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When do you prepare for a foster child?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

When did you start preparing for a foster child? And, how do you prepare if you don't know what you're going to be taking in? Did you wait until you had the child or did you have everything previously?

I'm very new, still on the application phase. I know my carseats have expired, and also my crib has a drop down side, which I read was not allowed. I've found myself online researching cribs and carseats the other day- as far as prices and safety, etc.Car seats and certain equipment is very age specific. Then again, we may not need any of that, if our placement is older. We are leaning towards newborn to 4 years.

I'm kind of at a loss... not sure if we should make any purchases until we have a placement. But I don't want to be not prepared... if that makes sense. I was just curious as to when you prepared, or if you run to Walmart to pick up a carseat before picking up a child! 


post #2 of 15
I got all the furniture I needed, and read a lot of books - both adult books and books that I shared with my kids.
post #3 of 15

When I was first licensed, I got as much as I could prior to kids. I was licensed for kids birth to 7, so I got car seats, furniture, toys, and clothes for those age groups. I had a ton of clothes in boxes (most were free or very cheap). Most of the toys and furniture that I had would work with any age. It can be tough not knowing exactly what kids you'll have. Just get the basics and when you get a placement, you can get whatever your missing.

post #4 of 15

I literally ran to walmart to pick up a carseat on the way to get the baby!


I had asked for ages 0-4. Just for fun, because my son was about 11 at the time and i was having baby-lust...i went to babies r us and looked at every single thing in the store and made a little (well big) checklist of all the things i might need for a baby. Again just for fun, whenever i'd see a little outfit i thought was particularly adorable, i might get it, but it was really just to satisfy that urge to buy baby stuff, i think it was just a handful of outfits. i probably had one or two things in infant, toddler, and preschool sizes (like a sweatsuit or something)...so that IF i DID have a child dropped at my door in the middle of the night at least i'd have something to put on them.


I bought a crib because part of the licensing was showing where the child would sleep. But i got a portable crib (NOT a pack n play but an actual mini sized crib that would hold up to 50 pounds i think)...it met the requirements for a bed, but could fold flat and be stored up against the wall in my room until i needed it. And would be a suitable bed even for a three or four yr old until a toddler bed could be bought, if needed.


In the end, i got a call for a newborn (three week old) and had about an hour to run to walmart, grab some stuff, and get to the agency to get him. I bought an infant carseat and some other essentials, and then after i got him home, my sister watched him and i ran back to the store to get formula and other things. He didnt come with much, just the (too big) clothes on his back, an old diaper bag, and some cheapy bottles, and a few days worth of formula. (Sad thing is he came from another foster home, NOT bio home!)


Once you get your license, you could possibly buy a convertible carseat, keep it in the box and keep the receipt. Buy one that would fit a newborn and it would likely be the only seat you'd need, because it would even fit a toddler or school aged child. (Some convertibles lower straps are too high to be suitable for a very small baby. I havent researched carseats in ages though.) That way, you could probably return it if you needed to, if you wanted to get something different once you knew what age child you were getting.


With my second foster child, she was dropped off to my house, so i didnt have time to go get anything. I put her in my son's infant carseat (he'd already moved up to a britax blvd) and we went to walmart and got a cheap convertible (scenera...and i got the pink obnoxious flowered one because i was so happy to have a GIRL!) ...i think she was within the size requirements of the seat but she was almost a year old and BIG so i wanted to get her something more suitable for her size since it wasnt like i was going to be lugging her around in the bucket anyway.


With my third foster son, i still had the convertible from the foster girl who had left a month earlier, so he just used that. And since he was the exact age of my son, they just shared clothes and diapers and whatnot until i could get his own clothes from his parents.


So exciting!!! cant wait to hear how everything goes for you!!!!

post #5 of 15

For me, if I were to do it over again, I would have bought everything that I would have gotten if I had been pregnant. I would have done up the room and gotten the best carseat and all that. I think I would even have had a baby shower and been very open from the beginning with all my friends and family about what we were doing. I didn't start truly opening up about things until it all got rough for me... and that meant I didn't have that solid foundational support that I really needed.


But we chose to be more "financially responsible" and we didn't want to get other people's hopes up about an adoption that might not happen. So we bought a few things we figured we'd need for any child in the age-range that we were accepting and then bought everything else last minute. We did a really good job of getting a lot of stuff that was "convertible" for many ages and that was wise. Stuff like a carseat that goes from teeny tiny infant all the way to age 4 or so. Things like that...


It did save us money to postpone so many purchases. And when you buy it last minute you just get whatever you think is 'good enough' at a decent price (you don't save up for what you really want). So, we saved some money, but... for me it wasn't good because it made me feel like we were treating these kids as second-class. It was stressful getting everything last minute like that. I honestly felt totally unprepared even though I read lots of books and took extra classes about infants and childcare and parenting. I mean, I think every first-time mom feels unprepared regardless of if it's a bio child or a foster or adoptive child. But really, I just felt so unprepared.


I say do what you fantasize about doing as much as possible. If you have dreams of having a specific nursery set or a play set for the yard or you keep seeing cute kids clothes that you want to buy, then try to make it happen so long as you can afford it and your partner is on board. If you don't need it for the first kid, then maybe you'll need it for the next kid.

post #6 of 15

"I say do what you fantasize about doing as much as possible. If you have dreams of having a specific nursery set or a play set for the yard or you keep seeing cute kids clothes that you want to buy, then try to make it happen so long as you can afford it and your partner is on board. If you don't need it for the first kid, then maybe you'll need it for the next kid."






I thought it would be awful when Foster Son #2 rode rode the bike we'd bought for Foster Son #1. It wasn't. It was great. Every time I look at that bike I am happy. 

post #7 of 15

We just slowly and gradually bought stuff after we sent in our paperwork to the state. After that we kinda just got stuff to accomadate all ages that our lisence is for. I wish and still may, AFTER we get a placement (saying that with utter frustration) maybe having a "Foster Shower." During the idea of the shower at that time being open with our families about it,  because we are still are being very guarded about who we tell, but thats all entirely up to you! Its a very exciting time, my suggestion, document it all. I wish i would have documented all the events in which we found ourself talking to others about this journey thus far and how much we have learned (but i love to blog and write). But just have fun and enjoy this journey, your'll be amazed at what information or people may find their way to you. love.gif

post #8 of 15

We have just become licensed, and we are accepting children under 5 and are willing to take two kids. I had the same questions you did.  What we chose to do was get one crib that converts to a toddler bed and we also have one crib.  Even a 4 year old can sleep in a toddler bed, as far as licensing goes, and then you can always get a twin if you need to later.  When we first started the process, I didn't (and still don't) want to buy things we would never use.  I don't want to buy bottles and burp cloths if I get a 4 year old.  So, what we did was keep our eyes open for things on craigslist and also tell friends what we're up to.  We were given one crib, a bouncy seat, two car seats, some clothes and bedding.  I found the convertible crib on craigslist.  I have friends on standby who have said that they will contribute things they have, even if for a time when we need them.  All of this has come together slowly over the past 9 months.  I would like to be more prepared in the clothing department.  I've thought about going to the thrift store and purchasing 2 or 3 outfits in each size just in case the children come with nothing.  But diapers and formula will be purchased after we get the phone call!

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

My husband and I decided to check out things at Babies R Us today. So much has changed since we had our kids! We made a price list of items we liked and thought we would need. I ran home and checked Amazon for everything. Amazon prices were so much cheaper than at babies r us. I now have everything we liked on a Wish list. I'm hoping this will satisfy my desire to look at baby items! It's so difficult not to become obsessive; I'm so excited! I also have a very reasonable, logical side that says, "Stop! Hello, you don't know what age/sex you'll get. Don't waste money on what you won't need" But then, again, I think, well, if we don't use it for the 1st placement, then maybe we'd use it for the next or the next or the 10th. Part of our problem is that when we had our kids (3 kids in 3 years), we were pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and right now, we are comfortable.

We checked in with our caseworker, too, today. She said she is still waiting for our background checks to come in, but that she expects them any day. After that, they'll schedule the home visit. She also said that it is not necessary to purchase anything, especially this early in the process. Easier said, than done. orngbiggrin.gif

post #10 of 15

Congratulations on taking the step into foster parenting! It can be exciting and nervewracking to wait for a child. When we started, I had children ages 4 and 7, so I already still had a non-expired carseat and all the basics. We didn't have a crib because we are co-sleepers (not allowed in foster care here), so I fretted over whether or not to buy one. I got a used crib just to have one on hand. We asked for children ages 0-3. Somehow it never occurred to me at first that I might end up bottlefeeding a child, but we picked up our son who was our first placement at age 3 weeks from the hospital. They send us home with some ready-made formula in bottles with disposable nipples and I had to send my husband to the store to get a bottle. It would have been nice to have a package of bottles on hand, but a quick run to the store was no big deal. My extended family was excited about the new baby, too, so they asked what we needed. If you have people like that in your life, that would be a good time to say you could use a package of onesies or whatever you find you need. I am a garage sale shopper, keeping an eye out for high-quality items. I keep an outfit or two around in just about every size of child we might possibly get. Sometimes it's just sweatpants, but at least it gives them something to change into. In our experience, kids who arrived from bio homes have come very dirty and with clothes in very poor repair. They have always had at least one change of clothes, the shoes they're wearing and a stuffed animal, but usually no underwear or socks. I have an assortment of those around, then have gone out the next day (or sent grandma or daddy) to buy more. I appreciated what marsupial-mom had to say about allowing yourself to fantasize and gather the things you can afford if it's fulfilling for you. I birthed our first two children, but only after extensive medical and donor help. I never allowed myself to picture what my first child would look like, even when I was pregnant with her! I guess I had become so accustomed to years of infertility disappointment that I fully expected something to go wrong. I sewed lots of things for her because it seemed practical, but didn't allow myself to fawn over the cute baby things in the store. I regret that. Every parent deserves to enjoy this process and I didn't with my first. So yes, do what works for you. And congratulations!

post #11 of 15

The hard part (to me) about our Birth-5 license is that we needed to demonstrate sleeping arrangements for any combination ages, so we need 2 cribs, and 2 beds, just in case. I have 2 cribs that I can just remove the front to to make toddler beds, but that is a stretch for most 5 year olds.  I also have 1 IKEA convertible bed that goes from smaller than a normal toddler bed, to an intermediate size, to a full twin.  I am going to look around for another on craigslist;  IKEA doesn't seem to sell them anymore-but they do sell the mattress.  odd. Since it is IKEA, it breaks down easily, and the mattress is in 3 separate parts.


The extra bedroom has an amazingly deep closet, so I hung a new curtain rod closer for clothes, put shelves on the back, and hung a curtain to divide off my storage section from the new clothes closet section.  In that space I have the IKEA bed, crates of clothes I have accumulated sorted by size, a potty, 2 high chairs (the kind that strap to a normal chair) my diaper stash, a dismantled IKEA changing table, and toys that aren't age-appropriate for the kids we have now.   It is a sight to behold.


Most of this stuff I had from DS (like the clothes and one of the high chairs). We also have a convertible crib like QueenJanes that we used when DS was a baby.  My mom has it now since she is working on her respite license and ALSO needs to show all the sleeping arrangements.    We did buy the cribs from craigslist, the bed and the changing table during our licensing.  We also bought one can of formula in the WIC brand, and a couple bottles for emergency placements.  At some point, that will expire and I will replace it.  Everything else has been accumulating.


Just like when you are pregnant, when people find out you are fostering stuff starts showing up - and just like when you are pregnant, sometimes you don't really want it!


Meant to ask:  is your crib OK if you have the dropside adapters?  Manufacturers will send them to you for free.  For both our cribs, the parts took less than a week, and were really easy to install.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

As far as I know, the crib is fine. I went to the manufacturer's website, and it had info on dropside adapters for cribs from 2000 to ? (whenever they quit making drop side). Problem is my crib was purchased new in 1997. It's a Jenny Lind crib. I went to call the manufacturer, but right next to the phone number, it said to have your model number ready. I haven't gone up into our attic to look for the model number. That's my next step.

I'm a saver, and the attic is a mess. I am 100% positive that I have clothes in every size from newborn to 5 years, for girls and boys. Big plastic storage bins of clothes. I never sold or donated any clothing, because I was saving them for my siblings, who all decided not to have any more children. I have the oldest and youngest grandchildren in my family. Anyhow...

As far as I can tell, we do not have to have any beds/cribs to get licensed. That seems wrong to me. The caseworker did count bedrooms and ask about our plans for sleeping arrangements.

Is respite the same as "alternate caregiver"? Or is it something entirely different? Our caseworker said that if our alternate caregiver agrees to come to our house that they wouldn't need to check out the alternate caregiver's house.

post #13 of 15

I got everything I needed, and read a lot of books - to teach my kids about life joy.gif


post #14 of 15

We had a full bed, dresser, and night stands in an otherwise pretty empty room. We were birth-five. We also had a pack and play just in case. Our worker was great because she knew we would buy anything we needed right away and she said the kid had to have a crib within 48 hours of being in our home if it was a baby. They do a home visit within 48 hours. Also, we had DS's room a twin over full bunk in case we got a boy closer to his age. We also had a convertible car seat (ours went from 5-80 pounds).

When we went for DD2, our ages were girl 0-4 or boy 3-6, or siblings in that range and only had DS's room the same. We got a 5 hour notice for 3 month old girl and I went and got a crib the next day.

post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by Ziggy and Izzy View Post

Is respite the same as "alternate caregiver"? Or is it something entirely different? Our caseworker said that if our alternate caregiver agrees to come to our house that they wouldn't need to check out the alternate caregiver's house.

I bet that is the same, just different titles in different states.   My mom is cleared now to watch kids at our house, but she is going the next step and getting clearance to have kids at her house overnight, so she has to have her house checked out as well.  I think she would be cleared to provide care for any foster kid, but I doubt she will - maybe latter.


Wow, having 48 hours to get things settled sounds much more reasonable...

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