Lessons of a new foster mommy; Part 1

It’s been nearly three weeks since the kid arrived and there have been loads of little lessons learned.

Here’s today’s lesson:
When you have a new foster placement, check through everything to ensure there are no items that need to be returned to others.

When she arrived we unpacked her belongings together. But at 11 years old, I gave the little dear a bit more responsibility for putting her stuff away. I went through the bags and boxes then piled like stuff together and had her arrange her room. (She did a wonderful job.) I was pleased to see that she had so many books.

Anyhow… It wasn’t until Tuesday night that I really went through her books. This is when I noticed that a large portion of them was from the public library. And they were overdue. Several months overdue.  

Over lunch today, I popped into the library to return the books and learned that there had also been several DVDs checked out at the same time – all but one of which had been returned, but there were overdue fines on them as well as a charge for the lost DVD. Add that to the overdue fees for the stack of books I returned and the total monetary damage is $190.

I must say that I’m a bit disappointed that the books were not returned by the caregiver who authorised her to check them out but not knowing the full story, I have to imagine that (1) said caregiver didn’t know the books were checked out or (2) said caregiver let the next caregiver or social worker know that the books were due at a certain time and that information got lost in the chaos/excitement of a move.

But, ultimately, it was my responsibility to check her books when she first arrived at my home. (That said, the fines would have been about the same even if I returned the books the day after the kid arrived.) And, of course, it was her responsibility to return items borrowed from the library in the first instance.

Lesson learned. Very expensive lesson learned*.


Shel Silverstein

What do I do?
What do I do?
This library book is 42
Years overdue.
I admit that it’s mine
But I can’t pay the fine–
Should I turn it in
Or hide it again?
What do I do?
What do I do?

* In fairness to the expensive lesson, they’ve reduced the fees and fines to about $100 and I might be able to replace the DVD on my own which will take that charge alone from $60 to whatever the cost of the DVD is on Amazon.com. [Fine reduction updated from $80 to $100 because I did the math wrong the first time. Big surprise!]

10 Replies to “Lessons of a new foster mommy; Part 1”

  1. Ouch. $60 for a DVD? When I was growing up the libraries always had vastly reduced rates for children, so it’s a bit of a shock when one has one’s first overdue book as an adult!

    1. I’ve found the video on Amazon for about $25 – I just need to make sure it’s ‘exactly the same’ then get a waiver so that I can have the original fine dismissed then I can ‘donate’ the new DVD to the library. I think this is the right video: http://www.amazon.com/Nausicaa-Valley-Wind-Sumi-Shimamoto/dp/B0001XAPZ6.
      I’m torn on if I should make the kid responsible for this. I think that she needs to take at least some responsibility as she checked the books out, but I feel that a child that young needs to have a responsible adult to help remind/encourage good library habits. The library said they’d work with me on the late fees so maybe I’ll see if she can do some volunteer work to pay back part of the fines.
      Oh well… it’s just money, right?

      1. At least it is a worthy cause. Libraries are very important, but they often seem to be one of the first things that lose funding so at least it’s better than many of the other things one is forced to pay!
        Well hopefully this experience can teach her to keep track of her library loans. It’s hard to know quite how responsible you can hold her without knowing the precise details of how she got the books etc. But volunteer work would seem a great idea, it could only be a positive experience!

  2. the books are manga, not anime (that’s the word for the stuff on dvds). and some manga is awesome, and definitely counts as reading.
    thought a lot is dross. but pretty!
    /pedant moment

  3. It wasn’t your responsibility period. And probably not even hers… she’s a minor and last I knew they had to have an adult sign off on their library cards. Perhaps she should have told you but she’s probably got a lot on her mind. It’s not easy to live in a foster home, no matter how cool and nice it may be. I would have explained the situation and they could have waived the charges if they wanted. (Except perhaps the DVD which is understandable and of course not in front of the kid). She’s not legally your kid so you aren’t legally responsible for her fees at least the ones which accumulated prior to moving in or a result of something done prior to moving in. If that’s the case, I’m sure there’s a lot of parents that might like to send their kids your way for a while 😉
    Anyway, don’t take the blame. You went above and beyond what you were supposed to do. As far as punishment, if she knows what happened then she’s probably embarrassed as it is. If you want to make it a lesson, then give her a calendar on which to write due dates and such or show her where to put it on yours. Better yet, have her make one, perhaps manga themed. That way she’ll remember it.
    If you want to use volunteer work… maybe the library could come up with a project for her in lieu of some of the fine.

    1. I’m really torn, Sharon. I get that she’s just a kid and that she’s not got the most typical/ideal childhood, but I feel that I need to let her know that she is also partly responsible for it. She is certainly not in trouble – but I want to make sure she learns from it. We’re doing this whole “every action – or non-action – has a reaction” lesson plan at the moment, so this can add to it.
      The kid is amazing! She really is. And I think she understands the importance of books and the library system. I want the library to always be a positive thing for her as it was for me growing up – and still is today.
      More and more, I think I’ll let her put in a few hours at the library to help ‘work off’ the fines which I think she’ll actually enjoy.

      1. PS: I lived in a foster home myself. I learned the most by watching the difference between how parents reacted to things done wrong vs foster parents…. well, good foster parents (I have to say that because I was in one worse than my own home). In foster home 1, I was beaten, in foster home 2, I was loved unconditionally and if I did something wrong, they talked to me like an adult so I understood what happened. I was taught life lessons in general. Not, I’m making you do this because you did this. Trust me, she doesn’t want to displease you so simply hearing that it displeased you should be enough. She’s probably already wondering what she did wrong to land her in your home to begin with. But, there are plenty of misbehaving kids in foster care too and I definitely see the need to handle things differently in those cases. You don’t want them to walk all over you. Anyway, you know what’s best and you’ll make the right decision. I always enjoyed working in the library. I worked in the library in gradeschool, jr high and a little in high school on my own. Definitely take every opportunity to show her a potential career path based on what she likes because it’s the key to breaking the patterns of her parents. If only I had the support of others who have been there, I might have known how to make things better for myself. I didn’t do too awfully bad, but I do wish I did better. I did everything I was told I was supposed to but unfortunately, there was a lot I wasn’t told and I had to learn through trial and error. I was the first person in my family to graduate high school, the first to go to college, the first to get an associate degree (almost two actually because I had to start almost completely over moving state to state). Then medical issues hit. Career wise I failed, well, I guess educationally I failed. Career wise, I was more successful than perhaps I should of been given my education. In the end though, I think it prevented me from advancing futher. I could have handled my medical issues if I was in charge of how things got done in my career. It would have been clear discrimination had they not given me the promotion I was up for before I left. I was doing the work anyway. It definitely was discrimination, but the lack of a bachelor degree was the excuse, even though it wasn’t required. Oklahoma seems to have their own laws here where that’s concerned. Anyway, I’m rambling now… hopefully I’ve been more helpful than confusing. Even though I don’t think you need the help. :p My main point is that you may be her only access to a person with an education that really knows what she’s talking about. You’re from a big family during a day where credit wasn’t an option. I’m just assuming since you were from a large family and lived where we did that you did without a lot and you were one of the few (like myself) who had to work to have your basic needs met, all while having to keep our grades up. Now the child labor laws have created obstacles for kids like us. The lessons we learned on our own as a result won’t be as easily learned. Instead kids see their parents charging everything on their credit cards or lying for public assistance or working multiple jobs and opposite shifts just to get by. I think she can learn a lot just by being around you and by watching you. Not necessarily disciplined or by purposeful attempts to make everything a lesson. Explore her interests and give her a hope for the future and teach her to get by on her own, financially, while still enjoying life, AND without a significant other like you have done. It’s rare, and the best lesson she will ever learn.

  4. I like the volunteer work idea – suitable lesson learning material I suspect.
    As for the fine, don’t you get reimbursed by the State or whoever has placed the kid in your care?

    1. I get a modest stipend from the state, but not a straight reimbursement. I’m sure I’ll be out-of-pocket a bit by the time she goes home, but she makes my heart sing, so it’s well-worth any money spent!

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