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December Foster Care Budget

GROCERIES (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Christmas Cookie Decorating Kit: $15
Popcorn: $20
Candy Canes: $10
Special Meals They Picked Out For The Holidays: $45
TOTAL: $170

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Tissue For Classrooms: $30
TOTAL: $30

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
School Holiday Party Treats: $25
TOTAL: $25

CLOTHING
Snow Pants: $50
Winter Boots: $50
Dress Shoes: $20
School Concert Clothing: $30
TOTAL: $150

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $15
Holiday Gifts: $500
Personalized Stockings: $15
TOTAL: $550



GRAND TOTAL: $985


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.


November Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Popcorn: $20
Fruit Leather: $20
Bulk Nuts: $35
TOTAL: $155

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Feminine Products: $15
TOTAL: $15

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Cheerleading Uniform: $20
Cheerleading Shoes: $15
TOTAL: $25

CLOTHING
Hair Ties: $5
TOTAL: $5

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $15
One Direction Birthday Party Decor: $40
One Direction Birthday Cake: $10
Birthday Favors: $25
Birthday Gifts: $60
TOTAL: $170



GRAND TOTAL: $430


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.


October Foster Care Budget

GROCERIES (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Waffle-Making Supplies (flour, sugar, etc): $10
Different Flavors of Syrup: $20
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Dried Kiwi: $15
Trail Mix Snack Packs: $45
Halloween Candy: $25
TOTAL: $185

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Bulk Handsoap: $15
Lotion: $5
Tooth Paste: $5
TOTAL: $25

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Classroom Halloween Party Games: $15
Classroom Halloween Party Favors: $25
TOTAL: $40

CLOTHING
Halloween Costumes: $60
TOTAL: $60

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $10
Halloween Treat Bags: $10
Halloween Night Safety Glow-Sticks: $10
Monster High Birthday Party Decor: $40
Monster High Birthday Cupcakes: $15
Birthday Favors: $25
Birthday Presents: $75
TOTAL: $205


GRAND TOTAL: $575


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

September Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Granola Bars: $20
Trail Mix: $15
Banana Chips: $15
Dried Blueberries: $15
TOTAL: $145

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Bulk Hand Wipes: $35
Small Hand Sanitizers for School: $10
TOTAL: $45

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Cross-Country Admission Fee: $25
Running Shoes: $45
TOTAL: $70

CLOTHING
Gloves: $10
TOTAL: $10

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $5
Books: $10
TOTAL: $15


GRAND TOTAL: $345


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

August Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Waffle-Making Supplies (flour, sugar, etc): $10
Different Flavors of Syrup: $20
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Cheez-Its: $10
Organic Fruit Snacks: $20
TOTAL: $140

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Bulk Shampoo/Conditioner: $30
Cough Drops: $15
TOTAL: $45

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Folders: $5
Notebooks: $5
Loose-Lief Paper: $5
Markers: $5
Crayons: $5
Colored Pencils: $5
Pencils: $5
Pens: $5
Locker Decorations: $10
Locker Lock: $15
Binders: $10
New Backpacks: $35
Lunch Boxes: $20
Calculator: $25
Highlighters: $5
TOTAL: $160

CLOTHING
(School Clothes)
New Shoes: $50
Shirts: $35
Pants: $60
Jackets/Coats: $75
Sweaters: $30
Socks: $20
Underwear: $20
Bras: $10
TOTAL: $300

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $15
TOTAL: $35




GRAND TOTAL: $740


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

Dawn's Story: Hungry Fawns Hoarding Food

I had two young children in my home who had always hoarded food. They'd been in and out of foster care nearly half of their lives and I knew that their food hoarding issues had probably originated somewhere. If a child is starved, it's natural for them to have the INSTINCTUAL reaction to keep as much food as they can when food is available. For the first few months these particular kids were with me they over-ate at every meal. Stuffed themselves sickeningly full. They had stomach aches from over-eating all the time. I had an 'open snack drawer' that would miraculously become empty in the middle of the night. Eventually I had to start serving them multiple smaller meals throughout the day- always keeping them full, but not letting them eat themselves sick. I also had to restock the snack drawer less-frequently. I wanted my children to know that food was always available and they would never go hungry in my home- but their eating was causing them physical-discomfort and I had to make some small changes to accommodate.

One day one of my kids became very upset that, once again, the snack drawer had not been restocked. Both of the kids became furious and begged and begged for more food. I obliged, but knew I had to talk to them. For some reason, I'd put off the conversation. I always thought if I simply told them 'there will always be food here', they'd start to believe it. They'd calm down. But that wasn't working. And I needed to know the root of their problems. So I asked them if they'd been hungry before. And I asked them other questions like "How long did you ever go without food?" "Was there not usually food in your house?". As the story went on I learned more and more.

They spoke of how when they were very young their birth mother used to lock them out of the house when she had men over. They were never allowed back in until the man and their mom were finished 'kissing'. Sometimes they were locked outside for just an hour or two. Sometimes they were locked outside all night. But they never had food or water. They never had anything. They would steal food from the store- mostly candy, because it was small and they could fit it in their pocket. They'd ask their friend's parents for snacks. They'd visit their grandmother- who was aware of the starvation (but didn't ever speak up) and would she fill them full and send them back home. They did everything they could to survive- at merely 5 and 6 years of age.

I'm sharing this particular story, because my kids had an issue- obviously. And SO many foster parents get upset about food hoarding because they don't understand it. They have food available! They never starve their foster child! Why would the kid hoard food? It doesn't make sense. And it won't make sense until you take the time to learn their past- and then it will ALL make sense. NEVER judge your foster child's behavior and blame it on yourself or the child. If your child bullies another kid- they could have been subject to abuse at home and think that that's how you're supposed to act when you get mad. If your foster child cusses, chances are that the people around them cussed and they have no idea that it's bad (or don't understand why it's bad). So before you get upset, or mad, because you don't understand your foster child's behavior- take a deep breath and realize that their problem is rooted somewhere far deeper than you probably know. Over time, both of my kiddos realized that food was always available in my home. They eventually quit hoarding, and overtime learned they didn't have to overeat. Food quit being a focus for them, and they actually turned out to be pretty picky eaters; which made me pretty happy. When they went from eating EVERYTHING, to deciding they won't eat anything they don't like, it meant they were no longer worrying about starving. They were kids again. And they became those kids again, because I understood where they were coming from, and that understanding gave me the patience to help them overcome their food issues and turn eating into a positive experience for them.

July Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For Lunches: $20
Veggie Chips: $15
Cheesy Popcorn: $15
Dried Fruit Mix: $25
TOTAL: $135

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Bulk Body Wash: $30
TOTAL: $30

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $30
TOTAL: $30

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
-
TOTAL: $0

CLOTHING
Jackets for Summer Camp: $20
Knee-High Boots For Summer Camp: $30
Hats/Gloves For Summer Camp: $15
TOTAL: $65

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $15
Sleeping Bags For Summer Camp: $50
Summer Camp Supplies (bug spray, shampoo, etc): $75
Summer Camp Admission Fees: $1,200 ($400 each child)
TOTAL: $1,365



GRAND TOTAL: $1,625


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

A Poem To My Foster Children

You know what I think?
You're perfect. You're perfectly you.
You're perfect in every way,
in every little thing you do.
...
You're perfect in the way you smile,
and the way your cheeks squint your eyes.
You're perfect in the way you think.
You're philosophical and wise.
 
You're perfect in the way you laugh,
with a laughter that fills the room.
You're perfect in the way you walk,
dance, snore, breathe, and move.
 
You're perfect when you're reading,
staring at the stars, and playing outside.
You're perfect when you're confident,
and when you just want to run and hide.
 
You're perfect in any mood,
on any day at any time.
You're perfect when you're shy,
when you yell, cry, and whine.
You're perfect in any place.
You were perfect from the start.
You'll stay perfect until the very end.
You're always perfect in my heart.
Nothing you do could make you imperfect.
You'll always be perfect to me.
You don't need to change a single thing.
You is all you need to be.
So when you doubt your perfection,
play outside, look up to the stars.
Laugh, cry, read, be wise.
And remember how perfect you are.

June Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For Lunches: $20
Ice Pops: $20
Sunflower Seeds: $10
Smoothie-Supplies: $25
Chips and Candy: $10
TOTAL: $145

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Shampoo/Conditioner: $10
TOTAL: $10

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $30
TOTAL: $30

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
-
TOTAL: $0

CLOTHING
-Socks: $15
-Water-proof Waiters: $25
TOTAL: $40

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $15
Girl Scout Field Trip Fee: $150
Girl Scout Field Trip Spending Money: $25
Airfare For Family Trip: $3,500
Hotel For Family Trip: $650
TOTAL: $4,355




GRAND TOTAL: $4,580


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.


Another important thing to realize is that our 'travel costs' are within Alaska. Airfare is very expensive from here to anywhere. We went from our rural village to our state capital (Juneau) and the airfare was around $1,200 a person. Most people would not have this kind of expense, but I feel it's worth it to let me kids see new places- and just have some quality fun time. It was by far the biggest expense of the year so far, and will probably be our biggest expense this year.

May Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For Lunches: $20
Granola Bars: $15
Fruit Leather/ Organic Fruit Snacks: $25
Nuts: $15
Bulk Goldfish Crackers: $15
TOTAL: $150

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
None
TOTAL: $0

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Donated 'Garden Seeds' for Class Project: $15
End-Of-The-Year Party Supplies (Cups/Plates): $10
TOTAL: $25

CLOTHING
Summer Shoes: $60
Life Jackets: $40
Swimming Suits: $35
Shorts: $15
TOTAL: $150

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $15
Books: $15
Beach Towels: $20
May-Day Gift For Birth Mom and Grandma: $25
TOTAL: $75



GRAND TOTAL: $460


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

Dawn's Story: The Fawn And The Crayon

I had had this particular foster child for about 4 months. She was struggling in school; acting up almost constantly. So when I walked into the school to pick her up one afternoon and saw a bright red crayon mark on the pure white hallway walls of the school- I pled that it was not my child. The mark began at the gym near the front doors. This was on the entire opposite side of the elementary school from her classroom. But, the crayon mark continued. Down the hallway. With each step I took my heart dropped- hoping desperately that it wouldn’t lead directly into the hand of my fawn.

And yet… the mark continued. And I continued walking, watching as the bright red line drew across every single wall, skipping over doorways, and scribbling consciously around posters as it went. And at the last turn, where I found my child’s classroom, at the very absolute opposite edge of the school- the mark ended. Heading directly into the room itself. And there, atop my child’s desk- sat a half used bright red crayon. My eyes darted up to her, sitting stout and proudly that SHE had just added such an artistic piece to the school’s interior d├ęcor.
Before I had a chance to question her one of the students yelled out, “Your kid drew with crayon all the way across the school!”
“I did!” she laughed back.
The teacher, clearly dismayed by the behavior and completely exhausted with my child’s endless shenanigans, looked to me for some kind of disciplining relief. I had had the longest day at work. I was exhausted, and mad, and the very last thing I wanted to deal with was a 100 yard crayon mark.
“Well, I guess we’re not going watching a movie tonight,” I said (cringing at the idea).
My child’s smile quickly faded. “Why not?” she asked, pleadingly.
“Because we need to spend the evening cleaning up a crayon mark,” I huffed. I, too, had been looking forward to movie night. After a long week of work, all I truly wanted to do was eat a ridiculous amount of popcorn and not think for an hour and thirty minutes. But, that particular day I was learning a hard lesson in parenting. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our own comfort to teach our children a lesson. And sometimes we have to take responsibility for an action that was entirely not ours- but rather the tiny being we are responsible for.
We did not go to the movies that night. And we did spend FOUR hours magic-erasing the entire length of the school to remove a very deeply engrained red crayon wax from the textured walls. It was not only my child that did the scrubbing; but me as well. By the end she’d learned that fixing her mistakes was not a fun task- and it’d have been much easier not to make that mistake in the first place. But she also learned that just because you make a mistake- does not mean it’s the end of the world; and there are people who love you, who will help you fix your problems if you need them to. And that was worth sacrificing my relaxing evening at the movies for.

April Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Oatmeal: $15
Waffle-Making Supplies (flour, sugar, etc): $10
Syrup: $5
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Apple Sauce: $15
Bulk Trail Mix Packs: $45
Bulk Banana Chips: $35
Easter Candy: $25
TOTAL: $210

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Band-Aids: $5
TOTAL: $5

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Notebook: $5
Erasers: $5
Crayons, Coloring Pencils: $5
TOTAL: $15

CLOTHING
New Rain Jackets: $40
New Rain Boots: $65
Short-Sleeve Shirts: $20
TOTAL: $125

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $20
Easter Baskets: $10
Easter Basket Fillers: $40
Easter Eggs: $15
TOTAL: $105


GRAND TOTAL: $520


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

Dawn’s Story: The Fawn That Purposely Wet Her Pants

I was surprised when I got a call that my 9 year old had wet her pants in the middle of a school day. At first I figured she may have been sick. And the worst sickening worry that came to my mind is that she’d somehow been triggered and had a moment of anxiety regarding her past sexual abuse. When I arrived at the school with a fresh change of clothes, though, she was smiling. She happily took them, hugged me, and thanked me for coming in. I asked her what had happened and she said the teacher said she couldn’t go to the bathroom- and she couldn’t hold it. Knowing this little fawn has a tendency to roam the hallways of the school when left unattended for bathroom breaks; I really couldn’t blame the teacher for his choice. As she changed I explained that she needed to behave better if she wanted to be trusted to go to the bathroom so she wouldn’t have accidents like this again. She happily agreed to try and be better and asked if I’d walk her back to the classroom. Of course I agreed and walked her back to her classroom and gave her a hug goodbye.

Two days later, I got a similar call. The almost identical process was repeated ending with me walking her to the classroom and giving her a hug goodbye. The next day- the same thing happened. It happened repeatedly for 3 more days until the counselor pulled me aside. We both knew we needed to talk. My little fawn was as happy as could be each time I came in. And it was almost as if she was peeing her pants on purpose…
The counselor had spent many years counseling this little fawn and had known her before I was even her foster mom. I was worried that he may tell me something awful- something regarding her past trauma or a need for an immediate doctor’s visit. He did neither. Instead he explained to me that from Kindergarten to 2nd grade he had never once seen this little fawn’s mother come to school. She had the older sibling walk this fawn home. She never came to a school play, concert, or science show. She never came to a parent teacher conference. She seemed to have no motivation to be a part of this fawn’s school day. So when the fawn realized that I would come in, whenever she called, to cater to her any need- she got an immediate sense of validation that she had lacked in the past. Peeing her pants was one of the easiest and most assured ways to get me to come in to the school.
I was taking time off of work to bring her in clean clothes regularly. It was a 15 minute drive each way and it wasn’t something I could afford to do each day. Also, rewarding her … purposely unhygienic behavior was not healthy for anyone. But it did allow me to look deeper into the needs of my child. She desperately wanted me to be a part of her school day- and even noted that she really liked having a mom to show to her friends. As a compromise I came in 15 minutes early to pick her up, each school day. We would sit together when her class read a story. My fawn got her much needed ‘mom is caring about my schoolwork time’, and I got a lot less urine stained pants to clean.
Never assume that your child’s behavior is being done to inconvenience you. That is very VERY rarely the case. Often times what seems like a child misbehaving is actually a child trying to tell you something. ‘Children don’t act out- they reach out’. It’s your job to take a moment, breathe, and try to figure out what they’re reaching out for.  

March Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Toaster Strudles: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Mini Organic Milk Boxes: $20
Flavored Milk Straws: $15
Popcorn: $10
Cuties Oranges: $15
TOTAL: $140

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Hand Soap: $5
Toothpaste: $10
Lotion/ Aloe Vera for Dry Skin: $10
TOTAL: $25

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Red Pens: $5
#2 Pencils: $5
Basketball Camp Fee: $45
Basketball Camp T-Shirt: $25
Basketball Camp Uniform: $30
Basketball Camp Spending Money: $15
TOTAL: $125

CLOTHING
1 Pair New Snowpants: $30
Basketball Shoes: $50
Hair Ties: $5
TOTAL: $85

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $10
Books: $5
Fish Tank/ Decor/ and Fish: $125
TOTAL: $140



GRAND TOTAL: $575


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

Dawn's Story: Little Fawn's Sexual Assault Secrets

A while ago I had a lovely little nine year old girl in my home, and her eight year old brother. Great kids- truly. I never once saw a bad piece of them. One day, a man came over to my business while my kids were with me. During the transaction my girl shouted out "I know you! You used to come to my house!". It didn't seem to phase her that he was there, so I kept along with everything. But his attitude changed immediately. His face flushed, he got nervous, and he left quickly. I'd seen this man before- many times. He was always friendly. A great customer. Very cordial. Very kind. And I had no reason at all to think that he would have done something odd to my children. With that being said, I can read people fairly well. And this man's reaction to my child calling him out was not natural (wouldn't most people be flattered that a child recognized them, and extend some kind of greeting in their direction?). Once he left, I turned and asked my kids how they knew of this man.

"He used to drink at our house. And when he'd get drunk he'd take off all of his clothes and try to come into our bedroom," my girl said, matter-of-fact. I was shocked, and truly didn't know what to say. She didn't seem phased by this at all. This men had repeatedly exposed himself to her, and she thought that was natural... so natural that she talked about it without blinking her eye.

I was heartbroken. NINE YEARS OLD. There is so much innocence in that age. What else had she been exposed to if she thought such an action was so common from a grown man? Of course this opened up an entirely new path for us as a family. This was the FIRST time my child had ever mentioned sexual assault. The first time she had acknowledged an inappropriate action with an adult. Not surprisingly, it was not the only time she'd dealt with these kinds of issues. But had I not read into that man's reaction- and had I not been open to hearing why my kids new him, I and this girl's case worker and therapist would have missed out a key piece of information. We would have never known her secret. We would have never had the resources to help her cope.

I'm sharing this story, because as a foster parent YOU know your child better than anyone else. YOU are around them most often. YOU can tune into little things. Don't expect your case worker to know everything. Don't expect a therapist to uncover every dirty little part of your child's past. Be open, be ready to catch a quickly-fading peice of information that your child tosses out nonchalantly. Be aware of the fact that your child may have come from a worse situation than people originally thought, and always have your heart ready to accept even the saddest stories that they decide to share with you.

February Foster Care Budget

Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Granola Bars: $15
Juice Boxes: $20
Valentine's Day Cookie-Decorating Supplies: $25
Valentine's Day Candy: $15
Fruit Cups: $20
TOTAL: $175

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
2 Hair Brushes: $10
Bulk Hand Wipes: $40
Body Wash: $10
TOTAL: $60

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
School Valentine's Cards: $25
School Valentine's Candy: $10
Teacher's Valentine's Day Gifts: $20
Loose-Lief Paper: $5
TOTAL: $60

CLOTHING
Hats: $15
Mittens: $10
Wool-Socks: $15
TOTAL: $40

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $15
Books: $10
Valentine's Day Plush Gifts: $20
New Blankets: $25
Magnetic Chores Chart: $10
Spongebob Birthday Decor: $45
How-To-Train-Your-Dragon Birthday Cake Supplies: $10
Birthday Gifts: $60
TOTAL: $195



GRAND TOTAL: $590

NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

A Poem For Bad Days

Whenever my one of my kids and I have had a rough day, I end their evening with this poem. While I'm tucking them in, or handing them their goodnight snack- this is what they hear. And I think it's extremely important that every child who comes into my home- no matter how old they are, knows that they are NOT a bad child (no matter how 'bad' they may behave).
 
Everyone sometimes cries.
Everyone feels sad.
Everyone get's teary eyes,
but that doesn't mean they're bad.

Everyone sometimes yells.
Everyone gets mad.
Everyone does angry things,
but that doesn't mean they're bad.

You can whine today,
it's okay if you need to cry.
Let those tears come freely,
I'll be here to wipe your eyes.

If you sometimes get upset,
and do things you shouldn't do.
Know, no matter what you say-
I'll always still love you.

You can kick and scream,
you can say you've had enough.
If you get mad and if you get mean,
I still won't give up on my love.

Because you, my child, are special.
You're one of a kind.
I see brilliant things within you,
and I'm so happy to have you in my life.

Positive Mantras To Tell Your Child Every Day

I love compliments- who doesn't? Receiving compliments makes anyone feel good, and once you hear the same compliment again and again, you start to believe it yourself. Nonchalantly tossing a few great words in your child's direction every now and again can truly make an impact on the way they view themselves. So take a couple moments each day to say one of these kind things to your child...

You Are Beautiful/Handsome: This can be interpreted so many ways. And once they feel attractive (on the inside AND the outside) their confidence rises. They start to believe that they're worthy of good things and give off a poised vibe to people around them- drawing good things right in reach of their grasp.

I Love Your Optimistic Attitude: If your child makes even the smallest positive remark- make this comment back to them. Even if they are pessimists 99% of the time, when you encourage the 1% of the time when they're positive-thinkers, they realize that there are positive effects to being optimistic. Plus, telling them that they DO have an optimistic attitude, will make them- over time, believe that they have an optimistic attitude. Once they believe it, they will, and with a positive outlook anything can happen.

You're So Smart: Does your child quickly get an answer right during homework? Or do they blurt out the winning phrase when you're watching a game show together? Do they beat you in a tough board game? Let them know how intelligent you think they are. Encouraging their inner smarts will pay off in their confidence in school and the work-place later on.

You Have A Great Sense Of Humor: When your child makes you or someone else laugh, let them know how funny they are. The fact that they have the ability to make other people happy, will make them happy. The happier they are (and the happier people around them are), the happier everyone's lives will be. So encourage that quirky humor- it can make so many lives, so much better.

You're Very Talented: A lot of people will say that this comment is just 'blowing up your child's ego', but I disagree. Encourage your child to follow their passions in life. If they LOVE drawing- let them know that they are an exquisite artist. If they're all about baseball, let them know that they are so great out on the field. Motivate your child to do what they love- whether or not they are the best at it, doesn't matter. Their talent comes from their heart. Let your child know that they are always great at what they love to do, and they should always follow their dreams.

You Are Going To Do Great Things: I LOVE this compliment. Simply telling your kid from time to time that they WILL have success in life can make such a difference. They know that someone else believes in them, and soon enough they'll believe in themselves as well. This small attitude can give them the needed-drive to actually do great things!

There's Something Special About You: This is my favorite compliment, because it can be perceived so many different ways. They get to choose what's special about them. It might be their smile, or their intelligence, or the way they handle certain situations. But there IS something special about them. All kids should feel special, all kids should feel loved and admired. So be the one to hand out that admiration. Be the one to tell them how awesome they are.

January Foster Care Budget

I get questions quite a bit about my monthly budget for my foster kids (about how many dollars do I spend each month on costs associated ONLY with foster parenting). I don't accept any checks or form of reimbursement. It's a choice I made when I first began fostering. I don't make -a lot- of money, but I make enough to support myself and my kids. I thought it was really important that I can show my kids that they are not associated with a dollar sign. And I wanted to 'walk the walk', rather than just 'talk the talk'. With that being said- I've decided to start a 'Monthly Budget Post', where each month I will tally up the approximate amount of US dollars I've spent each month, fostering. This is the first month, January 2015. I've tried to keep track of all of my purchases. These purchases account for three kids ages 5 to 12.

FOOD
Groceries (these are groceries I've purchased specifically for the kids- not myself, or family meals in general. These only account for additional purchases made solely for the children) :
Breakfast Cereal: $10
Oatmeal: $10
Waffle-Making Supplies (flour, sugar, etc): $10
Different Flavors of Syrup: $20
Cheese, Meat, and Crackers For School Lunches: $20
Sandwich Supplies For School Lunches: $20
Fruit and Veggies For School Lunches: $20
Granola Bars: $15
Fruit Leather/ Organic Fruit Snacks: $25
Apple Sauce: $15
Popcorn: $20
TOTAL: $175

HYGIENE PRODUCTS
New Electronic Toothbrushes: $15
New Toothpaste: $5
Hair Comb: $2
Shampoo/Conditioner: $10
TOTAL: $32

GAS/TRANSPORTATION
School/ Court Meetings/ Family Visitations: $60
TOTAL: $60

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Pencil Sharpener: $5
Volcano-Making Kit: $15
Poster-Board, Markers, Glitter-Pens: $10
TOTAL: $30

CLOTHING
Underwear: $15
TOTAL: $15

EXTRAS
Movies/ DVDs (including rentals): $20
Books: $15
New Sleds: $30
TOTAL: $65



GRAND TOTAL: $377


NOTE: An important thing to keep in mind is that this 'budget' does not account for any extra groceries I buy for daily meals like dinner- which I would be cooking for myself anyways, I just make more now (which is probably another $200 to $250 total each month). It also doesn't cover any of the costs of bringing a new child into my home.

What To Do When Your Foster Child Talks About Suicide

Suicide is a strong word, and depression is an awful disease. ANY child battling depression and thoughts of suicide needs a strong support system behind them. Unfortunately- not all foster children have that kind of support system. It's important that, as a foster parent, you are always there for your child- not to judge, not to preach, but to help. If your child EVER mentions suicide or death to you take it seriously. Depression is not a joke. It's not a 'phase'. It's a heartbreaking illness- and it should be treated that way.

    Talk to your social worker immediately: Once your child has confided these thoughts with you- let them know that you want to make sure that they have a strong support system around them as they struggle through this time. Tell them you are going to tell their social worker- and then DO tell their social worker. Making other people aware, opens up opportunities for you AND your child to get the help you need.

    Do not get mad: For some reason many parents basic instinct is to become upset when their child speaks of killing themselves. This is by far not the correct reaction. Obviously you're not going to celebrate. And chances are you are going to feel angry and upset. But remember that your child is going through so much right now. They need a strong adult figure who can set a good example for dealing with hard issues in a healthy way. Be that example, and keep a level-head.

    Let them know you're worried because you CARE: A lot of teens in foster care feel pushed to the way-side. They are often the 'forgotten children'. Too old to be babied. Too old to be hugged and cuddled to sleep. Too old to have band-aids placed on their boo-boos. In a lot of ways it can be hard to show a teen you care. But one of the easiest ways to do it- is to tell them. Be open with them and let them know you love them so much, you want the best for them, and you're obviously very nervous and worried- but that's not THEIR fault, it's only your way of reacting because you care so so much.
   
Ask them why, what's causing it: A lot of people struggling with depression don't know "why". And a simple "I don't know" can be an honest answer. But don't doubt the power of words. Ask your child why they feel the need to end their life- what's bothering them. This simple action gives the child a way to open up to you, because you are asking them to open up to you.

    Listen: This is always a tough one. It's so hard not to immediately dive in and give advice or try to cure all of their problems. But the best way to truly discover the core of your child's problems is to listen to them. Ears open, lips closed- is often my policy. Listen to everything they say. Truly listen- and truly care.

    Offer up ways to fix issues that may be causing the pain: When your child has finished opening up to you, work together to think of solutions. If your child is struggling with bullies in school- offer to talk to counselors, teachers, and parents. If your child is feeling abandon by their birth family, let them know that family can often go beyond genetic ties (and you consider them just as much a part of your family as your blood relatives). Also always be open to finding new therapeutic outlets for them, especially (in this case) suicide support groups and phone services for teens.

    Help create alternative ways for them to deal with sadness: Dealing with hurt is hard. Dealing with hurt as a teenager is harder. So many things are still uncertain. And at a time when most kids are still care-free, a child in foster care could be facing SO much more than we can possibly imagine. So continually be thinking of ways for your child to deal with sadness. Put the energy into a new sport (sign them up for karate or tennis, etc). Volunteer at an animal shelter and put your love and devotion into good things. Make art to express yourself. Punch a punching bag to let out steam. There are so many ways to rid yourself of sadness. Let your child know those ways, and help them fight depression.

    Attend therapy and support groups. I find that there are so many amazing support groups out there- especially for individuals facing depression. Attend a few meetings, or special therapy sessions WITH your child. Be a part of their healing as much as possible, and get them the professional and group help that could make the difference.

Dawn's Story: When Fawns Come From An Abusive Foster Home

One sibling group was moved to me from a different foster home. The woman in the foster home said the kids were 'uncontrollable', 'out of hand', and 'she couldn't wait to see them leave'. Everyone I spoke to let me know that there were some serious issues that these children carried with them. These three kids were my first ever placement. When they arrived on my doorstep, they were scared TO DEATH. Silent. Barely said a word. We had small snacks and they went to bed crying for about a month after coming into my home. But slowly, they began to open up. And when they began to talk- the secrets that spilled from their lips would haunt me for a long time. In their last foster home they had been abused. They were forced to walk home, on muddy roads, in tennis shoes in the middle of winter (which in Alaska is just asking for frost-bitten toes). When they got home, if their pants were muddy they weren't allowed to change and were forced to wash dishes as a consequence. The youngest girl was repeatedly 'swung around' (in the way her siblings described it) by an older man in the house. They would cry and try to stop him, but if they cried he'd just swing her harder. He wouldn't stop until she stopped crying out.

These three kids didn't have a single problem in my home. In fact they amazed everyone (their school counselor, their case worker, their birth mother) with their turnaround. Which quickly lead me to pointing the finger at the other foster parents. The root of the childrens 'problems' was their environment, NOT themselves.

I shared this particular story, because I want foster parents to be aware that a lot of their kids problems can be reversed with some love and patience. OF COURSE the children are going to act out if they've been taught to fear 'foster parents'. OF COURSE they're going to have issues if they came from an abusive home. Remind yourself of that before you judge. My kids had been notorious for running away, vandalizing public buildings, acting out in school, and not listening to their past foster parents. Every. Single. One of those issues disappeared when they arrived in my home. You want to know why? They had no reason to run away- and they knew that. They weren't angry anymore, so they didn't need to vandalize things. Things were okay at home, finally, and that calm attitude leaked over into their school attitude. And they listened to me, because for the first time in a long time, they respected the person who was caring for them (and I respected them back in return). Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge a foster child by their case studies and paperwork. Kids can surprise you, and all kids really need is a reason to be good, and the good in them will start shining through.

17 Ways Your Foster Child Says 'Thank You'

Honestly, there are some shady foster parents out there (I, as a foster parent, will be the first person to admit this). I hear a lot of them say "You'll never get a 'thank you'". Um, no- of course you won't. As a parent you should never expect a 'thank you'. Do you EVER expect your birth child to stand up and say "Wow, mom/dad thanks for taking care of me."? No- because you take care of them anyways. They expect you to take care of them. And you love them so much that you wouldn't care if you never received a thank-you even once in your life for what you've done for them. Why in the world should a foster child be any different? And I can PROMISE you- you will receive more 'thank yous' than you can count from ANY foster child in your home. In fact, just to make a point- here's a list of 25 ways your foster child says 'thank you'.




When they ask you for help or advice: They're showing you they trust you, and need you, and want you in their life. They're saying 'thank you for being open to help me'.

When they apologize for a mistake: They're showing you that they respect your opinion, and they're sorry that they degraded your opinion of them. They're saying 'thank you for looking beyond my bad- I'll try to be better."

When they get an A+ in school: They're proving that they are out to better themselves and to do the best they can. They're saying "thank you for all the times you helped me finish homework and study."

When they shine through with their talents: They're showing how much confidence they have and how truly wonderful they are. They're saying 'thank you for being proud of me, thank you for letting me do something I love, and thank you for cheering me on while I do it."

When they eat their dinner: They're showing you they appreciate the work you put into cooking food for them, and a lot of them are saying, "thank you for keeping me well-fed, because not everyone in my life has."

When they accept a gift: They're accepting a bit of your love by accepting something you gave them with love. They're saying "thank you for loving me, and being generous even if you didn't have to be."

When they're cordial to your friends and relatives: They're proving that they care about your reputation as much as you do. They're saying "thank you for introducing me to all of these people who mean so much to you- and letting them care about me as well."

When they try to better themselves: They're taking your advice and using it to inspire themselves. They're saying 'thank you for always encouraging me to be the best person I can be."

When they ask you for something: They're reaching out- which is a difficult thing for anyone to do, let alone a child who may have been hurt in the past. They're saying "thank you for being someone I can trust."

When they laugh at one of your jokes: They're either humoring you or enjoying your humor. Either way they're saying, "thank you for making me smile."

When they have a good day: They're showing you that you are making an impact. You are helping them live a happy life. They're saying "thank you for all you do to ensure that I'm experiencing a fulfilling childhood."

When they smile: They're physically expressing their happiness- proving to you that they are in a good place in their life. They're saying "thank you for forcing this brilliant smirk out of me."

When they make new friends: They're gaining confidence, and showing that they can interact with peers in a positive way. They're saying "thank you for being a good role model to me in how I should behave and interact with people."

When they get excited about something: They're showing you their passion and their drive. They're saying "thank you for introducing me to new things and letting me follow my dreams."

When they offer to help: They're trying to be a constructive part of your family (and society for that matter). They're saying "Thank you for all you've done for me- let me help you this time."

When they take care of themselves: They're showing you that they are growing up to be a responsible independent adult. They're saying "Thank you for giving me the tools to go into adulthood with confidence."

When they say "Thank you": A simple small insignificant 'thank you' for dinner or a birthday gift or a signature on their basketball try-out form, can mean a BIG thank you if you want it to. So many people brush off the small 'thank yous' and consider them insincere. But there is NOTHING insincere about a child thanking you for the small things you do. Don't overlook everything. Don't assume your child isn't happy to have meant you. Their life is tough- very tough, but you are making it a bit easier. I would NEVER in a MILLION years expect any of my kids to say 'thank you' to me. I do what I do because I love them with every piece of my heart. I am the one who should be saying thank you to them! They are my comedians- making me laugh on days when I feel like crying. They are my entertainers, constantly keeping me in awe of their talents. They are my pride and joy- giving me an eternal reason to brag to others. They are the light in my life. A 'thank you' from them comes through in a million ways- but I never want a 'thank you'. I'd rather have a 'your welcome'- because they give me so much more than I could ever give them.