8. False Alarm

Good morning! Sarah here. We got THE call last night. It was about 8:00pm and we were resting on the couch when my phone rang. We didn’t think much of it, as it’s been 3 weeks since approval and no call. Imagine our surprise when the person on the other end of the line identified themselves as a calling with our agency! Cue the panic.

She was calling with placement of 2 children ages one and three. They were from a sibling set of four but were being split up. Did we want her to continue telling us about the children? Well… I looked at Alex with panic in my eyes and asked her if we would be interested in taking a sibling set. We had talked about it as a possibility, but now it was a reality!


We decided to hear more and we got quite a bit of information. Where the kiddos were, what the situation was that brought them into care, what the state of their home was in when the mandated reporter called in, their genders, ages, birthdays and what kind of special needs the children had.

We listened as best as we could and made our first mistake. We didn’t take ANY notes.

We were so nervously excited that we completely skipped that part. We don’t recommend making that mistake! We asked a few questions about how long they would be able to share a room (we only have one children’s room) and how they are around dogs. They didn’t know how they kiddos were around dogs so they were going to get back to us with that. They were also going to call us back with sizes of clothes, diapers, if the 3 year old is potty trained, and what foods they were eating. We completely forgot about the list of questions we were planning on asking when we got a call due to all the panic and excitement we were feeling!

Once we got all the information the lady had, we moved into action. We were not prepared to take in 2 children so we had to make a run to Target and pick up a pack and play for the 1 year old to sleep in until we were able to get a second bed, we needed PJs for the 3 year old, and we needed some food for a 1 year old. Off to target to pile up a cart with the essentials.

We were in Target and got a call that the lady didn’t know any more information but was calling to tell us that she didn’t forget about us. We informed her that we just grabbed a wide variety of food and would figure it out when we took placement. She chuckled and said that was probably best.

The oldest sibling told the workers that all the kids are deathly afraid of dogs. We were out of the picture. We were devastated.

We checked out and were loading up the car when we got our final call of the night. The oldest sibling told them that all the kids are deathly afraid of dogs. We were out of the picture. We were devastated. We thanked the lady and headed home. On our drive we talked about the fact that it was probably for the best. We should start off with one child and we should be better prepared to ask more questions. We talked about how exciting it is to get the first call and how our home was not the right fit for those children with fears of dogs. How thankful we were that we asked about pets so we knew before the kids showed up and showed fear toward our pupkins. It is in our file that we have dogs but we now know to bring it up when we get calls for placement.

After all this process… we know, we are a great team in the moment with talking to each other and calling to action, but we need to be prepared to ask more questions and take notes. We are going to go to a store for used items for kids tonight and buy some of the things that we thought we were not going to need that we now know we will. Here’s hoping that we get another call soon!

Foster and adoptive parents… Please share your tips and tricks for new foster parents when preparing for their first calls (in the comments). We could all use some insight from people that have been there! Thank youIMG_3505

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5 thoughts on “8. False Alarm

  1. My biggest tip is always be comfortable saying no. Nobody knows what will be best for your family and your home except you. Our biggest fear when we first started getting calls was what happens if we say no. The answer, nothing. Every single placement call we have gotten we take the time to decide for ourselves if it is the right fit. We may have missed a placement or two because we take the extra time. If that happens, we know it was not meant to be and that child (or children) will go to the right place for them. We also know that if it is not the right placement or time and we say no, the right one will come. Be patient and know when it is meant to be it will be.

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  2. Dont feel that you need to have everything before each child comes. There’s no way to fully prepare for every specific placement ahead of time. Over time you will acquire lots of clothes and toys in a variety of age ranges that can be stored away for future placements (although DO send any special toys and clothes bought with your maintenance payment on with the child when he/she leaves). Taking notes is good. I got a call recording app on my phone so i could re-listen to exactly what the worker said. And I agree, allow yourself to say “No”. It is HARD to say no, but the emergency worker is just calling down a list of names, and doesnt have time to look through files and find the best fit. You will have to make that decision and sometimes saying “no” is the best way you can help that child.

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  3. Our tip is to get 1 set of pjs and clothes for each of the ages you have identified for your license. We found that getting these items from a thrift or secondhand store makes for a great way to get these items. Or watch for clearance sales at your favorite stores. Additionally, we have a small package of diapers for each age in case the call came in the middle of the night.
    You can’t really plan for formula, but if you have some Gerber graduate snacks and Cheerios on hand you will be able to give the little ones something to eat until you can get to the store.
    As already shared, if it doesn’t feel right then don’t hesitate to say no. Taking a placement that you know isn’t right for you will be hard for you, but even more difficult for the kiddo. Know what situations you are willing to accept and stick to it.
    Tye waiting is the hardest part, but the right placement will be there

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  4. Be prepared to know nothing about the children when they come into care. You may have all the right questions but be prepared for a ton of “I don’t know”. Children aren’t removed with tons of notice to parents. This is a great way to build a rapport and quick connection with the birth parents. They are the “pro” if you will on the child. They know the child best. Use their knowledge in the first meeting with the parents to get as much of the “favorite” information as you can.

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