or the next month or the month after that.  It meant distracting ourselves with visits to friends and loved ones before court dates.  It meant early birthday parties because a court date was coming up, and what if reunification happened, and he didn’t get a first birthday party at all?  It meant loving a child without reserve and wondering how we would cope if he went back to his other family, and feeling guilty because we are supposed to support reunification.  Now it means sending texts to his other family, coordinating visits on our own because an open adoption is important to us.

When we first started thinking about fostering, I scoured the internet looking for blogs written by real people who were doing it, hoping that I could come to some understanding of what we were getting into.  It’s easy to see now how very different the process is for everyone, but it is nice to connect to others who have some concept of what it means to foster or adopt. . . other people who might cringe and yell at the TV when Aunt Becky and Uncle Jesse so easily managed to adopt an adorable chubby baby on Fuller House.  Sigh.

So, that’s our story.  If you want to connect with others who are part of the adoption triad, and read their stories, the Adoption Talk Link Up is a great place to do that.

No Bohns About It

If only it worked that way. . .

22 Sep


When you decide to become a foster parent, your life changes.  That’s about the most blunt way to phrase it. . . There are some obvious ways that you expect it to change. . . you expect to have kids in and out of your house, you expect upheaval. . . during the application process, you come to understand that you will lose pretty much all sense of privacy.  Seriously, one of the application questions involved listing all past romantic relationships and explaining why they ended.  So, there’s an expectation of a loss of privacy.  You know that you will have caseworkers and, hopefully, a CASA volunteer visiting your house on a regular basis.  Sometimes there are other therapists traipsing in and out.  What I didn’t realize when we started was exactly HOW much I would wish that I could see, just once, what the inside of our caseworker’s house looks like.  She visits every month, and has been for the past year and a half.  We don’t go insane cleaning every time, like we did at the beginning.  But as she left this month, I looked around and wondered if she had a pile of clutter on her kitchen counter. . . or a mountainous stack of clean dishes in the drainboard.  I’m not ashamed of how our house looks.  I mean, we live there.  When you only get a few hours notice, and you have to work all day, there’s not much that you could do anyway. . . but if I saw the piles of laundry on the floor near her washing machine or the leftover breakfast dishes in the sink, just once, I wouldn’t be nearly as self conscious about our clutter.

Not Exactly Maine or Canada

19 Sep

I spent the last week, longing to live in a small fishing village on the coast of Maine. . . or Canada. . . I’m not picky. . . in some old farmhouse, with a clothesline in the yard, tons of huge trees, fresh bread in the oven, and pies cooling on the counter.  Realistically, that’s never going to happen unless the entire Miller clan decides to move north with us?  I’m relieved to say that a weekend full of casseroles, homemade cinnamon rolls, fresh bread, smothered okra, and loads of clean laundry has made everything okay.  That trip to New Orleans didn’t hurt either. . .


Maw Maw’s Peach Cobbler

15 Sep

So. . . what does fishing have to do with peach cobbler?  Nothing except that my Maw Maw had the best recipe for peach cobbler in the world. . . and she loved to fish.  So there.  Honestly, I can’t ever remember eating peach cobbler at her house?  But when my elementary school published a cookbook a few decades back, her recipe for cobbler was included.  It’s REALLY easy, and REALLY yummy, so I made it a lot growing up.  Last night, I came across a can of peaches in the pantry and decided it was time to share my love of Maw Maw’s cobbler with my little guy and with the world!  (Or at least the five people who read this blog.)


Maw Maw’s Peach Cobbler (borrowed from p. 130 of the St. Francis School Cookbook)

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. butter
1 large can sliced peaches (side note. . . what is large? I did this with a 16 oz. can last night and remembered that it probably was a bigger can that we usually use)

Melt butter in cobbler dish. Blend together first 5 ingredients. Add to butter in dish without stirring. Pour peaches (and juice) on top. Bake at 350º until center is set and lightly browned (about 45 minutes).
Mrs. Jules Fontenot (grandmother of Eric, Shelly and Jared)

That gives you a clue as to how hold the cookbook is. . . my little brother and sister aren’t even included because they weren’t in school yet.  And now THEY have kids in school.

And then there were two. . .

1 Sep

As a part of life in the foster care system, each case has an FTC or FTM (Family Team Conference / Family Team Meeting) every six months.  According to our local Department of Children and Family Services website:

“Family Team Meetings bring together a family and interested people, like friends, neighbors and community members, with resources from child welfare, mental health, schools, and other helping agencies. These interested parties work together to learn what the family hopes to accomplish, set realistic and important goals, recognize and encourage the family’s strengths, identify what the family needs, find solutions that build on the family’s strengths and lead to necessary changes, make a plan for who will do what and when it will be done, and agree on the next steps. The purpose of Family Team Meetings is to keep children safe, promote children’s well-being and support families.”

As a foster parent, I’ve been invited to, and attended all of these meetings for our son. They never quite worked as intended.  His birth family, either parent, never showed.  However, the meetings have been a great opportunity for me to get an update on the progress of the case and to meet some of the key players.  At the beginning, the room was full of people.  His caseworker was there, her supervisor, his CASA volunteer and her supervisor, social workers, the investigation worker who determined that he needed to be removed from his home. . . I think a lawyer or two even showed up at the first meeting.  However, as the case has progressed, the crowd in the room has dwindled.  18 Months in, at yesterday’s meeting, the only people to show were me and his caseworker.  I get that, from a practical standpoint.  Rights for both parents have been terminated, but the case hasn’t been moved to the adoption unit yet.  A lot of those people who were there before no longer have any connection to the case.  It was just a little sad to walk into a room, where in theory we were going to have this great discussion about a little boy’s needs, and it was only the two of us. . . and we chatted about Facebook.  Yep.  The good news, though, is that rights have been terminated for both parents, and we are going to be transferred to the adoption unit!  And we have been fortunate to have the same amazing caseworker through all 18 months of his time in foster care (which for those of you not in the know is crazy rare)!  And his CASA volunteer is awesome and supportive and is in touch frequently!  It may not have looked like it on Wednesday, but this kid does have an amazing support team and a whole boatload of people who love him.  And, eventually, I’ll start posting pictures on this dang blog again.  Out of every 100 pictures I take, there are probably two that don’t have our little man in them. . .

I’m linking up to this amazing blogroll of other foster / adoptive parents who are talking about whatever the heck that they want to talk about this time around.  If fostering is something that you’re considering, you should check some of these out.  It’s always great to get a perspective from someone who’s been through it.


No Bohns About It