I’m at a point in this process where my sprint feels like it’s through deep quicksand — getting increasingly more excited, having completed my course requirements with the County, but entering into the eye of the storm, so to speak. That quiet pause between licensing and child placement.
By which I mean, the first month was spent in an overwhelmed panic, desperately gathering furniture and supplies for the babies room, getting the required documents together, medical requirements completed, and background finished. I’ve completed all but the final interview and home inspection now, and that, I’ve been preparing for throughout the entire process, so there’s not much left to do. My last big hurdle was that my only vehicle was a single cab pickup truck. I’ve now solved that problem with a truck swap my sister proposed. Given that she loved my truck and her’s had a back seat, it made the decision somewhat of a no-brainer. While I also loved my truck, my desires have to take a backseat (no pun intended), coming in second to the needs and safety of my eventual child.
Now, I’m finished with everything I have any real control over, and am feeling the dull and anxious pain of my own impatience as I settle into what could potentially be a long and arduous wait for placement.
So, what to do?…
Here’s what I’m doing: First and foremost, I’m reading virtually every article, blog post, and book I can find on parenting, understanding the unique challenges of raising a foster child, and preparing myself for the transition from the bachelor lifestyle, responsible only for myself, to that of a single parent solely responsible for the care of a small child. A transition I have wanted to make for years, and now, edging closer to that eventuality, excites and terrifies me.
Planning for the fatherly responsibilities of raising a child is the fun part. Dreams of taking my son fishing and working on cars together, soccer practices and field trips, are all exciting privileges to look forward to. Handling the administrative responsibilities is in my wheelhouse, so to speak, but will be a whole new set of welcomed obligations I’m going to have to adjust to very quickly. As mentioned in my earlier post, “A Few Thoughts On Foster Care”, there are foster families who have earned a bad reputation for taking in foster children as a means of supplementing their own income. Nothing could be further from my personal motives, and to avoid the temptation altogether, I plan to open a second checking account for foster care subsidies . That way, there is a personal accountability in place to document that the money provided by the state is being used, in its entirely, to take care of the costs associated with the child’s needs. That way, there will be a charge in the account and a matching receipt to substantiate that charge. Not only will this remove any temptation to use the money to buy an Xbox, it will also make an audit from the State a breeze, should they ever choose to look closer into the management of their funds.
I am also gathering a list of resources on the best ways to plan for college expenses. Another point illustrated in the above mentioned post, is the alarmingly high statistic of foster children who become high school dropouts and the contrastingly low percentage who attend, much less graduate from college. My child is not going to be one of those statistics if I have any say over it. He is going to finish high school and have the resources needed to attend college, if he so chooses…which I sincerely hope he does. If not, that money will be for his wedding or a down payment on a house. But, a portion of that subsidy will always be set aside for his future. I would do that for my biological child, and my foster child will be shown the same love.
The God’s honest truth is this: I need this child in my life as much as he needs me. My reward will be in having the privilege of becoming a dad. There is nothing that will be out of reach for this kid if it is within my power to provide it, or, otherwise, empower him to achieve it.
As a final note, I refer to this child throughout many of my posts as “my foster child.” Understand that it is my goal to make this child my forever child. Never once will he be referred to as “my foster child” when speaking of him to another person or when speaking to him directly. This is a term I’m using for clarification in these posts only. He is a kid, nothing more; nothing less. And, God willing, he will be my kid. No different than if I had been a part of the process that brought him into this world. And, while I may not have enjoyed that part of the process, I will most definitely be a part of the process that ensures he is successful in it, free of labels and the stigmas associated with having begun his life in a government run social program though no fault of his own.