Whether it is considered another “hoop” or “multiple steps”, the system has a way of making one feel as if there is always a “next step”. But what does this really mean? It can literally be getting a new placement and fulfilling all the needs of that new placement from doctor appointments to DCS paperwork. Or it could be seeing a successful reunification and waiting for the next placement. Each foster family feels different about what the next step for them means and where they feel their path may lead them.

For us we have had an idea of what we have wanted to accomplish as foster parents without rigidly sticking to one path. We have tried to remain flexible while holding to our own set of morals and ethics. So far we feel as if we have been able to accomplish those goals as foster parents and foster parenting mentors.

Almost four years, four children, and four mentees families in we have started to wonder “what is our own next step?”

We now over a year from the point when Stinkerbell, our last real placement, was successfully reunified with her mom. In that time we were able to take a well needed break; consider adopting two boys (about the age of our nephews); enjoy a multitude of family get-togethers; help with an emergency placement; deal with routine screenings; ailing loved ones; and keep up with DCS training.

For the first four or five months of that time I had baby fever but then got over it as I have helped with potty training three toddlers and dealt with their sassiness. Since September I have been driving one nephew twice a week to and from tutoring as he prepares for kindergarten and getting his speech up to the speed of his brain. In December, rent-a-dad and I sat with the mother of our former placement waiting at the hospital while Stinkerbell had pins placed in her elbow.

Since Stinkerbell had a successful reunification with her mom last year we have been nothing but busy. Our lives are full. The question remains should we continue to have a home open to major placements or consider just doing emergency placements and respite care?

Right this minute we are leaving that as an open ended question. We are still thinking over how rich our life has become and what we want to see happen in the next year. If it is it is possible to become a home for emergency placements and respite care that is what we would like to do because we don’t feel as if our journey with foster care it truly done. It is important to us that we remain true to who we are and the level of care we wish to provide to the children in our care, which for us can even include our former placements.

A couple of months back I read two different posts talking about re-imagining the foster system. One post talked about how the system would be a much better place if each able bodied couple (or single person) considered fostering just one child or child grouping in their lifetime. That the focus would be one that kid(s) not just at that point but even when they were reunified with their family or found another permanent placement.

The second post I read was about a foster mother who believed in fostering one child/child group at a time, which for her meant until their family could fully handle the reunification. To her this meant until the family no longer wished to use her as a resource.

I can admire both concepts and look forward to seeing more people interested in fostering in this manner. For those who find these concepts interesting, this could be your next step.

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