Friday, September 30, 2005

Getting It Together

Not much to report at the moment, and there probably won't be any earth-shattering developments until we actually get a which time earth-shattering developments could become a daily thing, if memory serves.

So we're spending our free time enjoying the fact that we still have free time, and on the side gathering together our paperwork to feed into the maw of the foster-care bureaucracy. Tomorrow I have to get out the blow torch to prepare a well-water sample (don't ask). I got my doctor's note yesterday to the effect that yes, indeed, I am healthy enough to be doing this foolish thing. The Wife got hers yesterday as well. We've hassled the two delinquent reference to turn their stuff in, but hopefully not enough that they'll just pitch them in the garbage. I've studied up on the fire code and I still have a few issues there, but I'm debating whether to just wait to see which of the several violations the inspector flags and fix them then. Maybe he'll be hung over, or be thinking about other things or something when he does the inspection. A guy can hope, right?

This weekend I'll be planting 309 bulbs (again, don't ask) and mowing the lawn so that yard work is mostly out of the way for the season.

Basically, we're in get-ready mode. The team has taken the field for warmups. If you'll excuse me, I have to go get some reps in with the first team, or I won't be ready for kickoff.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


We have a revolving door of pets. I just lost Bo...currently we have:

Willy. A new addition from the Humane Society, Willy is a Chow/Lhasa Apso/Terrier cross. He's black and white and full of fun. He gives great puppy-kisses and loves to terrorize Tasha (and she him).

Tasha. She joined The Wife from the Humane Society years ago, and is a geriatric Alaskan Husky, also known as American Couch Hound. She usually doesn't have a lot of energy, loves massages for her arthritis, and loves chewies, in spite of her bad teeth.

Zoey. She's a grey cat, still pretty young and loves to hunt bugs with her partner Sophie. She showed up on the in-laws' doorstep in the dead of last winter expecting to be taken in. She wasn't disappointed.

Sophie. She's a tiger cat with a white belly and beautiful markings. She specializes in doing summersaults in your lap without falling off while you pet her. She was part of a package deal with The Wife.

Carmie. She's a sort of calico cat and also came with The Wife. She's sort of a dorky-looking cat, with cow-like "udders" and a scrawny neck, but don't tell her I said so. She's shy around strangers, but makes a nightly ritual of climbing up onto my chest each night when I lay down in bed to collect her daily ration of daddy-love.

Character: The Wife

She doesn't want her name used, which I will try to abide. We met in college years ago and remained long-distance friends through my first marriage, and struck up a romance after my divorce. We were married less than a year later. She's very organized (unlike me), attentive to my wants and needs, and I honestly can't find anything to really criticize. She loves animals as I do, she loved Bo almost as much as I did, she lets me spend time on Fantasy football, she makes me spaghetti frequently and she otherwise humors my fleeting and permanent obsessions. I'm the most blessed man I know.

She's a licensed social worker, but after our recent move we decided she shouldn't get a job outside the home, as fostering and looking after me will probably be enough of a job once we get going.

She's a strong Christian. I think that will be tested in the coming months and years. Heh.

Character: Me

I'm a software engineer entering my late 30s. I grew up in a home where my biological parents were foster parents, providing care to over 100 foster kids over the course of 30 years or so before they quit a few years ago. I have one biological sister and one adopted sister who was one of Mom & Dad's first foster kids and finally was adopted when she was in her late 20s (go figure).

I love spaghetti, fantasy football, riding my motorcycle, animals, and my wife, (definitely NOT in that order!) I'm excitable, something of a loner, and my family is incredibly important to me. My father is the handiest man who ever lived, and lately I've been belatedly trying to follow in his footsteps, and in the next year or two I'm going to be finishing the basement in our new house, which should provide some interesting anecdotes, especially if foster kids help out.

I recently lost my best friend, Bo, who was a 170-pound mutt from the humane society and my fellow traveler for nearly 7 1/2 years. After losing him, I decided I can't live without a dog...but due to objections from family I visit he was replaced with a much smaller and less drooly model.

I'm very much looking forward to fostering children, and I feel it's God's work, it's the right thing to do in every way, and it's going to provide rewards to us for years to come.

Character: Vicki

I'll try to sketch a profile of the characters in our story as they enter the picture so you have an idea who I'll be writing about.

"Vicki" is our first--and as of this writing, only--contact with PATH outside of the foster parents who referred us. She's a social worker, looks to be in her twenties, and seems very competent. Her catchphrase is "Rock on!", usually delivered with a big smile and a thumbs-up. She's visited our house a few times, has been a joy to talk with, and is the one we're looking to for direction with issues like corporal punishment (DON'T DO IT!), how to deal with difficult biological parents and so forth. She writes on her hands, she's a pet lover with pets of her own, and she travels a lot, maintaining offices in two towns.

This girl is on the go, and I get the sense she's pretty good at what she does. I think we're in good hands, and I hope the traditionally high turnover for social workers in child protection doesn't strike too soon in this case. I've seen a lot worse.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Terror, Then Intrigue

Last night Vicki stopped by and gave us what sounds like our final training session. She said the social histories we wrote up for her were fun and informative, she seems to be getting more comfortable with us as prospective foster parents, and we traded war stories, though mine--at least those regarding foster care--are all a lot older than hers, and some may be older than HER.

Anyway, she took the opportunity to bounce an idea off us. I don't think she even realized that it didn't bounce, but clobbered. Out of the blue, as if on a whim, she asks, "would you be interested in adopting, if the right child came along?" She knows damned well we would. "Sure, that's a definite possibility." "How about four?"

A pause while I retrieved my jaw and put my eyeballs back into my head.

"Weeeellll..." This is not a snap decision, clearly. But being the people we happen to be, we can't let such a fascinating concept go without some examination. We asked for more info, and were told that there is a sibling group of four who need a new family. No information on gender, age, or anything else, as Vicki apparently had just heard about them.

Needless to say, we're dumb enough that we asked her to call us with more info. If there is no gender split or if it's split evenly, they'd fill up the two bedrooms we have available. If it's 3-and-1, I don't know how we'd house them.

I think we've decided to punt on whether to consider it further until we get more information...but if I know us, this is a minefield and we're walking through it blindfolded. If those damned kids are too cute, or if their story is really horrid or really sad, we may be doomed right out the gate. We're suckers for this kind of stuff. It's not fair.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ground Rules

You should be aware of a few items about how I plan to approach this blog. It will be a historical document. I have no reason to lie about anything I will write in here, and I don't plan to. I want it to be a compilation of my life for the next 20 years or I can print out into a book when I'm old and gray and sitting on the dock fishing, and want something interesting to read. So everything I write in here will be the truth as I know it. I want to be proud of it, and I want it to remind me very accurately of "how it was then".

I have no idea how my style is going to come across in this medium in this situation. I envision a collection of incidents and stories a la James Herriot and his stories about being a Veterinarian, but how this sort of thing actually plays out is sort of hard to determine ahead of time.

I won't be able to give gory details. My parents protected me from those as I was growing up, but as an adult I've learned things about things that happened to some of my foster brothers and sisters in their homes that blistered my soul to this day. I don't expect the world has changed that much in a decade, except perhaps to make those kinds of things more common and not less. There will be ugly bits, and those I suspect would, for the most part, be best left out of this blog. They aren't the kinds of things I would prefer to remember too much later in any case, if I'm ever able to successfully forget them in the first place.

Names of social workers, foster kids, other foster parents, and other players in this production will be changed to protect their privacy. I will do the best I can with keeping consistent names attached to the actors, so I can weave a coherent narrative of events. I think my wife questions my sanity for doing in self defense I'll just refer to her as my wife, or The Love Of My Life, or some other endearment that won't put me in the doghouse.

I will read comments as long as they remain manageable in my schedule (I have no reason to believe readership and comments will become large, but I've known other bloggers who became de rigeur for whatever reason and lost control of things). I will probably be sparing in my replies, not necessarily because I don't welcome comments but because anything I really have to say I'll put on the front page.

Email is welcome and read. Ones that aren't threatening, mean, or otherwise creepy will be replied to as time permits and opportunity presents itself.

I'll post as often as I have something to say that seems interesting to me. When I don't, I won't try to force it. That quickly kills the fun.

On with the show.


I'm a long-time blogger. My usual milieu is politics, and those are the blogs I read most...but I've been aware for years that there's a whole other blogging world out there. Time to jump in...but what to write about that fires my passion like politics?

Well, my life is in flux right now. My wife and I got married a year ago last May, and this summer we moved to a central Minnesota town from the Twin Cities...quite a change. And now we're about to embark on what is likely to be the greatest adventure of our lives.

I grew up on a foster home...but I was not a foster child. My parents decided to become foster parents when I was about 7, and just quit 2 or 3 years ago. In that stretch of nearly 30 years, they fostered perhaps 125 kids...some for only a day or two, some for years, and one is now my beloved adopted sister. I only had one biological sister, but I had more siblings growing up than you did. Neener.

My wife is a licensed social worker and strong Christian...a combination you won't often find, I don't think. She aches to help people, and had considered becoming a foster parent when she was single. That's a prospect that would frighten the most hardened of the foster veterans I know, but I think she is the quality of woman that might just have pulled it off. I married her because she has qualities like that.

Together, we make quite a team. And now that we've gotten somewhat settled in our new lives, we're proceeding through the process of foster licensure.

We applied with the county this summer, dropping off two nights worth of paperwork (including several mind-numbing hours reading the fire code and foster rules to make sure there were no show-stoppers in our situation) personally at the county social services office. After several weeks of no response, we happened to talk to a couple at church who are foster parents working through PATH. They gave us a phone number and we were on the road.

A couple of weeks later, after our first meeting with a real live PATH social worker, we got a call from the county wanting money to pay for a background check in my wife's old county. Sheesh. The least they could have done was notify us that our application materials were being used for something other than dust catchers. "No thank you, we've decided to go with PATH."

Anyway, we meet with the social worker, Vicki (Name changed to protect the innocent...more on her later as we get to know her), for the third of what we understand to be four meetings that are required to get our provisional license. I've almost got the house up to snuff. I have to finish putting spindles on a couple of outside stairway railings (a ball of 6-inch diameter can't fit between them) and I have to get the fire alarms rewired, plus a couple of other quick items and we're good to go.

Pray for us. We're about to enter the valley of the shadow of death. Worse...we're about to invite other people's kids into our home for a long visit. I'll try to keep you relatively informed on events here. It's probably gonna get interesting. It'll probably be the time of our lives.