Like many new parents, the hubs and I are trying to be as prepared as we can to get ready for little ones to enter our home. It’s difficult to prepare when we are unsure of ages or gender of the children coming into our care. The state gave us a check-off list of basic needs for our home study, such as; covering our power outlets, baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs, locking up all medications and cleaning supplies, a fire ladder for the second floor and a five pound 3-A:40-B:C fire extinguisher (I have no idea what those letters and numbers stand for, but we purchased the wrong one the first time around, always keep your receipts!).
The basics. We were able to find a bunk bed through a friend of a friend on social media. It was used and needed some tender loving care. It took two days and with the help of some wonderful friends (The Aunties), to sand it down and paint it, looking relatively new. For twenty dollars, I’d say it was a good find. We used some community resource apps to find a crib (free), and some toys (also free), two car seats (free, free), we so appreciate everyone who has reached out to us to help. A trip to a big box store and five hundred dollars later, we had two small dressers, a book shelf, linens and some children’s dishes. Needless to say, it adds up quick. The Aunties, came over to help build, paint and set up the room. We went for bright and gender neutral colors; navy blue for the bunks, orange for the dressers and a yellow book shelf. The colors are incredible together and makes for a bright fun-filled room. We hugged and had a small tear of joy when it was finished. It was a beautiful moment, even more so knowing we will have these “Aunties” as our village (it takes a village).
Not knowing is scary and it will be a get-what-we-need situation once we get a knock on our door or a late night phone call. But here’s the thing; we’ll be okay. It might be a phone call to the hubs; “Hey honey, we’ve got a two year old, and need 2T diapers, bananas and wipes” (that will be a much more detailed text message with pictures, I don’t know about your spouse, but my hubs seems to get the wrong item every time, EVERY TIME, sorry hubs, I love you, to be fair; he tries) Some folks may find this play-it-by-ear attitude intimidating and understandably so. Since we are open to sibling groups, we may go from zero to three kids overnight and how does one prepare for that? We keep an open mind, its really the only thing we can do. A few of our friends have mentioned how calm we are throughout this process, I’ve learned how to be patient more so than I ever have. There’s really no point in putting too much pressure on ourselves, we hope that whatever comes our way will happen organically and we’ll simply do our best.
The home study is complete and our Social Worker anticipates us being licensed within a few weeks. Once we are licensed we will start out providing respite care. Let me explain: While we search for kids that are legally free to adopt we will provide short-term care on a need-by-need basis. In short, we will give other foster parents a break for a weekend or a week, whatever the need is in the moment and care for their foster children while they are away. Sometimes, this could mean a 2 a.m. phone call from Child Protective Services (CPS) to take in children until they get things sorted out with the parents. Either way the intention is providing a home for a very short time. It will give us a chance to get our feet wet as parents, so to speak, while we search for kiddos that will be a good fit in our home forever. Again, this is all in theory, we don’t know what to expect. Being able to live in the present is key to this type of parenting. Patience will be one of the biggest virtues.
In preparation, I have transitioned from my career in higher education to be a stay-at-home parent/trophy husband. As a feminist, I’d like to be clear that this decision was my choice and we are very privileged to be able to do so. Not knowing what to expect was key in this decision (along with the awful commute I was taking to get to the college), we may have kids that need twenty-four hour supervision, there may be trauma, mental health issues etc. and we felt it was very important for one of us to be at home. I will say I have enjoyed having dinner on the table when the hubs gets home from work. Dinner together at the table as a family, is extremely important to me. I was raised with this value and thank my parents for instilling this from a very young age.
There was a brief time when my dad worked swing shift. He’d be going to work when my brother and I would get home from school and we’d be in bed by the time he got home. Every night, my mom would cook an entire meal, pack it in Tupper-Ware along with our dishes and utensils (not disposable, our actual dinnerware) and we’d drive down to dad’s work and have dinner as a family. My dad was a mechanic for heavy equipment at the time and my brother and I had a field day playing on the big rigs after dinner (though once I almost killed my brother when I had him hold onto a lift and couldn’t get him back down, but that’s a different story). I was always (mostly) a good kid and never really had a curfew, except for dinner. It didn’t matter what was going on, we always had dinner together, even in the moments when we weren’t getting along, we’d have dinner in silence. I hope to pass this down to our kids, there’s something to be appreciated in these moments.
In the moment is where we will live. We have no idea what will happen and we don’t know what to expect. Living in the present will be extremely important for us and the kiddos in our care. We won’t know anything until we are standing in front of a judge and he says: “The Waldner’s are now a family.” And that day will be incredible.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and welcome any suggestions in the comments section.