So she came in March, the social worker, to see the house and talk to us. And make sure we’re not crazy. Not the crazy that thinks we’re going to make money off foster care. Not the crazy that thinks we’ll get to keep the beautiful baby we can’t help loving. Not the crazy that thinks all foster kids are broken and should be grateful for a safe place to live. Not that crazy that believes all foster kids are blank slates and we can write what we want on them. So many kinds of crazy she must have to check for at every home visit, and did she remember to ask the right questions to check for all the latest versions of crazy out there in the world? I don’t know if she did remember all the questions, but just listening to what she did ask was an education in all the ways people might be crazy when it comes to foster kids.
We do not have any children of our own, so we started off by telling her that any recommendations she could give to help us child-proof the house would be welcome. She pointed out the usual things: child locks on the kitchen cabinets with cleaning supplies, a carbon monoxide detector, and the plastic outlet covers. Nothing too complex or expensive – except for the radiator covers. We have steam radiators in every room, and they are the source of heat, and they do get very hot. Happily, my dad is a carpenter, so he’s going to build us covers and that should fix the last of the obvious things.
He’s a nanny and used to be a kindergarten teacher, and I used to be a respite care provider in Connecticut, so we figured we at least could get past the question of did we know what to do with children. And we decided that since we have experience with small children, and none at all with being parents, we’d start with small children, say less than school-aged. You know, start (more or less) where everyone else starts, and learned over time. It turns out you can tell the state these kids of things, and they nod and make careful notes. Will they call us about older children? Probably. But not for the first few calls. If they scare us off before we are emotionally hooked on fostering, they’ll lose our house as a place for their foster kids. Me? Cynical? Sure — but it’s true, and I still want to foster children.
She asked about how we felt about foster kids, and biological parents, and what did we think were reasons for kids to end up in foster care. How were we going to manage when foster kids returned to their biological families? How did our families feel about us fostering? Who was going to care for the children, and what did we have planned for medical care? And on, and on, and on. Also, there was a ten page application, which I filled out while we talked. Personal recommendation, work recommendations, medical recommendations . . . . And this was just to pass the Not Crazy, Have Space check!
The weaponry we have in the house was a surprise, although not a disqualifier. Most houses, those that aren’t lived in by friends of ours, don’t have throwing knives sitting in a bag on the front porch, ready to take to practice on the weekends. But then, having guns in the house wouldn’t be a disqualifier, either, it turns out (not that we have any, unless you count the rubber-band gun). As long as we keep them locked up, apparently weapons are alright. Bless the man, he asked the social worker point blank at the end if there were any red flags, and she said the throwing knives had startled her, but were probably just fine.
And then she was done. Two and a half hours later. She told us that her office, our office based on geographical location, wasn’t planning a foster parent training until the fall. We told her that if one of the other offices in the area had a training, we’d be happy to go there instead, because the fall was a long way away. She said she’s be in touch.
And three weeks later, I got an email from her, telling me her office was going to run a training in May, and we could be part of it, and after the two month training, we might get to be foster parents.
Wow. TINKs (two incomes, no kids) to parents in merely two months.
I think we might be crazy, after all.