Crushed

I am absolutely heartbroken. I have never felt so incompetent in my entire life …..

We had our ‘big meeting’ with Child Youth and Family Services today regarding our application process to become foster parents and – I got denied. For right now.

They do not feel I am strong enough. I haven’t had enough time pass since my last mental health related hospitalization. There needs to be 5-6 yrs without incident for them to remove that red flag. It’s been about 3 years. It is for that reason that I cannot be approved at this time. They even had a team meeting to discuss just me and my so-called unique situation because I have so many strengths and am everything they want in a foster parent – BUT – they can’t take chances on me.

Even a good letter from my psychiatrist made no difference.
My history with mental illness, bipolar in particular, will forever dictate EVERYTHING. There are kids out there in abusive homes but yet they’d rather keep them there then put them in my care.

I am devastated. Heartbroken. I feel that I no longer have anything to fight for. I have tried and worked so damn hard in the past while to manage my health in the best way possible to prevent any meltdowns because I knew it would negatively affect my chance to foster any children. But right now, today, I am on the verge of giving up. I do not want to and neither do I have any strength to hold it together.

I am so tired. So so so tired. I’m tired of being strong … strong for you, strong for this, for that, for many things … because it doesn’t matter anyways. My strength to be well just is not good enough and it’s all because of where I have been and where I come from.

I feel utterly useless.

But after much prayer leading up to this I know this is for the best. I’m just having a very hard time accepting it.
In 2 years time I will have had my surgery over with for my wrist, the settlement from the accident would be taken care of hopefully, and have a longer stretch of time under my belt without a mental health related hospitalization. I need to have faith.

Needing it and having it are much different though. All I have right now are tears.

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Fostering The Dream

After lying here in bed, browsing blog after blog after heart wrenching blog while listening to what sounds like a freight train, my heart aches in ways that just keep getting stronger.

Tomorrow I have to call the case worker to touch base and schedule an appointment. Next step is the home study.

God be with us.

I’m Growing Up

So still on the topic of foster parenting. I know there will be a lot of grief from a lot of people because they will not agree with someone who has bipolar disorder becoming licensed as a care giver.

But I have a wonderful team working with me. I will be signing papers and having verbal agreements with my psychiatrist, my husband, the social workers and my family so that if any symptoms start to surface and interfere then anyone who notices (because outsiders tend to notice first) then it will be made aware right away so that it can be nipped in the bud. And if I get too sick then I am agreeing to have my license put on hold. I know that when it starts to take a hold I tend to not see it until it’s too late. So I’m going to be working really hard for this. For me, my hubby AND the kids.

Also, I will only be taking one child (or 2 if it’s an emergency placement of siblings). I want to make sure that my full attention is on helping the child and keeping myself healthy at the same time.

It’s time that I get my act together. Time to grow up and do something useful with my life.

A Life Of Uncertainty

Kids are fun …. Right? Well I don’t think fostering will be. Here’s why.

Home inspections. Part of being licensed to be able to provide foster care is having a home study. This includes interviews, references, and a very thorough study of your home. They are going to open our closets and take pictures. They are fairly clean and tidy but just the thought of it makes me feel so exposed! We will have quarterly inspections with CYFS after that, and we could have a drop-in visit at ANY time, day or night, from the social worker. Its pretty intimidating. When I’m going around in my old worn out pyjamas and a stained up shirt with my hair sticking out all over the place … that would be just the time a social worker will show up here.

Then there’s the paperwork. Along with all of the paperwork that is required for us to complete during this licensing process, there is also an endless pile of papers that need to be filled out for every child, monthly papers that keep track of the goals and progress of each child that comes into our care, at least a page for every meeting and visitations with the parents, and I’m sure there is more that I don’t even know about yet. Keeping all of it organized and ready to be handed over to the social worker at any given time is going to be hard.

Mind you, this is all just the things I am starting to learn. I haven’t actually experienced any of it yet. If everything goes as planned then by Christmas, about 3 months away, it will all be official and my door will be opened to some very hurt children. As overwhelming as it all is, I am beyond excited to be experiencing this. But not only excited, I feel blessed beyond words to be given the opportunity to become a part of the lives of children who deserve to be safe and cared for properly.

But there is also going to be a lot of uncertainty. It will be hard not to know whether we will be caring for a child for a week or a year or maybe even forever. Schedules change depending on visitation with the parent(s), so planning anything will be pointless. Our lives will be extremely unpredictable. I think the hardest thing though will be not being able to answer our foster child when he/she asks what’s going to happen to them, because I honestly won’t know.

I’m setting myself up for a lot of heartbreak. Each story in foster care starts with trauma. The goal is to provide safety and time for these families to mend. When that happens, it will be a beautiful thing – but even the most experienced foster parents’ experience heartache when a child leaves. When these families can’t be mended, and even if there are great people waiting to adopt, there is going to be an outrageous loss. When there are no adoptive parents waiting, its going to hurt even more. Watching the foster children grow and knowing the pain of their past breaks my heart – and I haven’t even had our first child placement yet!. Knowing that there are so many birth families hurting actually hurts me. Foster care is as much about heartbreak as it is about anything else, for everyone involved.

Its going to be REALLY hard on us being foster parents. But …….

250,000 children enter foster care each year. Some for a little while, some for way too long.  And each one is a reason why foster care is going to be worth it. Every single child is in need of love and fun and a safe place to call home. But I keep thinking to myself that as hard as it will be for us as the foster parents, it will be nothing compared to what the kids will be going through. Removal is traumatic. No matter how good we will be as foster parents, being placed in a home with us strangers is scary. Living with the result of abuse or neglect is not fair. None of the work that we are putting in to become licensed as foster parents can even compare.

So as scared as I am about what David and I are getting ourselves into, I know that all of the work we invest in this is because there is a very scared child somewhere, waiting to come into our home so that they can be safe, fed, loved and most importantly, be given the chance to be a kid again.

It Has Begun

The process of applying for foster care and getting approved is now underway. We had our initial intake meeting with the social worker and we have almost completed our application. Which consists of a lot of paper work. Consent forms to sign to release medical and psychiatric (gulp) records. Police/criminal record checks need to be done on us. Its a long process. Requires a lot of faith. If this is God’s plan for us, then I know we will be approved. We are both feeling drawn in this direction in our lives right now and it feels right to be doing this. I strongly believe God has been preparing us for this and now we’re ready. And as weird as this sounds, comparing this to the pregnancy process, and it feels as if David and I are in the baby making stage. Trying. Doing things to better ourselves so that we can get pregnant (which can’t happen). But trying to get approved is similar to trying to get pregnant. Once you get approved (or pregnant) the next step is to wait. Wait for that child that will come into our home.

And change everything.