This seems like a long list, but it is just the beginning. I am taking little steps every day, working steadily on tasks as I can, and not allowing myself to get overwhelmed or frustrated. This is good practice in just rolling with it for the days to come!
*attended 12 hours of PRIDE training (http://www.cwla.org/programs/trieschman/pride.htm)
*gotten my fingerprints submitted for one of several background checks
*scheduled my TB test
*requested six letters from my family's various medical providers
*talked to the local elementary school and pediatrician's office where foster children would attend if they have to leave their own school or pediatrician
*had daily discussions with my children and a few chats with other friends and family
*recruited substitute caregivers
*cleaned the garage :-)
*began childproofing the house
*started inviting friends to a work party to tackle all the changes and minor repairs needed in the home (see upcoming blog entry with before and after pictures)
*added some furniture
*taken Ben (17 year old son) to the Secretary of State's office to get a copy of our driving records
*filled out another 40 pages of short answer questions
*gathered copies of:
all my monthly bills,
mine and Ben's driver's licenses,
copies of my home and auto insurance declaration pages,
recent paystubs and last year's tax return,
my marriage license (yes, even though I am no longer married),
and my divorce decree and subsequent judgments related to child custody.
If we had pets I would have had to provide paperwork on their license and vaccinations.
If we had weapons I would have to copy the concealed weapons permit.
Both would have required related safety plans.
*thought, and thought, and thought some more about the daily changes that will need to take place when we have some children in our home who have left their mom, dad, family, friends, schools, house, favorite cuddly, clothing, etc. behind. (See upcoming blog entry about how we hope to manage that.)
*thought about how I am going to take even better care of myself (See upcoming blog entry).
During the last 11 days I still worked full time, tended to my children, helped family and friends grieve through three deaths (yet another blog topic), and enjoyed some time relaxing.
Most importantly, I have made a concerted effort to tap into my source of strength and hope. If I am going to be a good foster parent, and a helpful person to the child's biological family in their time of crisis, I am going to need a daily surge of encouragement and positive energy. Over the years, I have found certain philosophies to be very powerful in shaping my love behaviors. Three have come to mind recently:
"Let your gentleness be evident to all." (New Women's Devotional Bible)
"Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." (The Message)
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (The Message)
Some of the tasks above took longer than I thought they would and I know there are hours and hours of work ahead of me as we prepare our home for foster children. Some of the short answer questions brought up painful memories I would prefer not to revisit, and when I actually talk to our caseworker these memories will be revisited again.
I could curse this process, but I won't. I will take it on lovingly with a gentle spirit. I will do the extravagant work it takes to get licensed. I will focus on the truths in my life and be authentic in my answers. I will allow myself to be compelled by these challenges. Helping in the life of a family in crisis makes love work hard.