While Josh and I were going through our licensing process I was sure to gain as much knowledge as I could about getting our first placement. I read books and blogs, joined Facebook groups and followed many Instagram accounts. I read about other foster parents experiences with different age groups and tried my best to form opinions about what would work best for our household. I had a vision about what our “ideal” situation would be and it turns out that I was completely wrong.
My ideal vision was an infant, as is most people’s preference when entering the system. “Everyone wants the babies” is something I remember Tiffany telling us during one of our classes. To be entirely honest, I was terrified of anyone older than four or five. I was worried about their pasts and how that would affect their behavior. I remembered reading horror stories from foster parents about being attacked physically, having children that ran away, brought drugs into the home etc. I didn’t want that for our home and it worried me to think about the potential of these things happening. But that all changed when we got the call about S.
We had been waiting a few months to hear back about our certification when Tiffany called us and asked us to take our first placement. We were given minimal details about her, name, age (which she had wrong during our first phone call), some of the things that she had been through. “She will be a great fit, I promise!” A million things went through my head when I hung up the phone. Who is she? Will London be okay with an older child? What has she been through? Can we handle ANOTHER teenager? I did my best to answer the questions for myself for the next three days as I cleaned the house top to bottom. Josh grocery shopped and loaded the cabinets, buying snacks and staples and all the ingredients for her favorite dinner. I tried my best to prepare my personal self as much as the house was prepared, but I knew there was no way to do so until I actually experienced it for myself.
When S arrived at our home, I did my best to follow her cues so she was more comfortable. We were all very nervous, that was obvious and it made things a little easier knowing that was true. As if her arrival wasn’t overwhelming enough, we received the next mountain of paperwork of our foster care journey. This mountain consisted of incident reports, exam sheets, medication lists, stipend sheets, consents, etc. Some of the paperwork even came with additional sheets on how to properly fill out the paperwork. It was a forty-five minute process with our caseworkers, getting S all settled in but the transition went smoothly. It was heartbreaking at first to see how familiar with the process she was, so much in fact that she answered my questions. She was used to the moving, but within days she told us it was the first time she ever felt welcomed in a foster home.
Within the first week I knew that S was a great fit into our family. She got along with everyone. She is respectful, does her chores and rarely gives us a hard time about anything. Most importantly she is so appreciative. After everything she has been through in her life, especially the last two years, she is so happy to be here. Simple as that, she is happy to be here. It has been one month since she arrived here and things are still going well. She started a new school and she loves it there. She’s excited about the things she’s learning, making new friends and thriving.
In some opinions, one month marks the end of the “honeymoon phase”. At the end of this time period foster children are considered to be more comfortable and are no longer afraid to act out. This is partially true for S, she is seemingly more comfortable. However, she’s comfortable in that she’s okay being silly and showing us parts of her true self.
I guess the moral of this whole story, is to encourage people to accept the placements that they weren’t expecting, to have an open mind about any child they receive a phone call for. Perhaps things may not turn out the same way for others as it has for us, but you will never know if you don’t try.