Friday, July 17, 2015

Foster Care/Adoption Journey: The Seven Most Useful Preparations

Our Foster Care and Adoption Approval Journey
6. The Seven Most Useful Preparations
7. First Placement (The Adventures of Dare Bear: Details coming soon!)

* We got our first placement!*

On June 9th, 2015, we welcomed our first foster care placement into our hearts and our home. Dare Bear was 7 month old and a hefty 20 lbs when he arrived. We are so happy to be able to get to know this "little" boy but our hearts break that he is in this situation. Many prayers needed for family healing!

At the time that we got the call I was working on a blog post entitled, "Getting Ready for Placement." It was going to be a long post as I tend to over prepare. In fact, everyone who knows me told me that I was over prepared. Between the time that we found out about Dare Bear and when he actually came to live with us, though, I was convinced that I was not prepared at all. I was freaking out. So I spent MORE time preparing. I will, some day, do a post about all the preparations I did but I wanted to highlight the seven preparations that I did that turned out to be the most useful.

7. Decided on Diapers and Formula Brands
I may be alone in this but I get overwhelmed by the amount of choices in baby products. Knowing ahead of time what would be my top choice to use if possible was so helpful. In the mad rush between placement call and placement I didn't have to make this decision. I just went out and picked up the right size of diapers. Now, being flexible saved me here when it came to formula. I knew my second choice of formula too. Unfortunately, my first choice of formula didn't make sense since he was a bit older and wouldn't be on as much formula since he's started solids. My first choice involved a lot of work to get it here (expensive America organic formula) so I settled on my second choice with relative ease. All my obsessive research paid off.

6. Had Some Baby Supplies (Toys, Clothes, Food, Blankets)
Again, this saved some hustle and bustle in the beginning. I knew I had a few outfits, some baby food and some toys available. I didn't have to rush out immediately. That being said, I did rush out and pick up more clothes and food but it gave me time to see what he fit into and what food and toys he liked. Plus, saved me money as I was able to buy things used and on sale. (Yes, I ended up with some clothes that were the wrong size and gender but they are still usable for the next placement.)

5. Decided on Work-Leave and Informed Clients of Possibility
Literally 3 days before we got the call, I sent an email out to all my FertilityCare clients sharing the news that we were approved as foster parents and what the plan would be for work-leave. I decided to take a month off completely. Of course, I didn't know WHEN the call would come so I told my clients that, unless they were within the first 4-5 follow-ups, we would be cancelling and rescheduling any appointments that were in that month, whenever it would be. Little did I know that I would be contacting all my clients with June appointments! Preparing a leave plan and forewarning my clients made the transition go very smoothly. Also, having an online scheduling service where my clients could reschedule their appointments themselves meant that there was little scheduling work I had to do.

4. Had a Crib/ Nursery Set Up 
This was something that was a bit controversial during foster care training. Many workers warned us that it could be emotionally difficult to see a set-up nursery with no child in it. I understood their point. For me, there was no debate though. I knew that I wanted to spend the time creating a happy place and the nursery was a source of hope more than impatience. G-Man and I have been waiting for years to welcome a child into our home, many times thinking it would never happen. Having the reminder that a child was coming soon encouraged us daily. Yes, there were times I would look around the completed nursery and ache for the missing child. But this would have happened if the nursery wasn't there too. I would have stood in the empty room. At least, having completed the nursery, I was standing somewhere cheerful.

Also, having the nursery completed meant that I didn't have to worry about the big things when we got the call. I had a crib. I had a change table. I had storage space. I did this work when I had the time too.

3. Saved Money
G-Man and I don't have a lot of extra money and we knew that when we got a placement there would be upfront costs that wouldn't be in the budget for that week. SO, when we got our tax return back, we saved it. When we got the call, we had the money already there to buy a car seat and other supplies. I didn't think that we would need all the money but, since I didn't have FertilityCare money coming in for the first month, it was all used! Not having huge financial concerns along with new-baby worries was so helpful!

2. Bought a Baby Carrier!
LIFESAVER! We expected a younger baby, perhaps even a newborn so we expected to have a bucket seat car seat. I purchased (used) a universal "stroller" frame for the seat to click into. This was suppose to be temporary until we knew what stroller we wanted. However, Dare Bear was basically almost to big for a bucket seat so we got a convertible car seat. This meant that our "stroller" was useless. And that I would have had no way to transport his 20 lb awesomeness around except my arms. BUT, I was prepared! I bought a used, older style Lillebaby carrier. It was similar to the Ergo and I got it for $20. Honestly, I would not have made it through the first week (heck the first 2 days) without this carrier.

Right from the very beginning I was using the Lillebaby. He loved it and I was able to save my arms! I have since upgraded to a new Lillebaby in a pretty purple. I use this multiple times a day. I can not live without my carrier! Best purchase!

1. Prayed a Novena
I will end on a spiritual note. We got the call about the possible placement 9 days before the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so we decided to start a novena in preparation for Dare Bear's arrival. We did a twin novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart. Dare Bear arrived half way through it. We prayed for his and his mother's health, happiness and holiness. This is our continued prayer.

I will say that we said a couple novena's through out the whole process, before we got the call. This has been a wonderful way of focusing directly on foster care and reforming our hearts to welcome in a stranger.

I will be continuing to pray novena's for Dare Bear and his whole family. I ask that you join me!

Overall, I am very happy that I "over"prepared. This adjustment has been hard enough. Other things I did that were very helpful were reading some baby and childcare books, especially those with a foster care or adoption slant, organizing and reducing the amount of stuff we have throughout our apartment, and preparing a foster care binder to hold all of Dare Bear's paperwork.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Unexpected Prayers!

So I got very surprising news today. I have been chosen as the blogger to receive all your wonderful prayers this month through Adopt-a-Blogger. 

A Bit About Me
My husband and I have been married for almost 6 years. He is a Latin-Mass going large-family grown Catholic and I came into the Catholic faith through the charismatic movement. We are the proof that opposites attract! I am a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner. I LOVE the Theology of the Body and I have been taking courses with the Theology of the Body Institute for many years. One of the hardest things for me to deal with growing up was not knowing how to deal with my curly hair.

Infertility History
We knew before we got married that conceiving would be difficult. My hubs, G-Man, has had cancer many times. We found out in November, 2011 that he has no sperm. We spent years mourning this and discerning what this meant for our family. Recently we have discovered some health issues on my part that would have made conceiving difficult even if he did have the little go-getters. Infertility is a never quite healing wound; a bruise that could be poked at any time. Living with it has made me question everything I thought I knew about life. In my darkest moments, it has only been the fact that time moves on that got me out of bed. BUT in my brightest moments, I can say that infertility, as all suffering can do, has made me a better person and I am grateful for it (I say this only after I have eaten a lot of chocolate). 

Foster Care and Adoption
In June, 2014, we decided to learn more about foster care and adopting. We quickly fell in love with the program and we were officially approved as foster parents in January of this year. 

In June of this year, exactly one year after we started the process, we welcomed an eight month old munchkin into our hearts and our home. There is no telling how long he will be with us and parenting as an infertile couple deserves its own blog post (coming soon... once I get some sleep!). Needless to say, we are over-the-moon to get the chance to know our foster son, Dare Bear.

Prayer Requests
Thank you for your prayers! Please pray for our transition into parenthood and our relationship throughout this transition. Please pray for Dare Bear; pray that all involved in his care may only have his best interests at heart and for God's will to be done in his life. AND, please pray that we soon will have a child we can love and raise permanently, whoever that may be.