You’ve signed your papers, passed your background check, and completed your home assessment. Now you wait for the call. You might be wondering what that might look like or how it should be approached.
My first call came as I was about to get on the highway. When I saw the placement coordinator’s name flash across my phone, I pulled off on a side street. I wanted to access my list of questions and have zero distractions. I was so nervous and excited at the same time. I felt a crash of emotions as the call ended, I was a little sad saying no to my very first call and expecting that would be my “one” chance. But I got another one 12 hours later, and she changed my entire view of foster care!
Before you're first call, here are some ideas of what to expect:
You could get a call the first day your house is open or you could wait months. This depends on your age range and amount of available beds. The larger your age range and your ability to take 2 or more children at one time, the greater your chances of getting a placement quickly.
Calls can come at literally any time of the day or night. After all, emergencies do not typically wait for a “convenient” time to occur. I have my phone automatically set to do not disturb from 10 p.m.-7 a.m.; however, I have my placement coordinator’s phone number set up to always ring through.
Have a list of questions already written out for when the call comes. In the moment, you will probably freeze up and forget. If you would like my list of questions, send me a message, and I will send you the 15 questions I typically ask when I receive a phone call.
Talk to your children about the process. If they are on the younger end, like mine, never underestimate the amount of understanding they have, so already have in mind what you are going to say. We told ours that a new friend would come to live with us for a while, so we could help them. We told them we would share our toys and our home with them.
Don’t be so excited that you say yes to your first call. If your first call falls way out of your limits, it is ok to say no. My first call involved a sibling set both under 2. I also had a 2 and 3 year old in my home. As excited I was to receive a call, I had to say no because my home was not the best fit for those children or for my own.
Expect to get asked to take more children than you signed up for. We said 1, but we actually have 3 open beds and a crib just in case the right situation arises. While our preference is to only take in 1 child, we did take in a sibling set when the situation was right. This was definitely out of my current zone to double the amount of young children in my home, but it has been a great decision. We are truly enjoying the friendships that our kids have with this sibling set; however, it hasn’t come without struggles.
Get ready to “hurry up and wait." You will learn to be patient. And you will learn disappointment. We have received calls to take in a child, then while the child was en route to our house, plans changed again and the child was placed elsewhere. This can happen for a number of reasons, the most common reason is they found a family to keep a sibling set together. Another common reason is a geographical location. They found a home closer to the biological parents.
My biggest advice is to be ready for anything, but also allow yourself to say no. Taking in children beyond your capabilities has the chance of setting you and the child up for failure. You have taken a difficult step by saying yes to foster care and completing the mountains of paperwork. Try not to get too wrapped up in the waiting, although I know it is difficult, and enjoy the time with your current family situation while you wait.
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