And out popped a baby.

After taking the time to complete the cripplingly large application forms (as in it caused the death of my laptop – but that’s another story) we hadn’t heard from Lovely Social Worker (LSW) for almost 2 weeks. This was a little out of character, she’d promised to review the forms and call within a week. I was actually thinking I should drop her a line and see if we’d revealed something in writing that had scared her off (perhaps the fact I’d lived in over a dozen houses during the first 25 years of my life).

It turns out LSW has had a baby. A bit of a surprise as she didn’t know she was pregnant.  She is a bubbly, slightly curvy lady who seems smart and well versed in the adult world – not a 14 year old who is educationally backward and mystified by biology.  I haven’t had the full details but I’m keen to hear them.

Needless to say we have a new social worker being assigned to us so things are going to get moving again soon.

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I’m sorry but did you say “Smearing”…?

We cleaned, we scrubbed, we removed cobwebs so big I expected to find some of those Dirty Little Hobbits trapped in them,  and  finally at 4.50pm we were ready for our 5pm visit from LSW (Lovely Social Worker).  Just enough time for Mr Mooglet (Mr M)  to clean the last of Shelobs webs from his hair.

LSW arrived, accepted a water and asked if we had any burning questions before she started.  We bit the bullet and went straight for the finance questions. There seemed little point in taking this further if it turned out that fostering was only financially possible if we moved into my parent’s garden shed.  I can happily confirm that while it won’t see me swanning around in designer clothing or taking month long holidays in Mauritius, the allowance is enough that won’t we need to share a living room a lawnmower and some slug pellets.

With that out they way we wowed LSW with a tour of our home, and she was lovely about all she saw. She was even polite about our more shabby, less chic bathroom.  Even when, in the interest of full disclosure, I pointed out the crumbling grouting. Apparently all that mattered was it being clean. She did laugh at my large chandelier in my small kitchen, but its high enough that children can’t swing from it, so thats ok.  Our spare bedroom is both chandelier free and big enough for a sibling pair, perhaps even a trio if they were young.

Then we got down to business, much was a repeat of the questions asked when we met the first time but in far greater details, the rest was new info for us, discussions of what we ideally wanted and what things we could expect from them and from the children we might care for. For example could we cope with a child who engaged in Smearing? Smearing?? Smearing Poo, on themselves, around the house, on clean laundry etc.   Erm.. well maybe not for a first placement. But I had to ask – thats a behavior children outgrow right? LSW sadly shook her head “not always”.  Well I worked in a nightclub for a few years, and THAT would explain the state of the toilets some nights.

After 3 hours were all still smiling.  We’d talked about why we wanted to do this, our health, our life, our relationship with our parent and the children in our lives. LSW said the only drawback to our situation was that we had no direct parenting experience. This isn’t a deal breaker, it just means we’ll  need the right placements to gain experience (perhaps doing some weekend respite care to start) and will need some extra support at first. LSW was thrilled that our support network included family, friends who are already parents, are adopting themselves or who work in education. When mom called after about 2 hours to hear how it had gone LSW said “Tell her its going very well!” Indeed it was,  so she asked the big question – caveating that we didn’t have to answer right away – Did we want to progress?

I looked at Mr M, he looked at me and I answered for us – “I haven’t heard anything that has changed my mind, yes we want to progress”

We had already adjusted to possibility of finding poo in the laundry.

 

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Questions and Questions and Questions..

Although we’re in limbo waiting for our first visit from the Social Worker (SW), my mind has been totally preoccupied by fostering. I’ve voraciously read websites, blogs and the few free ebooks that amazon had to offer.

And despite being tied up with my brothers wedding we’ve been busy cleaning and clearing ready for our first home visit. We know its not an inspection or formal interview but we’re keen to make a good impression.  Fences are being painted, lawn is mowed and pots filled with flowers despite them being obscured by my huge trampoline. We’ll be tackling the jungle-tastic weeds out the front and of course indoors too – lest the poor SW is eaten by a mutant dandelion or the attacked by the giant dust balls that live under the sofa. I have already warned her that our dining room is more like a nightclub with the giant cocktail bar and colour change lighting.  Its ok though – I’ve been Pinteresting more family friendly dining decor in preparation.

I’ve also started keeping a list of questions and things we need to discuss.  Each question seems to raise more, or become a complex series of “what ifs”.  My chief concern is our 3 week of traveling booked for early next year. Its something we’ve been planning for far longer than we have been considering  fostering. It means our holiday allowance for next year is limited and that potentially,  if we are approved, we couldn’t take any children until early march.

Other questions are the difficult financial ones, we aren’t doing this to get rich but we can’t afford to cut our income by much. We’d love to do a Brad & Ange  – just taking whatever kids they land on us –  but our salaries don’t allow us an army of childminders, personal chefs, maids and cleaners (as much I try to persuade Mr Mooglet that a cleaner  is an essential), so if Mr M is giving up work we need to know the allowance will still cover our bills.

  • How many children could we have in our small 2 bed house. We always said if we do this, we’d do it properly with several kids. Only taking a single child at a time would directly effect our income and therefore potential to later move to a bigger house so we can take more children, kinda catch 22 – if we stayed in work we can move in a year or two – but we want to do this now, while we have the passion and space for this in our lives.
  • What happens between placements, are we likely to be without children for a significant amount of time? and the first placement once we are approved, we wouldn’t want too much of a gap between Mr Mooglet giving up his job and having child placed with us.

Then there are practicalities –

  • What happens if we want a night out, can we just use my parents as babysitters as we would a birth child?
  • Do children remain at their schools or would they be moved to one closer to us, and how does that work if the birth parents are difficult or do not want the child to be with a foster carer?
  • And on the subject of parents, we understand there is likely to be contact but where and when does this take place? Opening up our  home at weekends to strangers because we are caring for their children makes me feel nervous and vulnerable.

There are a million more, all of which I’ll probably forget when our lovely SW walks in the door and is tackled to the floor by a giant dust-bunny…