When people hear that you are getting licensed for foster care, there are really only three questions they ask:
- Why are you doing this? That’s a fair question, the answer to which can be found in my first post, “The Day I Decided To Become A Foster Parent.”
- How can you be a foster parent as a single man who works? The same way a single mother does. The same way I began selling real estate at the age of 18. The same way I’ve achieved everything of meaning in my life: Hard work and commitment. My life has been filled with difficult challenges; none of which are as meaningful or worthwhile as this, and none ever will be or should be, for that matter. Challenge is where I thrive. I’m as prepared as any natural parent has ever been; more than many, I assure you.
- Isn’t getting licensed a really difficult process? Yes; And it should be. Consider the “ask”. Please, place in trust with me – a stranger – the well-being of another person’s child.
And, for this reason, question number 3 is the focus of this post.
I’m not going to make an exhaustive list of the requirements which have to be met for licensing. They can be found online, and differ by county and state. I’m also not a social worker, and am, therefore, not the best source of information on the topic. What I can say is, while the requirements are exhaustive and take a considerable amount of time to meet, it is worth it. Don’t allow your imagination of the looming requirements transform into a giant, weaponized gatekeeper, whose sole purpose is to defeat you at every turn.
The expectations are both reasonable and manageable. They need to know who you are, what type of person you are, what your motivation for doing this is, and, ultimately what kind of parent or legal guardian you will make, regardless of whether or not you have children of your own who have not yet died in your care. Keeping a child alive is — let’s be honest — the easiest part of being a parent and the bare-minimal requirement. What’s the hardest part? I’ll let you know when I get there, but I imagine it varies child-to-child, and there is no one single right answer. Any parent might have a different answer and each one of them would be correct.
The last of my requirements were met today, with the passing of my home inspection. I’m not going to tell you what is required to pass a home inspection, because that would be both tedious as well as boring. But here are a few things I did in advance, some required; some not so much. I turned my water heater down. My water temp is 102°, which I’m told is perfect. For additional help on this, it happens to be the “A” on the temperature dial. Not sure if that is consistent across all water heaters or not; that happens to be the temperature of that setting on mine.
All weapons should be out of sight: guns, locked; ammo locked in a separate container from the firearms. Knives, even displayed on a high shelf, need to be put away out of reach. Kitchen knives kept in a drawer need child safety latches to ensure they are not easily accessible. This makes sense, but catches me off guard every time I go to get a utensil and the drawer is yanked out of my grasp by the latch I forgot I’d installed a few days earlier. It sounds funny, but I’ve lived without child safety latches my entire life. I’ve been slow to adjust, like the time I microwaved a honey bear, not realizing that 30 seconds in a sealed contained would cause the pressure to squirt lava-hot fluid all over my face. Add to that the sticky nature of honey, and you’ve got an entry level napalm.
Try wiping that out of your blinded eyes in a panic…
I don’t really care for honey anymore, but you get the point. I’m a slow learner. And, also, I need to think about things now, that I’d never really had to consider before. Like medications. A Medicine cabinet is great as an adult, and a treasure chest of death for a child who discovered he can monkey-climb his way on top of your bathroom vanity and open the lids with his little monkey hands. Kids are smart. They only pretend they need us in order to keep us doing chores for them around the house. Don’t think this means you can call their bluff, though. They are very committed to their roles and will starve before they break character.
(Disclaimer: I am kidding. Do not starve your child. They are absolutely dependent on you to meet their basic needs for survival… Yes, we do live in a world where this needs to be explained. Where adults have to be told not to use electrical appliances in the bathtub, and where lead-based paint gives way to latex.)
Fire extinguishers. Self-explanatory. I’ve never owned one; now I own two. Household cleaning supplies (as well as industrial strength if your name is Dexter, Bateman, or Heisenberg) need to be out of reach, locked up, or behind child (and, evidently adult) proof safety latches. Paint, etc.; same thing. Garage/storage; out of reach or locked in a cabinet.
Water features, including child-sized pools, are not allowed without gates to block access. Think about it. The county is responsible for making sure the child is safe where he’s placed; not their birth-parent(s). It’s a liability thing, and they take that responsibility very seriously. You’ll need to, as well.
Beyond that, the requirements are centered around your homes adequacy for sustaining human life in reasonable comfort. Can you heat and cool it? Can you see in the dark whilst inside of it? Will it keep the pitter-patter of Autumn’s rain from waterboarding a baby during the night? Again…All very reasonable expectations.
In short, while I did thankfully pass on my first inspection, I spent two months preparing for it. I had surveillance added to the exterior of my home and upgraded my third-party monitoring (not required). I bought diapers in every size up to 27 lbs (not required). And numerous other over-the-top amendments to my lifestyle in anticipation of this youngster. In short, this child will be safe, warm or cool depending on the weather…obviously, fed, well clothed, and loved. And when he reaches a point where he/she can read this, it will still be another decade before he/she will know who the above referenced fictional characters are (Walter white, I mean. Obviously Heisenberg was also a real person, who can rightly be learned about at a younger age).
Background investigation, interviews, references, documentation for everything imaginable; Finally, with the passing of my home inspection, I can now legally have a child placed in my care. It likely will not happen until my license is fully processed…but it may. And I am ready. More than ready…Ecstatic! I can’t wait to vaguely tell you nothing specific about this child, while explaining in vivid detail cherry-picked stories about our experiences together. Anonymity is the right of this child as well as a legal mandate. In a perfect world, this would not need to be the case. But, in a perfect world, foster care wouldn’t exist, so here we are. My goal, after placement, is to include you as much as possible. Out of respect for this child, names and details about him/her will be kept private. Out of respect for you, the reader, the rest will be told exactly as it occurs.
I hope you’ll stick with us.
‘Till next time…