Sunday, February 16, 2014

Life as a Foster Parent - Five Months, Five Babies & I'm Still Breathing!

It's been a crazy few months over here on the Arnold homestead. After 2 years of trying for a baby, we finally decided to throw in the towel and dive into our plan b.....foster care! We took all of our classes last summer, baby proofed everything, went through a home study (post to follow on what to expect), inspections, FBI fingerprints, buying furniture, car seats...the whole nine yards, and had our first baby 2 weeks after certification. She was two days old and absolutely perfect. Adoption immediately looked hopeful, but we quickly learned to NEVER put all of our eggs in that basket. When a child is in foster care, the case workers will check every nook, cranny, and under every rock in search of family members to take temporary custody (this is called kinship care). Seven weeks later we said goodbye to our first little love 'Lu'.  In a short 5 months, we have had 5 babies under our roof (typically 2 at a time). 

It went a little something like this:

Newborn girl - Almost 7 weeks
10 month old girl - 6 weeks
Newborn boy - Still in our care - he's almost 4 months!
6 month old boy - About 5 weeks 
10 month old boy - Almost 4 weeks

*We are open to kids up to 4 years, but have never had a baby over 1

Can you keep up?? I had no clue that the turnover would be so fast on the majority of our kids, and I'm not even sure if this is typical (we were told in training that an average placement is 6-7 months). It has been such a joy loving all of my little munchkins, but very short term care has it's hardships. Most kids in foster care have had no schedule and extremely poor eating habits.   It can take weeks to get a wild baby sleep trained and accustomed to healthy homemade food, and the second you are high-fiving yourself on your successes, the call comes that kinship has been approved. These 'quickie placements' can turn your world into a wild circus of exhaustion because your home is never fully in a routine.  I have never been more drained or fulfilled in my entire life. This is truly my calling, and as much as I would love one morning to sleep in (babysitters aren't knocking down your door when a background check & fingerprints are required), I wouldn't trade this crazy life for anything.  I have learned so much, from detoxing babies to making parents feel at ease during visits. I have also made some mistakes, mostly learning to watch my tongue and not ask TOO many questions.

I am going to start posting all kinds of tricks of the trade that I have learned in such a quick time. Renegade parenting anyone?? I hope that I can shed some light on everything from what to expect during visitations, initial placement, getting certified, building relationships with CPS and the parents, as well as sleep training tips, weening kids off junk food, detoxing, and small things foster parents can do to provide security for these little broken birds. And of course my usual recipes & crafting, and now cloth diapering tips (YES, I am converted and there's no turning back). 

So welcome or welcome back to my new little nook. I'm still pretty much the same, just sleep deprived and covered in spit up now!

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