Saturday, March 22, 2014

I just want to pee alone.....

I think THE hardest thing about being a single foster/adoptive parent is the lack of alone time.  You know to do things like run to the store and grab some milk, leave the house for an hour and have your nails done, shop for birthday presents, or maybe take a shower that's longer than 5 minutes.....or pee alone!  Maybe this will get better as my kids get older and are able to stay home by themselves, although that thought alone makes me shudder!  It's just that they are there ALL the time, don't get me wrong I LOVE my kids, but orchestrating a few hours to do something for me is like trying to teach my dog to speak French.  

Option #1 for alone time:  Doing something while kids are in school.
Right now I am a stay at home mom.  Two of my four kids are in preschool, the youngest only goes Monday and Friday from 9-11:30.  That gives me 2.5 hours twice a week. By the time you drop them off and drive somewhere and give yourself enough time to drive back and pick them up you are down to about an hour and 15 minutes.  That hour is usually spent running errands, like grocery shopping, post office, paying bills, or picking up something we need.  Not to mention trying to "volunteer" in all the kids classrooms occasionally during that hour and 15 minutes.  So that option is pretty much out.  Once they are all school age and gone during the day I will need to get a full time job, so no luck there either :)

Option #2 for alone time:  Paying someone to watch the kids. 
This is easier said then done, especially when you are still fostering!  First, I have to find someone willing to watch four kids.  Then I have to find someone willing to watch four kids, some of whom have significant behavior issues.  Then I have to find someone willing to do all the things my agency requires like background checks, fingerprinting, a sit down with a case worker to go over discipline policies. Then I have to schedule something way in advance, no spontaneous "I want to run out and grab a coffee".  If I find someone willing to do all of these things, I then have to pay them....a lot!  Its hard to justify paying someone a whole bunch of money just so I can go to a movie.  Its usually not enjoyable anyway cause I'm worrying about what's going on at home or getting panicked texts from the babysitter about what is going on.

Option #3 for alone time:  Finding friends or family to watch the kids. 
This option sounds good, but my problem is I need to utilize my friends and family so much for mundane things, like taking one kid to an appointment or to go to school meetings/court dates, etc.  That it then doesn't seem fair to ask them to come watch the kids so I can go out to dinner!  Most of my friends have their own families to worry about and again finding someone willing to take on all the foster stuff and behavior stuff is asking a lot!

So what's a girl to do?  Id really like to get a hair cut, I mean its only been 13 months since my last one :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Good Question: Making the Decision

Single Mamma's and Papa's, here's your chance to chime in... we've gotten a good question. If you are flying solo, answer how YOU do it in the comments section, or if you're a contributing blogger, log in and share your answer.

Here you go...

How did you know when you were ready to make the jump into being a single foster/adopted mama?  What needed to happen in your life before you took that step?

Foster Mamma
The decision for me came down to what I wanted my life to be like.  I was 30 years old, stable job, psychology degree, pretty financially stable, homeowner, living with amazing roommates, yet I felt like I was too old to not have any responsibility for or to any other human being.  I had always thought about working with kids who needed extra love and once I started thinking about it, it just made sense for me.  With the support of my family, I looked into it and had my first placement 5 months later.

For me, I had accomplished my educational goals and had my degrees, was living by myself in a house and had no prospects of any partner coming along soon!  I felt bored and lonely coming home every day to an empty house.  I desperately wanted to be a mom, but wasn't quite sure about adopting without having found a partner, so foster care seemed like the perfect path to take.  I could be a mom to kids who really needed one even if for only a short time.  It took a year to get licensed and my first placement of three boys ended up becoming my forever family two years later.  :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Good Question: Finances

Single Mamma's and Papa's, here's your chance to chime in... we've gotten a good question. If you are flying solo, answer how YOU do it in the comments section, or if you're a contributing blogger, log in and share your answer.

Here you go...

How you make the finances work as a single parent? Tips and tricks?

Foster Mamma
I ain't gonna lie, this has been a tough one for me. Making it all add up at the end of the day. I hate, hate that little lives are tied up AT all with money, but yet that's part of the reality of being a stay at home foster mamma. I do work part time outside of the home as a photographer. It is wonderful to have a creative outlet and a source of extra income on the months when I don't have any placements and money is tight, but it is hard for me to leave the kids to "work", because I see them as my job, my passion and my whole life. Budgeting tightly helps a lot, as well as accepting help when you need it. Basically being okay with life being simple and about the kids.

When you are just starting out in foster care its a good plan to have a little extra money set aside for the first few months of a placement.  The "stipend" that you get will likely be paid 1-2 months behind, for example January's stipend is paid out on 15th of February.  This is really hard if you are having to pay daycare costs out of pocket or if it is not reimbursed until the stipend date.  I have definitely learned to budget over the last few years! 

Toys and Entertainment Tips:  I went way overboard on getting all of the "stuff", partly out of excitement and partly out of guilt because most of these kids come to you with nothing.  I wanted them to have everything :)  I quickly crashed and burned learned.  Stick to the basics, if your kiddos want something special or expensive use it as an opportunity to teach them money skills, make then earn part of it or wait for it, they may not get the chance to learn these skills again.  I've found it is better to spend money on experiences versus the stuff, if you have to make the choice! We belong to the local YMCA near our house for a very minimal cost, any foster children we have can be added to our family account for no cost.  They offer 2 hours a day of childcare while I get to workout  watch TV and walk slowly on the treadmill.  The weekly swimming lessons are pretty cheap and I have a good relationship with the Aquatic Director so usually she cuts me a break on any foster kids swimming lessons.  They also have a lot of family nights with free food and activities for the kids.  Check local blogs and newspaper for free activities in your community.

Food Cost Tips:  Foster children qualify for WIC, absolutely use it, especially for formula....that stuff is crazy expensive.  They also get free lunch at school, use it (make sure you get the lunch calendar so you can pack on special days or if its something they don't like, you don't want them to feel left out if no one else is eating hot lunch that day!).  Since the kids have to come with me when I shop I have found a meal plan is a MUST to help the impulse to overbuy!  I try and do all the shopping once every two weeks, sometimes even once a month and buy in bulk on items I can store easily.  I let the kids tell me a couple of dinners or snacks that they would want for the month and be sure to grab those.  I read a bunch of large family blogs to get ideas on cooking larger meals and then freezing portions for later in the month.  In the summer we sign up for a CSA so we get local veggies and fruit each week, its like Christmas in a box, and then we plan the meals around that.

Clothing:  Another category I totally go overboard on :)  I definitely check out thrift stores and used kids clothing stores (check with your agency if this is allowed). Most of the popular stores for kids clothes have frequent mark downs so keep checking if there is something you like, both in store and online.  I tend to wait till the end of a season and buy a lot of clothing items when they are way marked down and save them for next year.  If a kid goes home then I have a nice collection of things to pick from so I can send them home with a wardrobe that should least for several seasons or I can store them away for future placements.  Let your friends and family know you are happy to take any hand me downs that they no longer want.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Good Question: Making time for everything

Single Mamma's and Papa's, here's your chance to chime in...  we've gotten a good question.  If you are flying solo, answer how YOU do it in the comments section, or if you're a contributing blogger, log in and share your answer.

Here you go...

How do you manage work and foster kids as a single parent, what about caseworker visits, doctors appointments, etc?

I am blessed in that up until this point, I have only needed to work part time.  I am a professional photographer, which has been a good fit as the editing is all done at home (which takes the most time after a session).  It helps to be home a lot of the time, especially when kids initially come, as there are so many various appointments to get the up to date and get all of the help they need as soon as possible.  One tip that has worked well for me to to try and "stack" appointments as much as possible, having the Dr and Dentist appointments on the same day, asking the child's social worker and GAL/CASA to come at the same time if possible.

When I first started fostering I had the typical 9-5 job but it was pretty flexible and I was able to take time off to deal with phone calls from the daycare and school as well as appointments and visits.  Even with the flexibility of my job I was finding it to be too much with my first placement.  There were a lot of behavior issues at school and home that I felt required me to be home more and I felt like I was missing out on a lot by working full time.  I took a leap of faith and quit my job to become "self-employed"!  It has been three years and has worked out great for me so far.  I now only work a few hours a week while the kids nap or after they are asleep.  I think having a flexible job or other people that can step in when you need it are key to fostering as a single person.  Unfortunately our kids can have lots and lots of appointments, visits, meetings, and "emergencies" that require your attention.  If your job is not flexible you will need someone who can go out at the drop of a hat and pick up a child from school or take them to an appointment.

aka. Mimi
Simple answer...  FMLA!!!  Placement of a foster child is a qualifying event for FMLA, and I use every bit of it.  I don't do the traditional "maternity leave" though.  I use it intermittently for foster care-related appointments, medical appointments and illnesses for my child, court dates, etc.  As long as you don't go over 90 days in a 12 month period, you're covered.  I am also extremely blessed to have a very understanding and supportive boss and co-workers.  After four years of fostering, they're "old pros" as well.  :-)

As far as the necessary time off work, the first two weeks or so after getting a new placement are pretty busy with all of the initial required appointments, but after that, I am very firm on when caseworkers, CASAs, etc. may come to the house during the work week.  I tend to take the third Wednesday of the month off every month and tell everyone three weeks in advance that if they want to come to the house during the workday, they need to come that day.  For the most part, they usually show up.  My children's CASAs have always been flexible and can come on weekends or evenings.

When it comes to weekly visitations for my children and their families, I tell their caseworkers up front that they will need to provide transportation most of the time.  On "slow" months, I will occasionally take off work part of the day to transport myself because I like to develop relationships with my children's parents if at all possible.

I think the main thing to remember is that you can say "No, I am not taking off work at 1:00pm to meet you at my house.  I will leave an hour early at 4:00pm, and be your last appointment of the day or you can come any time on the third Wednesday of the month like everyone else."  In the beginning I was very hesitant to say "no," but over the years I have learned that it's okay.  They might not be happy about it, but they'd be less happy if you lost your job and they had to find a new home for your children.  ;-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day.....Mom!

A few years ago while checking out at the grocery store, the cashier said to me, "Your husband must have beautiful red hair like your boys", without missing a beat the oldest said, "Oh she doesn't have a husband!"  The cashier looked at me with judgment and said, "Oh well the boys father then."  The look on her face was even more priceless when my son said, "She's doesn't know who our Dad is!"

Father's Day is awkward for the single foster or adoptive mom.  As a foster parent when the kids made a project at school or church for Fathers Day, it was simple enough to say, "Let's give this to your Dad at the next visit!".  Being single was almost a blessing as we didn't have the awkward, which Dad do I give this too discussion like we did on Mother's Day.  Now that my boy's are adopted and have no legal father....things have become more complicated.   Last year I remember my sons decorating a baseball in Sunday School to give to  The baseball originally had "Thanks for all you do Dad" written on it, "Dad" was crossed out by the Sunday School teacher and she had written "Mom" above it, awkward discussions were apparently had when my son tried to explain his situation to the Sunday School Teacher, LOL!

As a single foster/adopt mom I often struggle with the lack of a father for my children.  I know most single mothers struggle with this, but as a foster and adoptive mom to little boys it hits home even more.  My kids have "father's", in fact they have several men that they would consider fathers before they came to me.  Unfortunately each of these men portrayed a father in an extremely negative and deplorable light.  I don't want my children to think that relationship is how fathers are supposed to be, I don't want them to grow up and replicate those "father's".  As a mother I would love to give them a stable and loving father to show them a healthy relationship, but right now that's not in the cards.  Thankfully they have a great Grandpa that steps in and I am so grateful for that!  We will be celebrating with him today!

As a single mom I am attempting to do it all, be a mom and a dad to children that come from traumatic and hurtful backgrounds.  I'm not perfect, it's difficult to be both the disciplinarian and comforter.  It is hard to switch back and forth and too often I find myself stuck in a drill sergeant roll, because without it things can quickly fall apart around our house.  Although that's important, its also important that my boys see me as happy and fun and caring.  For me I have to remember to take a step back, I cannot be both a father and a mother.  I am a mom and I'm a good mom, but I can't do it all.  Remember to take some time for yourself today :)

What about you, how are you celebrating Father's Day today?

Friday, May 31, 2013

We're Friends Here

After compiling a list of single foster and adoption blogs on Attempting Agape, I realized I wanted to do more to connect people who've decided to jump into the deep end of fostering and adopting without a partner. This is my attempt to do that. So, my hope for this blog is to be so much more than a blog, I want it to become a large support network for single foster and adopt Mamma's and Daddies all over the place.

I dream of this becoming a community who seeks to support, encourage and develop real relationships with other single foster and adoptive parents. A happy side effect would be creating a place where those considering taking the same step could come, ask questions and get answers from those who have walked before.

Because who among us single parents has time to meet new people in real life anyway?

No matter how you choose to be involved, I would challenge you to comment, post and give your input as much as possible, so we can really get to know each-other and be an encouragement and support

I look forward to hearing from you and starting this fun new project - and meeting all of you!!!!!

Foster Mamma

My journey to becoming a Single Foster and Adoptive Mom

Hello everyone, I'm Bessy and I blog over at Young, Single, and Adopting and Living a RAD Life.  I am so excited to share in this community of single mommas and papas!  It takes a special kind of heart to take on this journey by ourselves!

I always knew I wanted to adopt, from the time I was a young girl I had been fascinated by adoption. My mom had been adopted as an infant so I understood from a young age that adoption was just another way to come into a family.  Shortly after high school my best friend placed her beautiful baby girl for adoption and I was blessed to be along for the ride of finding an adoptive family.

I had always imagined that my life would go like this:  Go to college, find my husband, adopt a lot of kids, live happily ever after.  So imagine my surprise when college came and went and no husband had magically appeared.  There had been some serious relationships, some that I thought might even be heading towards marriage.  However, adoption always seemed to be a sticking point.  I thought I could make the relationship work that they would eventually come around to the idea of adoption, but wouldn't you know they were all pretty insistent on just having kids "of their own".  Not that I was opposed to the idea of having children birthed from my own loins, but I wanted to adopt first.  So off I went graduating college, still thinking my husband would be right around the corner.  A few years went by and I realized that I still felt a strong desire to have children in my home.  I figured that becoming a foster parent would allow me to fulfill the desires of motherhood while waiting for a husband that would share my desires to adopt. 

So at 27 years old, I went through my local county agency, completed the classes and homestudy, and was licensed.  Two weeks later I got a call for a sibling group of three boys who needed a place for the weekend.  They were 5, 21 months, and 7 weeks old at the time.  The joke was on me :)  Three years later they are still here and are now my forever children!  We are still dealing with the effects of their early childhood trauma and struggle with RAD, PTSD, ADHD, and Bipolar issues, but have made tons of progress. I still haven't found a husband and quite frankly I'm fine with that at this point in our lives.  We are in the process of opening back up our home to more foster children and are open to adopting again (fingers crossed it's a girl!).  If the right person comes along, great, but for now I am enjoying being a Mommy :)

Read all posts by Bessy