Aaron and I have talked about adopting/becoming foster parents for a long time. I don't remember the first time we had a conversation about it, but it was always something we said we'd do "some day". Then we had a bunch of babies and didn't talk about all that much, but every once in a while it would come up. I asked a friend once here in Yuma, and she said that it was next to impossible to become foster parents in Yuma. She told me the trainings were all in Phoenix and they were every week, so that immediately made me dismiss the idea entirely. But months went by and every once in a while the thought would pop back up. And I don't know if Jesse's death had anything to do with us finally taking action, but I have wanted to do something, helping someone in someway since he died. So I think to say it was completely unrelated would be a lie. Anyway my googling led me to a licensing agency which I sent an inquisitive email. The person who I emailed happened to be on vacation and didn't get back to me for over 2 weeks. When I saw the response I was honestly shocked because I figured my friend was right and it just wasn't going to be possible in Yuma. So we set up a meeting to meet and she would answer all our questions for us in person.
I'll never forget the feeling sitting there with that social worker. As she answered our questions and explained a bit about the crisis going on in Arizona with so many kids needing homes right now, I had chills and tears the entire time. She explained the process, which was very doable here in Yuma. However, two weeks later she got back to me that all of my kids needed to be 100% vaccinated in order for us to proceed to become foster parents. At that time I was not comfortable with this so we put it on hold a little longer.
But I bet every week Aaron and I would bring it up again. Are we doing the right thing? Should we just vaccinate them all on schedule? It took us from May - Sept to make our decision. I emailed the same social worker again and told her we would vaccinate our kids and wanted to start the next set of classes. Which just happened to be starting that next week. So found a babysitter willing to come every Wednesday night, and Aaron and I started PSMAPP.
The classes were okay. Some weeks were super interested and we left feeling like we learned something. Other weeks were frustratingly boring and we were just grateful to have the time together.
Classes ended the first week in Dec. The goal was to be licensed by the end of class, but that didn't happen. All kinds of little things popped up to delay the process. Including finding out we're pregnant with Opie baby #5! So then we weren't sure if we were going to move forward or not. But after lots of prayers, temple going, we decided to move forward. To at least finish PSMAPP because once those classes are done, they're done forever. So we kind of put off everything else. But then we decided, heck lets get licensed. I'm feeling fine, and maybe we will just start with respite, or short term placements for now.
So then it was on to waiting for the home inspector, and then there's the Adam Walsh law which means they have to do a background check in any other states we've lived in. Since we lived in PA less than 5 years ago, they had to do a check with PA. And PA came back with some weird paper our caseworker had never seen before. So we had to fill that out, and wait and wait and wait.
But, now here we are in Feb. and EVERYTHING IS DONE! They got stuff back from PA, we did the home inspection, we filled out mountains of paperwork, got physicals, licensed our dogs, put locks on our windows and all of our medication, visits with social workers, and our 12 week PSMAPP class... it's all done! It's been a peculiar kind of pregnancy for sure. But so exciting, and all along has just felt right. So we move forward.
And then on Friday I was walking with a friend. My phone was on silent, and zipped into the stroller, so I didn't hear the 6 phone calls I missed that hour! I also had 3 texts. I read those first, and my eyes locked on the first one and my heart raced. "We have a placement for you." from our case worker. WHAT?! At this time, I thought we were still waiting to hear back from PA so I didn't know we were available to be placed with anyone yet. I texted back, "Details!?" And she texted back, "So sorry! A family member came forward that's going to take the baby."
I can't say the feeling was disappointed. Because you can't be sad that a baby is staying with family. But now I can't wait. It's so weird knowing at any time my phone could ring and we'll be on our way to pick up a baby, or have children at our door. I can't say the thought has been far from my mind since that text on Friday. And I wasn't sure if we were ready, or if this was a great idea right now, since I kind of already have enough kids to be confused with a day care. But this false alarm just confirmed to me that this is still right. I didn't have any feelings of, "Oh crap, not now!" or any anxiety, just excitement. I know I still have on my rose colored glasses, and as this process moves forward to having a real life baby with us, my views might change. But right now we're so excited for the possibility of another baby joining us, and giving us a chance to love them for however long Heavenly Father gives us.