Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Medical Exam

Tomorrow is the big day. I am thankful that I coincidentally scheduled my appointment for 9am, since I found out today that I have to fast before my appointment. I think a late Chick-fil-a breakfast will be in order. The thing I dread most about tomorrow is the prospect of finding my doctor's office. I hate trying to find anything in a hospital...especially when I don't know quite where to park.

*Note to self - pack some cash tomorrow for parking. I always forget that, resulting in an embarrassing interchange with the parking attendant and a less-than-appreciated written check for $1.00.

Well, it's off to bed! Tomorrow will mark the final step of approval for me, so here we go! The great news is that I'll finally know if I have tuberculosis or venereal disease.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The clock is ticking...

What a day! Training, again, was wonderful. We have so enjoyed meeting the other families. The time we had today to fellowship with foster families, foster kids, and siblings was such a sweet time.

Much of today was spent going over our agency's policies and procedures. There were several papers to sign. We discussed discipline a good bit, which was good conversation, but we'll just have to live it for a little while and see where we fall in our opinions on the matter. We know the non-negotiables, so we at least have a starting point. We also talked a good bit about birth parents and the challenges that exist there. We had some good discussion about what life will look like. We now know that we will be entertaining MANY visitors from agency case workers, DFACS workers, auditors, CASAs, etc., etc., etc. Life will certainly be busy with appointments, visitations, court appearances, journaling, among other things.

It's all been a reality check, but we have continued to get more and more excited with every passing day. After many of the horror stories we've heard these past few days, this joy and excitement undoubtedly comes from the Lord.

The reality that we are faced with now is that if we really wanted to forge ahead and get medical exams this week, we could have a baby in our home by Friday. I think the Lord has orchestrated things so that that simply cannot happen, otherwise, we might be tempted to do just that. As it is, my husband cannot get his medical exam until the middle of February, so we will not be accepting a child until the beginning of March. I have no doubt that we will very rapidly receive a placement at that time, so we have our work cut out for us until then!

If you're wondering how to pray:
  • Pray that our excitement will not be overshadowed by worry or fear.
  • Pray that the Lord would give us patience to wait on His timing.
  • Pray for the precious child who will be our first placement. Pray that the Lord would begin preparing him or her right now for the trauma that lies ahead, and the transition into our humble home.
  • Also, please pray for my job. I will not be able to enjoy this transition if I don't feel as though my ministry is in good hands. Please pray that the Lord would provide me with the peace of mind that He is in control and will see things through for His glory.

Friday, January 21, 2011

IMPACT Training - Day 1

4 hours down...12 hours to go.

Today was day 1 of 2 for IMPACT training, and it was an eye-opener for sure. Most of what we discussed was an introduction to the world of foster care. We started by running through questions most people are afraid to ask. Here were some of those that I remember:

  • How much will it cost to be a foster parent?
  • How will I keep my own family safe?
  • How will I ever deal with the pain of giving a foster child up?
  • How will my family change when we have a foster child?
  • Can I be good at this?
After we discussed some of those questions, we had dinner and got to know some of the other prospective foster parents. Probably the most positive part of the evening was the realization that we absolutely adore this agency, and we feel certain that this is where we need to be. We love that it's a small agency in which everyone knows everyone else, and we love the approach that they take to the foster parenting process. We feel like we are in good hands.

After dinner, we watched several video clips to prompt discussion, and it really provided good food for thought. The things my husband and I talked about most on our ride home were:

  • Food. Interestingly enough, they said the most common cause of stress in a foster home is the topic of food. The more we put ourselves in the shoes of these kids, the more this made sense. Consider the situation. You've been removed from your home unexpectedly. You've lost your parents. You've lost your pets. You've lost your friends. You've lost everything. For many kids who are used to eating fast food for every meal, how difficult would it be to sit down at a meal in a stranger's house with vegetables and strange food you've not eaten before? In many ways, food is comfort, so that makes this a sticky situation. The social workers provided some scenarios but acknowledged that this is almost always a source of stress and to be prepared.
  • Race. Up until today, we have not even hesitated when asked if we would be willing to parent a child of a different race. Of course we would! No problem! Our answer is certainly still yes, but we have a much better understanding of the commitment required for trans cultural parenting. It's important for children to be around people who look like them from time to time, and in our mostly-white community, we would need to make a special effort to make that happen. We would need to be intentional about raising children with an understanding and appreciation for their heritage and culture. It would affect the parts of town where we spend most of our time, the types of toys, dolls, and books we buy, the types of hairdressers we visit, the types of food we eat. It would need to be a bigger shift than we had really considered before. Of course we're both on-board if that's what the Lord has for us.
  • Unspoken Rules. The social workers encouraged everyone to raise our awareness of the unspoken rules in our house - the things we consider no-brainers. "Of course we eat our food around the kitchen table together," or "Of course we don't wake up at 2am and raid the refrigerator." Many of these rules are not no-brainers for these kids, so they encourages us to think through every tiny rule and clearly define it (if possible) before kids have the chance to unintentionally break those rules. We'll work on that.
  • Empathy. Most of what I took away from today was empathy for the whirlwind of emotions these kids will bring with them when they first arrive in our home. We watched a clip from the movie White Oleander, and it really provided some insight into the abrupt transition these kids are asked to make. One of the social workers put it well when she said, "love is learned and love is earned." There is no reason for these kids to love anyone when they are first taken out of their home and away from their parents. To welcome them into your home and instantly load them down with new rules and expectations is a little unreasonable. I'm thankful to have an agency who will hold our hand through this learning process.
All-in-all, we really enjoyed the evening. We left even more excited than when we arrived, despite all of the worst case scenarios that were shared throughout the evening. We just cannot wait to dive in. Tomorrow, there will be several foster parents and foster kids who will join us for lunch. Then, after lunch, we will have about an hour to sit with them (no agency personnel present) and ask whatever we want to ask. We're excited to see what tomorrow brings. I'll give an update if I'm not completely brain-dead by that point. Sweet dreams!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


...as borrowed from one of our favorite films, "Meet the Robinsons," which we discovered all over again during the snow weekend.

This week has been somewhat of a whirlwind. On Monday, we got a phone call from the case worker who did our home study, which I will paraphrase:

"I wanted to call and let you guys know that we're going to need a picture of you and your dog as well as a picture of the child's room. It's ok if it's not set up. Then, if you'll get the other paperwork to us this week and get your medical exams done this week, you could potentially have a child in your home by Sunday or Monday."

Sunday?!?!  Haha...training ends Sunday!! Needless to say, we had to take a deep breath and let the agency know to put on the breaks a little bit. Later that night, I had a slight nightmare that we were given a child before our home was ready. We had no crib, no bottles, no diapers...we didn't even know the age of the child. It was an interesting dream from which I was thrilled to awaken.

We did schedule our medical exams, and we have completed all of our other paperwork (except for the autobiography...we're kind of waiting until they say we HAVE to do that...hoping they will forget). We also got a miraculous call from someone who wants to come tomorrow and pay the full price we asked for my husband's drum set. What a blessing! My husband also found out this week that he passed his certification exam, which is a tremendous answer to prayer. Things are just all falling into place, and we're starting to get really excited.

My boss shared with me that she's going to start posting my job, which was a bittersweet moment for me. I know 100% that this is a decision I want to make, but it still marks the end of an era for me, and the reality of it is setting in more with every step we take.

IMPACT training begins tomorrow, so I am sure I will have more updates soon. I feel certain that our eyes will be open to many more unexpected realities of our coming adventure, but we will cling to the promise that we won't walk this path alone. Those obstacles that seem insurmountable are but grains of sand for the Creator of the universe.

I'll post updates soon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Home Study

So...today was the day, and after many hours of organizing, cleaning, and baby-proofing, the home study was more-or-less uneventful. For the first hour, we spoke with the case worker and answered most of the same questions we had already answered in our 36-page packets. Then, for the walk through, she was really only interested in a few things:

1. Do they have a pool?
2. Do they keep alcohol in the house?
3. Are cleaning supplies on a high shelf and/or locked in a cabinet?
4. Is all medicine stored out of reach of children?
5. Do they have a room for a child?

As my husband had predicted, they didn't care about outlet covers, loose cords, our brand new smoke/carbon monoxide detector, paint cans stored on a high shelf, our lack of a baby gate, lack of a fire screen, or any of the meticulous cleaning we had done. Nonetheless, I'm glad that we got it all done, and we're both glad that our house is squeaky clean and well organized. In case anyone is ever wondering..."I wonder what other houses look like for their home study..." Here are some photos of our house (although I am the first to tell you that this if OVERKILL)

Here's our new TV set-up with computer armoires for computer security with kids in the house:

My favorite room:

Our clean kitchen with no knives on the counter and cabinets locked with rubber bands, although we were told that is not sufficient, so now we're on the hunt for effective and non-annoying cabinet locks. Suggestions appreciated.

Hall bath:

Outlet covers...however unnecessary they may have been.

 Dining room...

OK, now this one we needed. This was on the door to our sewing/recording/shredding/paint storage room...what a hodge podge!

Our newly organized room and the ajoining recording closet!! We're so proud that this is finally organized (although it may not appear so to you guys).

The room that will be the nursery.

The closet we cleared in said room to prove that we had space for a child's stuff.

The adjoining closet that we needed to reorganize in order to empty the above closet.

Had you seen the before photos, this would be much more exciting. Man, we should have taken before photos...

Here's the room that will be the guest room when we sell the drum set, stools,and vaccuum, and when we move the garage shelves down to the garage.

Another reorganized closet...

Speaking of the garage, we didn't even try. It needs some work.

And then there was our room, which all too often gets the shaft on cleaning days.

And why not throw in one more closet! This is our front hall closet. You know...the one we would never let you open because it was a certain avalanche. This was probably our 2nd most exciting moment of the weekend.

So the news after today is that our case worker will take this week to write up our evaluation. We have several things to fill out and have notarized, a few photos to send in, some autobiographies to write, medical exams, 3 reference forms to have filled out, and a water bill to acquire. Oh...one more thing...after the case worker left, we went to pick up our nursery furniture from one of my husband's coworkers. Once we have that set-up, we just have to send a photo of the room to the caseworker to complete the home study.
After that, as far as we know, we're finished, and she would like for us to do that before training NEXT WEEKEND. I'm going to make a prediction that that will not happen. IF it does, she said to give about 2 weeks for the state to review and approve the paperwork. Then, we would start playing the waiting game until our first placement. There is sooo much to do before we are ready for that (as you can see from the photos), so we're just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we arrive at our destination. I just wanted to make sure I passed along the update.

Now...quickly...all of you...come over and have dinner with us before our house gets dirty again!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowmageddon Checklist

We were given this list in order to prepare for our home study on Sunday, and we've been ticking through it over the past 3 days while we've been snowed in. I'm still holding out hope for day 4!!

The Auditors may check for the following during a home visit:

  1. test batteries in the smoke detector
  2. check the fire extinguisher for expiration date and in working order
  3. laundry soaps and cleaning chemicals on high shelf and locked or a latch on laundry door or a lock on cabinet so that they are not accessible to young children who might mistake windex and such for kool-aide or back spray chemicals in their eyes
  4. all guns with a safety lock or in a safe or in a locked cabinet with safety key separate.  Ammo in separate area
  5. all liquor in a locked cabinet or out of the house as teens may water it down and carry it to school in their lunch box
  6. prescription meds, aspirin, and all over the counter meds, or vitamins must be in a locked container as teens sell pain killers at school or babies eat aspirin like candy
  7. Gas for lawnmower cans locked or out of reach as kids “huff” gas to get high
  8. No knives out in the kitchen as angry children may harm themselves or others in an impulsive moment
  9. all pool owners must take a cell phone with them to the pool
  10. if they ask, remember no babysitters under age 21.  all have to have criminal background checks
  11. if they ask, we see children every two weeks
  12. they may ask to see inside cabinets to check to see if you have a 3 day supply of food
  13. they may flush the toiilet, flip the lights, and turn on the stove to see if everything works
  14. any tools or woodworking equipment should not be easily accessible to young children
  15. deadbolts on doors
  16. they may ask to see where the children sleep. Cribs should be away from venetian blind cords.  Cribs should have no broken slats.  Children over the age of 1 cannot sleep in the parent’s bedroom. same gender in a shared room
  17. teens need computer safety
  18. toddlers need safety gates for stairs
  19. car  seats and booster seats are required
  20. safety helmets for skating and biking
  21. jet skis and alter terrain vehicles are questionable due to impulsivity and developmental lags
We have a long way to go., because on top of all of the "have to"s we also have several "want to"s. Here is what we've accomplished over the past few days:
1. Right before it started to snow, we picked up 2 computer armoires off CraigsList and set them up in our family room, framing the new TV we got for Christmas.
2. We moved our enormous old TV out.
3. We set up the new TV & DVD player (and watched several movies...it's a snow day!!)
4. My husband took apart our former (perfectly good) computer and rebuilt it using a different shell that fit in the computer armoir. After a loooooooooong, sometimes terrifying process, the computer finally worked, so he set up the entire computer.
5. Moved the knives off the counter into a cabinet - one of the bigger sacrifices I'm having to make...haha. It's amazing what a nuisance this is, but I'm sure I'll adjust.
6. I finished all of my 36-page packet (which ended up being 39 pages in the end). my husband finished about half of his packet.

Other than that, we did a lot of thinking and planning, which leaves a lot more doing to be done. We've just decided that we'll do what we can and see what happens on Sunday.

Lastly, I am feeling 100% better today. No headache, and I finally felt like exercising again. Looks like we might be back at work tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Whew! It took me all day, but I finally finished my huge packet. I gave them a hard time in my last post, but I must say it was a very thorough questionaire with some interesting questions. They asked about all of the "losses" I've experienced in my life including death, the loss of friends, the loss of self-confidence, the loss of a big dream, etc. They also asked about thoughts on discipline & opinions on the matter, how my parents impacted who I am today, what our relationship is like today, what family traditions we have upheld from my birth family, what makes me angry, what school was like for me, how my husband and I make decisions, how we divide chores, how we manage our money, what teams I've been on and what role I played...even what parks are near our house and what they have to offer. It was such an exhaustive questionaire, I can't even cover the tip of the iceberg in this post. I am so thankful to have had today to work on this. I'm not sure when I would have completed it otherwise.

The good news is that a lot of the questionaire is demographic information that will be the same for my husband and I, so some of that is past us, but my husband still has to complete the rest of the questionaire in regards to his upbringing, etc. We'll see how it all goes!

Now, I can't leave without sharing my second favorite question of the day. I'm including the question before it as well, because the only way it makes any sense to me at all is to combine the 2. However, you need to know that there was a LARGE gap between the 2 questions when I came to it...so glad I'm finished with this thing...

Give examples of how you have PREVENTED discipline problems
___Removed child from temptation
___Did not take hungry child with no nap to store
___Distracted child to avoid problem
___Did not set child up to fail
___Provide 2 good choices

You tell: _______________________________________________________________

...you tell? tell what?


That's what I've been doing all day. Some questions have been an interesting look back over my life and how it impacts my choices today. Other questions are so grammatically incorrect that I have a hard time deciphering what they even mean. Still other questions I don't really know what to do with...like this one:

Finish this sentence:

At home, I__________________________________.

What in the world do they want me to say?? I typically have an easier time with these open-ended questions than my husband does, so I can't wait to hear his reaction when he starts his portion of this thing.

Monday, January 10, 2011


So, I went to the doctor yesterday and found out that I have a sinus infection and potentially strep throat. They didn't feel the need to test for it, since the antibiotics would be the same either way. I was hoping for a wonderful evening yesterday once I got the medicine in my system, but it just didn't happen. Maybe tonight! Either way...I'm on the upswing!

More importantly, take a look at what I woke up to this morning:

If you're not from the south, then this won't mean a thing to you. If you are from the south, you will understand that a snow day is a most rare and magical occurrence!! It is a day when time stands still. I have spent the entire day with my husband with no agenda. We will probably do the same tomorrow and possibly the next day, and the best news is that everyone else is doing the same. We're not falling behind at work, because time has literally stopped in our town until this white stuff dissipates.

In my last post, I said that if I was to craft the perfect attack on my spirit, I would give myself a month's worth of illness. Now, I will say that if I was to craft the perfect remedy, I think a snow day might have been just the ticket. Thank you, Lord, for this sweet blessing.

My last little update is that we now have a date for IMPACT training AND a date for our first home visit. Our home visit is next Sunday, so from now until then, we have a lot of work we need to get done around here (including that 36-page packet...yikes!) It's a little frightening the way they are getting us through this process so quickly, but I appreciate it. I'm thrilled to know that it will be sooner rather than later when we will be ready to accept a child into our home. Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Your Hands

Several months ago, I heard this song on the radio, and I was totally mesmerized by it - the music, the lyrics...everything. I sat in the garage with the car running, so that I could hear the end and (hopefully) find out what the title was and who sang it. Then (of course) they never said, and I've been wondering ever since.

Today, a friend of mine wrote me an e-mail saying she had heard this song and thought of me. The song is "Your Hands" by JJ Heller, and I thought I would share the lyrics. If you have $.99, it is worth the download!

Your Hands

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands