Step 13 - The Appointments
Yesterday I started the morning observing court cases involving children being taken away from their parents. There was so much loss and hurt in that court room. I ended the day at a Foster/Adoptive Parent Association meeting surrounded by the love of the children who were taken away and their temporary care givers. The key word for many being temporary. In the meeting, some shared their brutal experiences of foster children being taken out of their foster home with literally no notice, some being taken away while at school, many without getting to say goodbye. These were actions ordered by the court when a new placement was found, through no fault of the foster parent, but definitely life changing.
As part of the Professional Parenting Class, there is a scavenger hunt that requires appointments. There are also home studies and background checks that require appointments as well. Below I’ve listed all of the appointments I have had in the past four weeks.
1. Professional Parenting Class - Every Wednesday evening
2. The Doctor - I set up my doctor’s appointment weeks in advance. Due to some miscommunication and some people out on leave, I did not receive the forms I needed the doctor to fill out for my certification before my scheduled appointment. Luckily, the doctor had filled out similar forms before, so she knew the types of questions that would be asked. In preparation, she ordered a complete set of blood work and scheduled me to come back in three weeks for a well-woman exam.
3. FAPA - Foster/Adoptive Parent Association - The first time I attended one of these meetings, I didn’t know what to expect. There were many children there with their foster/adoptive parents. That is one of the beautiful things about FAPA, everyone there has kids or is on the path to have kids and is open and accepting towards having children in a professional meeting. Definitely a departure from what I am used to in the corporate world, but of course I love it. Since the parenting class also requires interviews, the first FAPA meeting for a fostering class is a way to meet people to interview.
4. High School Registrar - In this age of technology, registering a child for school isn’t as simple as just walking into the school, you definitely need to make an appointment. I went to the school on a Friday afternoon after classes, hoping that everyone would be winding down. It was the opposite. Looking back, I obviously should have expected that. One of the registrars made an appointment with me for Monday morning.
5. High School Registrar (again) - On Monday morning I arrived for my appointment and the registrar had forgotten she scheduled it. I waited for over a half hour, but when I did get to speak to her she was really pleasant. She was familiar with the foster care process and how it would work to register a child. When a child is placed into my home, if they choose to switch to the local high school, I will need to make an appointment with the registrar to obtain my username and password for the school website. Once I have that, I will create an online account and they will assign children to me when they move into my home. From this portal I can see their schedule, check their grades and communicate with their teachers. Luckily, I have four high schools within 20 minutes of my home, so there is a good likelihood that my foster care child will come from one of those schools. In my county, a child in foster care can go to any school if they have their own transportation (me) but if they choose to switch to the local high school, and are over two miles away, they will get a bus. I wonder if my child will want to stay in their school or will want to switch. When I was in 9th grade I had gone to four different schools in four years. I hope that once they get into my home they will be able to do what’s best for them.
6. Fingerprinting - In order to get the proper background checks ordered, I needed to get fingerprinted at the fostering office. Even if you have had your fingerprints taken by the state or other organizations, you still need to come in and get your fingerprints scanned. I love the age of technology we’re in where I can put my fingers on a machine and it takes my prints without all of the messy ink.
7. Blood work - It took two weeks to get an appointment for blood work. When I got there I learned my doctor had ordered 5 + 1 viles of blood for testing. It was a lot of blood. When I got there I also learned that I was supposed to have fasted that day. I’m actually glad I didn’t know because I’m not sure I would have made it through the blood draw without passing out if I hadn’t eaten, I didn’t feel very well as it was.
8. First Home Study - The first home study took two hours, even though the actual walkthrough of my apartment was less than five minutes. There were so many questions, so much discussion and so much paperwork!
9. Doctor (again) - The second appointment was as easy as those types of appointments go. The Physician’s Assistant completed the exam and the paperwork. The paperwork was an interesting mix of physical and mental health questions. It can be filled out by your physical doctor or your mental health doctor if you have one. They are instructed to just write “unknown” for all of the questions that pertain to the other doctor.
10. Court - You are required to go observe court once during your class. To see the court etiquette and the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the case. It is very overwhelming to watch parents leave the courtroom without their children. It was shocking the dichotomy between the carefree children who were acting just like little children do, but in the middle of the courtroom while standing or being held behind a podium in front of the judge and then the parents/lawyers/representatives who were maintaining normal courtroom behavior. It was not what I expected, but I’m glad to have experienced it before having to participate in it.
11. FAPA (again) - The second time I was more relaxed in the meeting. I knew people that I had met last time and people from my class. The speakers they brought dealt with teenagers, which was cool for me. The first group was from AAA and talked about teenage drivers. The second was from Regions bank and talked about how to help children learn how to manage their money. It is cool to have a resource to continuously build my knowledge and skills during this process.
12. Home Study (again) - My second home study is Tuesday. I am so excited to see how it goes!
In total, I have had 9 appointments during work hours in less than 4 weeks. That means that twice a week I have had to take time off of work. Throughout this process, they are getting you used to what it will be like to have foster children in your home - taking them to the doctor, court and school - practice with appointments has been very helpful!