So far Luke and I have:
- submitted our official application to become a Resource Family for our county
- each completed our CPR & First Aid Training
- each attended our county’s orientation meeting and obtained our certificates
- each gone through LiveScan Fingerprinting
- begun our Trauma Informed Pre-Service (aka TIPS) classes
We have completed 2 of the 9 TIPS classes (total 27 hours) required. For those of you familiar with the foster system, these classes used to be called PRIDE classes. Since I never took the PRIDE classes, I’m not sure how different they are.
While the classes have been very informative, I can’t say there has been anything too surprising in them. A lot of the stuff about kids and their trauma and all that, is a repeat of what I learned through the Adoption Learning Partners classes we took online for the Russia adoption process. Most of the new information is the stuff that is specific to our county and it’s particular process.
As we are quickly learning, adopting from our county is no small feat. There are an unbelievable amount of details and variables that go into the whole process. I’m trying to think of how to explain it to someone who’s had no experience with the adoption process…. I guess I would describe it this way:
Imagine filling out a pile of papers two inches thick, reading every page in a 4″ thick binder plus two 1/4″ thick handbooks, sitting through hours and hours of classes, and STILL not knowing exactly what to expect because the process is basically customized for not only each family, but each child. Literally every. case. is. different. They may give you a basic flow chart and some timelines of how things go, but don’t be fooled. Short of a very few hard and fast laws, it’s pretty much all subject to change on a case by case basis.
Trying to figure out this process is like trying to find your way through an eternally changing labyrinth. I mean there are so many social workers working so many niche jobs it’s insane. There is one for this step and one for that step and if you go back a step you may or may not get the one you had before as opposed to an entirely new one depending on their caseload…. and could you even follow that?
And then there’s the sheer number of people involved. There’s the birth parents, birth family relatives, a worker for the resource family, a worker assigned to each kid/sibling set, plus each kid can have a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), each kid’s teachers, their therapists, their lawyers, their doctors, their mentors, (potentially) their previous foster parents, and on and on and on….
Then there are the court processes themselves. There are so many different hearings and possible outcomes of those hearings it’s enough to boggle an adult mind. I can’t imagine what all this does to a kid who has already been through so much! So many people, so many rules, so many changes, and so little control over most of it. I swear these kids come from traumatic experiences and are immediately thrust into running this gauntlet (albeit a well-meaning gauntlet) and are expected to come out the other side somehow intact?
And then there is what’s expected of a foster parent:
“You must be prepared to welcome children into your home at any hour of the day or night, manage the wide array of behaviors children present, and cope with agency regulations, policies, and paperwork. You are expected to provide mentoring, support, and aid to birth families while at the same time attaching to the children and youth in your care, preparing simultaneously for their reunification with their family, or for the possibility of making a lifelong commitment to them through adoption or legal custodianship.
In your home you serve as parent, counselor, healer, mentor, role model, and disciplinarian. Beyond your doors, you are expected to attend meetings and classes at the Agency, school and medical appointments, case reviews, and court hearings.”
Not to mention the logs and forms and inventories you need to maintain, keep track of, and turn in on time, for each child in your care.
Oh. My. Goodness. Has anyone seen my superhero cape?, because I swear that’s what they are looking for. Talk about intimidating! And that is just the “Welcome” section!
And I just have to say a word about the homework for these classes we are taking. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect it to be a breeze. But we are talking sixty-two 8″x11″ 12pt font fully-loaded pages of heavy reading PER class! You know, the kind you read with a highlighter in your hand because it is so jam-packed with information you need to try to somehow remember long term? And the classes are twice a week so you really only have a day and a half to get through it all. Again, not that it isn’t all important stuff, it’s just that I didn’t expect quite that level of workload outside of class. It’s like I’m back in college. And life hasn’t exactly stopped while we’re taking this class so finding the time to squeeze in multiple hours of reading is quite a feat!
If nothing else, these first two classes have really opened my eyes to the truth of just how amazing foster parents are…. and the truth is, if these kids hadn’t wrapped their little hands around my heart I would be having serious second thoughts about my ability to do this. I am SO not a super hero! There are days when I feel like I’m barely keeping it all together. I have no delusions of perfection. And it’s tempting to give in to the self-doubt and run for the hills. But then I think of those kids and what they’ve been through and how they have no choice but to go through this craziness that is the system. And I know God made me as a person with only one choice: to plow through and do the best I can for those kids. I am not perfect, but I know God can find a kid who maybe needs a parent with just my flaws and He can bring us together through the craziness. And He can make it work.