On Tuesday, I hit publish on my post recent “A Day in the Life” post. A Day in the Life of a foster Mom is a pretty “normal” day. There is not much that goes on that is that different from a day in the life of a biological Mom.
I think that because the everyday moments seem to be fairly average, most people assume that in my case, being a foster Mom is just being a Mom.
But I wanted to kind of record what a week or a month in the life of a foster Mom might look like. Things in foster care literally change ALL.THE.TIME, so I’m going to be piecing together bits and pieces of what the past few months have looked like in regards to “a month in the life” of a foster Mom.
Little Miss does not currently have visitation with her biological family, however for the first four months that she was in our care, she had visitation twice a week for two hours. On Mondays, the agency would pick her up and drop her off, so Mondays for me meant I had a three hour block with only one child. I was told that I should stay at my home just in case the visit was cancelled or terminated early and they had to bring Little Miss back. Three hours seems like a long time, but it goes by really fast! On Thursday, I would drive Little Miss to visitation. This means that I would have to leave in time to drive the 30 minutes to the visitation spot, drop her off, have two hours to kill, pick her up and then drive the 30 minutes home.
Most Mom’s reading this can probably relate- if your child has dance or soccer or any type of pre-appointed meeting, you understand how much driving and chauffeuring takes out of you!
I also always have to factor in the ramifications of these visitations. Half the time I would drive the 30 minutes, haul both the children inside only to find out that Mom was a no-show. I cannot even describe how frustrating that would be. I honestly didn’t have one single feeling to describe how it felt to get there and find out Mom wasn’t there. It would be a flood of emotions, like when you are at the beach and a wave comes up behind you and smacks you on the head. Part of me was happy I didn’t have to deal with visitation. Part of me was so incredibly sad that Mom just didn’t show. Part of me was frustrated for myself that I went through all the work of getting there, and for nothing.
But then there were the days that Mom would show up! I learned to see this as a really good thing and was always glad for Mom that she got a chance to spend time with Little Miss. But the ramifications for me when I pick Little Miss up? Oh, so hard. Little Miss would be confused. She would be exhausted and overstimulated. She would be needy and clingy. She would cry for hours and hours after a visit. She would completely rewind on any progress that she made towards a sleep schedule. I learned to have a love/hate relationship with visitation!
Little Miss has a monthly meeting with a physical therapist, but one of the things we have decided to pursue is a 5 week course on infant massage to help Little Miss relax, self-soothe and maybe actually sleep?? They come to our home once a week for five weeks to teach me how to massage and relax her.
Once a month, Little Miss has visitation with some kin! This is something that I have mentioned on here before, but not in great depth because it involves a lot of details of her case that I am not allowed to share. So, without sharing any details, I will just say that she has a weekend-long visitation with kin once a month. I’ve also had a lot of mixed feelings about this visitation, but for the most part it is all very positive. It’s hard to let her go for an entire weekend, but I know she is in good hands, and Theo and I do enjoy sleeping through the night!
The hardest part of this weekend visitation is when she comes back. I think the transition just confuses her, and she is extra needy. Her sleep schedule is thrown off again. She wants to be constantly held and that is something that I struggle to do for her.
Little Miss has a caseworker. This caseworker is a wonderful woman who has to observe Little Miss and the foster family interacting in their home once a month. She comes by once a month, sits in our living room with us, gives us any new details on the case, asks how things are going and observes us. It’s only an hour once a month, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to find that time every month!
Little Miss also has a CASA (court appointed special advocate) who is supposed to meet with Little Miss and her foster parents once a month to go over details of the case. I say “supposed to” because the CASA that has been assigned to Little Miss is not really the best at her job. She is a volunteer, and I’m not going to go into any more detail than that…but we haven’t met once a month like we are supposed to.
Since Little Miss is in foster care, she qualifies for free therapies through the county. Most foster children will receive some kind of therapy, whether it is physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling or another type! Little Miss doesn’t necessarily need therapy, but they were very concerned about her potential to be delayed and decided to go ahead and do therapy for her. Once a month, we have two ladies who come to our home and assess, give tips and play with Little Miss for about an hour or so.
Little Miss has a caseworker that meets with us monthly, but we also have a caseworker who meets with us bi-monthly. He checks over our house, asks us how we are doing, if we have any questions, how things are going, etc. He usually just stops by, is at our house for 30 minutes or so, and heads out.
All foster children automatically qualify for WIC, and the appointments are about once every three months. If you have never been to a WIC appointment, it’s very similar to an appointment with a pediatrician. You wait forever, then go over paperwork, then wait forever again, then the child gets weighed and measured, then you wait forever again, and then you meet with a nutritionist, who walks you through a healthy and balanced diet age-appropriate diet for your child. I am actually a huge fan of our WIC program, and I love the nutritionists at our WIC office. But still…it takes a huge chunk of time out of my day when I do have a WIC appointment!
Of course, this is an appointment that would come for any child, whether biological or foster, so I don’t know if it totally counts, but I do have to make sure that I am taking Little Miss to the pediatrician on a regular basis. I remember at the beginning they literally wanted to see her every single week, since she had a little bit of a rough start to her life. Thankfully now the appointments are once every other month or even every third month so I feel like I can breath a breathe of relief!
Case Review Meeting
Every three months, we have a case review meeting for Little Miss. This meeting involves pretty much everyone who is involved in her life, including her Mom, her foster parents, her caseworkers, her CASA and a bunch of other people! It’s always a very nerve-wracking and emotionally charged meeting, and I always leave feeling like I got hit by a truck. So much information is passed around and so many big decisions need to be made that it can be really, really overwhelming.
That is a little view into the month in the life of a foster Mom. It may not seem like much is happening on a daily basis, but most months we have at least 6 or 7 meetings a month just for Little Miss. That means we usually have one or two a week, which on top of twice weekly visitation can really add up!
I will also make a point here that in regards to foster care, we have it EASY. I know so many other foster parents who have visitation more than twice weekly, and whose foster children NEED physical therapy or counseling on a very regular basis. I also know (and I’m sure that you can imagine) that as the child gets older, all of these meetings and the emotions surrounding them can be really hard for them to deal with! Little Miss struggles and she is only 7 months old and has no idea what is going on. Imagine being 7 years old and having all this stuff happening in your life and having to deal with it!
So, I know you didn’t ask, but I’m going to throw this out there anyways.
What can you do to help?
- Offer prayers during meetings, appointments and schedules. Like I mentioned, some of these meetings are really emotionally charged or just plain ol’ overwhelming. Simply asking a foster Mom when her meetings are this month, setting an alarm on your phone and praying during that meeting could make a huge difference. HUGE.
- For the love, babysit my other children. Do you know how hard it is to accomplish all these appointments and meetings with a toddler ALSO in tow? It’s really hard, let me tell you.
- Food. Providing a meal on a visitation day or after one of those meetings can make a world of difference. And it doesn’t have to be a pre-planned meal. It could be a snickers bar to get me through that meeting or a pan of brownies to take to everyone in attendance or inviting me to join you at Chick-fil-A for dinner because we are both just done Mom-ing for the day.
- Drive. If you are already an approved babysitter, you can drive the foster child to and from appointments and visitations. Obviously, there are some appointments that have to be attended by the foster Mom, but there are plenty of times that you could fill in and drive!