Monday, July 17, 2017

from josh

This is Josh the other half of “Josh and Angie”. A lot has happened since our last update. Unfortunately, much of it we can’t share quite yet. I can, however, share what we’ve been up to. Angie and I have approached this entire situation with the mindset that we’re going moving forward until we find a door that is firmly closed. So far, each door that we thought might be closed, has just needed a little elbow grease. Much of that elbow grease has come from our support network.

One of the most daunting and significant challenges that we’ve been faced with is getting our Foster Care License. To get a license you can go through the state or through a private organization. We’ve chosen to go through a private organization because we’ve worked alongside Olive Crest in our current jobs. The process is lengthy and requires a lot of training, interviews, and time commitments. From what we’ve been told, the process typically takes couples between two to four months to complete. We started just under three weeks ago and are over half way done.

One thing that we could not be exempted from was the “Foster Parent Pre-Cert Boot Camp” which was a series of trainings in Riverside (about an hour away) this past weekend. On Saturday we were in training from 9am until 5pm and then on Sunday we were in training from 1pm to 5pm. Needless to say, it was a very long weekend after what was already a very long week. Fortunately, we got to meet a lot of other like-minded people who are interested in the doing similar things which was really good for us.

Early in one of the trainings we watched a short video called “ReMoved”. It’s one that I had not seen before but Angie had and it hit me like a freight train. If you have 12 or so minutes to spare please take the time  to watch it. After I had emotionally decompressed and had some time to think about why it hit me so hard I had a jarring realization that I was now a recipient of social services. I had to ask myself why that idea was so unsettling to me.  After all, Angie and I have worked in social services in some capacity for around eleven years. We started working at Salvation Army camps, YMCA day camps, in schools, and finally with Boys Town in their Family Home program. In total, we’ve had over 50 kids live and grow with us. Some went on to do great things. Others have had a difficult go of their lives. One is no longer with us. Most recently, we’ve worked in administration with Boys Town. We get social services. We get what it means to be a cog in “the system”. Why was it so strange to for me to picture myself as the recipient of social services?


Close your eyes and picture someone who receives social services. How old are they? What is their gender? What is their race/ethnicity? What is their socio-economic status? What was their childhood like? What were their adolescent years like? Did they graduate from high school? What about undergrad? Do they have a Master’s degree? If you’re like me you probably pictured a person from the film “ReMoved”. But you know what, we have an Olive Crest Case manager who is assigned to us. We have to work closely with a social worker not as a provider but now as a consumer. We are receiving social services and that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Three weeks ago I meet with the kids’ social worker and offered to become a placement for the family. Two days later I followed up with an email. A day later I was sent a reply that was not an overt “no” but  was certainly not a resounding “yes”. And then we waited. While we waited we took classes, interviewed for jobs, went house hunting, but most of all we hoped. Hope is a tricky thing. Hope can lead you to doing superhuman things, but it can also lead you to crushing defeat and despair. It’s impossible to plan your life around hope alone and even more difficult to hold your life in limbo for three weeks at a time when you have job offers that would take you out of the state. But that’s what we have done.

I’m not going to pretend to say that I understand the mindset of people who have been in the system for years. I’m not going to pretend that three weeks has given me deep insights into the way that people are chewed up and spit out of the system. I am, however, going to say that it has given me a profoundly different perspective than the one I had previously. For those of you who work outside of the field you should know that rarely, if ever, are there definite answers. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told clients, “If you do x, y, or z you’ll be more likely to get a positive outcome”. Or heard parents told, “Take these classes, do your visits, and then provided that you find a home you can get your kids back”. Kids are often told, “If your parents do x, y, and you do what you have to do you’ll be able to go home”. On the surface, these seem like straight forward requests, but life happens. People get sick, cars break down, buses are missed, and classes are canceled. What then? You can’t plan your life on “ifs and maybes”.  So you hope. 

And that's the one thing keeping us going. But it’s not just our hope that has sustained us, it’s been the hope of our family, friends, and colleagues. When we felt like it was time to throw in the towel we were given encouragement. When we just needed someone to listen, people were there. When we fell down, we were picked up. If it were not for our support network we would have given up two weeks ago.

If you’ve watched the “ReMoved” film this will hopefully make some sense to you. (If you haven’t already, please take a minute to watch it so this next part makes sense.) I feel like if I were the mother in that video I probably would have given up too. 

There, I said it.

It has taken more strength that I have (or we have) to help sustain Angie and I through this process. And we've only just begun. 

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