Our days are packed with a lot of “parent-y” duties like preparing bottles, changing diapers, kissing booboos and playing blocks, but we have a lot of other duties too. We’re foster parents, so the children are actually wards of the state which means they aren’t legally our children and we have to adhere to certain rules and fulfill specific responsibilities. For example, we can’t cut their hair, pierce their ears, or make changes to their appearance (other than clothes) without expressed permission.
Additionally we must make sure that any and all caretakers for the children (e.g. babysitters) have been CORIed (had a Criminal Offender Record Information check), so there will be no calling up local teenagers to hang out with the kids while we take in a movie or grab a bite to eat. Instead we’ll have a carefully thought out list of family and friends who we’ve asked to complete the necessary paperwork for the CORI check. Thankfully the daycare situation is a little easier since we can use any daycare we wish – as long as it is a legally licensed facility.
Another important responsibility we have is to meet with social workers – lots of social workers. Last week we started off our parade of professionals looking out for the kids with a visit from Sport’s social worker. She spent about an hour at our home chatting with us about Sport, what’s going on with his case, and available daycare options. We’ll follow up this visit with another one next month and each month after until he’s hopefully adopted, or removed and reunited with his biological family.
The next social worker on our list last week was the Supervisor for Sunshine’s worker (her actual worker was out of the office attending to other cases), who we briefly met with as we delivered the children for their weekly supervised visit with their biological parents. These visits take place at the DCF office and are supervised by a social worker, usually Sunshine’s worker. And for this particular visit we dropped the kids off at the office, before the biological parents arrived, and left. We later picked the children up after the visit ended and the biological parents had left. Currently these visits are scheduled weekly, but we’re hoping to get them changed to biweekly or at least have them relocated to a closer office (now they take place at an office about 45 minutes away without traffic). In the future we may also only be responsible for providing the children’s transportation in one direction for these visits. The social worker may provide it for the other leg of the trip.
Next up was yet another visit to DCF, this time for a review of Sunshine’s case and it included a small army of DCF employees, each fulfilling a specialized role in the case. Since Sunshine’s goal is not yet adoption she has a different worker from her brother and she has these review meetings, which are intended to go over how she’s doing in foster care and to check in on the progress her biological parents are making. Meg attended the meeting as a representative of our foster family while Marcy stayed with the children. The meeting provided us with a bit more information about Sunshine, and Meg got to finally meet Sunshine’s worker in person for the first time. Meg also met Sunshine’s biological mother. This was a little odd – meeting the mother of the children you hope to adopt, while discussing the efforts she’s making to get her child back.
While Sunshine’s review was a lot to take in, we still weren’t done with social workers for the week! We still had to meet with our worker; she’s required to meet with us within five business days after our placement. She stopped by the house on Friday, met the children for the first time, and chatted about how we’re doing with the transition and the resources available to us as pre-adoptive foster parents. And just like Sport’s and Sunshine’s workers, we’ll be seeing her again in a month and every month to come in the near future.
Needless to say, week one of parenting was busy and week two is just as packed. Sunshine’s worker will be stopping by the house for a meeting and then taking the children for their weekly visit with their biological parents. We’ll then make the trek out to the DCF office and pick the children up following their visit.
This week is also filled with phone calls to Early Intervention providers, daycare meetings, coordinating paperwork, doctor’s appointments, and trying to get more information about WIC (Women, Infants and Children – a government food and nutrition service), which the children are eligible for as foster children.
So basically we have a lot of appointments and rules to follow as foster parents but we’re happy to do it. We want Sport and Sunshine to be happy, healthy and together and this is something we can provide as foster parents and, if we’re lucky enough, as adoptive parents.
Now the burning question people have is when will we be able to adopt them and put all of these appointments and rules behind us? The simple answer is we don’t know; we don’t know if it will even ever happen. They will stay with us until we adopt them, unless they are returned to their birth family – which looks unlikely at this time. We certainly hope to adopt them and be their permanent home, but we understand that there are processes in place for a reason. We also understand that it will be helpful for them to maintain a connection to their birth family even if/when they are adopted. So – we are not rooting for the birth family to “fail.” If they stay with us, the birth family will experience a loss; if they are returned, we will. In the end, if the kids have a safe and happy home, then things have worked out as they should. We are going to treat them as if they are ours forever – because they deserve it.
Now after all of this boring and serious talk, here are some photos (we know that’s what you really wanted!):