The Nuts and Bolts of Foster Care Licensing

NutsAndBolts

I really wanted to put together the type of post that I had been searching for during the waiting game we played before getting the licensing train going. Last week we met with our licensing rep for the first time and were given a modest stack of paperwork. Among the paperwork was a list of the initial documents we needed to pull together. I love lists! imagesI am definitely guilty of adding an item to a list just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off.

The first step was to choose a location and dates for the five weeks of required classes. 15 hours suddenly seemed like a very small amount. Shouldn’t the equivalent of a master’s degree be needed to raise ANY child? I am a teacher and a perpetual student, I already know that through reading and reaching out to others I am going to expand that “education” as much as I can.

We were happy to find a location about 20 minutes away. The classes start next week, two days before Mr. Something’s 30th birthday. (I’m sorry, Sweetie, that your birthday week will mark the beginning of this very grown-up journey. I promise, we can completely forget about being adults two days later and celebrate YOU!)

In the meantime here is the list we were given of required documents:

-Medical exams/forms for each of us

-Copy of our marriage certificate

-Vet records, including rabies shots for our two cats and dog

-Copies of our car insurance

-Copies of our driver’s licenses

-Authorization for an FBI background check

-Fingerprint receipts

-A financial worksheet including an outline of all our monthly spending (bills, groceries, gas, etc.)

-Copy of W-2s

-4 most recent paycheck stubs

-Floor plan of our house including measurements

-Proof of first aid/CPR training

-Proof of 15 hour licensing course completion

After going over all of the requirements I asked about the timeline for certification. I almost fell off my chair when she said 3-6 months. Through all of my internet/blog wanderings I had been under the assumption that it would take much longer. In seeing that it took almost 3 months just to meet our rep once we applied, I won’t be surprised if 3-6 months was an ambitious quote, but I was far from ready to think that if we wanted this to happen that soon, it very well could. In my mind I had settled on completing licensing and opening our house to placements sometime after the first of the year. Our life and travel plans also lend itself to that timeline as well. We, of course, won’t be forced to open for placement the moment we are licensed, so I am comfortable knowing that we have some control over our timeline. So, just after the first of the year, the end of January 2014 would put us 9 months from now. I am finding some irony in that number.

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Out to Sea

cartoon-man-running-away-new2Last week I ran away from a baby. Okay, back up. I didn’t exactly run away but by now my recollection of the moment has taken a full on cartoon animation to it, complete with my feet leaving the scene moments before the rest of my body caught up. I may have also been making this face as well. UntitledThis is my favorite emoticon. Mr. Something and I lovingly refer to it as the “driving in the mountains” face. We frequent Colorado, and I have complete faith in Mr. Something’s driving skills but some mountain roads (unpaved, one lane, sheer drops…) require that very face. We have an understanding that I sit quietly and don’t say a word about his driving as long as I can make that face. It works for us.

Okay, running away from a baby and making the “driving in the mountains” face. The story: My teammate returned from her maternity leave this week, so last week she came in one afternoon to plan with the team so she could start wrapping her mind around teaching again after being away for three months. She brought her little guy with her and as soon as I was asked, “Do you want to hold him?” I ran away. Okay, stepped back, but the knee-jerk reaction was, “Really, no thanks.” He’s adorable but a three month old is not quite in my realm of comfort. I suppose if I needed a litmus test as to whether or not pursuing foster care adoption, as opposed to having our own children, was the path for me, that was it. No tug. No longing. No aching womb. Sure, he’s cute but so are monkeys and I don’t want one of those either. (For the record I did NOT just compare my teammate’s child to a monkey. Hah!) When I called Mr. Something on the way home from work that day I told him, “I ran away from a baby today, I think we are doing the right thing.” He was pleased.

A day after the baby incident my phone rang in the middle of the day. As always, unable to answer, I later listened to the message and was thrilled to hear that it was a licensing rep from the agency’s suburban office. Stomach flip flops and a bit of jumping up and down ensued. The rep said that she would be taking on our case and was interested in meeting us before we began the licensing classes. When could she come by our house?

When could she come by our house?

Time for a little bit of panic. It’s not that our house is a disaster but the thought of meeting the woman that could very well be choosing children to place in our home was a sudden crash of reality.

A week of frantic cleaning and self reflection followed.

I realized that, until now, I have lived life rather safely. I went to college 45 minutes away from my hometown, the college that my sister had attended, the only college that I applied to. I pursued a career in teaching, the only job I had wanted since I was in elementary school myself. Not to mention the one profession that all people get a close and personal view of for 12 years of schooling. No unknowns, no risks. I made close friends in high school and spent my college years coming home every weekend to see them and my future husband. I don’t have a single close friend that I met in college. Safe and familiar. I married a man that I met my senior year of high school and the only one I dated through college. We lived with our parents after college, got engaged, and started building a house 25 minutes away from where I grew up (7 minutes from my in-laws), 2.5 miles from my sister’s house. No surprises. I’m not, by any means, complaining. I am extremely blessed and endlessly happy with where life has taken me but, in sharp contrast, our Tiny Human Project blows my safe and predictable little life clear out of the water.

Around the time all of these revelations were unfolding I happened across this quote. 417885_516526731730535_357069094_n It really resonated with me to the effect that, up until now, I have never left sight of the shore. I have spent my life very much on the shore. The shore can be a delightful place, beautiful, majestic even, but if it’s the only place you ever go, might it lose it’s luster? Here I was, on the eve of meeting with our licensing rep, preparing to cross an ocean.

My paternal grandfather literally did just that. In the early 1900s (our generations are very wide apart!) he was 18 years old, leaving the only home he ever knew in Italy. He boarded a ship with a simple trunk filled with his possessions, and set off to build a new life for himself in the United States. It might as well be akin to moving to the moon nowadays! He wasn’t totally alone but the key in his story, in this quote, in this new journey of mine, is courage.

The courage to lose sight of the shore.

Yesterday we sat at our dining room table with a foster care and adoption licensing representative. The ship has left the harbor and I am giddy with excitement and wonder at what lays beyond the horizon.

It’s All I Can Do

Our sad little timeline…

Friday, February 8th- Mailed our application to begin the foster care licensing process.

Tuesday, February 19th- Received email confirmation that our application was received and told that our rep would be in touch within 2-3 weeks.

Thursday, March 21st- (4 weeks later) Sent a “Hey! You haven’t forgotten about us, have you?” email to the director of the agency.

Friday, March 22nd- Received a call from our potential rep. She was incredibly helpful and explained that they were trying to see if someone from their suburban branch would be able to take on our case since we live 53 miles (approximately a 1 hour and 20 minute drive) from their city headquarters. It would be more convenient for everyone. Yes, please. She said someone would get in touch “early next week.”

Monday, April 1st- A week past “early next week” I call her back and ask for any news.

Wednesday, April 3rd- She returns my call and says that, yes, someone (she didn’t know whom) from the suburban branch will be taking on our case and we should be hearing from them soon.

Today, Tuesday, April 9th- Two months after I thought we were getting things “started” and we are no further along than we were then. Mildly frustrated. This is the only agency in the area that even got back to me when I inquired about foster care/adoption licensing. It’s not like we have other options at this point.

So, in the meantime, I continued to work on the second bedroom. It is still filled with haphazard furniture and closet overflow but the notion that it was going to have to be a bedroom at some point was motivating to start getting it in shape. On the one year anniversary of our idea to pursue foster care adoption, Mr. Something and I made a small purchase to commemorate the occasion. The following week brought about a slightly larger purchase for the second bedroom.

Photo Mar 23, 1 36 31 PM

It was a $100 Craig’s List find. Laminate pressboard, a bit worn around the edges, but a good deal. However, the blue, not so much. Cue the Spring Break project! I did my homework and looked into painting laminate furniture. I purchased the following supplies (two cans of each.) The Rust-oleum (LOVE the green!) technically had a primer built in but figuring that I was trying to cover such a dark blue the primer would be a better first step. EVERY blog and website I found about painting laminate furniture started with this Zinsser Primer.

Photo Mar 25, 10 44 39 AM

1. Disassemble, remove hardware, and lightly sand. (I used steel wool because the sandpaper I had on hand wasn’t fine enough. I found conflicting reports on whether this was necessary or not but figured that it couldn’t hurt.)Photo Mar 25, 10 47 29 AM

2. Prime. I followed the directions the can for wait time between coats. It took three coats to get it to this point. I had never spray painted anything before so I was a bit nervous and figured that more light coats would be better than trying to do a heavy coat and getting drips.

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3. Time for color! Again, I followed the directions on the can for the timing of the follow up coats. Overall this project spanned across a few days to allow for dry time. Here is the dresser after one coat. We ended up doing 3 coats of green, emptying the cans.

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I decided to ditch the country-style wooden drawer pulls and ordered a set of brushed nickel pulls with an overlapping leaf pattern. Here is the final product!

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Overall not a bad project. It doesn’t need to last forever but it’s going to help get us started. For now we are waiting for the phone to ring (still!) Perhaps I’ll just keep painting to pass the time. 🙂