Right now Oregon is in a foster placement crises. Not enough homes. Which - when is there ever enough. But besides the point. It's been written about in the papers a couple times of kids being put in hotel rooms for a few nights or having to stay the night at the offices because there is no opening for them anywhere. Which just looks bad for the state. So this 6 bedroom house is supposed to act as the alternative to that. It would be used for only emergency placements and they would want to keep it open for more emergencies so the turn-over would be high. It sounds pretty ideal, actually. You get a kid for a few days - 2 weeks. They are usually in honey-moon mode at that point and if not - I have the skills to cope anyways.
There was a big application packet with some essay questions and I wrote my heart out. Maybe a little too much - but I need to be sure that we get an interview. We have the obstacle of having one too many kids of our own that we have to jump over. They want the cap to be 2, so that each kid gets the attention they need and all that. Which is fine. But they don't understand that I am super-mom and can do it all. It wouldn't be easy - but it is do-able and the program is funded right now for 2 years. I would think it would be hard to find anyone who was willing to do this kind of work for more than 2 years, anyways, so that's what I have my eye on. Alaska would be 7 when we come out of it, Talmage would be 5 and the baby would just over 2. It's not really that long.
We could really use this opportunity. $3000 a month would be amazing. It's more than I get when subbing so I could easily make this my full-time job. It would give us the house I so want and dream of. And it would allow for us to save a hefty amount of cash for a down payment on a house of our own when we are done with the two years. It's basically a dream come true and the best thing that I can think of. It's probably tied right up there with Steven promoting.
So I have all my eggs in this basket and will be crushed if it doesn't happen. But I already feel crushed where I am - so there is no matter. Right now, in our 2 bedroom apartment we honestly can't do any more foster care until we get a bigger place because with Alaska and Talmage sharing a room, that puts a girl and a boy in that room and you can't add in a stranger girl or boy into that room. So our only option to make fostering work is to have a 'boys' room - but that puts in the obstacle of where does Alaska go? Because she's too big for a portable-crib and I would feel bad putting her back into a crib mattress after her being on a twin. There is no room for a twin mattress in the master bedroom like there is room for a portable crib or a regular crib mattress. So we're stuck. At a total stand-still. Which just makes me angry. Because foster care has been the thing that keeps my head above water. Where I can feel like I am doing some extra good while I am stuck in this position of Steven not promoting and waiting to get on with life. And I say 'get on with' because I honestly don't want to be in a 2 bedroom apartment when Alaska is in middle school. You have to cut your losses somewhere and I am not interested in going to work full time. May as well have my own kids in foster care if it comes to that. Teaching life takes way too much personal time outside of the 8-4. And you know what else? I am honestly so tired of playing tetras to get everything to fit. Even getting a paintbrush out or some pom-poms for an art project is a huge deal of shuffling things around. It's draining. To fit this baby in we had to move a lot of stuff out to my parent's house. And I haven't been able to decorate for any holidays because it just makes our small space feel that much smaller. It's unbearable, basically. Nearly 5 years of this and I am just about done.
Anyways - here is what my essays look like. They ended up being two printed pages. Tell me I am not the best qualified with the most heart for this job. Dare you. And my family. Thank goodness I have great kids.
Why do you want to be a foster parent for The Nest program?
Foster care has been in my heart ever since reading the book, Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff, as a college student. I had overwhelming feelings of wanting to give a safe and welcoming place to a child who didn’t fit in anywhere else and wanting to make a lasting difference in a life otherwise torn apart. I knew that I had the love and acceptance to make that happen. I see this program, The Nest, as a way to fulfill that dream to its utmost potential. To give a secure and pleasant landing to those who come from hard places and to leave an impression of welcoming and unconditional love.
My husband and I began our foster care adventure a year and a half ago, becoming emergency certified while we were taking foundation classes through DHS in Columbia County. I quickly learned that in order to be the most effective foster parent possible I would need to put aside my own feelings of being needed and making a difference and align my focus on gaining the knowledge needed to help this particular population with trauma informed care. My perspective changed as I realized not only does a person need to have a willing heart on an emotional level, but also a willing heart on the cognitive level to learn how to make the most impact for these children who have been effected by trauma. I began to pursue knowledge and making myself the most capable and rounded person possible. My interest has been piqued and I enjoy the classes I have taken on emotional intelligence, trauma informed care and the weekly counseling I did for a year with our first placement. I see the program of The Nest as a way to become a more knowledgeable person, which will in turn make me more substantial and capable as a parent and member of society.
Describe previous paid, volunteer, or family experiences or training in working with children ages 0-9.
I have had the opportunity to work in multiple elementary schools as a substitute teacher, fill-in at my daughter’s pre-school and volunteer at headstart. These institutions have allowed me the chance to interact with children ages 4-9 and experience others’ routines and environments they have created for this specific elementary group.
Growing up, I was the oldest of four children. My younger brothers were born enough years after me that I was able to be a big help to my mom and was given a great deal of responsibility around the house and for the boys. I was a preferred babysitter for many families and babysat infants and toddlers as a highschooler.
My love for learning has motivated me to participate in a love and logic class, parent child interactive therapy, a training on how to teach emotional awareness and I regularly attend our foster parent support meetings where we discuss the needs of the children in our care and how to address them; most of them being in the 0-9 age range. Right now I am also signed up for a class titled Promoting Prosocial Behaviors in Preschoolers that will be held on August 19th. My interest in working with trauma inflicted children has also lead me to read, Love Me, Feed Me by Katja Rowell, Wounded Children Healing Homes by Jayne E. Schooler and a variety of memoirs written by adoptees. These books have allowed me insights that I otherwise would not have gained.
My personal experiences with my own children, and also the foster children we have had in our care, has allowed me my own opportunity to create routines, expectations and a pleasant environment. I am a competent mother who is able to enjoy my children because of the training I have put into them. I am looking for the next step to make myself an exceptional and more qualified parent. I see the program of The Nest as something that I can contribute to with my specific skill set and disposition and develop as a person at the same time.
Please describe the skills or attributes you have that you feel would be helpful for you to be a foster care provider, particularly for children who may be in crisis, struggling with emotional regulation, or are acting out behaviorally.
I have the skills to make a house into a home and realize that this will be a big factor in making the children that come into our lives through this program the most comfortable. I am proficient in the parent child interactive therapy process of building trust, giving directions and implementing effective timeouts. I understand acutely that this therapy depends on one-on-one attention of five minutes per day. I have a poignant understanding of the necessity of one-on-one attention and am able to share my attention equally among the children in my home due to my strong inner compass directed by fairness. I know that behaviors are driven by emotions and if an adult can help a child express themselves the behaviors lessen. I also know that one-on-one attention and verbally acknowledging a child’s actions can lessen undesired behavior or increase desired behavior. These skills are what will make The Nest manageable, despite the children who come in with personal crisis, struggling with emotional regulation, or acting out behaviorally.
It is apparent that I have been given a strong sense of empathy, a great amount of patience and am capable of a generous outpouring of love – despite behavior or differences. I give great attention to detail and am an organized person who keeps a calendar of events. My calm demeanor makes it possible to look at situations with a broader perspective and pick my battles wisely, as it were.
This program is going to rely heavily on effective communication between myself, support staff and other professionals. I am pleasant to work with and am an effective communicator – most especially through written words. I know that I will excel at taking notes and passing along information about the children who enter and exit The Nest so as to help make the best possible outcome for them in the existing future.
I am flexible and understanding of last-minute changes, most especially in this industry where there are so many variables within hour-by-hour. I am committed to making the most of this program and am excited to be a part of something cutting-edge in the foster community.