Let’s say you’re interested in foster care. You google and you ask the few people you may know who are crazy enough to do this. You think you’re ready, then your first kid shows up.
In the middle of the night.
And you turn to your partner in crime: “What in the world were we thinking?!”
Well, you’re not alone.
The first placement is scary and there is no way to be ready. From what I can tell, the subsequent 9 will be just as terrifying. How ’bout I just let you know if that ever changes.
You can’t prepare for personality, behavior, health, etc. But you can be ready to meet the basic needs. Here’s my staple stock of kid readiness. It has yet to prevent a midnight Wal-Mart run, but I’m certain if we keep trying, we’ll be ready one of these days. ***Note: we keep younger ones and babies, so your list may look different if you’re open to older kids, or kids with special needs.
1. Bottles. The kids come with nothing. If they come with something, it’s disgusting.
2. Formula. I have one can of each type to be sure that if a child comes with special needs I’m prepared. There’s nothing worse than a very sick baby on day one.
3. Diapers. I try to keep one pack of 2’s, 3’s and 4’s as those seem to be our most common sizes. I also have some 2t/3t pull ups. I have a handfull of 1’s, 5’s and 6’s ’cause I’ve learned I never know what to expect.
4. Tooth brushes and kid friendly tooth paste.
5. Baby soap and baby lotion. I also keep Eucerine Intensive repair, E. calming cream, Aquaphor and Neosporin. All to be discussed in another post on skin care.
6. Kid friendly snacks. Also known as junk food. Most of the ones who eat solids eat nothing but junk. I get them on a schedule and healthy diet as soon as possible, but their first night in the home, I like them to have something in their bellies, even if its yuck food.
7. Blankets and lovey type things. I’m blessed with incredible friends who make stuff for my kids all the time. When a child shows up with nothing but the clothes on his back or a bag of chips in her hands, it’s nice to tuck them into bed with a cozy little something special.
8. PJ’s. Again, I’m fortunate that my friends keep me stocked with their gently used kid clothes, but if I’m out, I’ll catch them on clearance or at the thrift store. Sure, a kid could sleep in just a diaper or one of my old t-shirts, but it feels more natural to have things ready and waiting. I want the kids to feel wanted and expected, even if they’re not. Expected that is. They’re always wanted.
9. Kid friendly movies. I have two DVD’s of really cheesy cartoons with happy themes. I also have some Veggie tales I keep aside for the first night. Even if it’s 11pm, the children are up and while they may not last long, climbing in to a strange bed minutes after entering the house can be a little disconcerting. We pop in a movie and let them have a little time to acclimate. If they’re shy, sitting next to them on the couch or floor is great way to get close without being too aggressive.
10. Basic toys. We have a pretty big stock now, but in the beginning we had a few baby things, some puzzles and some toy cars. I have a vivid memory of Simeon lining up those toy cars by color for hours his first few nights with us. Now his toys are taking over the house and cause travel hazards in the driveway, but having something small and simple to occupy their minds in the beginning is good.
Truth be told, you don’t really need any of that to be a great foster family, but it really does make things less stressful if you’re ready and waiting when the calls come in.