Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Her room

Her room is done!!  As promised, pictures for those of you who can't swing on by and take a look for yourself... Enjoy!

Those animals are the softest... Some of you might remember the cow I loved, it was soft once upon a time and had beads in it, so it was kinda heavy.  I loved it and think every kid needs something like that.  The lamb not only has beads, it's got aromatherapy scents... I'm not sure if the beads were soaked in it or what, but it smells amazing. 

This is the gallery wall, I have a few others I haven't hung yet and one that still needs to be filled. 

My favorite... Artwork by Anna Tovar

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Do you have a kid?

I have received some hilarious text messages, phone calls, and facebook messages these last 9 months.  Most of them though have come recently with the publication of social media posts.  Here are some examples:

1. You're pregnant?
2. Are you adopting?
3. Wait, so what was that shower for?
4. I don't understand, what's happening? What are you doing?
5. Do you have a kid?

That last one has been the most popular with random variations.  It can be fun to reply and mess with them for a little bit, but I do eventually get into the fact that I'm fostering, not adopting or actually having a child (haha).  So for those of you that are unclear on what fostering is, let me explain...

Kids are pulled out of their home by Child Protective Services for reasons that vary with each child, and because they are unsafe in their own home, they get placed in a temporary home until their parents meet their goals.  The goal with all foster placements is reconciliation.  The hope is that the child's parents (called bio parents in the CPS world) would meet their goals timely and want their kids back so that after they meet goals (get a job, stay sober for 6 months, have 3 clean drug tests, etc.) the kids can go back to their home and family that is now a safe environment.  The reason they say the normal length of stay for a foster child is 12-16 months is because typically, the court gives them a set of goals, some might be short term, but all have to be met by 12 months.  The judge can grant them one 6 month extension if parents are showing marked progress toward those goals (maybe they've been sober, but are having trouble finding a job) but are just having trouble with a certain part of their goals. After goals are met, kids would go home.  If goals are not met, CPS would begin the process of terminating parental rights.  This can vary on time as it depends on if the parents are ok with that and ready or if they fight it. 

So the question has also been asked on what kind of circumstances would a kid ever leave my home? 
1. If they went back home to their bio parents
2. If parental rights were terminated then they got adopted
3. If they aged out. 

On that last point, since my age is 5-8, I'll probably only get new kids in my home that are on the younger side of the scale so that their case is done before they turn 9.  I could get kids that are older if they are short term.  The 2 circumstances I'm taking short term are for respite care and emergency placements.  Respite means that another family needs a break, and the foster child would come live with me for up to 14 days.  Emergency placement is when the kid is taken out of the home unplanned, could be in the middle of the night and they need a home for them right away.  This usually happens when police get a call and show up and realize there is some situation that kids need to be removed right away.  After kids are removed from their home, CPS has 4 hours to have a designated home for that child.  Emergency placements last up to 30 days.  So if there is a sibling group taken out, ideally, they'd be all in the same foster home.  Since that might be hard to coordinate on short notice, kids get placed in homes that are open for emergency placements until they can figure out a more permanent home.  Even if all the siblings can't get together, maybe a few of them can and maybe they can get them all in the same area/neighborhood/school districts.  This also makes life for the foster parents easier as sibling visits have to take place once a month and it's good for them to continue those relationships for obvious reasons. 

Hope this helps answer some questions!  As you can see, there are a so many variables that go into all these decisions but hopefully once a kid is placed, they don't get moved until they go home or are adopted for permanent placement.  Lord willing though, until reconciliation happens, hopefully they can land in a home that is loving and willing to work with them as their young brains process all that is happening.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


We had a shower last week and I cannot tell you how grateful I felt to have such an incredible support system.  I wish my home study worker could have just been there to see how many people are there and ready to love and support myself and this child and I know she wouldn't have had any doubts.  I left with happy tears running down my cheeks because I felt so unworthy.  I have never had a shower before, I was nervous before talking to my cousin about being the center of attention (because I hate it) and she just kept telling me it would be fine and that people are here to love and bless me.  At the beginning I was a little nervous, but as soon as more and more people showed up I just wanted to stand high above everyone and take a picture of all the people talking.  I remember making a mental note that I want to remember this moment forever, the amount of love that was there was so tangible. 

I left and couldn't stop playing this song on repeat, Big Daddy Weave - Overwhelmed and the lyrics have stayed in my head as I unpacked and re-read all the sweet cards and notes from everyone.

On top of that, there were/are people that have reached out to me to give me support and encouragement that I don't even know or haven't seen in years, like over a decade.  Which is so crazy to me, so many people I have known from growing up but haven't seen since I was little.  I recognize their name and ask mom about them and she reminds me of who they are.  Here they are, after not talking to them in so long, and they are being so generous with a note and even a gift.  Somehow they get wind of what I'm doing and just give.  Just open their heart and say anything you need, the answer is yes. 

... and then again, the song continues to play in my head, like a banner over this entire process.

I have so many mixed emotions about all of this and all in all I'm overwhelmed by them all.  The song continues to play while I write this post and I just pray that this little one that comes here feels it too.  I've prayed in that room and over that room and each of the gifts and I just want her to know that she is so very loved.  As faulty as this world is, there are people that love her wholeheartedly. And even we are broken.  More than anything I want her to know Jesus because this world is so crappy at times and wont make sense and just flat out isn't fair.  I cant imagine being in her shoes as a young girl, it's not right.  I want to shake her parents for whatever has caused them to put her in system at all.  But then again, they aren't prefect and are likely just doing what they know, surviving the only way they know how.  So I'm praying for grace towards her parents because I'm already attached to this little girl and the thought of people hurting her breaks my heart.  I pray for her testimony, that she can come out of all this some day and look back and know that the Lord never left her side.

"And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death."
Revelation 12:11


Thursday, November 13, 2014

If God is Real...

If God is who he says he is, then what does that mean for me? If God is real, then what?  The whole purpose of this ministry is to get people asking questions and thinking bigger and deeper.  If all that we read in the bible and all that God promises is real and true, why aren't our prayers bigger? deeper? louder? Why aren't we doing more?

if:gathering is in Austin on Feb 6-7.  They also have if:local so you can do it in your own community using their tools and resources (plus Austin is now sold out).  It's what I was planning on doing if I didn't get registered for the Austin gathering.  Last year was their first year, and I found out about it too late so couldn't go.  I'm excited to see what's in store this year. 

They also have a bible study you can do each morning, if:equip that is a devotional or they have a blog that is really good too, plus some podcasts I think.  I'll admit, I've definitely browsed the two above resources, but haven't stayed as connected to them as I had planned.  One thing they do that I adore is if:table

The purpose of if:table is to bring a hodgepodge of women together to discuss the bible and to dig a little deeper with the conversation cards they give you.  It's designed to be a group of women in a variety of life phases.  It's only once a month so its not a major commitment, but its a great way to be intentional about community while having great gospel-centered conversation.  They give you a set of conversation cards and you can do all of them or only one of them.  It's also fun to share recipes and share a meal with people you might not normally be able to do something like this with.  I think it's perfect because you can really do it however works for your group and go at your own pace.  In a group of new believers or just new women friends, picking a few questions and just letting the conversation go.

"They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts."
Acts 2:46

Check it out, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Home Study, The Real Deal


The home study took 8.5 hours.  Eight hours and thirty minutes.  Yep, an entire day.  She showed up at 10am and didn't leave until 6:30pm.  I knew it was going to be long, but she said 3-4 hours when she arrived since I was a single girl and there was no one else in the house to interview... Wrong.  I was mentally prepared for 8 hours until she said that.  I wish she hadn't even said anything about it, but that's what made the last half so much more miserable.  Either way, I was definitely not prepared for over 8 hours.  I was losing my mind. 

We had 55 pages of questions to go through and at 12:30 I asked what page we were on and she said page 13... of 55. 

It was by far the worst part of this entire pre-licensing experience.  Its mentally draining because you're being asked such a variety of things, and things that are very personal.  Also, there is a lot of replication, questions asked a little differently but the same core question.  I'd imagine they do that to try and catch people in a lie, but I have no idea. 

Plus, she hand wrote everything!  Which seemed very inefficient, but she said she can be more thorough if she does it by hand, and then she goes back later to type it all up.  Anyways, just be prepared, if you ever have to do one of these.  Here are some sample questions from what I can remember:
  • Where were you born?
  • What's your mom's address?
  • What's your relationship like with each of your siblings?  How often do you see them? Where do they live?  Are yall close?
  • What would you do if she doesn't get along with pets?
  • What's your relationship like with you dog? (haha for real... I said, she's my pet...?)
  • Who does your lawn?
  • What's your mom's address?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Her: Who will the guardian of the child be?  Me: What?...I'm not adopting, is this relevant if they are a ward of the state?  Her: Lets just answer as if you are adopting... Me: But I'm not, I'm single. I have no plans to have any kind of permanent placement... Her: Ok so who would be the guardian if you were adopting?  Me: My mom I guess... Her: Have you talked to her?  Me: No, because I'm not planning on adopting... Sigh. I need another cup of coffee, can I get you anything? (Maybe you want to see my taser?)
  • Who are your best friends?  First and last names, please.  Why are they your best friends? What do ya'll do for fun? Where do they live?  Will they be at the house?
  • How much do you drink during the week? During the weekends? When is the last time you got sick from drinking too much?
  • What's your mom's address? 
  • Give me 5 adjectives about each of your parents, step parents included.
  • When's the last time your lost your temper?  How did you handle that? 
  • Tell me about any past relationships? Any long term ones?  How did they end? How you handled that?  What are their names?  Yes, first and last, please.  And where do they live?
  • What do you do to relieve stress?
  • I need details of all your bank accounts, Roth IRA's, mutual funds, latest paystub (and first born child, if you ever have one).
  • How are you prepared to handle a child?
Really nothing is off limits... Nothing.  So many of these questions were just massive opened ended questions (see last one listed above).  I was getting pretty irritated at the end, mainly because I was just watching the clock thinking for the love, this can't go on much longer, but it did. and did. and did. And so many of the questions we had already talked about, she really did ask for my mom's physical address 3 different times.  I'm not sure what was confusing about the way I answered it the first time, but we finished with a promise of her to call if she had more questions... I'm crossing my fingers she comes back soon.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Buying & Registering

As I've been preparing for a little one to come into the home, there have been so many things that I needed to buy.  I started the registration process this week, and since I've never done one for a wedding or baby before, I wasn't really sure how much stuff there would be out there!  I mean I knew, of course because I've shopped, but how do you know the best item for something you've never used before?  Most stuff I have bought before I have some kind of experience buying (clothes, makeup, home stuff), but these brands are completely foreign to me.  I got pretty overwhelmed and then that same night, my mom was over helping me figure it out (thanks, mom!)

I personally like to buy cheap.  Not so cheap that I'll have to keep going back to repurchase, but I think there are a load of items you can buy middle of the line and be just as good (if not better) as some of the pricey items.  So that's what I registered for.  Some things caught my eye, and there were random things that I knew I wanted to buy to help specifically with a new kid in the home, Table Topics.  I feel like I'm good at asking questions, but not great.  And from years in the past of working with kids, I know not to ask questions that have a yes/no answer, but what about when I run out of things to talk about?  Anyways, table topics I stumbled upon in a store and thought they'd be perfect for dinner conversation to help us connect.  Things like the booster seat are required, which is fine but I'm mostly exacted to install it, I hear they are loads of fun! haha... kidding. 

Apparently baby monitors are amazing for all ages to just keep an extra eye on them and listen for anything that might not sound quite right.  Again never used one, so I just picked.  A lot of the things I registered for where just marked "best seller", if it was marked as such, reasonable price and good reviews, that's probably the one I went with. 

If you are wanting to help out and see that I've registered for something that you have and could donate, please let me know and I'll take if off my registry!  I don't need a new one of most of these things and would be glad to take something you no longer use off your hands so long as it still works! 

Also, do 4-8 year old kids still use bath toys?  I cannot remember for the life of me if that age still plays in the tub?

I registered at both Amazon and Target.  Mainly because they have so many items and most people have a target near them and obviously, Amazon is anywhere you have internet.  Below is the list I made as I went through training, talked with people and heard stories and knew I'd need.  On the registries I added some stuff I stumbled upon that I thought might be good. 
  • Rocking Chair 
  • Car Seat/Booster Seat 
  • Baby Monitor 
  • Comforter/Bed Spread 
  • OTC Drugs 
  • Kitchen Bowls/Plates/Silverware
  • Pictures, Décor
  • Table Topics
  • Shower Curtain
  • Bath Toys?
  • Organizing Baskets (bathroom)
  • Clothes/Shoes
    • Jacket
    • Shirts
    • Shorts/Pants
    • Shoes
    • Underwear
    • Socks
    • Nightgown/PJs
  • School Supplies
    • Backpack
    • Notebooks
    • Pens/Pencils
  • Entertainment: 
    • Kids books
    • Kids games
    • Kids movies
  • Outlet Safety Plugs 
  • Double Lock for Meds
  • Install Smoke Detector  
If there is anything you used for a young child, please let me know!! I'd love to have some wisdom of you parents out there and take any advice on what has or hasn't worked!

Open to suggestions!

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