After searching through pages of other foster parent friends, as well as living on my own in Foster/Adopt Land, I've compiled a list of key characteristics that experienced foster parents seem to possess.
You know you're a foster parent when:
- You notice random outlets at work, businesses, friends' houses, etc. and think, "Quick! Get an outlet cover!"
- You see photographs of nurseries and various other rooms and immediately play the "What is Wrong with this Picture" game, pointing out all of the safety hazards and CPS violations you can find.
- You have to go to school more than your child does.
- You have a personal stash of children's clothing and toys that rivals that of any children's retail store.
- You find yourself classifying random children into their CPS categories of care (Basic, Moderate, Therapeutic, etc.).
- You can tell the physician what medication your child needs.
- You learn that "caseworker speak" can be extremely misleading. "Basically a good child with a few behavioral problems" doesn't mean the same thing coming from a caseworker as it does coming from someone in the real world. (I think "caseworker speak" is going to get its very own blog post in the near future. :-)
- Your neighbors light up the BBQ and upon smelling the smoke, everyone in your house yells, "Where's ____?!?," your resident firestarter.
- Your neighbors don't invite your family to their BBQs anymore.
- You gather up your monthly paperwork to submit it to your agency and discover that you have completed medication logs for yourself as well as your kids.
- Your cell phone becomes a permanent fixture on the end of your hand due to the fact that you are expected to be at the beck and call of two dozen people at any given moment.
- Your heart skips a beat every time the phone rings.
- The speed dial numbers on your phone consist of therapists, caseworkers, schools, etc. rather than family and friends.
- Your cell phone battery dies before 9:00am due to overuse.
- You experience "foster pregnancy" every time you are between placements.
- You can carry on an entire conversation using nothing but acronyms and actually understand what you're talking about. (TPR, PTSD, RAD, CASA, GAL, CPS, DFPS, PDD, FAS, ODD, WIC, CCMS, etc.)
- You get super excited when you see things like this... A super-cool, locking tackle box with multiple compartments for separate storage of oral and topical medications!!!
- And even more excited when you realize you can get it in pink!
- Your idea of light summer reading consists of a simple book on child development or Parenting 101 as opposed to your usual material on the effects of drugs and alcohol in newborns or parenting children with RAD.
- You own stock in the Ritalin company.
- Your Christmas wish list consists entirely of organizational and storage tools... (ex. storage tubs for on-hand clothing and supplies, a huge dayplanner with lots of room for writing daily notes, highlighters, etc.)
- Your idea of a grand social event is attending your children's court hearings where you get to talk to social workers, attorneys, CASAs, supervisors, etc.
- You have ever wondered how the story about how Little Timmy tried to kill you turned into, "Little Timmy is doing unbelievably well, Your Honor." by the time his caseworker has to report in court.
- You never complete your US Census early because you have no idea how many people will be living in your home as of April 1st.
- The local schools send you extra enrollment packets "just in case."
- The teachers in those schools have nervous breakdowns when they see you coming.
- You watch your two-week placement go from a crib to junior high.
- You have alarms that tell you when someone is leaving the house as opposed to when someone is breaking in.
(And my personal favorite that I found while searching for "You Know You're a Foster Parent When's...")
You know you're a foster parent when...
"Your heart is bigger than your brain." :-)