School Tips For Parents After a Foster Adoption

Today’s guest post was written by Gina Ponce. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, here is how.

Tips For Parents Preparing For the School Year After/During a Foster Adoption

It happens every year – summer vacation flies by, and before you know it, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming school year again. Let’s be honest – we ALL look forward to the structure and mental break that the school year brings, but preparing for the kids to go back to school can put any parent in a frenzy. But this is especially true if you’ve recently finalized or are currently going through a foster adoption. Trying to make all the necessary adjustments that go along with that process while trying to master the back to school routine at the same time can feel overwhelming to you and the children involved. With all kinds of changes going on in your household, it helps to follow the tips below to make sure you have everything organized and ready to go when the first day of school arrives.

Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Paperwork

If you’ve never been a secretary before, prepare to be one now! Just as you would with a biological child, you’ll need to ensure you have all the paperwork that schools need for enrollment. The difference is, you might not have some of the documents readily accessible to you for an adopted child, so it’s best to look at your school’s checklist ahead of time and start requesting each item you don’t already have. This includes immunization records, past school information, social security numbers, their social worker’s contact details and the names and numbers of emergency contacts.

Familiarize Yourself With Any Educational Needs

Oftentimes, children coming out of foster care need some extra help when it comes to academics and behavior in the classroom in order to excel at their studies. Familiarize yourself with educational needs that may have been previously determined, and take note of any signs that indicate further testing would be helpful. Putting a plan into action early on will decrease the possibility of hindrances occurring due to learning disabilities or problematic behaviors.

Take a Tour of the School

There will naturally be a lot of emotions flying around after a foster adoption, but you can alleviate some of the worry your child will have about their new school by taking them on a tour before their first day. Introduce them to the grounds and various classrooms, practice their locker combination until they have it down and make certain they feel comfortable with their route to and from school, whether they’ll be riding the bus, walking or carpooling.

Meet With Teachers As Soon As Possible

Filling teachers in on your unique family dynamic can go a long way in helping them to understand your child and their background a little better. If challenges should arise, it’s good for teachers to know that you are an involved parent and willing to work with them on finding solutions that will ultimately be in the best interest of the child.

Look For Foster Care Donation Opportunities

There are quite a few things that typically need to be purchased at the beginning of the school year, and it can add up to be a large expense. Many communities have programs or hold special events for those in need of backpacks, clothing and school supplies. If you could use some help financially after opening your home to another family member, don’t hesitate to use the resources available to you.

Talk About Extracurricular Activities and Build Excitement

School should be something children look forward to and get excited about. You can make this a reality by encouraging them to do some research on the different extracurricular activities that the school has to offer and engage in something that really captures their interest – art, music, sports, philanthropic endeavors, etc.

Transitioning into a new family after a foster adoption can be difficult for everyone, but you can make it a little easier by successfully preparing for the school year ahead. And who knows, it might be an awesome experience for your new family!

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gina-ponce-profile-squareGina Ponce is a writer and blogger from Redding, CA – an area overpopulated with children desperately hoping for healthy families to foster and adopt them. Through her work with Children First FFA, Gina enjoys educating people on the power of serving children in need.

 

Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!

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Today’s topic is Anything Goes. Grab a button for your post and join Jamie, Jenni, JillMadeleine, Rachel, and me!

New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.

No Bohns About It


The September 11th A–hole

One thing I am sure I am not alone in thinking about every September is the anniversary of September 11th. In my mind, and I’m sure the minds of so many others, when I think of the month of September I think of two things – the first day of school and September 11th. Hand in hand they walk, shiney first day of school smiles, shiney tear stained cheeks.

It’s not like I have some deep, personal, traumatic September 11th story. I don’t. In fact my own memory of September 11th makes me sound kind of like an asshole, and I don’t use that term very often. I was in the 10th grade. Chemistry class. I don’t know what we were doing when we heard the news, probably lighting pencils on fire with bunsen burners or passing notes or something you do when your in a tenth grade Chemistry class. A teacher from the classroom next door ran in crying and screamed something like “There’s been an attack on the pentagon!” Our teacher gasped and turned the news on. They were both crying and screaming. I exchanged looks with the friend sitting next to me that clearly stated “these teachers are sooooo over dramatic!” We watched the next hour or so of the news, the bell rang and we transferred classes. Government. Ugh. The only thing more boring than Chemistry.

As we sat down the government teacher asked us to take out our notebooks and write about our feelings. Our school was 75% military and about 30 minutes from the pentagon. A huge percent of my classmates parents worked at the pentagon. Most of those kids were all crying and begging to go home. I took out my notebook and scribbled a few sentences about how it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Yep I wrote that. I also wrote something about wondering if it just hadn’t sunk in. Then I put my notebook away and gossiped with my neighbor. Her dad worked at the pentagon, and I remember asking her if she was worried. She wasn’t. So we chatted about cute boys and crossed our fingers that they would cancel school the next day. I told you I was an asshole, remember?

Our teacher told us we would likely want to save that little piece of writing forever. I was one of those 14 year olds who didn’t want to have any kind of feelings about anything, so naturally I crumbled that paper up a few days later and threw it out.

As the stories of people around me emerged over the next few days, I still don’t think I really understood the magnitude of the day. A friend had gotten in a fight with his father on the morning of September 11th, his father yelled at him as he left “It’s going to be your fault when I miss my flight!” His flight, American Airlines flight 77, he did indeed miss. I got chills when he told me the story, but I hate to admit that was about as deep as my emotions got for the day.

I was able to see that that September 11th was a devastating event for others, but I didn’t personally feel devastated by it.

It wasn’t until several years later, when I moved to NYC for college that I think I really started to understand exactly what that day meant. Ground zero at that point was still a huge gaping chasm, they hadn’t yet begun to physically rebuild. I looked up at the empire state building, and imagined two buildings that were even bigger completely collapsing. I heard the first hand accounts of friends who had been on the way to work at world trade that morning, but hadn’t arrived yet when the attacks happened, or who had already arrived, and thankfully made it out alive. At a college internship one of my assignments was to load hours and hours of unedited news footage. I sat there in shock, I had never seen the towers fall until that moment. There was a firefighter memorial next to one of my college classes. When I over heard a little girl behind me say to her older sister and mom “Let’s stop at daddy’s picture today” as they walked by the memorial, I looked back and saw them hugging, then lost it for the first time.

A photographer friend who had photographed the day had a small room full of his blown up photos of people falling. When you stood in the room, you felt surrounded by it. Surrounded by all these people who were moments away from their death. I wondered, what was going through their minds? Were they thinking of their families? Were they thinking of finally getting out of that building and taking one last breathe of smoke free air before the end? “Why would you want to do this?” I asked him motioning at the pictures around us. “So I don’t ever forget what it felt like to see that many people die so senselessly.” He answered matter of factly. I still occasionally have dreams about the people falling in those photos, although I didn’t witness it the way he did, I certainly won’t ever forget them.

Every September we look out our home’s window at two giant blue pillars and reflect on what it would mean if those pillars were not lights, but buildings. Out my son’s classroom window we were able to slowly watch as the World Trade Center was rebuilt over the years. My son, who loves all things machines and building, announced that his favorite thing to do in class was to stare out the window at Freedom Tower instead of the blackboard. “I love Freedom Tower because it gives me such hope!” He announced in a statement which sounded wise beyond his then 9 years, but was no doubt something he was repeating from his teacher. It gives me hope too bud, it gives me hope too.

Freedom Tower

Favorite Summer Memories 2015

We are entering our last weekend of summer. The kids are at grandma’s house, and we head off tonight after work to pick them up. School starts Tuesday, which is earlier than usual. Something about the start of school always makes me a little melancholy. I’m not sure if its the bitter sweet feeling of seeing my kids getting far too big far too fast, or if its knowing cold weather is around the corner, or if its just feeling like I didn’t make the most all that free time and therefore failed as a parent. I know I’m not supposed to worry about that last one, but sometimes the Joneses do some really epic things on summer vacations, and the Bohnses mostly go to work and summer camp and occasionally the pool if they can find one.

I thought it might be fun to compile a couple of our favorite summer memories. If you’re hoping to see our pictures from Fiji, you’ll have to check back next lifetime.

Summer3

A little early morning piano session.

Summer2

There’s no dog days of summer for this guy. Charlie loves maxin’ and relaxin’ outside. We got him on a hot summer day 9 years ago!

Summer16

One of many, many frozen treats consumed this summer (including but not limited to icies, popsicle, froyos, italian ice, sorbet, sherbet, and good old fashioned ice cream).

Summer20He’s got his game face on for summer camp.

Summer15

Violet was finally big enough for the baby bike seat. Mariyah rode in the same exact one when she was a toddler!

Summer17
Trip to Six Flags! I actually have a fear of heights, so this in particular was a pretty epic moment for me.

Summer14

We got locked out of Mariyah’s room again. Why I didn’t change the doorknob the first time this happened, I don’t know. Thankfully this time I wasn’t covered in vomit and headed to a play date.

Summer19

James pointed out that we didn’t make it to the skate park a single time this summer. At least we made it to the front yard?

Summer13

Day trip to the beach! Friends of ours rent a place on the shore and we were super excited to join them for the day.

Summer18

Chase in the yard – a summer evening staple.

Summer11

One of the best parts of the summer was that this little lady’s medicine FINALLY seems to be making a difference. She’s still getting sick every 1-3 weeks, but the episodes are less severe and she doesn’t seem nearly as miserable.

Summer21

Being goofy in photos – the theme of most of James and Mariyah’s 2015 photos.

Summer7

We made it to the Natural History Museum which is something we haven’t had the time for in awhile.

Summer1

And while there a nice man took a picture of all of us, which is also something that hasn’t happened in awhile.

Summer6

We read some books.

Summer5

And played with lots of friends.

Summer4

And enjoyed the botanical gardens (just kidding that’s our backyard again).

Summer12

James finally got his tooth fixed. It was chipped in a freak hip hop accident last May. And when I say freak hip hop accident, I mean he tried to give a piggy back ride to a kid twice his size while goofing around at hip hop and the two of them face planted…

Summer9

James got a Djembe and some Bongos. He’s pretty good! At least I think he is. It’s hard to be entirely certain when you have ear plugs in.

Transracial Journeys8

Last week we went to Ohio for an adoptive families camp.

Summer10

And then just lounged around at home. I think about some of our passed summers where we have spent every single weekend out of town, and then I look at this summer where we spent almost every weekend here. I know this summer might not seem as epic, but looking back we still had a pretty good time.

Back to School Shopping – Check!

Back to School Shopping

This year was our first real experience with back to school shopping. James and Mariyah both changed schools mid year last year, and their previous school didn’t require us to supply supplies. I tend to buy pretty long lasting lunch boxes and backpacks, so those aren’t usually something we shop for. Their previous school even had uniforms thereby skipping that whole first day of school outfit picking excitement of my own youth.

Although we still have another week until the first day of school, my older kids are spending their last few days of summer at grandma’s house, so this passed Saturday was our last chance for back to school shopping with the kids.

My kids generally liking clothes, so I thought they might be a little excited about picking a special outfit for the first day of school. On Saturday I grabbed my purse and set off in search of my children who had been sent outside to play an hour earlier after telling me they were bored 11 times within an 11 second period. My plan of using the outdoors to entertain them had apparently worked like a charm judging by the fact that they were now moping around on the front porch instead of inside the house. “Who wants to go back to school shopping?!” I asked expecting two “bored” kids to jump up and bolt for the car. Clearly they hadn’t seen enough Staples commercials as I was greeted with silence and vacant expressions. “Aw come on guys, there will be fun binders and new jeans!” That was enough to get Mariyah up, but James decided to stay home and stick with his old jeans.

As we strolled through the mall, I asked my daughter if she had any ideas about a first day of school outfit. “I’m thinking a floor length dress that’s more shorter in the front and more longer in the back. Or maybe a pencil skirt. And also pink high heels where you can see my toe just a little bit. The high heels should have a pointy heel and be this big.” She held her two pointer fingers approximately 3 inches apart to demonstrate. I admit I had been picturing something a little less Louis Vuitton and a little more Gymboree. “Hm. Well let’s see what they have in JCPenney.” I said as I ushered her toward my favorite department store.

30 seconds later Mariyah found the first day of school dress of her dreams conveniently located in the teen section assumably placed there for either a homecoming dance or bar mitzvah. “This! This is it!” Mariyah exclaimed excitedly as she lifted a sequin gown off of a hanger. “Honey, that looks a little too advanced for you…” “Mom! I am a-vanced! And it will touch the floor just like I always wanted!” The dress would certainly touch the floor, and then some. I could sense the wind of impending drama start to blow, so I carefully continued to lead my daughter toward the children’s section. Mariyah hadn’t given up on her teenage dreams yet. “These dresses just aren’t perfect for me.” She announced after surveying the girl’s rack for 35 seconds. I think she expected some push back from me, but nothing was grabbing my eye either. “Okay lets try another store,” I said in hopes that if we moved on she would forget the flowing pink chiffon she had become so attached to.

Fortunately my plan worked, unfortunately it also set the stage for the amount of time my daughter wanted to spend in each store.

Store to store we went. Carefully she surveyed and occasionally tried outfits in her size while making announcements such as “Not enough rainbows” and “This shirt doesn’t have enough sparkles on it to fit me propahly.” As dresses flew around the fitting room, the filmmaker in me felt as if I was in a shopping montage from the movie Clueless. The mother in me felt like I might loose my patience. “Not enough palm trees!” “Green just isn’t my color!” “This will be perfect after you hem it!”

After exiting the third store my daughter smiled up at me, “This is so much fun mommy. Which stores should we try next?” My daughter has always been one of those people who gets really in to carefully selecting clothes and shoes. I’ve always been one of those people who gets really in to online shopping. “You know what honey, I am all shopped out. I think if you are going to pick something, it needs to be in the next store.” “Shopped out?!” My daughter looked like at me like I had just killed a kitten. “Okay mommy. I’ll pick something. I sure hope the next store has pencil skirts!” Yes pencil skirts would be good. And wine.

The next store we tried, The Children’s Place, ended up being a hit. Mariyah ran straight for the boots and announced she had found the pair she had wanted her entire life. When I looked at the price tag and found they were on sale, I realized that they were also the boots I had wanted her to have her entire life. She then picked a matching outfit that doesn’t entirely match, but since she’s proud of it, and it was made for a 7 year old, I think it’s perfect.

She is officially ready for her first, first day of school picture without a uniform. We still need to purchase enough glue sticks to put Pangaea back together, but otherwise the fist day countdown is on!

Friday Favorites

Favorite Picture: This is actually a flashback Friday picture. I stumbled across it while searching for something on my computer last night. 3 years ago on the beach in South Carolina. James’s face is what did it for me. He gave me that same look this morning when I suggested he use a plate while eating an orange.
Bohns at the beach 2012

Favorite Thing: We have a house guest staying with us for the next two weeks. I never notice how filthy our home is until we have non-family company come to stay. Bozo (as Mariyah affectionately named him a few years ago) has been a lifesaver. He is definitely my favorite this week. And every week for that matter. (He’s a little expensive on Amazon, cheaper at Bed, Bath, and Beyond plus you can use a 20% off coupon).

Favorite Story: I realize this was likely a you had to be there moment, but I don’t want to forget it, so here it is anyway. Lately my sweet youngest child has not been so sweet. Mariyah was a perfectly well mannered toddler, so this crabby 21 month old is not something I’m used to. Unlike toddler Mariyah, Violet is stubborn, stubborn, stubborn. She wants to eat what she wants (ketchup), play with what she wants (electrical outlets), and wear what she wants (her birthday suit). Yep, she prefers spending her time running around the living room in the buff. Getting clothes on my littlest for daycare in the morning is hard work. Well, for some reason Violet is pretty hooked on Minions. I think she relates to their lack of self control and occasional absence of clothing. I’m not big on character clothes for my kids, but Violet has one set of pajamas with Bob on the front. Well a couple days ago she absolutely would not let me clothe her. I’m talking screaming and headbanging and flailing arms. Finally I asked her if she wanted to wear her minion pajamas to daycare. “Yes!” She screamed and happily allowed a shirt over her formerly noodle body. She’s now been wearing said pajamas for 3 days.

Favorite Deal: This one is for my CVS friends. Our favorite puke bags are on sale! Violet only recently started hitting the bag which is a parenting milestone I never knew I would appreciate THIS MUCH. I went ahead and ordered nearly 100 of these. That should last us a couple episodes.

Favorite Recipe: These Easy Apple Pie Bites from Cook. Craft. Love. have my stomach grumbling. The summer lover in me gets pretty bummed out about the idea of fall. But the idea of apple pie bites and pumpkin flavored things picks me right back up again. Anyone want to come over and bake these for with me?Easy Apple Pie Bites

Schooling the School and the Pediatrician’s Office

Schooling the School on Adoption

A few days ago I took Mariyah to a new doctor. Violet has been seeing a specialist in the same practice for her CVS, and they have always seemed competent enough. Before my appointment I received the usual automated message reminding me of our appointment. After repeating the date and time of my appointment 3 times the message stated: “Please bring all required documents including ID, insurance cards, referrals, prescriptions, co-payments, and legal guardianship paperwork only if necessary.” Only. If. Necessary. That was their exact words.

I didn’t give it a second thought. I gathered my ID, insurance card, a doughnut, and the referral for my child. Because why would we need anything else? As an adoptive parent, I no longer even have legal guardianship paperwork.

When we arrived at my daughter’s appointment, the office staff registering us took one look at me and my daughter and asked for legal guardianship papers. I told them I did not have legal guardianship papers as I am not a legal guardian, I am a legal mom. Still, they insisted that they could not serve my child without proof that she was indeed my child. You know, just to put a halt to all those random people out there who are trying to bring other people’s kids to the pediatrician. Or as a friend of mine called it “rogue registering.” After quite a bit of rhetoric, and being escorted to the practice manager’s office “to talk in private,” they finally agreed to let the doctor see us on one condition, that I send Mariyah’s adoption decree over that evening (I didn’t).

When I got home that night Mariyah and I ranted to the rest of the family about the events of the day. I was mad enough at the way they treated me, but the worst part was knowing my daughter had witnessed it. James piped in, “Remember when that happened to me at school? It really hurt my feelings.” I had momentarily forgotten that just a few months ago we had a very similar situation when registering James for his new school. After some choice words, we were sent home and told to come back the next day with an adoption decree. When we returned the next day they didn’t even ask to see it!

Of all the places one may go with children, the two places you would most expect a little adoption sensitivity are school and the doctor’s office. Yet time and again, not so much.

We’ve had some great teachers, and we’ve had some great doctors. But we’ve also had some use the “real mom” phrase, make hurtful and presumptuous statements about my kid’s first mom, congratulate me on “having a child of my own” in front of two children who are very much my own, neglect to mention family tree projects even though specifically asked, and just generally mess up.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t think they mean it. No matter how rude the staff in a doctor’s office or principal’s office is, no matter how hurtful the comments they made are, I just can’t imagine that anyone would knowingly be so insensitive. Especially in the presence of children. The only possible explanation is ignorance. One would think that a place that deals with children and adoption on a somewhat regular basis would be educated on it, but that clearly isn’t always the case.

This morning, as I silenced another call from the hospital, James asked me if I was ever going to send the paperwork they wanted. “I think I’ll send a letter instead,” I told him. “Let them know that singling out families isn’t okay. They need to either ask for proof from all families or none.” “Mom, don’t forget to send one to that lady at the school too. I think that’s something she needs to hear.” It might be almost a year later for the school incident, but James is right. Maybe it’s something they need to hear too. Schooling the school and the pediatrician’s office, I guess that’s just another part of being a transracial adoptive family.

Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!

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Today’s topic is School and Adoption Sensitivity. Grab a button for your post and join Jamie, Jenni, JillMadeleine, Rachel, and me!

New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.

No Bohns About It


Transracial Journeys Family Camp Photo Upload

I’m still mentally unpacking from our trip to Ohio. I’ve finished physically unpacking so I thought I would go ahead and post a few pictures while I get my thoughts together. Naturally most of my faves have other people’s children in them. But here are a few I liked of my crew from Transracial Journeys Family Camp.Transracial Journeys Family Camp

In the car ready to go! I had been a little (okay a lot!) nervous that Violet would be sick at camp. She was completely fine which was a huge relief.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

We made our now traditional pre-camp White Turkey Drive-In ice cream stop (there may have been a post camp stop too).

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

Our cabin! I thought our cabin last year was awesome, but this one was even better. Perfect location right in the middle of camp. It felt like such a little home. Rob and I both admitted that we wished we could live in it year round! The kids both admitted that they thought we were a little nuts.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

This child had to be watched constantly as she made it an early goal to “swim in da pa-pool” aka swim in the lake. There was an actual pool at camp, but that didn’t stop her from heading off toward Lake Erie every chance she got. She is a water bug, just like her big sister.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

Family archery. Some people thought archery was boring. And then wanted a second turn.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

Our pre-camp hair night plans were ruined by Violet being sick. I won’t lie, I was a bit embarrassed by our lack of a fresh style. And then I remembered the same thing happened last year.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

Have I mentioned how much my kids like camp food? In case you can’t tell, the top picture is Violet eating guacamole by the forkful.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

The guests speakers (Beth Hall and Angela Tucker) were both really insightful. I’ll post more on that later.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

How many shots of that lake can I get away with posting?

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

This is what you get when you ask an 11 year old to take a family picture. I actually kind of like it. The spare child? That is one of Mariyah’s friends. They thought it a good idea to pretend they were sisters. I think it works.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

I wasn’t the only one in our family who was super excited about finally meeting Angela. And yes that’s a sweatshirt on a stick, because he’s him.

Transracial Journeys Family Camp

That sunset man. The first two nights of camp were cloudy, so when the last night was finally clear enough to see the sunset it was appreciated twice as much.

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations

One of my favorite blogging friends, Nicole, is getting married next month, so in honor of the big day I decided to post a few of my favorite easy bridal shower decorations. I actually had 5 on the agenda, but you know how it goes with me and crafts (and if you don’t know how it goes with me and crafts I’ll tell you – it doesn’t). These are super simple, quick, and fun.

Tissue Paper Flowers

You may remember this oldie but goodie from your days as an 8 year old. This elementary school throw back makes a perfect, easy bridal shower decoration. Just toss a couple of these babies on the table for instant ambience. I decided to put all the steps in one picture to make it easy….

Supplies:
Tissue Paper
Rubber Bands
Scissors
Hands

1) Make a stack of tissue paper several layers thick. The more the better. I think I had 15 layers.
2) Fan fold and rubber band in center. No need to worry about the precision of your fan fold. We aren’t origamists here.
3) Cut off edges in a rounded manner so that they are shaped like petals.
4) Carefully separate each layer. No worries if some rip, it won’t be noticeable.
5) Wa la! Perfect for a bridal shower (or baby shower, or craft with your 6 year old)

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations - How to make a tissue paper flower

Bride and Groom Marquee Letters

Marquee letters are all the rage these days. At least that’s what I assume because I keep seeing them in the background of clothing ads as I chuck them into the recycling bin. I’m pretty sure you can buy fancy ones. Or you can easily make some yourself.

Supplies:
Cardboard or Poster board
Christmas Lights
Ruler (or something with a straight edge)
Hole Punch
Tape (Heavier duty is better, I like packaging tape. Mostly because I only have packaging tape.)

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations - DIY Marquee letters and tissue paper flowers

1) Use the ruler to make initials. I decided to opt for N hearts D. Because Nicole’s name starts with N and her fiance’s name starts with D. I went for a heart in lieu of an ampersand because ampersands are hard.

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations - DIY Marquee letters and tissue paper flowers

2) If any of your letters have something round in them like D, just trace half a plate or a bowl.

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations - DIY Marquee letters and tissue paper flowers

3) Punch holes randomly throughout. My light string had 20 lights, so I went for 20 holes. A normal christmas bulb is exactly the size of the hole from a hole punch, so the fit is perfect. If you are running low on hole punchers in your house, you can probably poke the letters with a pen.

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations - DIY Marquee letters and tissue paper flowers

4) Use tape to secure lights in place. Use a little extra tape to hold down any wire that pops to the side. I accidentally swapped the D and the N when putting the lights in, you know, because I’m me. Thankfully D hearts N works just as well as N hearts D.

Easy Bridal Shower Decorations - DIY Marquee letters and tissue paper flowers5) Display for all the world to see! Or at least all the bridal shower.

Now I know what you’re thinking. That little table would look a lot more bridal showery with a few more decorations, some snacks, and a couple of alcoholic beverages. Check these out for more bridal shower ideas.

Dr. Who Wedding Cookies, Goodie Godmother
Something Blue Tardis Martini, Little Blog on the Homestead
Bridal Shower Garland, An Aiming High Wife
Dr. Who Themed Bridal Shower, Cook. Craft. Love.

5 Fabulous Bridal Shower Ideas

We’re Heading to Ohio

Weaving Cultures Sunset

The sunset on Lake Erie is pretty sweet

We are headed back to Ohio for another long weekend of transracial adoption family camp. We’re (almost) all really excited about it. James and Mariyah can’t stop talking about all the cereal they plan to eat in the dining hall. Nothing like driving 7 hours through 3 states for an all you can eat Lucky Charms breakfast buffet.

I say almost all of us are excited, because naturally Violet started throwing up Monday and hasn’t finished her episode yet so I’m a little nervous. History tells me that this episode should be done soon, but there is always that little voice in my head reminding me that this could be one of the really bad ones. Maybe the trip will make her episode worse. Maybe it will cause her to have another episode before her body can recover from the current one. Or maybe I’m worrying too much and all will be fine. We’ve already pushed back leaving from tonight to tomorrow morning in an effort to give her a little more time. Part of me feels guilty for traveling at all when she is ill, the other part knows that I can’t let Mariyah and James miss out on something that they have looked forward to for the last year (even if the thing they are looking forward to most is eating a lot of sugar for breakfast). I’ve already mapped out the children’s hospital closest to camp just in case.

I’ve spent today trying to push my apprehension aside and focus on the positive. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, hearing Angela Tucker speak, and if I’m being completely honest I’m kind of excited about that dining hall food too (fingers crossed they serve the mac and cheese again…).

One of the nice things about traveling as my kids have gotten older is how much easier it is. I give them a list of clothes, they pack their bags. I double check (on account of one child who shall remain nameless forgetting shorts and underwear on a certain camping trip earlier this year) but that’s about it. This year the big kids even packed Violet’s bag for me. Harry Potter books on cassette tape are all we need for 7 hours of silence on the road. We also went ahead and scheduled in another stop at White Turkey Drive In, a real old fashion root beer stand recommended last year by my friend Mindy.

Weaving Cultures Ice Cream

Root Beer floats for everyone in 2014

Ohio here we come. This is going to be great. I hope…

How Do I Become a Foster Parent?

How do I become a foster parent?

The exact path to becoming a foster parent will differ a bit from state to state and agency to agency, but since one of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I become a foster parent?” I figured I would attempt to break it down for ya. The amount of time it takes to become licensed also varies, I’ve heard of some people being licensed as quickly as 3 months, and as long as 18 months, with most people saying it took them 6-12 months. If you are hoping to adopt through foster care, you still need to become a licensed foster parent first.

1) To Get Started…

Do Your Research
Read about what foster care really is (and what it isn’t). Talk to foster parents and former foster care youth. Decide if this is something you really want to pursue.

Make Contact With a Foster Agency
This step can actually be more difficult than it seems. First you have to figure out who to talk to. If you know any local foster parents, ask them. If not, you can start by calling 311 and asking for child protective services in your city. You could also try googling your state and foster parent recruitment. Once you think you have gotten in touch with your local agency, be ready to repeat the following sentence as you get transferred through the grapevine 100 times “Hello, my name is _____. I am interested in becoming a foster parent and am trying to get in touch with the person in charge of foster parent recruitment.” If you leave a message for someone but do not hear back within a few days, just call again. The people who work in foster care agencies are used to people inquiring but not following through. Calling more than once doesn’t make you seem annoying, it just makes you seem serious about it.

(Possibly) Attend an Orientation
Not all agencies have them, but many start the foster care training process with an orientation. This session will likely be an hour or two and will fill you in on the exact process where you live. There may or may not be an emotional video and cheese plate.

Send in an Application
The foster care agency will give you an application to fill out with questions about your motivation, your family structure, your employment status, and the home that you live in. It’s not too long or too deep.

2) To Become Licensed…

After your application is accepted you will begin the licensing process, the following things may be happening simultaneously, or there may be an exact order for them depending on your agency.

Attend Training Classes
The two most common training programs are PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) and MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting). They are pretty similar (think Coke and Pepsi). The number of training hours required varies per state but is usually in the 20-40 hour range. Some agencies spread the training out over several weeks, and some knock the hours out in a jam packed weekend or two.

Send in Additional Paperwork
Different agencies will need different things. Common additional paperwork includes references from friends, consent for background check, basic form from doctor asserting your health, photo copies of your license, photo copies of your birth certificate, copy of any pet’s immunization records.

Have Fingerprints Taken
This is part of the background check. Even if you already have your prints on file, you’ll likely need to go again.

Have a Home Study Completed
A licensing agency will come to your home to conduct a home study. They will ask you more in depth questions about your motivation for becoming a foster parent, your parenting style, your upbringing, etc. They will also be checking your home for different things depending on the laws in your state. While in your home, they may do things like measure the bedrooms, check your hot water temperature, flush your toilets, open your refrigerator, push the button on your smoke detectors, and make sure your outlets have covers. Different states have random weird little rules, for example in our state your outdoor trashcans must have covers. We missed this the first time licensing came, so they had to return after we had bought new trashcans. If your home doesn’t pass the first time, its not a huge deal. They will write up what you need to fix, and then come back to check for it.

3) After Becoming Licensed…

After everything is completed, you will receive your official foster care license in the mail. Depending on how backed up the licensing agency is, you may be licensed within a week or two of completing everything, or it may take several months for everything to go through. For us, it took about 10 days. Depending on the number of foster homes available, and the number of children in foster care where you live, you may start getting calls immediately or it may take some time. Sit back and get ready for the ride of your life.