Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Steps Towards A New Life

Jacob and I took another step towards our new life. People that know me well know that I have not been happy at my current job for about six years. To say I don't like it is a huge understatement. I work there because I have to pay the bills and support my family. No other reason.

About three years ago, I almost changed jobs. I had spoken to people from other law enforcement agencies who encouraged me to look at other agencies. These officers had once worked where I work and had been much happier after leaving. I almost accepted a job in Sheboygan, WI but decided against it at the last minute. I had a long conversation with my dad about it and realized that moving at that time would mean putting my adoption hopes on hold for a number of years. I decided at that time to stay where I was so that I could adopt Jacob and become a mom. That was a decision that I do not regret but I have moved on from that point now.

Earlier this year, I decided it was time to make a major career change. I have decided to leave law enforcement. It is not because I want to but because it is the best decision for my family. I do not believe changing agencies and working second or third shift is in our best interest at this point. I am also pretty sure that I want a career change and not just an agency change.

I applied to graduate school last January after spending some time researching my options. It will take me two years to complete graduate school. Only about 40 percent of the applicants are accepted to graduate school so I am happy to have gotten in. My next big challenge was finding a way to pay for it. A career in child protective services pays considerably less than I make right now. I am trying to save money and pay off debt to prepare for the lower income and taking out $21,000 in loans would not have helped that cause.

On Friday, I received word that I was accepted into the child welfare stipend program. It is part of the title IV-E grant from the federal government. Title IV-E is federal funds used to assist children in foster care. It also pays for graduate school for people dedicated to making a difference in child welfare. That was the part of the grant I was awarded. There are only a few stipends awarded to each university so I knew the odds of getting it were against me. Everyone wants it since it pays for all tuition and fees but only a few people get it.

In exchange for the stipend, I have to work one year in child protective services for every year of school they pay for. Right now, I have committed myself to one year. Another part of the program is that I agree to take the first job offered to me in child protective services. The university will try to help me find employment in Northeastern Wisconsin. That is the part that makes me and my family nervous. It also means I will have to move after graduate school since I don't live close enough to those jobs to commute.

Jacob, M and I took our first step towards moving yesterday. We drove to the campus that my classes will be at and then checked out the community a little. Our good friend Jasmine came with us and gave us her approval. Jasmine will be graduating high school when I graduate graduate school. We went to some shopping centers and looked at clothes for my field placement. I also took the opportunity to watch how people reacted to my interracial family and my biracial teenage friend. While we got a few more odd looks than at home, it wasn't many. Most people smiled at my kids and were warm and friendly. It was also more diverse than I anticipated. The community we were at is geographically in the middle of the area the university will try to place me in. I will be able to drive to almost any job location I am assigned to. I am feeling pretty confident this is where we will be living in two years.

There are some things that I need to do before I can even really start working on relocation. M is the biggest thing. His foster care case needs to be resolved. Since his case is still looking like I will most likely adopt him, I need to stay in my current home and job. I am still hoping his case will be resolved by next spring. After that, anything is possible. I will wait to move until I have a job and feel the timing is right. I do believe it will be in 1-2 years though. Yesterday was the first step. Now, I just need to be patient and trust God will help everything work out well.

I also bought new tennis shoes. I will need those as I race full-speed ahead through school, my field placement and current parenting and work responsibilities. The next two years will be very busy but I am committed to making life better for me and my kids.

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