I’ve been holding off on writing this post. Last week was both a very busy and very emotional week for us here in the Benzakein household. I had a presentation to prepare for at Portland’s WordCamp in which the theme of the conference was ways in which WordPress has impacted communities. Naturally, I opted to share our story and how we used WordPress to raise money to build out the attic and help a homeless family. Since it was such a personal subject, writing it was surprisingly emotional. But that was not what made the week tough.
“Good Afternoon, Young Man! How are you today?”
That was how he greeted me when I got out of my car to pump some gas. I saw him when I was driving into the gas station. My estimation is that he is in his late fifties. I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t have time to deal with pan handlers today. I am on a schedule.”
Every year, there are a couple of times where I feel really motivated to change my diet, my exercise habits and other disciplines that have gone lacking. This usually happens right around the change of season where it either goes from warm to colder or frigid to thawed. It’s been a year now since we took in the three boys and instead of having that urge to work out, lose weight and take care of myself, I’ve instead eaten way more than I should, way worse than I should and worked out far less than I should. I can count on one hand the number of bike rides I took during the summer and the number of actual workouts I even attempted during the past 12 months. And I’m not saying I can count them each individually on one hand. I’m saying that I can count the TOTAL of both on one hand.
Today we got a call. There was an issue which resulted in the three older children going to their father’s house and the baby coming to ours (since the father of the other three is not the biological father of the baby).
At this point, it’s looking like a long-term foster care situation which has the potential to be even longer term than that.
Next week, the caseworker will be making the case to get our foster-care license expedited. We have been through everything with regard to licensing. The only thing holding up the license is our final home inspection which cannot be done until the attic is finished (minimum five more weeks). If the special exception is granted, the baby will stay with us. The baby coming here was at the request of the family, so I suspect that will not be an issue.
Until more is decided and as we now need to follow the guidelines of being a foster parent, information from here on out will be fairly limited when it comes to what I will be posting publicly. Of course, if you are interested to hear about the progress of the kids, you can reach out to us privately. We’ll tell you what we can.
Thursday was the day that was scheduled to go through the “transfer” procedure. This procedure is where the initial caseworker (who is in charge of ensuring the kids’ initial safety and creates the proposed safety plan) transfers the case to the caseworkers in charge long-term. I had initially thought that it was where the judge approved the plan, but that is what comes next. The new case workers will review the plan as set out, make any changes and/or recommendations and then it will go before the judge.
It was not at all what I expected.
The day that I found her stranded in her car, one of the things she said to me was that she had just started attending church the day before. She had prayed that someone or some THING would come into her life to help. She repeated this to Jessica later that day. To be honest, I don’t know how much of that was factual and how much of it was something she said to help gain our trust. People who are street savvy learn some of the things to say to gain trust. It’s part of their survival. Religion is always a way (in my cynical viewpoint) for people to gain trust. Of course, to me it didn’t matter. What mattered were those kids.
True to her word, the social worker came at 5:00 ready to take the kids. Jessica had spent the day washing and folding their clothes, packing them up in totes, and preparing for their departure. When she arrived, she explained to us a bit more about the process, the grandmother, the plan set in place and the “transfer” procedure which will occur next week. The family has requested that we attend the transfer meeting. This is when everything is made official and a judge puts his or her stamp of approval on the plan.
As of right now, it looks as though the kids will be going to live with their maternal grandmother today. The social worker has a plan drawn up and, assuming all parties involved agree to the plan, they will be going to live with her. If they do not agree, then the kids go into foster care. In a way, it almost feels a bit heavy handed, but we know that it’s the right thing for these kids. Mom and Dad really need to get some help in order to care for them.
On Friday, he called Jessica to let her know that he was grateful for the care we’re giving to his kids. Jessica reported to me that he seemed nice enough and seemed genuine with his gratitude. He and the mother wanted to come see the kids over the weekend. Jessica was open to it and it was left at that.
Remember when the Army had a commercial that said “we do more by 5 am than most people do in a day?” At least I think it was the Army. It may have been one of the other armed forces, and if it was, I’m still pretty certain that the statement would apply to any of them. There is no harder working group of people on earth than our military. So believe me when I tell you that while being a parent is tough work, I do not mean to marginalize the hard work the U.S. Military does on a daily basis. Having said that, the slogan did occur to me on more than one occasion this past looooong weekend.