1:30PM (or a few minutes before, I guess).
That's the time I officially became a licensed foster parent.
I had to sign a form in front of a notary, so I ran by the office this afternoon to do so.
As I sat down at her desk, she hovered next to me chatting with the foster care program director.
"Okay," I told myself. "This signature counts. Make it a good one."
Luckily I'd practiced signing my name at least a hundred times that morning- one of the perks of being a social worker, I guess.
A moment later I was sitting there- staring at my signature, freshly scrawled in bright blue ink- when I heard a piece of the notary's conversation above me.
"So, if we were to get a call tonight about a placement, technically..."
"It could go to her, yes."
That's when it dawned on me:
They're talking about me.
This is really happening.
This isn't an intimidating mountain of forms and tasks standing formidably in the distance.
I've hiked this beast and left it behind.
And now I'm sitting at the notary's desk, taking it all in, and (sort of) realizing what this means for me.
In a matter of hours, I could have a child in my home.
Or it could be a matter of days.
Or even months, I guess.
But it's done.
I did it.
I'm a foster parent.
Truth be told, I'm starting to panic a little.
That might be a strong word, but I'm asking myself questions like, "What do I actually do when a child shows up? How will I know what to feed it? What time should it go to bed? Will someone tell me those things, or am I just supposed to figure them out? How does someone figure those things out??
What will we do in our first moments together? How will I explain what's going on to a verbal child? How do I help a child feel at home in a totally new and strange place?
Should I take the kid out for frozen yogurt to ease the transition? No, I don't want to teach them to numb their feelings with food.
But froyo is so food.
And, seriously... what else do I do with a kid?"
I'm having visions of myself sitting across from a four year old- awkwardly asking, "So... what do you want to do?" before falling into an uncomfortable staring contest.
I mean... really...WHAT IF THAT HAPPENS??
Hopefully it won't. Hopefully some of this will come naturally. I mean, I've spent a LOT of time around kids in my life- how hard could this be, right?
Oh my goodness.
I'm going to be a foster parent.