Thursday, January 31, 2013

Support

I have been exploring the idea of joining a foster care support group. Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post.

As foster parents we are told in training that everything involved in our foster child's case is confidential. Specifically WE were advised, during training, that when anybody asked about the new child in our home we respond by saying something to the effect of "this is the newest member of our family". Hmm...does this response invokes a lot of questioning? Yes, yes it does.

The question is this, is there really any way to keep your foster child's case a secret? I don't think so.
I'm not suggesting that foster parents divulge all the nitty gritty details of the case, but really I do think you have to be honest about why you have an extra child in your care.

Then there is the issue of foster parents needing a safe place to blow off some steam. Foster care is difficult. Some days are easy breezy and others feel like your very life is being threatened. With emotional highs and lows like these I feel there is no way to be a good foster care parent without some confidential support from other folks in the same situation.

Reading and commenting on other foster care blogs has been a life saver for me, but now I'm feeling the need for some face to face human contact around the stresses and joys of foster care.

Maybe I will have to start my own support group as there doesn't seem to much of this activity in my area.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

I've been thinking about finding a foster care support group. I have read mixed reviews on other foster care blogs about support groups.

Do you attend a support group? If so, what do you like or dislike about it?


Friday, January 18, 2013

Exhausting Day Care Days

With the exception of my first blissful day of day care for Primo I have spent day care days running around like a crazy woman. I clean, do laundry, vacuum, run errands, rush to appointments, by the time I go to pick Primo up I'm a sweaty, exhausted mess. I have actually started to dread day care days. We rush to get to day care on time and then I never stop running until it is time for pick up.

I seriously need to slow down and take care of myself during these few and far between days of freedom. Instead of freedom and relaxation these days are stressful and I NEVER feel that I have accomplished everything I set out to do.

Last night I read a very short ebook called Shield: A Framework of Self-Care For Foster and Adoptive Families

This is a very easy read, and much of what was written I already knew, but there were some good reminders about the stress of foster parenting and the depression and anxiety that can come up for many foster and adoptive parents.

There were also some really good ideas about preparing for your first foster placement or the arrival of your adoptive child or baby. I wish I had read this book before I started foster care.

This little book was a good reminder to me to not feel guilty about taking care of myself. I have been a parent and a foster parent to 3 teenaged girls and a baby/toddler 24/7 for the last 16 months. No respite and very few baby-sitters, have left me tired, over scheduled and constantly feeling like I'm not doing enough for my individual relationships with my husband and children.

The major ups and downs and changes in Primo's case are really getting to me now, the lack of control over the future and the fear of the unknown feel devastating right now.

So here's to embracing a little guilt free self care. I will not rush around on day care days, I will nap if I want to, get a massage, watch TV, read, take a bath, indulge in a delicious take out lunch, have coffee with a friend, I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

In past few months there has been a lot going on in Primo's case. Because of this, and because every 6 months there is supposed to be a new plan of action drawn up as to which direction a case is headed there is this VERY important meeting that was supposed to happen months ago.

I have read on other blogs that this is sometimes referred to as a "staffing", I don't know if this type of meeting has an official name around these parts. Basically it is a meeting of "all parties", with the exception of the foster parents, (although I do believe we are allowed to be there, but we have not been invited to be at the meeting) to discuss the case and decide if reunification or permanency (adoption, or kinship placement etc.) is the goal.

This meeting to decide the future of Primo and his brothers has now been rescheduled 4 times. I know it is difficult to get all the lawyers, social workers, supervisors and parents in one place at one time, so I am praying everyday that the meeting happens sometime this month so that we can figure out what exactly DH$ has in mind for Primo's future.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

A new financial year

With this new year I have opened a new checking account. This account will be where I deposit Primo's checks from our agency. The debit card from this account will only be used to purchase goods and services for Primo.

I know I'm probably a little obsessed with the whole money thing, I have written about it a few times in the past.

The thing is, I have heard from quite a few foster parents that the checks they receive for the care of their foster child/ren are more than enough to care for them month in and month out. I have heard from others that the checks are never really enough to cover all their expenses. Therefore I have always been interested in tracking whether I'm spending ALL the money on Primo, or not.

I know that during the first months of a new placement I will almost always spend more than is coming in. This was true for Primo, I didn't keep meticulous records, but it was easy enough to see that it took at least half a year to break even. After this I kind of stopped keeping any track of what I was spending for Primo's care.

Lately I've been feeling that perhaps I'm not spending all that much on Primo's care. All the big baby equipment purchases are in the past, no more formula, less diapers and his growth is slowing down, so he doesn't out grow his clothes as fast as he used to.

I wanted to hold myself more accountable for where Primo's money was going, thus the new checking account experiment.

I know there are many expenses that are almost impossible to track, for example: housing, utilities, extra groceries, more take out meals on days when foster children are sick or foster parents are overwhelmed, all the driving done for foster care appointments and visits (as I type this list I'm feeling that this whole, keeping track of money thing, may be impossible).

For me, I will probably not take in to account the housing, utilities or extra groceries for the following reasons:

1. Primo now eats all table food and I rarely buy specific food just for him, and he doesn't eat enough yet to noticeably add to my grocery bill.

2. There is no real way for me to track increased water and electric usage, my bills have not noticeably increased.

3. Housing is a strange one to me, it is not as if I would have a paying renter in Primo's room if he wasn't using it. I know that providing housing is a cost that the agency may figure into the checks they send for Primo, but I'm not interested in quantifying that cost as it doesn't change at all due to his presence here.

So, I've possibly just laid out all the flaws in my calculations, but that is how it's going to be for me, for now. I guess I could just take a percentage of what I think the 3 costs listed above may be and take that into consideration, but math never was my strong suite, and neither is spelling.

As for driving to appointments and visits, I do get reimbursed for those at a rate of 45 cents a mile, so I will take the transportation portion of my check and put it towards gas for my cars.

I know that my new system will be a bit of an inconvenience, no more texting Mike to pick up large boxes of diapers and wipes on his way home from work. I will have to purchase it all myself with my handy dandy debit card from my new checking account.

I'm actually pretty excited about seeing the results of my new experiment. I have already made a few purchases with then new debit card and I find myself way more conscious of what I'm spending. I'm pretty sure I will find that I buy way more stuff for Primo than I thought I did.

I will update on my money experiment occasionally, for those of you who are interested, I know I am!

I would also love to hear how other foster parents deal with money and expenses and how or if you break them down in your household budget?








Thursday, January 3, 2013

Photos

I take a lot of photos of Primo. I started out taking pictures to each visit with his parents, babies change so much and so quickly from week to week and I wanted them to have a visible record of his babyhood.

I still often take photos to visits and give them to Primo's parents. BUT I have started to have to edit the photos quite heavily. When Primo was small and couldn't move it was easy to set up a shot with nothing in the back round etc. Now that Primo is walking and running it isn't so easy.

Sometimes the house is messy in the back round, or horrors of all horrors there is an uncovered outlet showing in a photo (Primo's greatest joy right now is to pull out outlet covers and lose them), or the dog, or my kids or another relative,  or the exterior of my house is showing in outdoor photos, you get the idea.

Am I just paranoid?

I want to continue to give Primo's parents photos of their son, but it is hard to get a shot of him alone, he is almost always reading a book with one of us or being held. Do bio parents really want to see shots of their son with his foster family? I don't know. These photos are an accurate record of his daily life, but maybe I should continue to only send photos of Primo alone. When I send a bunch of vacation photos of Primo alone it seems like he spends his time by himself surrounded by paparazzi.

What do you do?