Friday, April 29, 2016

15 Steps to Adopt from Foster Care

A very, very simplified overview. :)

  1. Think, "Hey this might be the way I/we want to build my/our family."
  2. Ask questions - of everyone, friends, family, bloggers, adoptive parents, adoptees - make sure this is the best decision for you.  Adoption isn't for everyone and thats okay.
  3. Attend into sessions, more than one.  
  4. Apply to an agency or county Foster to Adopt program that fits you.
  5. Do the paperwork.  Its hard, its tedious, its repetitive.  Do it anyway.  The quicker you move, the quicker your social worker can do what they need to do.
  6. Visit with your social worker in their office & then in your home.
  7. Do some more paperwork & whatever the worker asks to you do.
  8. Give the worker some time, she/he has to write it, have it proofread for accuracy & compliance to the laws of the state you live and the state/county you plan to adopt from by other worker (and possibly your family), print, notarize if necessary, sign.
  9. Get approved & have an approved home-study.
  10. Decide if you want to foster to foster and be open to adoption (concurrent adoption) or only conciser kids whose birth families rights have already been terminated.
  11. In concurrent adoption, wait for your social worker to call with a referral of a kiddo who needs a place to stay for the night or maybe forever.
    1. Ask more questions - get as much info about kiddo as possible.
  12. In adoption (from foster care) talk to your worker about kids and youth who need a home at that time.  
    1. Ask more questions.  See a theme here?
  13. One you are matched with a child or the child you are fostering becomes available for adoption, let you worker know just how interested you are (we as workers offer aren't sure of a families commitment until we hear the words, "We are in this 100%.  We want this child to be a part of our family."  The words matter!
  14.  Do what your social worker tells you.
  15. Go to court & finalize.
Of course its much more complicated that that, but those are the basic steps.  Its so doable.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Creative Parenting

One skill that is pretty necessary as a foster parent is being creative in how you get the necessary tasks of life done.

I have had two little girls now, both around 2 who came to me with an extreme hatred of bath-time.  The thing is I can't just not bath a child and I think bath-time can be such a great sensory, fun time for kids if they can settle in and enjoy it.

The solutions although different worked with both of them.  The goal is to always observe as much as you can about the child when they are tantruming - to try to figure out the problem and then just start trying different things.  Not everything will work, but most likely if you can keep your head on straight and remain calm, you will stumble onto a solution.

So once I watched the terror in both of them, and what it looked like and felt like, I tried some things.

With kido number 1 it seemed like it was more a fear of getting undressed then getting wet.  First of all, I started doing her baths upstairs, in the kitchen since since she was small and the bathroom was a pretty unknown room, whereas the kitchen we spend a lot of time in.  Then, for about a week, I put on a new diaper and a onsie on and sat her in the sink with water and toys.  I took it super slow, washed her arms only the first day, then her arms and her legs, then we washed her hair.  After about a week, this seemed cool with her.  She was enjoying "tubby-time".  Then I took of the onsie and just bathed her in a clean diaper.  Then after about a week, we did a bath the way its sposta happen, in the buff, in the sink.  She loved it.  Once the splashing got out of hand, I mean she was 2 and now loved the bath, I started doing baths downstairs in the tub.  She made the transition no problem.

With kido number 2 she did not want to get wet and hated the feeling of the water by her or heaven forbid on her while washing her hair.  But, her close in age sister loved, loved the bath so we started doing baths together.  She still wasn't a fan, but I would get about 10 seconds of no crying by pointing out how much fun this is, how good it is to get clean, etc, etc.  Still no fun, but an improvement over the clawing, screaming, terror.  Then I remembered how much she loved drinking anything out of a straw.  So I brought a big glass of water with a straw into the bathroom with us.  Once she was in the tub for those 10 seconds of no crying, I broke out the cup and asked if she wanted a drink.  Through her tears, she started drinking.  "Hmmm.  Yummy....  :sign for more:".   We all take drink and she has some more, about 5 minutes of no crying, actually starting to explore the tub, but then we had to wash her up - out the second we were done.  Another night, I brought the cup again and some fruit snacks.  We had a drink and some snacks, while I was pointing out all the toys, talking about how much fun bath time is, etc.  Then I washed her up.  Still didn't like that, but you know what?  Once we were done, she played in the tub for about 10 minutes soaking wet, loving every minute.

I could tell you stories for hours like this.  Even when the behaviors are similar, the solutions look totally different.  So look at your kids when they are melting down today, try to figure out the root and start from there.  Not to say this eliminates all issues,  but it helps me.  It gets me out of the one response for every child rut that I get into.  All children, all issues are different - and all need different solutions.  So be creative, have fun and keep at it.  You can do it.

Attempting Agape Twin Cities Photography: Little L - Newborn, 3 Month & 9 Month

There is a unique joy in being able to watch a child grow that first year of life.   This wonderful family allowed me to capture L's newborn, 3 month and 9 month photos.  Little L grew up before our eyes and as she grew - her family's love for her only multiplied (into a new little addition I can't wait to meet)!

L Newborn, in her family home, natural light only

L 3 Months, in her family's home, natural light only

L One Year in Como Park, St Paul, MN

*To ask a question or add your name to my mailing list to be informed about upcoming natural light session openings in the Twin Cities area, please do so here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review for Twin Cities Photographer

"Thank you so much Alisa! The pictures are amazing! You were so wonderful to work with, and you put our little ones at ease (which for our 1 year old is no small feat!) I have received many compliments from family and friends on your work. Thanks again!!"  Amanda

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Photography in Stillwater, Minnesota - taken by Alisa

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality."  Alfred Stieglitz, 1864 – 1946

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”   Alfred Stieglitz, 1864 – 1946

Organization: One Piece at a Time

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Site Redesign & Function

Throughout my life I have collected many thoughts, ideas and images I have wanted to share with people. Which lead to me having multiple different sites that all fell under the umbrella of making life more than it is today.
To bring all those pieces together, I am currently working on combining my various loves into one site - and one name, so bear with me. I will share with you soon fully, but here's a taste... "This is my attempt to make lives more simple, more meaningful and more beautiful.”
More Simple: Organizing
More Meaningful: Foster Care Adoption
More Beautiful: Photography (formerly called Beloved Pieces Photography)