We went to our local library for Step One of many on our journey to be parents. A lot of stuff I knew, and a few surprises. We watched the videos produced by the agency that are also online. So, of course, I had already watched those online. But it was nice to think of questions for during the meeting.
They really focused on trying to encourage everyone to think about fostering/adopting an older child. Which is something we haven’t ruled out for the future, but for us, we want to parent younger kids first.
There was a very good mix of races, ages, single, married, etc. No one batted an eye that we were a couple, and they used very inclusive language. That made me feel much more relaxed. One single guy kept cracking us up. “So, I don’t have a revolving door of company, but if I am dating someone, how soon do they need to do a background check? Should I be bringing this on a first date?”
A few surprising things to me:
- The state pays for medical insurance, including all therapy. (I figured this. We are switching MDs for other reasons right now, and I do want to make sure our new doc takes our state insurance.)
- The state pays for daycare! Woo hoo! I am not sure if it is this way in all states, and this is a huge financial relief.
- The child also gets WIC, which can help with the cost of formula.
- You CAN have other people (babysitters, parents) watch your foster child for a few hours. In fact, the social worker seemed to think it was strange I even asked this question. Again, a huge relief. I think for any new parent, and me in particular, I know I need help and would want to use my parents for that.
- The licensing process could be done in as few as 60 days. Gulp. I thought this was a 6-9 month process on average. I think it is wonderful that people who are ready or want to be licensed for an emergency situation have this option. For us, that is too soon. I think we’ll slow that process down a bit.
We left with a big pile of paperwork, which we discussed all night. If I am understanding everything right, we fill out all this paperwork (personal background on each of us, and our families of origin, financial info, reasons for wanting to foster, huge checklist of types of kids we are open to, etc.) and mail it in. In approximately two weeks (TWO WEEKS!) a social worker will arrange for a home visit. At that time, they will be looking at our house, and talking with us about the next steps.
We do NOT have to have a room ready for a child at that point. No crib, stroller, etc. In fact, they recommended that we do not change anything in case we get denied. (BIG GULP.)
Then, we will have a series of meetings with the social worker, asking for a truckload of paperwork and copies of things (mortgage papers, bank statements, health statements, our vaccination records, Bingo’s vaccination records…) We need to go to at least 12 hours of training, and then we could be licensed! Then, during the first year, we need to complete 36 hours of training.
We are going to set aside a few hours to complete our paperwork, and then (other than some cleaning) try not to think about it much (yeah, right) until the social worker comes. I think I will breathe a little sigh of relief when I get a thumbs up from him/her.