I haven't really said a lot about our foster care adventure - at least not in a public place - to many people. I figure I ought to jot it down for memory though.
We were able to welcome our niece, Olivia (5), and nephew, Kash (9) into our home on Caleb's 8th birthday (July 18). Their mom asked to place them in our home until she and Chad were able to care for them. We only had them three days and then they went back to Scott and Kris's home, where they had been staying since about October 2015. I called DCFS the day after the kids left our home and an investigation was opened. The kids returned to our home the first or second full week of August (after they went to Lake Powell with Scott and Kris). On August 30, the kids were made wards of the state. The state then turned temporary custody over to Travis and I.
We decided that it would be in our best interest, and in the best interest of the kids, to become state certified foster parents. This has been a long process. We started the process back in September and only just received our state foster care license on December 16. Becoming state certified foster parents means there are more rules and regulations for Travis and I. However, it also means there are more resources for Travis and I, as well as more resources for the kids. Now that we have our probationary license, we need to do 10 hours of online classes/training and I need to do my CPR certification again. This will lead us to receive our initial license. Having the initial license means that we will need to do 16 hours of in service training. Once those 16 hours are completed we will have our license in place for a year. We will have to renew our license with more in service hours each year. The type of license we have only allows us to be a kinship placement. This means that we can only take family members as foster kids. If we were to decide that we wanted to be "regular" foster parents, we would need to complete an additional 32 hours of training that is required to be face to face training (no online classes). At this time we will be staying a strictly kinship foster license.
We've had people ask if we would adopt the kids if it came to that. Our answer is yes. We wouldn't have taken them in the first place if we weren't willing to adopt them at some point if that became necessary. Right now though, their parents have until August 30, 2017 to get all their ducks in a row. Our ultimate goal is reunification. We don't know if or when that will happen. It really isn't up to us, it's up to the kids' parents. There are a lot of requirements their parents have to meet in order to be considered for reunification. They aren't impossible requirements, but they are difficult requirements for people in their situation to meet. We will see what the next year brings. As of right now both parents are back in jail until February and March. We'll be starting close to square one again when they get back out of jail.
Given everything the kids have/are going through, they are doing quite well. They are enjoying Canyon Elementary and have made many friends. Kash did football this year and a few kids on his team also go to his school. That made for an easier transition this fall for him. Kash started scouts in August and has absolutely loved it. Olivia started dance with Brooke in September and she is loving that as well (Sam is the teacher assistant in their dance class each week.) We have both kids seeing the school counselor in addition to a counselor up at USU Marriage and Family Counseling. She's been absolutely amazing with the kids. They don't typically take cases like this but she has been fantastic to work with. I would highly recommend her to anyone. I think it helps that she specializes in working with kids too. The kids love going to primary each week and Kash is looking forward to being baptized in the spring. We've had many people comment to us on the differences they've seen in the kids from before they came to us and now. People keep saying how they admire us, etc. I have a hard time taking that in stride. I feel like we are the lucky ones to have them in our home. I also feel like anyone would have done what we are doing. It isn't an easy road, but it's family and this is what you do for family. I would hope our family would do the same for us if it was us in this position.
Although this foster care adventure has been just that, an adventure, I would do it all again (and I'm pretty sure Travis would too). We love the kids and are glad they are safe and happy. We are hoping for the best in this situation - whatever the best may be. Thanks to all of you who have given us support through this difficult time!