I want to put my hands up in the air, like I just don’t care, and wiggle my butt around in a happy dance. Except a 99.9% done home study is not a 100% done, and if the System bureaucracy has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no dancing until done is done.
Everyone always worries about the home study, because you have strangers asking all sorts of personal questions. And that’s true. “Do you feel like you have enough sex?” (Huh?) “What’s your spouse’s life motto (asked in front of your spouse, so no pressure!)” “Tell me about the most tragic thing that has ever happened to you.” (Seriously uncomfortable)
But it’s the endless paperwork that can make you want to run away.
During PRIDE (foster care class), they handed us a huge stack of paperwork. We researched our family trees, looked through our financial records, went to doctor appointments, and got fingerprinted at the police station in order to be able to fill out all the forms. Proudly we turned them all in. See, we can handle the bureaucracy. Give us our gold star, please.
But wait. There’s more. The county forgot to ask for a fire escape plan. Ok. Do it, turn it in. The county should have required medical exams for your kids. Ok. Do it, turn it in. Uh, the medical should have included a TB test. Ok. Do it, turn it in. The county has changed the foster care application form, so you’ll need to redo that ten-page document. Ok. The county wants to know about your retirement savings (really? retirement is still like 20-30 years away). But ok. The county decided to add a new online test for mandated reporters (how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect). Ok.
And now. Now after months and months of the paperwork parade. Now the social worker says the home study is done and just needs the supervisor’s signature. That “done” word. It sounds like time to break out the happy dance. But I have learned. Not yet. Another request could still be made before they hand out the foster care license.
But as I think about it, we have passed the first test. We can handle the craziness of the bureacracy. We can calmly respond to invasive, difficult questions. We take it in stride when a steady stream of strangers inspect our home, interview us, interview our kids. A blizzard of forms can bury us again and again, but we will keep digging ourselves out.
Yes, we are prepared to be foster parents who can work the System. Bring on the happy dance.