(Originally published Oct. 16, 2017)
I am not entirely certain how we were talked in to becoming foster parents.
I remember the day well; we were up in Oxford, NC, looking for the public library. After a period of driving around, my wife and I decided to stop at a county building to ask directions (she decided, I was content on circling the town a few more times, just in case). As soon as we walked in, we were given a clipboard to sign-in on and were pointed down the hall to a different room. Once we got there, our names were written down, and we were told to have a seat at one of the tables.
I learned too late that it wasn’t a refresher on the Dewey decimal system…
None of the above is true. For a while we had been talking about making some changes. Our daughter was entering her final two years of high school and we were on the cusp of becoming “empty nesters” in our early 40s. So we decided that now was the chance to do something different around the house. We talked about several ideas: we could replace all our carpeting with wood floors, we could paint the walls and add a garage, or we could take classes to foster and adopt. The classes won.
The training for our county takes place once a year from late winter through early spring at the county DSS offices. The DSS building was designed in the late 60s or early 70s and was located in one of those parts of town where, in terms of personal safety, it made a big difference which way you turned down the street. Low slung and long with faded yellow bricks and a large, cracked parking lot, it looked like the tired veteran of an over-active flood plain. Inside, the fluorescent lights greeted you with an instant headache and the HVAC system smelled as though it hadn’t taken in fresh air since George H W Bush was president. In other words, it was exactly what you would expect in a county government owned office building.
The month after our 12 week class was completed, DSS moved to a new, larger and better-suited facility.
We went through the classes and completed all the paperwork, though it took us well over a year to do so. Looking back, I am not sure why it took so long to turn everything in; maybe it was nervousness or the intimidation of taking on such a big responsibility. Regardless, after 12 weeks of classes and 15 additional months of completing paperwork and having home inspections, we became officially licensed foster parents in the State of North Carolina.
Our license was actually approved three weeks after having two children placed with us through a court order: a brother and sister, aged 3 and 2 respectively, who had never lived together prior to coming to our house.
The kids have been with us for four months now and things are going well. The transition was a little rough for them and us, but that is the subject of several other posts. Suffice it to say, though, now that we actually have foster children, we’d be crazy to have done anything else.
Even if the paint was half-price.