Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Before The Boys

One day shortly before Jesse and I were married we had gone out to dinner and I looked at him and said "How about when we get married I don't get a job but instead we get licenced to do foster care and I stay home and take care of the babies?"

Jesse's eyes bugged out at the suggestion. "Huh? What? Foster care? Wha.... why? What are you even talking about?"

It was a fair response. I was 22, Jesse was 23. We didn't have our own children, we weren't even married yet, and I here I was suggesting that we take in other people's children. Looking back on it, it sounds crazy. Out of the blue I was asking Jesse to take on the role of the sole breadwinner of the family while I stayed home and played Mommy.

Thankfully Jesse has always been very supportive of my crazy ideas. (If as if the whole surrogacy wasn't proof enough.) Once he had a little more information about what foster care would involve he was totally on board. He's a good guy like that.

Almost immediately after Jesse and I got married we started the process towards becoming licenced foster parents. I spent the first couple months of married life in domestic bliss. I cooked, I cleaned, I did my hair and make-up every day, I watched talk shows, I waited for my criminal background check to be completed. I was so thrilled the day I got the phone call telling me that our background checks had been competed and that we would now be able to take the training classed required to become foster parents.

Oh, how excited I was the first day of training. I insisted on showing up 15 minutes early. I carried with me a brand new notebook, a pen and a newly sharpened pencil. I had bought a new shirt for the occasion. We were the first ones in the room. As more and more people came in I started to wonder if we were in the wrong room. A lot of the people that came into the class looked kind of out of it and grungy and ..... well, not like the sort of people that should be taking in kids in need of care. I don't think any of them were wearing new shirts. I was the only one who had brought my own notebook.

The training lasted six weeks with sessions each Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I wish I could say that my first impressions of my classmates were wrong but they weren't. A lot of those people in that class needed to have their own children taken away from them, never mind having more children put in their care. In the first class there was a discussion broke out about how some kids "just need to be beat". I was aghast. Words that I was unable to stop poured angrily from my mouth. "It really upsets me that people who are supposed to be protecting kids think it's ok to just haul off and smack kids when they do something wrong."

That didn't go over too well. Nearly everyone in the room jumped all over me telling me that I didn't know what I was talking about because I was too young and never had kids who the hell did I think I was and yes, some kids need to be beat. The training coordinator (who I really liked) just stood there and looked sad and overwhelmed. It occurred to me that she probably saw a lot of not-fit-to-parent people going through this process. Minnesota is woefully in need of foster parents and since the system is so overloaded they'll take just about anyone.

Things didn't get better as the class went on but I was determined to get through it. We were the only ones in our class who made it to every single training session and didn't have to take one over. I think some little part of me thought that if I could just get licenced fast enough then I could take on some kids really in need and keep these other people from getting them. Ok, I was a little naive but I really did have good intentions.

While we were doing our training we also had to have a home study done and interviews with our case worker. She didn't mince words with us. She told me that she thought we were too young to be foster parents and that we wouldn't be able to hack it. She told me that she had never come across anyone as young as us wanting to be foster parents (in fact she told us that no one she worked with had ever dealt with foster parents as young as us). But that pesky pressing need for foster parents came into play and she approved us.

In one of our training sessions we were warned that parents with children in foster care with often resent the foster parents. They warned us that sooner or later, if you did foster care long enough you would have a parent accuse you of hurting or mistreating their child.

Oh my god, I was so naive. I thought that if I just did a really good job no parent could ever possibly accuse me of any wrong doing. And anyway, I was only going to take in babies. Certainly no one would accuse me of hurting a baby. Right?

I was about to be proven very wrong.


Cathy said...

Oh...I like this story already. Great intro/lead.

Ferdinand the Duck said...

I'm so happy you're sharing this. It's such a great story already.

Sam said...

Great job! Keep them coming.

Jen said...

cathy - Thanks! I love telling this story.

ferdinand - Why thank you person who never updates their blog.

sam - More coming soon!

Laggin said...

I'll be back to read. I noticed your Aspergers tag in the right column and clicked. I commented on one of your older blogs. I'm the mom of a Aspie too. She just turned 15. And interestingly, when she was little, we called our younger daughter (13 now), Pumpkin!

Ferdinand the Duck said...

I'ma update next week. I promise!

Jen said...

laggin - Thanks for visiting! I'm always happy to meet another Aspie mom. Or mom of an Aspie. Or however I should phrase that. Whatever. Happy to meet you!

ferdinand - Promises, promises.

nell said...

I'm going to love this story, I can tell already. And of course it's making me love you even more!

(Also, the site looks great!)

Jenny, the Bloggess said...