Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Growing up, I saw my parents struggle, live paycheck to paycheck and after my parents divorced I watched my mom take on as many as three jobs at a time to make ends meet. My parents worked hard and would probably die before asking for help. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree as I too am too prideful to ask for help and I vowed to myself that I would not have to struggle like my parents did. I went to college, got a great degree and a great job and to me, I made lots of money. Life is funny though, and somehow, we felt the need to give that up, to go on one income. Even still, Clint makes good money, we won't struggle to put food on the table etc. Yes, there won't be as many vacations and material things, but somehow I'm thinking we won't really miss that.
So, back to the prideful business. Foster kids 5 and under qualify for WIC. So, Mr. T qualifies to get formula through WIC. Can we afford it without WIC? Of course, but hey, if they are going to offer it, why not put that money towards spoiling him in other ways :) But that means, having to go get it. I had NO idea how it worked. Mr. T had a doctor appt. on Friday and the WIC office was next door so I thought, why not run by and get us signed up? Oh, how wrong I was! Nope, need an appt. They could get me in Monday morning. Okay, I can handle that because Clint was going to burn a vacation day that day anyway and then I could leave Mr. T with him. Front desk guy though insisted that Mr. T had to be present, despite the hospital waiver saying he didn't have to be due to his prematurity. So, I admit to going in a little ticked off because I may be slightly over protective when it comes to Mr. T!
Sunday, I came down with a major sore throat and body aches. I had Clint do the night feedings so that I could avoid contact. When I got up Monday, Clint was in a mood and ranting at me because he didn't sleep because Mr. T wouldn't sleep. Again, not helping my attitude. Poor Clint, he just hasn't learned the little tricks that help Mr. T sleep. That, and Clint just doesn't do well with broken sleep.
Anyway, so I show up grumpy, feeling like poo, and staring down anyone who even so much as looks at Mr. T. They of course had to weigh and measure him. Again, I may be a little OCD when it comes to Mr. T, but I will NOT let him get sick on my watch, so I was sporting some nice gloves and face mask when handling him. I'm sure they all thought I was a freak. In total, I was there for 2.5 hours! It was pure agony. Everyone was nice, but I hate having to go over a million times on how to properly feed a baby and wash/sterilize bottles. That, and having it stressed to me that this was supplemental and to save up to buy the remainder was hard to swallow too. In the end we made it out with our Lone Star card, yay!
But then it came time to USE said Lone Star card. I went to Wally World to do some grocery shopping and pick up his formula for the month. They were completely OUT! Argh! So, came home, dropped off groceries, ate dinner, and then headed out again. Target was the closest to us so I headed there. I looked for the WIC signs on the doors but didn't see them. I then walked back to the formula and they had several cans. Great! But I wasn't seeing the WIC markers. I didn't want to go up to the cashier and ask about it in front of everyone. So, I found an old woman that worked for Target that was stocking stuff in the baby dept. I quietly asked her if they took WIC/LS. She then gets on her walkie-talkie, "HEY, DO WE GOT WIC HERE?!" Oh Lordy, kill me now! I quickly made it look like I wasn't the one asking as I pretended to shop for baby clothes. She of course didn't know so I had to brave the cashiers. I get to the front and there is a cashier all by herself, great! I ask if they take Lone Star. "HEY, DO WE TAKE LONE STAR?!" she shouts over to another cashier. Ugh! The lady replies back that they do. So, scan my many cans of formula and then try to use my card. Nope! They don't have the card reader she tries a few different things and then turns on her 'light' to get some assistance. By this time, people are lining up behind me and I just want to DIE! By the time the helper comes by, they of course say they can't take it and I have to walk out empty handed.
So, next closest, Albertson's. I once again, don't see the WIC stickers on the door. I got back to the formula though and see the WIC markers. Praise the Lord! I grab my allotted cans and head to the front. The cashier sees the cans and they aren't the typical WIC cans because Mr. T is on special formula due to his prematurity. So, she questions me about it and I tell her that WIC approved it. "Well, go ahead and try then, we had trouble with Lone Star earlier." Fabulous! Anyway, she rings them up and I slide in my card and it works! Woohoo! In my excitement and desperate need to flee the scene I rip out my card. "Whoa! What happened? See, it screwed up again!" But it was working, I just took out my card. "What? You can't take out your card until it says so. Let me get some assistance." Seriously? I'm sorry, I'm a foster mom, I don't know how this works! Yeah, I'm not sure blurting out that I was a foster mom was helping my case as people tend to have a pretty negative view of foster families as well (in it for the money, yada yada). But people were lining up again and I had to say something! I put my card back in and made sure to NOT remove it until the little machine said so and then dashed to my car!
I came home and told Clint about my escapades. While I was thoroughly embarassed, I had to laugh at myself too. Pride, it can be an evil thing!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fasten your seat belts and hold on tight!

I just expected everything to be slow; this whole foster/adopt process. Getting our license took a long time, however, a large part of that was on us because of my wanting to work as much of this year as possible. And I just assumed that once we were licensed and on the list, that it would just take time. I mean, our adoption agency hadn't done a placement in WEEKS when we were added to the list. Then, two weeks after being on the list (and already getting two previous calls that didn't work out for various reasons) we were placed with the newborn baby girl. As mentioned in my previous post, she could and DID get placed with an Aunt. While it was only 12 days with baby girl, it was 12 blessed and great days and we cried our eyes out when she left.
Losing them is part of it and is expected. You have to go in knowing you will get hurt. We managed to put back on our big girl/boy panties and trudge on. TWO days later, we get the next call. ANOTHER newborn. This time, a little boy...and I mean little, he was born at 34 weeks! Again, I am just gushing with love and excitement for this little one. How in the world were we blessed with TWO sweet, angel newborn babies?! So far, it looks like he will be with us for a few months at least and possibly forever (oh how I can only hope!). I just can't kiss him enough and I'm sure he's already like, 'mom, puhleeze, back it up', but I don't care, he's just gonna have to deal with it!
But wait, there's more! Along the way, we've been submitting ourselves for some legal risk adoptions. These are adoption placements where parental rights are 99% sure to be terminated, but of course there is always that chance, so hence the 'risk' part...risk of a broken heart. However, they like to move these kids to an adoptive placement so that bonding and attachment can begin. We were told that we could submit for as many as we liked and that it was a good idea to submit on several as these are broadcasted all across the state of Texas, meaning LOTS of people will be submitting.
On Tuesday, Buckner contacted us to let us know that we were selected as a top 3 for one of these placements! Now, that doesn't mean we get him, just that we are in the running with two other families. It then goes to staffing with the foster family, CPS, adoption case workers, etc. and they try to pick No. 1. Then, No. 1 will get to read through all of the files and make a decision on yes or no. So, we are in consideration at the moment.
But wait, there's more! We were then contacted on Friday because we have been selected as a top three for ANOTHER kid (baby). Seriously?! Staffing for both boys is on Tuesday so Buckner will have to get caseworkers in both as the boys files are being discussed.
So, we could be looking at none, one, or even BOTH! And of course, we still have baby boy, 'Mr. T.' here with us. Could be some big decisions at the end of the week for us as this good be our forever family! Again, I'm still in shock at all of the 'possibilities' so quickly when I expected a whole lot of silence and 'wait and see'. We may be seeing lots of blue after this week :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Placement!

Well, who knew that a week and a half after my last post we would get a placement! And we didn't just get a placement, we got THE placement! A new born baby girl! And she's not just any baby girl, she is PRECIOUS! I seriously cannot put into words how adorable, perfect, and wonderfully made she is! Not only is she beautiful, but she is sweet to boot. We are definitely being spoiled by her easy going attitude. She eats, sleeps, repeat. We have been warned that this is the honeymoon phase and that it won't be long until things get difficult. However, I don't care if she was crying all the time (other than being upset that she was not happy or in pain), I'd still love her to death! We have had such great joy showing her off and everyone agrees, she's amazing! It's been great fun to let everyone dote on her. She deserves all the spoiling she can get!
Our time with her is most definitely short term and will probably not be a forever placement. In fact, there is a family member that wants to take her and if the judge decides next week that this family member is fit to take her, we would lose her that very day. Foster care is such a mix of emotions. We are blessed to have been given the opportunity to care for her and love on her and letting her go is going to be the hardest thing to do. However, we do unerstand that family is best and if this relative truly is a good person that can care and provide for her, then she should be returned to her family.
With that, we are loving her with all our might while she is here and she'll even get to go to Thanksgiving with us and meet the most awesome Nana ever! :) And Nana can't wait to get some squeezes in!
By deciding to go the foster to adopt route, we never expected to get to experience newborn-hood. What a blessing to have the opportunity as it is such a sweet and special time. We are honored. And hopefully, we aren't messing up too bad. I took her to her one week follow-up doctor appt. and her doctor says that we are doing a great job, whew! :) She is gaining weight and is perfectly healthy. Couldn't ask for more!
And a follow-up to my last p0st. We were able to complete our final two hours of training through an online/over the phone conference call. So, until next year, we can now take a break!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training, training, training

Before I get to the heart of my post, I apologize for my pity party in my previous post. I'm better than that! I suppose I was just feeling alone and helpless, but we are going to get through all of this and I am a strong person and whining is so not flattering :)

Fosterland has already proven to be a roller coaster. We ended up not keeping the baby for respite after all (family decided not to go out of town). We've been asked for respite twice and both have cancelled. Hmmm, I'm beginning to think we smell or something :)

We went on the list on Nov. 1st and we were called for a placement on Nov. 2nd! I was knocked almost speechless and thought she was joking. I won't go into specifics since it didn't work out, but the placement was for two kids who were in a county that was 2.5 hours away. We said yes, knowing what that meant...driving to and from for weekly visits, but in the end, they were able to find a closer family which was the best thing for those kids. I could just imagine those poor kids having to sit FIVE hours in a car round trip each week...not to mention that visitations are already stressful enough as it is!

So for now, I'm still at work and we're just trucking along. My mom came for a visit this weekend and it was just what I needed! We went shopping for a few things that we felt like we could go ahead and buy such as toiletries (hair brushes, toothbrush, soap/shampoo), some sippy cups, etc. and we did go ahead and buy one childseat. We figure even if we were to get an infant, they would eventually progress to the car seat. We still couldn't get much, but I feel a little better and hopefully will be slightly less overwhelmed when we do get a placement.

Now, my topic for today which I will fully admit to being a RANT! But before I take off, know that while we get frustrated, we are willing to do what it takes in fosterland and it would take something much more than measley training hours to rock our boat, but they certainly don't make things easy sometimes! Also, I honestly don't mind training, I love learning knew things! And want to know as much as possible about helping these children! But, I admit that so much of our training I felt was severly lacking or not helpful.

Back in September when we were handed our license our case worker said that we had to have 20 hours of training a year, which we knew. I thought, well, we've got that in the bag! Nope! She was prorating us for 16 hours. Do what?! So all of that training we've done so far didn't count? Nope! So, here's a breakdown of the training we had so far this year:

PRIDE: 24 hours (? It was 3, 8 hour days)
Psychotropic Medication Training: 2 hours
CPR/First Aid: 3 hours
SAMA: 6 hours
Adoption Specific Training: 6 hours
Brain Development and Trauma: 2 hours
Education Services Training: 2 hours
HIPPA training: 1 hour

That's 45+ hours right there! I get that we are new and need to be prepared, but that's all the training on top of the applications, home study, home inspection, fire inspection, obtaining a will and life insurance, floor plans, evacuation plans, and on and on. With all of that, we only get 16 hours??


However, our case worker added that our four remaining hours needed to be 'real' training and not self study since we were new (you're generally allowed to take up to 6 hours through online or self-study). Seriously? For reals! Alrighty. But, our casework said that she would look into putting some training together for us and we even had a discussion on what training we would be interested in. Once we came up with a couple of topics she said she would put something together and would get back to me and that they could work around our schedule. Okay, that makes me feel better about the training hours we still needed to obtain.

So, I e-mailed our caseworker on Oct. 31st to let her know we were still willing to go on the list on Nov. 1st and that I hadn't heard anything about the training and had she looked into that yet. I receive an e-mail back saying that Buckner doesn't have any remaining training until after the first of the year and here are some places in Tyler with training and to look there. Whoa, back that up? So, that whole convo back in September was just to appease me from getting upset over the four hours and she really had no intentions of putting anything together for us? Had I known she wasn't going to do anything, I would have been looking into training so that we could get the ball rolling. When it comes to foster care tasks, I want to check them off my list and check them off now! I don't want to risk us being at fault at all!

I'm now irritated. Fine, I'll find my own training, but some of it now gets to be self-study since apparently we've slept since September and don't remember that conversation. I found a 4 hour training for last Saturday morning and signed us up! Bam! We'd be done! Well, here's where 'I' make myself mad! We show up to the site and no one is there! Perhaps it's now time for a smart phone (we say we'll get them when our current cell phones die..but they just won't give up! Clint has dropped his so many times and had to piece it back together, but it keeps on working, argh!). Turns out, they do their training at another site. My fault for not realizing this, but man, throw me a freakin' bone here people!

So, I tell Clint to book it back to Longview so that we can go to a training at Fellowship Bible. It's on brain development and trauma. Yes, you read that right, the training that I already had hours for, but didn't count. EXACT. SAME. THING. Oh well, I truly loved listening to him and was sad that Clint had missed it so it was still worthwhile. We get back to Longview and pull up just in time. The coordinator for the training is standing there at the door however with a worried look...speaker isn't there. Seriously?! I was feeling like a toddler in foster care and about to rage and tantrum on the ground right there! Fortunately, she was able to get in touch with him and turns out it wasn't on his schedule. He was coming, but would be a bit since he was coming from Hallsville. I'm so glad it worked out and in the meantime we got to talk to others in this foster/adopt world which I always enjoy!

I know this is only the beginnings of the frustrations with the system and I get that and am ready for it. Sometimes I just need to vent. And sadly, part of this training fiasco was my own fault! Dumb, dumb! I have found some online training for our other two hours so we'll get this training wrapped up for the year, just so we can do it all again next year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Activation Day!

Well, October went by in a blur and here we are at November 1st! The day we said to put us on the 'list'! I can't believe we are finally here! Now, it's just a matter of time and waiting for the special call. Clint and I are pretty patient and if it takes awhile, it takes awhile. God has his plan and his special timing. Everyone around us seems to be standing on their heads though :) As I've said before, we've got many years to be parents.

I finally had the courage to talk with my employer a few weeks ago about once we get the call, that's the end for me. He took it well and was understanding. Such a relief. That, and I am so happy that we don't have to worry about daycare, etc. now. I have one big project that I am working on, but if we get the call and I am not done, I don't mind coming in the evenings/weekend to wrap it up. Everything seems to be falling into place.

Our trip to Aruba was wonderful! I need to do a post just on our vacation! We took so many pictures. It is an absolutely beautiful island!

We got to babysit a precious little baby girl last Thursday and will get to keep her this coming weekend as her foster family goes out of town so we are looking forward to that. I am anxious to get to know the local foster families better as I know I will definitely be leaning on them for support! I think Buckner has a pretty great group though! Which is good, because we have had NO success (other than one other future foster family, thank you Mikki!) in finding anyone willing to babysit for us (we have to put together a list). Not that we plan to go out on the town every night, but I know there will be times where we need 'us' time. I miss my best friends who unfortunately don't live here. I miss having people who would do anything for you and who I would do anything for in return. I don't have any close connections like that here in Longview and I just don't get to see my friends near enough. It's frustrating and what had me close to moving before Clint came along. Anyway, I did not mean to go off on that tangent, but it's just really weighing on my mind (especially after getting a call from my best friend who is really going through a difficult time and I hate that we are so far apart). And who knows, perhaps people aren't willing to be listed as a babysitter because they are scared of foster kids or think that having a backround check is too invasive or don't want to have to come to our house to babysit. We were the ones willing to take on the hoops, others may not, nor should they be obligated to do so.

So, here we are in November, patiently waiting :) Who knows, perhaps we'll have an extra guest (or two) at the Christmas table.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Starting to become REAL

We received THIS on Tuesday:

Our license for foster care! If we wanted to, we could get a call today! But we won't because we requested to be activated on November 1st so that we can get through our vacation, etc.

It seemed like such a long journey to get to this point and at times didn't seem like we would ever really get to here, but we made it! Of course, our work is not done...and never will be as long as we are fostering. I discovered that our home will be inspected every quarter unless we have children in our home and then it will be every month. Of course, then there's the 20 hours of annual training as well. But we'll bask in the time-being that we made it to this milestone and the fact that Buckner deems us worthy of such an important role.

I'm starting to have some panic moments. Originally, we were counting on one child, with two being the exception. However, we were told that with being open to two, that this was huge, so now we know that two is more likely and one will be the exception. TWO? Can I handle two?? Heck, can I handle one? I'm realizing how little I know. I've been trying to read and read, but the stack just gets taller rather than smaller. We have to come up with a daily schedule for their week. I don't know what we are going to do from day to day!

We don't have anything! No sippy cups, bottles, clothes...hard to buy stuff when you don't know what you are getting! Yes, we will get these things once they are here, but I am overwhelmed with all of the THINGS we will need to get.

I read a blog of someone talking about how her mom leaving after being there for 10 days to help out with the newborn baby. I'm not going to have that! I'm going to be all alone, left to care for children I know nothing about!

Don't get me wrong, I am so so excited, but for some reason getting that piece of paper handed to me put the 'scary' in overdrive for me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Toy!

I've been waiting and waiting until I could purchase this:

A DSLR camera!! Obviously this picture was NOT taken with the new camera. I am always so envious of just about everyone elses pictures. Of course, like with bike riding, just because one buys a fancy bike, does not make them a great cyclist...so goes for photography as well. And I admit to being totally clueless about photography. Just taking the camera out of the box was scary, like holding a newborn baby that you are terrified of dropping! And all those knobs and buttons? Eeeks! Where's the 'on' button?

I'm determined though! We will have pictures of our lives! Being able to get the camera now comes at the perfect time because we will have to put together lifebooks for any foster children that we take in to our home. I want these kids to have good pictures because they may be the only ones they get from childhood!

In addition to reading the owner's manual, I'll be starting off with a beginner photography class through the parks and rec. department, which starts next Tuesday. I hope it will be a good place to get my feet wet, ask questions, and learn about other resources for additional learning. What I'm already reading/hearing so far is that really, it just comes with practice and to do that, you have to take LOTS of pictures. I'll have to take lessons from Clint in that department. I'll carry our little point and shoot everywhere and not take a single picture. If Clint gets a hold of the camera, you'd think his finger would get a cramp with all the pictures he takes. On our honeymoon, we had bought an underwater camera and I handed it to him. He was through all the pics before we even hit the fish on our snorkeling trip, ha

I am thinking about setting up a 365 blog so that I am forced to take a picture every day. Our lives aren't exciting, so would probably not be of interest to anyone else, but at least it would get me in the habit of taking pictures and practicing with different settings. I am excited about my new little hobby. And I am thankful to Justin at Best Buy (yes, if you want to buy a camera here in Longview, seek out Justin!...or James, he is supposedly good too). We went to pick out our camera on a Tuesday evening and I bet I waited a good 30-45 min. before I got ANY help. I was just about to give up and go buy my camera in Tyler when Justin appeared. I had done some light research on the internet and decided that I wanted the Nikon D3100. My parents had the D3000 and were happy with theirs and this was one step up from that one. The features seemed good (not that I know anything) and was in the price range I was willing to spend. Mr. Geek Squad really took me through the cameras and showed me the operation of each and I decided to go Canon. It just seemed so much more user friendly and I need all the 'ease of operation' I can get! And I think the camera I bought was actually a little step up from the Nikon I was looking at.

So, hopefully this blog starts to get a little more colorful :) And I'll post the link to a 365 blog if I decide to go with it...just prepare yourself for lots of dog and bike pictures until kids come in the picture, ha! However, I can't post pictures of the kids until/if they are adopted, so yeah, did I mention dogs and bikes? :)