Hi. My name is Teresa and I am a comment addict.
For real, I get so excited when I see that someone has left a comment on here. It's surreal that anyone is interested in our story at all. I really appreciate your feedback. This week I've gotten some questions that I'd like to answer here:
The first is from Mitzy on the post Prepping Our House For Foster Care
"You mention in this post that you send your foster children home with full wardrobe for a full year. I would love to hear more about how you make that happens."
I have a couple of tips to building a wardrobe for your kids: The first is to look for used clothes lots on Craigslist, Ebay, and garage sales. When Baby 2 came to me he was wearing size 18months, I found a boys clothing lot on Craigslist that contained 200+ pieces of 18mo-4T clothes in the right seasons for $120. I offered $80 and had a great base to work with. By the time he left a year later, he was in 3T clothes and Baby 3 was in 12-18month clothes so that $80 was completely worth it. I did the same thing for Baby 4 when he arrived. I won an Ebay auction for $17.50 plus $10 shipping for a 4T lot that included 40 pieces- PJ's, Tshirts, several pairs of pants, a couple pairs of shorts, and a bathing suit. From there, I shop off season. For instance, on Sunday I went to the Carter's store and they had all their winter stuff 70% off. I was picking up 3 piece outfits for $6 and PJ's/Rompers for $3.99! I bought size 5 stuff for Baby 4, who is currently wearing size 4, and 18month clothes for Baby 5 who is in 6-9month clothes now. Walmart is great for this kind of shopping- their end of season clearance items often get marked down to $1.50, and I've gotten shoes for $3 several times. They have a line of inexpensive clothes called Garanimals that even at full price runs $3.50-$5.00 per piece and they are designed to mix and match. I like to get creative with clothes as the seasons change. If I find $1 short sleeve shirts in September, I'll layer them over long sleeved onsies and extend the life of baby's wardrobe. I've brought home 3 children in the month of March- when it's still cold here but Spring is quickly approaching. Instead of buying a winter coat for now, I buy a spring jacket and a zip up hoodie to wear together, and a clearance coat one size bigger for the end of the year. Lastly, I ere on the bigger side when trying to predict what size my kids will be in down the road- you can always roll up pant legs and sleeves, and a lot of kids pants come with adjustable waists now. This answer wouldn't be complete without acknowledging that I have a great church family and the best friends who have given us clothes for every child we've had, and for that I am beyond grateful.
A seasoned foster Mom told me to never send new clothes with tags home with a child. Always cut the tags off and wash the clothes so that they can not be returned or easily sold. I do the same with cans of formula that get sent to visits- always open it first, even if I send it full. That way it's more likely to be used for the child you sent it with.
Question 2 is from Mama P on I'm Back!
"If the clothes went missing, what did he wear home?"
The mysterious case of the missing clothes turned into such a debacle, there is not enough blog time to even tell you. For this visit, I sent 5 in a long sleeved onesie, sweater vest, jeans, and sneakers. He had another long sleeved onsie and another pair of jeans in his bag. All of the clothes were size 6-9mo. He came home in a white short sleeved onesie (0-3mo), a windbreaker jacket (12mo) and blue cotton pants (3mo) that were brought by the parent. The parent also sent home a bag full of 0-3months clothes, but the clothes he was wearing and the extra outfit were gone. I never thought that the clothes were stolen or intentionally left out of the bag. I'm just confused how they went missing when there is a supervising caseworker in one room with one parent and one infant. I spoke to the visitation worker who explained to me that the visits get very chaotic when it's time to get baby packed up and say goodbye. Often it's the worker who has to gather all baby's belongings and put them back in the bag and strap baby in his seat, and tend to the parent's emotions. The visitation worker mentioned that none of the clothes I send are labeled, so doing that might help. I agreed to label the clothes, but I'm not really sure how that will help because they are in a room with a couch, some toys, and a highchair- it's not like the clothes got mixed into someone else's. I mentioned this to 5's case manager who emailed the visitation worker. Case manager told visitation worker to be aware that incidents like this have happened in visita with 5's siblings. Her response? The Foster Mom sends baby to visits in a coat that is too small. You should talk to her about that. What?!?! The case manager came to our house this week for a homevisit and I showed her the coat, which fits just fine. I'm resigned to avoid this visitation worker and not talk about 5's clothes and visits any more. I'm so over it!
Lastly, another question on I'm Back! was asked by Rachael:
"Seconding what Mitzy said about being happy you're back, and not happy about the threatening! How in the world did you resolve that situation??"
I will never stop saying good things about how my agency handled this situation. They were VERY understanding and agreed to change the visitation schedule and location to be sure this person would never be able to get in contact with 5's family. I made the police aware of the situation and they advised me to file a report for harassment if something like this happens again. I also deleted the option on the blog to have my new posts emailed to subscribers because I'm pretty sure this person kept up to date on the blog through that feature. As far as resolving this conflict in my own head- I had to stop being a victim. I'm prepared if this escalates, and if this is the end- I've lost someone who was willing to inflict the greatest hurt possible on me, but I still have my kids and the opportunity to treat them better than I've been treated.
Are there any other questions you would like me to answer? Please leave a comment!