Monday, October 31, 2011

In my last post I wrote a bit about money and some of the things you need to take care of an infant in foster care.

That post and the comments got me thinking about the motivations we all have for getting into foster care.   It seems to me that most people get into foster care in hopes of adopting a child or multiple children.

I did not get into foster care to adopt, but I do know that I think about what it would be like to adopt Primo.  It feels like a game changer.

Would as many of us be willing to do foster care if there was no hope of adopting?

It feels like adoption is just about the most powerful motivator for doing foster care.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Volunteer work

I was missing the volunteer work I gave up when Primo was placed with us.  I missed the adults and children I saw every week.

Then it occurred to me that I am still doing volunteer work 24/7.  Foster Care, in it's essence, is volunteer work.  I work every waking moment of the day and often during moments I would like to be sleeping without pay.  I have given over my life to the cause of Foster Care.


It is true that I receive money every month from my agency, this is for the care and keeping of Primo.  Even if I used NONE of this money to buy giant boxes of diapers and wipes and copious amounts of formula, I would be making an hourly rate of 90 cents an hour.

There is no money to be made in foster care if you are doing it right.  In my area of the country the cost of raising a child in the middle class is estimated to cost $37 a day, we receive $21 a day for Primo.

Let's not forget that I was out of the baby game for 11 years before I got into foster care.  So I needed to purchase many things for Primo.

He came with almost no clothing.  My agency gave me $150 for emergency clothing purchases.  Sounds like plenty, but some how I spent more on little onsies, outfits, socks and booties, sweaters and a winter coat, little hats, etc.

Included in Priomo's monthly check from the agency is $1 a day that must be spent on clothing.

I also purchased two bassinets one for upstairs and one for downstairs, a baby tub and towels, blankets, sheets, formula, pacifiers, bottles, a thermometer, changing pad and cover, diaper pail, nail clippers, bulb aspirator, baby Tylenol, diaper bag, a swing, play mat, bouncy seat, infant car seat, bibs, baby monitor, baby soap, ready to drink 3 oz bottles of formula for night feedings (yep, I am that exhausted).

Even as I write the above list it doesn't seem like all that much, I am sure I am forgetting things, but it all added up to hundreds of dollars.  I did two very big shopping trips, one hours before he arrived and one the day after he arrived.

If I were extremely frugal and organized (which I do hope to be when I am getting more sleep), I think I could take good care of Primo within the confines of the monthly check I receive.  But, for now the cost of some of his needs are coming out of my pocket, and I am fine with that.  I am supposed to care for Primo the same way I cared for my birth children and that is what I am doing, because let's face it, he deserves no less.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Foster Care Blogs

I have become a little obsessed with reading foster care blogs.  I learn so much and feel less alone in my own very green journey into foster care.

I crave the recommendations and guidance they provide and I enjoy learning from the good the bad and the ugly stories of the foster care experience.

The blogs I read are a priceless resource.  I feel blessed to be joining the foster care team in a time and place that allows for such an instant look into the shared experiences of a group of people I would have never known existed were in not for the internet.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An odd meeting

Primo has a GAL (guardian ad litem) who is a lawyer, I guess this is usually the case in foster care.  The social worker from this lawyers office came to visit.  There is a court date in November.

She was an hour late and very biased.

She came to do a safety inspection of our home and to get information about Primo's life  with us.

She asked if I had smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, but never asked to see them.

She told me flat out that she believes Primo and his siblings, who were in care before he was born with another agency (but share the same GAL) should be put up for adoption.

She went on to say that they have a few foster parents, and I quote, "of means" and it is always a "Fairy Tale Story" for the lucky kids who get adopted into those homes.  I was embarrassed.  But she still had not seen where Primo sleeps, she probably never would have, but at that point in our conversation I interrupted and asked if she would like to see where he sleeps.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Fewsh

Called Primo's doctor's office today and cleared up all the paper work HELL!

I feel so relieved.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Mistake?

I took Primo to his two month check up.  I think I may have made a mistake with his paper work.

At his first visit in the city I was not asked to sign anything, the visit was a mess because I had none of the correct paper work from my agency, but he had to see a doctor within 48 hours of being placed with us.

Let me digress here to explain again that Primo is my first placement.  I remember a lot of my training but not all of it.  AND....Primo's case worker is an intern.  I am not sure she knows any more than I do.  I like Primo's worker, she is earnest, honest, friendly and doing the best she can.  But sometimes it feels a bit like the blind leading the blind around here.

Anyway, I arrived late for Primo's doctors appointment at the new office he will seen at from now on, because I got lost.

I was checked in and was handed paper work, I questioned this because he was already  in their system from his first visit.  (Different office same network, practice or whatever)

They smiled and insisted, I was not sure what to do, did I mention I still do not have Primo's health insurance packet from DHS? 

I could not fill out family history, all I really have is Primo's name and birth date.  I didn't know who to put as responsible party for the bills, I had started to write my name due to force of habit...

I did not have time to complete the paper work before being called back for his appointment.

When the visit was over I was asked to sign two things electronically, something I had never done for any of my children in the past. 

By now you can picture the scene:  Me holding a hysterical Primo, who has just received 4 immunizations, staring a small electronic signature thingy, and being told I was signing some sort of HIPA thing and something else I don't recall at this point, neither of which I was asked to read first.

The moment I got Primo in the car, helped him settle down and started the 45 minute drive home I freaked out and remembered that there are some things I am not allowed to sign.

Maybe going to the doctor in the city was a better option they had a lot of experience with foster parents, not so much in suburbs.  (This was made supremely obvious when the doctor suggested we run a certain blood test given some of what we know about Primo's start in life, and because I really should know if he has this certain disease.  This was about the only right move I made, at the appointment from Hell, I said no.)  I don't think I am allowed to know that, right?

I tossed and turned all night worrying about what I had signed, of course my appointment was Friday afternoon, so nothing is open and my case worker is at home.

I am beating myself up right now.  I hate the thought that I may have screwed something up for Primo, my agency or myself.

I am back to hitting the Rescue Remedy real hard.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Smiles

Primo started smiling this week, he also coos and loves eye contact.

He has grown 2.5 inches and put on over 2 lbs since coming to stay with us.  Which is all good because now his height and weight percentages are much closer. 

Our boy is growing!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Posting

Half way through October and I have already posted as many times this month as I did in all of September.

You may wonder how this is possible when I have a new born asleep on me most hours of the day?

I took typing in high school, way back in the dark ages when we practiced on manual (non-electric) typewriters.

I have been forever thankful for that class as I am able to type without looking at the keyboard!  This combined with the fact that Primo is happy to drape himself over me leaving my hands free means that typing is about all I can do all day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy baby

These little velcro swaddley baby blanket things have most definitely improved my quality of life over the last week.  And Primo's too, he can now sleep more than 20 minutes in his bassinet without startling awake every 20 minutes. 

Primo took his longest nap ever all on his own this afternoon, one and a half hours of hands free time for me!

He is finishing his nap in my arms as I slowly type this post with one hand.

I bought these after I had read halfway through the book:  The Happiest Baby on the Block.  I would recommend it to any one with a baby, even if they are not overly fussy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Primo's life book, how to start?

I ordered Primo a Baby Memory Calendar and a Baby Book, but I am having trouble starting.

Maybe I should have just started a more generic life book?

I adore the Baby Book my Mom put together for me.

My girls love reviewing their Baby Books every couple of years, there are memories written down in those books that would have been completely forgotten if I had not put pen to book for them.

But for every page with an empty family tree, or blank lists of gifts and "special visitors" and bare pages demanding details of baby showers I know nothing about,  I have no answers for Primo.

Should I ask his Mom to fill out those pages?

Or should I just remove those pages and fill out the ones I have information and memories for?

I never thought this would be so difficult.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet sleep

I slept through the night last night.  I slept from 11 PM straight through to 8 AM.

Mike kindly took a night with Primo.


(Deep sigh of relief)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Honeymoon is over, or is it?

If Primo has his way it will never end...

Will he sleep in his bassinet, oh no! 
Will he sleep in his swing, almost never! 
Will he sleep in his bouncy seat, not yet! 
In his car seat?  I'm sure you can see where I am going with this.

If I had more than two brain cells to string together today I may be able to turn this into a poem, but alas...

The long and short of it is that Primo's two favorite spots for sleeping are on me:

1. With his head right under my chin.

2. Tucked into my right arm with his little face turned toward mine while his lovely baby perfume wafts up to me.  A beautiful blend of Dreft and sweet baby sour milk breath.

So, it is me, not my sweet little foster baby who is trying to put an end to the honeymoon period of our relationship.

I'm the one growing a bit weary of the energy it takes to keep up my "good" behavior.

I love holding him and rocking him to sleep, it feels like he is part of me, that is how seldom we are separated.  I know this is best for him, he is still so young and tiny.

But, it is difficult to subjugate myself to someone so small, with his relentless need for feeding, changing and carrying.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Panic

A couple of times during the first week of Primo's being in our home I had sudden feelings of panic.

I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for such a small child.  Not only that but by caring for another Mother's beloved baby boy.

When I am in the thick of it all, feeding, washing bottles, changing diapers, driving to appointments, cooking, cleaning, rocking and snuggling I don't even think about this huge responsibility.

I am in the moment, doing the best I can to care for Primo and the rest of my family.  I have never been a perfect mother, but I keep doing the best I can do, one day at a time.

But in those few brief moments of silence I felt challenged.  I am sure the lack of sleep that first week added to the feelings of overwhelm and panic.

Thank goodness I had some Rescue Remedy on hand to help me through.

I am looking forward to this all getting easier.  The first time I do anything always feels awkward to me.  Inexperience is hard, but the only way to gain experience is to go straight through my lack of experience and try to learn something along the way.

I have had quite a few firsts in the last two weeks, and managed to get through them successfully.   This builds my confidence: first Social Worker visit, first safety inspection, first doctor's appointment for Primo with no paper work, first WIC appointment, again without proper paperwork, first visit with Court Appointed Advocate.

And do you know what?  Even without the paperwork or experience I hoped to have had with me, Primo and I made it through all of the above successfully.

Now, if I could just get a little more sleep...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boiling Water

I put a pot of water on to boil for Primo's formula this morning.

Then something magical happened, I put Primo down to sleep in his very own bassinet, and 5 minutes later he was still sleeping!

I was excited, I could not decide what to do first, clean the kitchen, take a nap, catch up on all the blogs I love to read...I ended up on the living room couch staring vacantly at the TV.

When I finally dragged myself to the kitchen to do a little cleaning, I found a large HOT pot  on the stove without a lick of water left in it.

The good news is that Primo napped for a whole half hour without me holding him!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Caffeine

Twice last week I drank a Coke for the caffeine of it all, and fell asleep half an hour later.  That is a new level of exhausted for me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

When Primo's social worker came to pick him up for his first family visit she asked me if she should pull the car over if he started crying on the ride down town?  Then she quickly admitted she was really nervous because Primo was the first infant she had ever taken to a visit.

Her surprising honestly quickly transported me back in time to the night that Primo arrived.

We received the call from our agency around dinner time.  The only information the woman on the phone had to offer was that there was a one month old, healthy, baby boy who needed a safe place to land, in about an hour.

I had so many questions, there were no answers.

I said yes.

She called back 15 minutes later to let me know the baby's name and how much he weighed, and that he was coming directly from the hospital where he had spent his first month of life.

We would be his first real home.  And he would be arriving in one hour.

Finola, Dolly and Vivienne and I sprang into action.  We wrote up a list of items we needed to get through our first night with Primo and dashed to Target.

As I drove, with an eye on the clock, my thoughts began to race:  What have I done?  My life as I know it is completely changed, how will the girls respond if he is a colicky, sad baby?  I'm too old to get up every two hours at night, this is too risky!  I felt sick.

We pulled into the parking lot, I gave each of my daughters a list of things to find, and then announced that I would meet them in the "baby" section of the store after I ran to the bathroom to throw up.

I was nervous.

I have mothered 4 babies through good times and fussy times and everything in between and beyond.  My reaction was over the top.  I was completely petrified.

As soon as Primo came through the door my instinct and past experience kicked in.

I had never entertained the thought that a social worker would be nervous about transporting a 9 pound boy to visit his family.

I guess the old saying "practice makes perfect" has some truth to it.  I don't believe in perfection, but practice sure does calm the nerves.