Emergency Foster Care

My phone would not stop vibrating. I was done with work and in my personal counselor’s office and the tell-tale vibration just kept going on and on and on. I finally excused myself and pulled out my phone.

2 Missed Calls: Joel, Foster Care

1 Voicemail: Foster Care

2 Text Messages: Joel “Emergency!” “Call me back now.”

To say the least I was intrigued enough to stop my session and call Joel back. We had gotten a call from a worker asking if we were open to taking 2 girls for up to 2 weeks in an emergency foster care placement. There was a TON of details to be ironed out as I was supposed to be heading out of town this weekend and we have not taken our biter dog (we found out he was a biter dog over our respite weekend) up to Fargo to give him to the rescue we got him from yet).

So in the span of 5 minutes, Joel called back to say that we would love to take the girls, I called Joel’s parents to ask them if they could take the biter dog (and thankfully they could and were on their way in about 10 minutes). Joel and I decided that if the girls were placed with us I would not go out of town on my girls weekend.

I tried my hardest to be present and finish my personal counseling session and then RUSHED home to get things ready. I made beds with clean sheets and did some general picking up around the house. Joel had gotten the information from the social workers so he filled me in on why the girls were being placed, their names, ages, and other information.

Then we waited, the workers and cops were looking for family members that could open their homes to the girls and if they could not find family they would bring the girls to us. As we waited I was filled with so many mixed emotions. I was heart broken and saddened for what these girls had experienced, hopeful that they would soon experience peace and love, humbled that God may see us as worthy to take care of these children, excited that there may finally be children in the house, and a bit embarrassed that I was excited at all about this situation.

So we waited, and waited (ok, really we waited 2 hours which is NOTHING) and heard that they had found family to care for the girls. I am glad that there was family to care for them and yet disappointed that we could not love on these girls.

So I get to go on my girls’ weekend which I am excited for, but no kids in the home. On the bright side, we got the first placement call.

Advertisements

Eventful Day!!

Yesterday was a pretty eventful day here at the Longanecker household. To explain what has happened I have to rewind to about 3 week ago. At that time I heard through the therapist’s grapevine that a CTSS and Therapy provider that opened an office and began serving clients in the town I live. You may say, oh my gosh how freaking exciting……NOT. Well, if you did say that I have a couple of responses for you. First off, why are you talking to your computer/phone screen? If anyone was watching you they would think you were a bit crazy, or using in ear blue tooth. Secondly, You didn’t let me finish explaining before you got all sassy with me. Well, I guess techniquly, I didn’t let me finish before becoming sassy with myself. So I will get back to my story about yesterday’s events.

The reason I was so excited that a CTSS and Therapy provider opened in the town I live, is that I currently do CTSS and Therapy work! The job I work at currently is 45 minutes away from where I live, one way. I love the work I do, sometimes it’s stressful, sometimes I get overwhelmed by the paperwork, but I love working with the kids I do, I love seeing the progress, I love showing hope and options to families at the end of their rope. It feels like what I was made to do. However, I HATE the commute. I hate the through, especially, of being that far from being away from home when we could be placed with an infant.

When thinking about my future and our future, in order for me to feel like I can give all that I have and remain sane and still have somewhat of a life, I felt the need to look into this agency that opened an office in my town. I feel truly called to be doing everything that I am doing, with regards to work and being a foster parent and I could not stand the thought of being in a situation where I felt I was not giving my best from the get go. Ever since getting the call for licensure, I have been anxious about working 45 mins away (one way) and we have been really praying and thinking about what our other options are. We are not doing foster care so that I can be far away. This process and doing foster care is very important to me and I feel that foster care comes first. Caring for children who have no one is by far my most important job and I want an employment that can work around that and work with that. Hence my excitement about an in town job.

So I called this job and asked if they had any openings. They said that they would check if they did and get back to me. I never heard anything, until Tuesday. On Tuesday I got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview this Thursday, yesterday. I excitedly said that I would be there. So yesterday I show up for the interview. I decided that whatever they asked, whatever my answer would be, I would be truly me and answer honestly. I wanted to show them who I am, what I think, and I what I can offer. Well, my favorite parts of the interview are the following two quotes from one of the two ladies that interviewed me; “We should be taking notes during this interview” (relating to me describing the details to upcoming training I was interested in that they were unaware of) and “I’m trying hard to be professional but I want to say that I am really impressed and want to make sure you are not looking for other jobs.” I left the interview feeling like I left them with a good knowledge of who I was and looking forward to hearing from them as I was obviously interested in the job. They said that they would get back to me that night or the next morning.

Well, the interview must have went well because about 10 minutes later I got an email offering my the job!!! I drove to my current job and had the sad face to face 2 week notice meeting with my boss and was just honest about my reasons for leaving. My last day at my current job is May 30th. I am waiting to hear soon (hopefully today) from my new job’s business management to discuss start dates and pay.

I kept asking Joel when I got home is this day was real. Do I really get to do the job I love in the town I live, with NO commute, making me available for future foster kids? Really? Like for real? Don’t wake me up if I am sleeping! Ouch! Don’t pinch me either! 🙂 I can’t believe this is real, we are so blessed. This job is quite literally God send! (This was how our conversations went all night)

After I got home from work and we went out to eat to celebrate we got home and I checked the mail we got that day. After feeling God’s hand in my life all day I simply could not believe what I saw in the mail. We received our official foster care license from MN DHS.

After a hard day on Sunday (see Mother’s Day 2013 post) and my coming to terms with the fact that I will trust in God when his answer is wait. How things have changed in 5 days! I now feel that I can clearly see God’ provision and love in my life. It seems like God is setting up great things and getting us ready. I have no idea what God has planned but I feel blessed to be a part of it.

Mother’s Day 2013 – I’m a Mom-in-Waiting

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to post about Mother’s Day or just remain silent like I did last year. Since I am not a mother, I felt (and still sometimes feel) that I should keep my pain on this particular day to myself and let all the mothers out there enjoy their day. It occurred to me this year that this plan is a pretty crappy one when I am trying to be honest about the process for myself, my future children, and for all that start this journey after me and are looking for insight into how the process is.

So in light of the review of the reasons why I started and continue this blog I will write about  Mother’s Day 2013. In a sentence, this Mother’s Day was heart-wrenchingly difficult.

I hope that this comparison does not offend but the closest thing that I can compare how I feel is to a woman who is experiencing infertility and is pained by every child, ever pregnant women, every family she sees. I feel a bit inadequate using that comparison but it is something that I think more people can relate to. While Joel and I have never tried to have biological children and have no plans to. We have not gone through meds, tests, and lab procedures that come along with infertility treatment and to be honest I cannot imagine the stress of going through that. Many women around the would have experienced this and my heart goes out to them.

My journey has been different than those with infertility, invasive and heart breaking in different ways. My journey began with a strong calling on my heart to care for children. This coupled with the difficulty of being on meds that make pregnancy way to risky led Joel and I to choose adoption and then foster care. In our journey we have literally opened up our entire lives (from how much money we make, donate, and save to past childhood issues and the stability of our marriage) to review and scrutiny from basic strangers (read social workers) who will be deciding what children are a good “match” with us.

We have done so more than willingly (mostly, with the exception of the child car seat class 🙂 ) because we have the end goal and the calling on our lives in the forefront of our mind. Yet, despite all the work, classes, trainings, and reading we have done I sit hear writing this  the day after Mother’s day with no children sleeping calming in their beds (or more likely running around the home screaming about needing to go to the bathroom one more time or get one more glass of water).

I am hoping that this does not come off as bitter, as I am anything but. I completely understand the process that needs to take place to get licensed and now that we are I am hopeful about remaining patient until we get that long awaited phone call. The difficulty is, I am hoping for a phone call that in reality marks a trauma in the lives of the children that will come into my care. Talk about feeling bad about being excited and expectant and wanting it to come soon!

Anyway, I got off track a little bit so back to Mother’s Day. I will start with Saturday night. I had been avoiding thinking of the upcoming holiday all week (despite radio, tv, and store ads), but Saturday night everything hit me. All the emotions that I had been pushing down and trying to shut out (such good counselor self-care huh?) At bedtime, all the frustration, sadness, fear, and all the other emotions came erupting to the surface and I spent the better part of 2 hours crying.

I was frustrated with the months and months of work put into being a parent (for a day or a lifetime) and here I sit, with no kids. I was sad, heart broken is a more apt word really, that my hearts desire and my calling was speaking so loudly to me and yet all I could do was wait. I was mad at God for not answering my prayers sooner, especially when He put the calling in my heart. I was fearful that all this waiting really meant that I should never be a mom and that led back to sad and frustrated. But most of all, I felt alone. I felt like no one in the whole understood what I was feeling, that no one had traversed this particular level of living hell I felt like I was in.

And in my loneliness, I kept my feelings to myself. (Note all the bad counseling self-care I did, Bad Katie!) I didn’t even tell Joel what was going on until my 2 hour cry-fest on Saturday night. Poor Joel was caught a bit off guard, but not too much. As I was trying to keep my feelings to myself I grew crankier and crankier all week, so Joel had a pretty good idea that SOMETHING was up.

I woke up Sunday honestly debating whether or not I should go to church. This is pretty rare for me as I LOVE my church family. But I knew that the service would be all about mothers and mother’s day and my eyes were already swollen from crying. I doubted if I could make it through a whole church service. I did end up going to church and I’m glad I did. I let some in my church family know what was going on and they offered great support. I did lose it and started sweating out of my eyes about 10 mins into the service but was able to regain composure.

The rest of Sunday went really well. I started to be able to handle my emotions and today is even better. I still feel sad and frustrated at times, but you know what? That is completely expected for someone who really wants to be a mother and is waiting. But you know what, this mother’s day I realized that while I am not a mother and could not bring myself to celebrate the day, I am a Mother-in-Waiting. To me it’s kind of like being a Fiance. You know what your life will hold and with whom and you are waiting until the time is right. I know what my life will hold for me the role of a mother in whatever way it comes to time. I know what I am waiting on my children and that I love them with my whole heart even though I have never met them. I know what I am waiting until the time is right. Unfortunately for my OCD Type A Personality, in this journey I am not the one who decides when the time is right, God is. And while I have raged at him for not answering my prayer with yes and right now I am peaceful in my depths because I know that God has the best for me and is working all things together for my good. I definitely do not see it now and couldn’t even bring myself to say that sentence yesterday but my emotions do not make it any less true. The closer I get to fulfilling this role God has put in my life, the harder things try to push my down and make me doubt. Sometimes I just have to remember, God’s got this.

And on day’s like Saturday night and Sunday when the whole world seemed stubbornly set to remind me how far away I was from God’s plan for me and I can’t see through the tears God has blessed me with people who love and support me and can remind me of all of these wonderful things when I forget. The most important of these people is my wonderful and patient husband Joel Longanecker, who held me for hours as I cried, told me stupid jokes in church to help get my composure back, and told me that while he didn’t understand he was there for me. It’s like God knew this would be heartbreakingly tough for me and gave me my own angel to help me get through. Thank you so much Joel for all that you do.

So when everything seems impossible and all I really want is to kidnap the next child I see and raise it like my own I know that I have an amazing group of people standing next to me, supporting me through all of this. If you are in that group thank you SO much for all that you do. I could not do this alone! Right now God is answering my pray to have children with wait. And while yesterday and saturday I would have had to say no to following question, emotions come and go, support always stays and I can say that today my answer is yes.

84862f82ed07db7dc9b78fae3e65597e

Not sure what my answer will be tomorrow or the day after that, but each day I will attempt to refocus on this one question to bring focus to this time I have.

Officially Foster Care Parents!

We got the call yesterday, our social worker had received the needed paperwork and had filled out the official forms recommending us for licensure.

As of May 3rd (when the office received the paperwork) Joel and I are considered licensed foster parents for the state of MN with an open home!!

This means that starting May 3 (really Monday but it was back dated) I could receive a call any time about kids needing a home! Exciting and scary all at the same time!

In that same day, Monday, we got a referral for a respite placement. At this point we have said yes and I’m waiting for the child’s case manager to call me to set up a “meet and greet” with the family. And schedule weekends from there is everyone is comfortable. All I know so far is that it is a preteen girl that likes arts and crafts and animals.

Wondering what the next placement call will be and how respite will work! So much change!!

Long Awaited Paperwork!!

20130502-170140.jpg

I have never been so excited to receive a single sheet of blue paper in my life!!! Not even school admissions letter brought this much joy to me! There was one sent to each Joel and I saying that we passed the background check. That all, nothing significant from the looks of it, but in reality these were 2 pieces of paper that are going to change our lives.

Without these papers Joel and I remain just that: Joel and I. As awesome and amazing as that is, we are being called to be more.

With these papers Joel and I are a safe place to sleep for children in need, parents to those without and the light of Jesus at a very dark time. I heard an amazing song and it it were the words:

“What started as a still small voice is raging now and and your only choice is to follow who you are.”

That is how I feel about our foster care journey. The idea of foster care always was a whisper in my heart, but now it’s a marching band in my heart mind and soul proclaiming this is what you are meant to do. There is simply nothing else I can do but foster care. It will be hard, heartbreaking, rewarding, and awe-inspiring but above all it is what I was made to do. I feel so blessed to be able to do this.

So what happens now? Well now we wait. Yep, more waiting. 🙂 We wait for our licensing worker to get her copies of the letter. She said if she didn’t get them today she won’t get them until Monday. Once she receives them she will “recommend us for licensure”. I asked today what that was because it sounded like it would be more waiting. I was told that she fills out the paperwork and submits out info to MN DHS for an official foster care license. At the state they double check out licensing workers work and make sure we qualify for a license and send us our license in the mail.

Are you ready for the best part though? Our worker considers us licensed when SHE SUBMITS THE PAPERWORK. That means that we are open for placements at that point. So next week could be crazy!

Background Study Completed!

Today I heard from the MN DHS Background Studies Unit in response to the message I left them last friday. I was growing impatient of waiting and not knowing anything and wanted to hear if they even had everything they needed to complete the background check (maybe that was why it had taken so long). Since they were experiencing “higher then anticipated call volume” I left a message. The recording said that someone would get back to me in 1 to 2 business days. Let’s just say I didn’t hold my breath!

But 2 business days later, here I am writing this post! I spoke with a worker in the Background Studies Unit who apologized for the wait and completed the study while I was on the phone, even saying she would send out the letters of approval today! Man what a blessing from God to begin this beautiful day!

So as you may, or may not remember, the last thing we needed to get our foster care license were the background checks! Now we wait for the postman like little kids waiting for birthday cards in the mail to get a little blue sheet of paper. Once our licensing worker gets her little blue sheet of paper, she will submit our recommendation to be licensed. Not really sure what that means, probably should ask…

When I spoke with our social worker today, she indicated that she was excited that the background checks came back as there is a child in need of respite care. Once she gets to all-important blue sheet of paper she will contact the case manager for this child and begin the process to see if we would be a good fit for this child.

So the waiting and paperwork part seem close to over (ok who am I kidding, the paperwork part will never be over and I am ok with that), and the crazy, unpredictable, lovable, fun kid part is close! Joel and I are so excited!!

Also, I am adding a page called “Wish List” to help me keep track of what we still might need for the home and for anyone that is interested in helping out.

Child Filled Weekend

This weekend was awesome! No, not a licensed foster parent yet, so no kids living in our home, but there were kids everywhere! I was blessed by being surrounded by wonderful adults and amazing little ones every single day this weekend. I got hugs, kisses, snuggles, fake food to eat, pinecones as presents, and so many smiles! Joel and I are surrounded by wonderful people who, as it turns out, make wonderful parents! It was amazing to see Joel interact with these little ones as well. It just made my heart grow! And he didn’t make any of the children cry this weekend, that is a HUGE step in the right direction.

On another note, holding a three year old during church on Sunday made me realize how strong mothers really are. I mean really, my arms were HURTING and I was sweating! Ok, so that is quite I sad state of affairs, but I guess I just need more practice. Good thing we have Ziggy! 🙂 And I may borrow a child or two to hold and hug to help strengthen my arms (yep that is the ONLY reason, I don’t just love the hugs or anything).

Here’s hoping and praying that our background study gets back the county soon so that the children that fill our days will be ours to care for for a time.