Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What's Happened So Far

So, how does fostering work, you ask?  Here's a simplified version, according to what I know thus far (translation: this isn't advice and in a year or so I'll probably shake my head at the quantity of things I didn't know or understand when I wrote this.  Such is life.).

RESEARCH

First, I talked to everyone I could who has fostered.  I heard about various experiences, and they all reinforced my understanding that the system is a mess and there is a lot about it that is really, really hard.  But most of them said it was worth all the hard. 

I keep being impressed by this thought: these kids don't have a choice.  I look at the system and I think, "This is too...

...too messy
...inconvenient
...scary
...expensive
...broken
...emotionally draining
...physically draining
...uncomfortable
...unfair
...depressing
...intimidating
...hopeless

And my next thought is always that I can choose not to help, but those kids can't choose not to need help.  This thought steadies me.

Next I jumped online and started looking at the agencies in my area.  And then I checked out the DCS website.  I completed and submitted a bunch of online forms to be contacted for more information.  I slowly pieced together (I think) the fact that DCS (the department of child services) is the hub.  They get all the cases of kids that need fostering.  Then they place those kids with foster families in two ways:
1. directly to foster parents who were licensed through DCS 
-and- 
2. through LCPAs (licensed child placement agencies) who license their own families.  Some kids end up in facilities rather than homes.  I haven't yet learned when and why that happens.

Anyway, I've chosen this second route of using a private agency for several reasons.  First, the DCS is understaffed and overworked and fostering through them directly means that everything is "government work".  Like, reimbursements take months to process, and case managers are worked off their feet.  But the biggest difference for me is that my LCPA is an openly Christian organization.  Not only will I have the support of their staff, but they are like-minded and I get the added bonus that they serve as go-betweens between me and DCS for many things.  So they absorb some of the irritants that come with working with the government.

[note: this isn't a political statement about this government or any other.  it just is]

PAUSE TO PRAY FOR DIRECTION

So, after talking to the DCS, I decided on using a private agency.  And after speaking with people from about five different agencies, I spent a couple weeks praying about the right agency.  My prayer team was awesome in supporting me.  Eventually I settled on an agency and contacted them to get the process started.

APPLICATION PROCESS

So far I've completed and returned a survey about my experiences and philosophy about parenting; had an initial interview; taken 12 hours of RAPT classes (resource adoptive parent training); and I'm currently working to gather various things to complete my application packet.   But never fear; there are only about twelve million things to do.

Yesterday I got fingerprinted!  Did you know they don't use ink?  So fancy.

Today I set up an appointment to get my kitties vaccinated against rabies.  I thought about pointing out that my cats never come into contact with any other animals, but decided not to die on that hill.

Since I have well water, I have to prove it's safe.  Apparently the fact that I've been drinking it for three years doesn't qualify as proof.  And I guess that's just as well, since my first test came back "unsatisfactory".  (so diplomatic)  So I'm in the process of bleach-shocking my well and we'll try again.  So excited that I get to pay that testing fee at least twice.  (please note sarcasm)

Meanwhile, I've been garage saling and watching Facebook Marketplace and creating a baby registry (because they don't have foster kids registries) to try to get my house ready to handle kiddos.  I plan to request girls who are in full-day school and not older than 6th grade, at least to start with.  That narrows the "what I need" list down significantly, but it's still a pretty wide range.  So I'm focusing on the basics and will have to fill things in as I go.

Another step is to get a "child care plan" in place, so I've started researching child care options near me.  Depending on what time the kiddo(s) gets picked up for school, I may need before-school care.  I will most likely need after-school care of some sort.  I toured a center today.  It was a little surreal.  I felt like at any moment, someone was going to approach me as say, "Hey, you're not supposed to be here!"  :)

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY

And around all of these steps, I've been praying.  There is no part of this new ministry-adventure that I expect to be able to do well on my own.  I fully expect this to be one of those situations where if God doesn't show up, it's not going to work. 

And while that's a little scary to think about, I also think it's exactly where God wants me.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A New Ministry: The Why

Since I last wrote, God has been doing big things in my life and I want to update you on them!

Short version: I'm going to be a foster parent.

Long version:  The Why

Though I've always wanted to adopt some day, I've always dismissed the idea of raising children in any capacity as a single women.  It was something I wanted to do after I got married.  My default position was that kids are best served by two parents, and single parenting should be reserved for un-chosen circumstances (the death of a parent or divorce).

However, over the past five years I've slowly been coming to the conclusion that I might never get married.  It's possible, of course, but at the moment that is nowhere near happening.  And as this realization was dawning on me, so too was the concept that maybe single fostering is actually a good thing, and something I could do.

Single parenting is not ideal, of course, but no fostering situation is ideal, is it?  Ideally a child could be safe and cared-for by their own parents in their own home.  I can't offer a child a home with a father and a mother, but I can offer a home where they will not be abused or neglected.  The bar, friends, is not high.

But let me be clear- I'm not pursuing fostering because it's logical or I feel duty-bound.  God has asked me to do this, and so I am.  I'm believing Him to work in and through me, to make me enough for the kids that He brings me.  As the saying goes, "God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called." (see Hebrews 13:20-21)

Plus, my last name is Foster, so I figure it was destiny.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Zero Food Waste Fail -or- Who Wants Potato Soup?


Today I decided to make potato soup.  I’ve been hankerin’ for some loaded baked potato soup for several weeks.  I moved the diced ham from the freezer to the fridge in preparation.  That was about 3 weeks ago.  Today I threw away the diced ham.

Last night I moved the ¼ pound of bacon from the freezer to the fridge so I could put that in the soup in lieu of the neglected ham.  This morning I popped it in the oven to bake... 

[author’s note: if you’ve not yet discovered the joy that is baked bacon, allow me.  It is the ONLY way to cook any batch of bacon bigger than your skillet.  Google it.  So easy]

 ...and in a few minutes I thoughts, “Hmm, that bacon smells a little…off…”

Now granted, said bacon had been in the freezer awhile, but I put it in a ziplock, and then put that ziplock into a FREEZER ziplock, which I presumed would keep it good until roughly the second coming of Christ.

I check the label I’d written on the bag in blue sharpie.  June 2016.  Really?  I was sure this bacon was from this past summer (I’m writing this in December 2017).  But the sharpie doesn’t lie.  Hmm.

I peek in at the bacon. 

It look normal.  Didn’t it?  It was definitely not green.

I google “how do I know if my bacon is rancid” but that results in irritatingly subjective advice.  If it smells “off” or looks brownish, throw it away.  Well Google, what if it’s apparently been 18 months since I last cooked bacon and can’t remember if the smell is normal?  Is that red or brown?  Reddish-brownish?  Brownish-reddish?  All I’m sure of is that it’s not green.

I decided to give it a taste test.  Just a small bite, so I don’t end up with food poisoning (again) but so I’m sure that I’m sure it needs to be tossed.  Cause, you know, bacon is a terrible thing to waste.

I take a bite.  It tastes…off.

ARGH!

Meanwhile, I've been I making up the rest of the (now vegetarian) potato soup.  As I stir in the cheese, I realize that I have somehow accidentally gotten reduced fat cheddar cheese.  Guess what doesn’t melt into soup nicely?

Reduced fat cheese.

*Leslie jumps on soapbox*  PEOPLE!  CHEESE IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE FAT IN IT!!  THAT’S HOW GOD AND THE COWS INTEND IT TO BE!  EAT THE FAT!  DON’T TRICK THE REST OF US INTO GLOPPY POTATO SOUP BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT EATING FULL-FAT CHEDDAR!  FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS RICH AND CREAMY AND GOOD!  *Leslie steps down from soapbox*

So now I have gloppy, vegetarian potato soup.  I went ahead and added some broccoli, hoping to camouflaging the mess.  It’s not working.

Anyone want to come over for dinner?  I’m cooking!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May Your Praise Be Louder

I work with volunteers. More to the point, I work with people.
If you work with people, too, you know that about 95% of the feedback you get is the negative stuff. And that's on a good day. It can be disheartening.
Last year I worked with a dad and daughter who wanted to set up a spring break trip. The daughter was a high school senior, and she wanted to go into orphan care after graduation. I was able to connect them with a ministry doing wonderful things with orphans with special needs in Central America. It was a pretty low-key event for me, though the dad (first time abroad for himself and his daughter) asked lots of good questions and was pretty nervous as departure time approached.
Last week I got this email from the dad out of the blue.
**********
Last year on this day, you took time to call, answer my never ending list of questions, and took time to pray for my daughter and I as we prepared to take a trip to ____________.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about that week. Things I learned, things I saw, and how incredibly clueless I was about things outside the states.
Early this past Tuesday morning, I drove my daughter to Chicago for another flight to ____________. This time she is going as an intern for the next six months. She will work and help the kids there at _________________.
Thanks so much,
(signed)
*********
This sort of thing makes my work feel significant. It breaks into the monotony of monitoring account balances and holding for hours with various embassies with a joyful announcement:
"These trips can change lives!! It's not just visa requirements and luggage allotments! God can use these trips to Change. Lives. Eternally!"
It helps drown out the frustration of bureaucracy and politics. It helps to balance out the other 95%.
This email was a great reminder to me to be louder with my praise than with my criticism.
The praise matters.