There is nothing more exciting in the foster care licensing process than to get your first placement call! It’s THE. CALL. you’ve been waiting for! Some people wait hours, some wait months (or even a year), I waited four days!! There is SO MUCH build up to this moment: Who am I going to get? Will it be a boy or girl? How old will he/she be? Am I going to get a baby? What will they look like? Will they have any injuries? It’s a total mixed bag of excitement, joy, fear, and anxiety. Many people are handed a child who has been physically abused with bruises on their body or broken bones and this is something I was scared to encounter.
During the licensing process you figure out your requirements such as: how many kids, age range, gender, medical needs, religious restrictions, and race (if any). Additionally you fill out a lengthy questionnaire regarding the kinds of behaviors you’re OK with. This list alone scared me a little bit. It asked me things like, am I OK with a child who sets fires?! Or smears feces on the walls! Or makes sexual advances toward others? It was really heavy for sheltered Lisa. And so I felt OK not checking most of those. I have to know my limits and boundaries so I can provide the best care for my foster kids. Foster kids are categorized into Basic, Intermediate, or Advanced based on their behavior or medical needs. I was licensed for Basic, up to two children ages 6-months-old to 5-years-old (no other restrictions). I also made it clear with my CPA (Child Placing Agency also known as foster agency) that I wanted a case that would allow for visits close to home (I didn’t want to drive to Temple, Bastrop, or South Austin on a weekly basis). This doesn’t always work out but it’s just another one of those things that did for us.
I am often asked why I took in two children at once as a single person. I was totally naive is the answer!!!! 😀 One time someone I just met said to me, “Two? Wow, overachiever are we?” when he found out I had two foster children. I am not easily offended but that stung a little bit. I decided to become licensed for two because sibling sets are the most common scenario in foster care. The majority of cases involve many siblings or half-siblings (all the way up to 10 or more!). The thought of separating brothers or sisters because a foster home would only take in one child just didn’t seem right to me. My CPA informed our class that if you are only open to one child then you could be waiting a while (not that I was in any rush but that proves the point about the need for siblings). I had years of childcare experience, nanny experience for 6-month-old twins, and overall I felt like I could handle two so then I should handle two. My CPA informed me that if I was licensed for two, I would definitely get two because that is just where the need is. And thus, two it was!
It was Fourth of July weekend 2017 and over the past few days I had decided last-minute that I needed to paint the “nursery.” I am that girl that can’t stand white walls! And at least I was smart enough to realize that once a baby arrived I would have no time! So I was touching up the paint when my phone rang SUPER LOUD!! My CPA advised me to change the ring tone and set it to LOUD when they call so that if it rang in the middle of the night (very common) I would wake up. I had to make sure I had my phone with me with the ringer turned on at all times, because if you miss THE CALL then they’re just going to call the next person on the list! So now my phone is screaming at me. I am upstairs, my phone is downstairs, how fast did I run down the steps?! My elderly basset hound didn’t know WHAT had just happened!
This was probably the most exciting, adrenaline-pumping phone call I’ve ever received! My CPA starts telling me about two boys aged 6-months-old and 2-years-old (closer to 3-years-old) who are living in a mobile home just outside of Austin. Mom and Dad are both in the picture. The home is unkempt, there are numerous adults living in this home, including a room with a locked door where no one knew who lived there (WHAT???). The boys were being removed due to neglectful supervision. She starts telling me bits of information they gathered from mom such as the boys have no allergies, no medical concerns, normal births, eat usual foods, etc. No signs of abuse but of course always possible. No other siblings. First CPS involvement. It seems oddly very straightforward. That’s where an experienced foster mom would’ve asked more questions!! But I didn’t know what to ask. 🤷🏻♀️ In my mind I was thinking that this didn’t seem like all that big of a deal, so this should be a quick and easy case. And so I said:
Me: So when do you need to know my answer?
CPA: I will call you back in 10 minutes.
Me: 10 minutes?! 😱
CPA: Well, actually you could take more time, but we are waiting for your answer. It’s really odd…normally a call goes out all agencies at once but for some reason they called us first and we called you first since they fit your profile.
Me: You can call me back in 10 minutes.
Now I had planned to pray and wait for an answer from God but my excitement and adrenaline was pumping so fast I couldn’t even THINK! I mean it’s the FIRST CALL!! So I called my mom. We discussed the situation and she tells me yes to take the boys. Now looking back I do not know why I called her, why she told me that, and why I listened to her because she offered zero help when these boys came. I was thinking she’d be right by my side (she loves babies and did in-home infant care in our home my whole life) but she never came once. Even though I had told myself (and others) many times that I would NOT say yes to a baby and a toddler (because I know how hard that would be) when my CPA called back I told her “YES!” Maybe it was the adrenaline talking, maybe it was because the case sounded simple, maybe it was because my mom told me to say yes, maybe it was the fact that this call only came to me, or maybe it was because God designed it as so.
Me: So are they coming today?
CPA: Yes, they are actually at their home now and will come straight to yours. They should be there around 7pm.
Me (looking at the time: 4:30pm): OK….. 😳
Now the next couple hours are a total blur. It went something like this:
- Finish/clean up the paint and tools in the nursery. A baby is coming!!!
- Call friend(s) on standby to make a grocery store run. I have no idea what I told them to get! Probably diapers, wipes, formula, kid food, etc.
- Pull out the bin of toys I collected from my mom (she never throws away anything).
- Clean up around the house.
- Call/text people the exciting news!
- Eagerly stare at the window awaiting their arrival!
And then in pulled a van. The babies have arrived! 😃
#mamalisafosters #thisisfostercare #fosterlove #beafosterparent #nationalfostercaremonth #fostercareawareness