For the past year we have been trying to become foster parents and it finally happened two weeks ago and man what an ordeal.
This all came about when Pilar (my wife) indicated she was getting bored and would like another child…oops! I reminded her that that our current one (Natasha) involved life threatening surgery, eight weeks of bedrest and culminated with a rare painful disfiguring disease…Perhaps there were other avenues for this excess energy. Since I grew up with foster kids (my grand parents were foster carers) I asked about foster parenting… Pilar asked “Can we be foster parents in Australia” (We are still US citizens). I told her I didn’t know but let’s look into it.
The child safety people indicated they didn't think this would be a a problem and the whole process should take roughly 3 months, important since the plan of record is to return back to the US in Feb 2008.
The process started with a brief interview to determine if we would make good care givers and verify being US citizens at which time we received a list of documentation and training we would need to become foster parents. We supplied all the documentation and asked to sign up for the training in November…Turns they didn’t know when the next training was and weren’t able to tell us until February there was a class in the next couple of weeks<sigh>
We go to the month of training and filled out 120 pages of paper work (60 pages/each) and turn it in….finally in May we have a contractor come to the house conduct 12 hours of interviews (even Natasha!) and type in an assessment for our suitability. This didn’t get submitted until July at which time Child safety decided some of answers where “unclear” and had another visit to clarify some of our answers. This was then submitted in September (our five year anniversary in Australia) at which point it was determined that being a foreign citizen who has not been in the country for five years a criminal record check was needed and should have been requested a year earlier . I pointed out I had been in the country 5 years, but apparently this duration needs to be achieved before the assessment was submitted <grrr> They also told us the rules have changed and now we need to get a blue card (indicating we are safe to work with children). Monday October 16th we were told after supplying this documentation we would become foster parents –yeah.
When you become foster parents you indicate what type/how many children you would like to take care of since we had one spare bedroom and had only girls clothes we indicated one little girl would make sense for our house.
Imagine our surprise when three days later and not supplying any of this paperwork we get a call and are asked to take care of TWO little BOYS(6 and 21 months) . Not being very bright we juggled our plans and took them in under the assumption this would be for a week. I must admit the two boys are great Kids and Natasha (our daughter) has been great with the situation and helping out.
I would like to say this was just a fluke but in talking to four of the other would be foster parents from our training NONE of them had been approved. Despite this two of them were in the same “provisional” situation, one couple had withdrawn as being foster parents since this lowered them on the adoption list (?!?) and the last couple simply gave up….
All in all it has been a good experience for our family. The boys seem to have settled fairly well considering their situation and we have found out what a giving community we live in(everyone is so willing to reach out and help). Thanks to everyone who has offered to help and for all the clothes and other baby items that have been sent our way. The one week the boys were staying has now already become two and they are with us for at least two more weeks, we’ll eventually find out what a Child Safety “week” is-hopefully it isn’t the same as a Microsoft “minute” is<g>