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Size Matters…

Well, I am sure many of you are not surprised to hear that baby-girl will be joining our family. She is still with her foster family, because when we got licensed for foster care we were only licensed for 2 children, so we have to be re-licensed with the state for 3 children. We thought nothing of this, by this time we are  very familiar with all the paperwork  involved in fostercare and adoption, so we took it in stride.  Until we got a call stating that our house was too small? WHAT?

I was really surprised. Culturally, yes our house is small, but we have never paid much attention to cultural norms. Our house is about 1200 sq feet. We have a living room that is mainly where the family gathers, there is plenty of room for all of us to play, read, and watch TV here. We have a large table in the dining room where Georges and I work, the kids do art, home work and of course this is where we share our family meals. These two spaces are where we spend 80% of our time TOGETHER!  We have a Backyard that is about double the space of the house. We have Georges studio, a gardening shed, chicken coop, and our veggie garden. This is where we spend the other 19.9% of our time. The kids love exploring and playing outside.

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Backyard with view of Georges studio

The kids pretty much use their rooms for sleeping, getting dressed and ‘storing toys’. This is just fine with me. If they want to play with a toy, they bring it into the living room, to be with everyone. This has developed on their  choosing.

They never play in their rooms. Not because there isn’t enough space. Both L&D have loft beds. Or, apartment beds as we like to refer to them in our home. They sleep above, and then ‘their’ things are stored underneath. This is their personal space, in a shared room. We plan to get T his own loft bed in the next few months, he’s 5 and ready for his space. In the girls room, bug has her space, and toddler bed, baby girl has her crib, but doesn’t really need her own space yet.

Why do we want so much space? Is it for all our “stuff”? I see it as one more deterrent to spending time together as a family.

2007 = 970 (2,521sqft/2.6 people)
1954 = 125 (1,000sqft/8 people,)
1950 = 289 (983sqft/3.4 people)
1947 = 208 (750sqft/3.6 people)
1845 = 150 (150sqft/1 person)

What if we had a  large McMansion? Would we have been approved right away?  Personally I think this is less conducive to a close family. With family members spread out, throughout the house and possibly spending little time as a family unit.

Not to say that this will be an ideal situation when the children are a little older, As their little bodies take up more space, and more bathroom time, and ‘retreat’ time takes over in their teenage years, yes, we will need a little more space. But I will try to keep it at a minimum, and try to hold strong to our ‘No Screens in the Bedroom’ ideals.

Oh, and in the end Social Service agreed that a happy loving home was the most important thing, and the request has been sent to the state for them to approve baby-girl.

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A Meditation on FosterCare

Bug....

Bug….

When we were in our Map (foster care) classes, they lead us through an exercise that now, seems so relevant. Follow along and try to imagine…

..Imagine you are five, you are in your home, and it’s 3 days before Christmas.There is a knock at the door. It’s the women that has been visiting your family for the last year, Miss J. This time she tells you that you and your sister will be coming with her. You gather up a few items of clothing and you are able to pick one special toy…you choose the nightlight animal (even though it doesn’t have batteries). You say goodbye to your Mom, you say goodbye to your baby sister and you get in the car with your younger sister and Miss J. You are crying, and through the tears wondering…where are we going? When will we see our Mom again? When will we see our baby sister? What is going to happen to them? How long will will be gone?

You fall asleep, during the ride, and wake up in the driveway of a home (not an apartment) in a neighborhood that is not familiar. You enter the house, and  you are greeted and overwhelmed by two big dogs (you have never been around dogs), two kids that seem to be about the same age, and a man, a big man.

The house smells different than your house, there is no carpet under your feet, just wood floors and throw rugs. You walk down a hall to a bedroom that you are told you will be sharing with the young boy. There is a bed…this will be your bed.

Days pass, weeks pass you try to adapt…the food is different. At each meal you are presented with food that you have never experienced and asked to just try a bite.  The music you listen to is different than the music that your Mom often played at home. Even though these people are nice, they look different, sound different and even smell different. Your senses are overwhelmed and your heart aches.

There are different rules in this house, and words and actions that no one seemed to notice at home, bring unwanted attention in this home. You keep wondering “When will we go home?”

One day you go to a large office building and at the top of the stairs you see Mommy and your baby sister…FINALLY! Today is the day, I am going home, you spend time with your family in a room, playing and laughing, then you are told it’s time to go. You put your jacket on, take the elevator down and then your Mom kisses you goodbye. Wait? What? She’s leaving through a different door, what is going on? You scream, cry! You get back in the car with your younger sister and the lady you have been staying with. You have started calling her Mom, because she is sweet, and gives you hugs and kisses your forhead when you are scared, she listens to your words and you know that she genuinely cares about you…but…she is not your Mom.

You look out the window of the car, and tears stream down your face and you wonder “What is next?” You enter the house where the man (that you now call Papi) and the two kids are laughing and playing. They don’t know that you just saw your Mom, and now she’s gone, they don’t know that you cried all the way home. You try to jump in and laugh with them, so that they don’t see the hurt you are feeling.

You wake up the next day, eat breakfast, and drive the new route to the new school you have been attending, where you sit, with new classmates, and learn from a new teacher in a new style of learning (Montessori).

You can stop imagining now, and return to the safety and warmth of everything you know. As for T and over a million other children in fostercare, they can’t this is their reality.

I try to remember this lesson, daily with Bug and T. I try to mend their hearts and let them grieve. I try to be their new safe place.

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When is the Baby Coming?

Lately friends have been asking “when is the baby coming”. In this post I thought I would update everyone where with where we are in the licensing process.

We have our Fire Marshall visit on Tuesday.  We have to have wall mounted fire extinguishers, and a ‘POSTED’ fire escape route for this visit.  This will be our first fire inspection. I think it is quite funny some of the things that are required of us. Our house is small…I think someone would have a more difficult time finding our fire escape route than actually finding a way out on their own.  But, it is required and we are used to jumping through the hoops that agencies require of us.

The never ending, HUGE File!

We still need:

Then the whole family including the dogs need health certificates and TB tests. (D&L have theirs).

The interesting thing is that nothing really overlaps between everything we had to do for L&D’s adoption and what we need to do to become licensed foster parents.  At least the paperwork is nowhere near what we had to do with L&D.

 

After we have all these things done, then we have another home visit.  So that is where we are at. Once we are completely licensed, our placement call could be that very day, or a few months.