Baby Bird Time

fighting imposter syndrome one blog post at a time

Category: foster care

How To Survive The Foster Care Licensing Process

Spoiler alert: Nothing about it is any worse than the rest of adult life. It is paperwork and driving to places and going to classes. If you’re been out of the education world for some time and the thought of “going to classes” triggers anxiety, we can even call them “meetings.” We could call them sitting in a room eating free food if that is more appealing.*

Because it’s not that bad! And it’s not that difficult!

Except no one is saying these things to the point where I almost wonder… am I not supposed to say them? Am I breaking some unwritten code of foster or adoptive parenting? I don’t think so, because I have a stack of papers shoved** — I mean carefully filed — YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO BE A PERFECT PARENT! — in a kitchen cabinet and they have all kinds of confidentiality clauses but not one of them ever says also you have to act like licensing is terrible. And yet that’s the narrative that is out there.

Let me repeat: It isn’t. It isn’t. It isn’t. Nothing about it is terrible. It is moderately time consuming for a while… unlike parenting, which is super time consuming all the time.

The way the internet talks about it, you would think getting licensed as a foster parent was the equivalent of getting into Harvard. Guys. Guys. It’s not. It’s really, really not. It’s nerve-inducing because it is unknown, but so was driving and so are electronic voting machines and so all you need to know is push any button other than Trump, okay? Because that’s the one that ushers in the apocalypse.

(And if you just got angry and want to stop reading this blog now, I am going to assume I have just done the foster care world a favor. Because the licensing process is likely going to be a more neutral and less subjective screening process, like: are you a felon? Is your house built on a sinkhole? Do you think knives are fun toys for toddlers? But that’s not my thing. I have no proverbial dog in this fight).

Obviously the agency has guidelines in place for a reason and the licensing process took some time.  The majority of that time was due to my procrastination. It was not difficult. I don’t know how to emphasis that more than I already have. Learning to drive was way harder. Applying to college was way more stressful. Sitting on my couch talking about myself… not so much. I get that this will vary based on situation and personality, but when literally all of my adult life has been spent applying for one thing or another — jobs, apartments, houses, credit cards — this is not rocket science.

 

This is essentially a broad overview of how the licensing process went for me:

 

Me, sitting on my patio in the sun reading a book and drinking a smoothie: Look at all this free time, hahaha. Who needs this. I want to be a parent!

Agency: Okay cool. Do these things.

Me: *does them*

Agency: Okay cool. Parenting is now a thing that you can do!

And that is the shortest and most flippant summary of the most emotional few years of my life. Yet as vague and avoidant of all the real feelings as it may be, it is still kind of accurate. The difficult part came after this.

 

*Your experience may vary. Eating free food is not a licensing requirement. However, this was how it happened for me. In the interest of transparency.

**There are enough organized foster parent blogs out there in the world that I feel compelled to tip the balance the other way. My filing system = I know it’s in my house somewhere!

Stay tuned for next time when I reveal the secrets of “How To Survive Buying Your First Home! Tip #1, Cry, Tip #52, Cry” and “How to Survive Turning On The TV: Find The Remote Or Resign Yourself To Being Amish.”

The beginning continues

Since I can’t really tell anyone else yet*, I’ll tell you, Internet.

Foster care open house Thursday! I was going to have to work, because I’d already said I’d work late for a rental client… But they cancelled. Is this coincidence? idk but I’m excited.

 

The Beginning

There are days when I am able to channel my mild oppositional defiant disorder into good. Impossible House day was one of them. The day before yesterday, I had another one. I wish I’d recorded some of the others, but I didn’t, because earlier this year all I did was be cold and cry. Although on Impossible House day (week, weeks, whatever) it went hand in hand with being cold and crying.

And in the immediate aftermath of “You Can’t Sit WIth Us” Pastor, I finally got my act together and picked up my phone. I never get any great insights or directions about now is the time, I just eventually get a burst of productivity and start doing things, and then it works out. I ended up at Cedarville in a window of awesome, I made myself stay at Starbucks until I wrote a mediocre cover letter, and the timing was right, and so far this has worked for me.

So I called the local foster parent coordinator. And then I went online and filled out information request forms for literally every agency on the Columbus website referral list. I’m not sure this is the way you’re supposed to do it, because it isn’t applying for colleges, but that was how I did it. I then got a barrage of emails and a lot of promises of packets in the mail. And after I’d made sure to put the responsibility of contacting me on the agencies, because I knew I wouldn’t remember to do it, I started getting to know more about them. I found one that I am leaning towards, because the location is not as awful, and because the training schedule fits my schedule better, and because feelings.

But I spoke with a guy from another agency, who emailed first and then called to follow up (A++ would request info again). The phone had a horrible echo, so I had to listen to myself say everything I said about a half-second after I said it, which I think made the conversation more awkward. He asked what had gotten me interested in foster parenting/adoption and I rambled something incoherent. We talked about age groups and licensing and the process and he was helpful, and he asked what ages I was thinking about. I said something like, “IDK, my only real concern is my own age because I am not so old” and he essentially told me that it wasn’t necessarily a problem. And he told me cautiously, “just something to think and process through.” Because bless him. He was doing all the right things and keeping my level of commitment low and cautious. Which is sensible and practical. But I bought an impulse house. Either I jump in and overcommit from the start, or I sit on my couch watching Netflix for three months and never get anything done. But as far as age groups — if y’all don’t care, I don’t care. Send me your teenagers. And your sibling groups. The things I thought I wanted are never the things I need. The things I thought were impossible weren’t. I don’t want to dictate what this should look like.

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