The following post was written in the fall of 2011, about six months after we were licensed. Much of it is still true though I don’t think I’m nearly as irritated or dysregulated or overwhelmed by it these days. It just is.
Okay, there are some things you simply do not think of when you go into fostering.
- It is not the baby that keeps you up all night. It is the 4 yr old, the 19month old, the 3yr old, and the 5yr old…rarely the 7month old. I put these in order of who keeps me up, wakes me up, challenges me most at 4am. As you can see, the 7month old who has slept through the night since the 3rd week she was here is not why I’m so tired. It’s the rest of them (primarily the toddler and the 4yr old though).
- Poop happens. Really. Of course, you expect it with the baby and toddler. You may be less thrilled with it, but you expect it while potty training. But potty “accidents” (quoted because they are rarely, if ever, not done on purpose) are not exactly rare.
- Paperwork galore. If you thought the 153 pages of paperwork you did during training and the homestudy process was a lot, don’t think you’re going to be done with it anytime soon. Some paperwork you’ll deal with:
- medication logs
- weekly/monthly reports on each child (mine run 4 to 8 pages single spaced)
- documentation of every doctor, dental, vision, psychology appointment
- fire drills
- training – it was 40 hours to get licensed and 30 per year to stay licensed. BTW, you do it the first year also so will have about 70 hours within the first 12 months.
- court papers
- school binders – each child gets a separate binder with their school related things such as report cards, attendance reports, ARDs, as well as things like their birth certificate, social security card, and immunization records.
- incident reports (accidents, behavioral situations, etc)
- emails to teachers, caseworkers, agency workers, licensing worker, doctors, therapists, etc
- updated records (background checks, etc)
- Behavior. Seriously, there is a LOT of behavior from some of these kids. I think I’ll stop there for today. Please be ready to deal with what may be a lot of behavior. Some will be serious. Some will be dangerous (or worse). Some will be annoying. Some will be constant. There is a LOT of behavior with some of these kids!
- Visits galore. You’ll have:
- Visits with parents
- Doctor visits (includes dental, vision, medical, specialist, etc)
- parent-teacher conferences, probably more than the average parent
- caseworker visits (and in our case, a visiting caseworker because the official caseworker lives so far away)
- Therapy visits (speech, occupational, physical therapy as well as play therapy, behavioral therapy, etc)
- agency visits (licensing, agency worker if you have one, etc)
- People’s rude comments:
- Are they all yours?
- Do you run a daycare?
- You asked for it.
- Is it worth it?
- They have such significant issues (this is usually not said this way. It is usually said in regards to a specific situation or because you were dumb enough to vent to a family member or friend)
- derogatory comments about doing it for the money
- hurtful comments about the children’s parents
This post isn’t to complain. I am sitting here at 6:30 in the morning having been up since 4 with children. There has not be a ten minute break in those 2½ hours. I guess I can be thankful for enough two and five minute ones to write this post. Yesterday, I got court papers that surprised me. I had to send in approximately 20 pages of documentation yesterday and I’ll do at least 5 more pages this morning. I did 3½ hours of training yesterday and will try to do similarly again this weekend. No doubt there will be behavior (probably extra since they refuse to sleep). And I really want to get through these books and videos I believe will make a huge difference for the kids long term if I can implement it well. I gotta keep trying!
I think I glorified what the days and weeks would look like before I started fostering. I pictured parenting during the day and having from 8pm to 6am free for my time and sleep except for an occasional illness. I pictured some hard work, but mostly happy fun-filled days. I never dreamed of so much stress, lack of sleep, mountains of paperwork, or rudeness from others.
Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. I have five little people whose eyes I will gladly look into when the sun comes up who definitely make it worth it. And then I’m hoping for a nap 🙂