Funny. I haven’t posted in a year and now 2 posts in two days??? WOW!!! I wanted the update and the new plan to be two different posts because one was kind of where we’ve been and the other is where we are going. This one is kind of a long one but well worth the read!
When we originally started towards the process of adopting through the foster care system in October 2010. We were discussing with our licensing specialist about fostering, foster to adopt, and adopting, what the differences were, and how we should move forward.
Fostering: Bringing children into your home with the purpose of caring and loving the them, while their family has the opportunity to meet certain requirements for the them to return home. The initial goal is always for the kids to return home or be placed with a family member if unable to go back to birth parents. If family is unable to take the child, the foster parents have first option to adopt the child. If the foster parents do not choose to adopt, the child is placed on the adoption registry. This type of placement has a lot of unknowns and there is a high likelihood for reunification and having a multitude of placements before we might be able to adopt.
Foster to Adopt: In this stage, the foster parents are not planning on adopting the child and the case plan for the child is moving for adoption. The parental rights have not been severed yet, but reunification is unlikely. CPS will work through the process of red file staffing and choosing an adoptive family for the child to be placed with. With this placement type, there is less chance of the child returning home, however it is still an option. Also, family members could be located who will take the child and you still might lose the placement and not get to adopt this child.
Adoption: This type of placement occurs when the parental rights are already severed and the case plan is adoption. The foster parents are not adopting, an adoptive family is selected and the child is placed with them. This is the safest route with the smallest chance of not being able to adopt the child.
Initially, we were planning on fostering with the hopes of adopting children one day who came into our home and were unable to reunite with their birth family. Being supportive of our ultimate goal of adoption, our licensing specialist encouraged us to start with adoption or foster to adopt. We really wanted to add to our family as soon as possible and were willing to take the extra risk and chose Foster to Adopt as the placement type we would accept.
From the Decision to Now: The Process & Events
We have been on the adoption registry for two and a half years now and do not have children in our home yet. We have had a potential foster to adopt and a private adoption fall through in this timeframe. We have also had one little girl we were contacted about but not chosen for the red file staffing. And another child we were contacted about that we were chosen for the red file staffing but we felt the needs were beyond what we were capable of and the child needed a true stay at home parent who didn’t work.
When preparing to decide if we were going to renew our adoption certificate this year, we had many lengthy discussions about our future and plans, being in limbo, frustration, and discouragement. We have love to give and want to experience the joy of parenting. After previous disappointments we weren’t sure how much more we can handle.
Limbo is an awful place in between setting out on a mission and achieving the desired result. When reaching your goal is out of your control and your life is in someone else’s hands, it can be maddening! I have been taught lesson after lesson through the process of infertility, pregnancy loss, feeling like my body is failing me and I am failing my husband, and potential adoptions not working out.
Patience is something I have been tested with over and over again, as well as releasing things, trusting in God and believing there is a plan for my life even when it seems impossible. Sometimes I would really love a flashing neon sign showing me the plan and explaining why the road has to be so rough, however I do believe everything happens for a reason. Ultimately we have learned we are an amazing, strong people and our relationship has grown and blossomed. In August, our plan became not to renew our certificate, to let our current one run out and that would be it. We were disappointed and did not feel we would receive an adoption placement for our preferred age range but didn’t feel changing our parameters was the right thing to do. We have aired on the side of the cautious one, not pushing each other into anything. I was very unsettled with this decision. I was crying every day and not ready to accept I would never be a parent.
For quite some time I have felt called to fostering but have been resistant because I wanted less risk and more certainty. I was feeling particularly distraught one day and while online I searched for a church I had been to a long time ago. I found the website and I watched some sermons online. I was having a crisis of faith and truly was seeking help, guidance, or comfort with our decision and decided to go to church the next day. A friendly woman sat next to me. After the service she talked with me, said God told her she was to sit next to me, she asked questions, I cried, and she prayed with me. Later she introduced me to a member who is currently fostering. Both ladies offered support and encouragement and I felt comfortable and loved (even after crying in front of strangers). When I got home, we had another difficult conversation where I expressed I was not done or ready to accept I would not be a parent and believed we were called to foster. We decided to renew our adoption certificate at this time but could not come to agreement on fostering.
The unknown’s of fostering when you are hoping to adopt can be challenging. In the process we could have the opportunity to bless multiple children and enjoy parenting even if it is for a short time. But also know we may be faced with reunifying multiple children and not have the opportunity to adopt arise. When we went notarize our adoption paperwork, the notary who signed our paper last year talked to us about how he is fostering and now adopting a foster child. He discussed his experiences, providing encouragement and answered questions. It multiple ways, God was leading us towards what I already felt called to do.
We have decided to move towards fostering at this time. We have completed the classes we needed but still have additional paperwork and an inspection to pass before approved. We are both excited and nervous about our new path, and are hopeful it will lead to adoption one day. We know our family and friends share in the roller coaster ride of building our family and hope to receive the continued support of our loved ones on this new journey.
J & M
Today was the Red File Staffing for three precious children. Two other couples and us were being represented at the meeting where they decided who would be the best fit, best choice to be their parents.
We are very happy to announce we were chosen to be the parents to these children! We will be the parents to a 39 month old boy, a 20 month old boy, and a 9 month old girl. We will be going from a couple to a instant family of five!
Tomorrow we go to the Paper File. This is a meeting where we go with our licensing specialist to meet the case manager and foster parents and anyone else whom they have asked to join us. We will get to ask all of our questions and hear more about the kids.
At the end of the meeting we will get to see a picture of the kids!
The process is going to move very quickly and we know we will be very busy. I am sure we will need everyone’s love, support, and understanding as we start this new journey in our lives.
Thank you to everyone who has been encouraging, helping, and loving us through this process!
As some of you already knew, we were contacted two weeks ago and asked if we would expand our number of beds, or children we would accept, to three. We decided we were willing to do this. We have the room and were excited about this sibling group for a couple of reasons. There is a girl and two boys (so we will have at least one of each) and they are legally free for adoption.
As a parent waiting to be selected for kids, you don’t normally get this early call. Usually the first call you get is when you are selected for the Red File Staffing. At the point when we agreed to be considered for the sibling group, we only knew our file would be looked at. We were still waiting to hear if we were selected as one of the top families for the Red File Staffing.
For those of you who need a refresher on what a “Red File Staffing” is please see my previous post: the process of selecting a family.
We have exciting news!!
We just found out today we were selected for the Red File Staffing!!!
A week ago we were contacted by our licensing specialist. Another county was looking for families who would want their files looked at for a child who would have some special needs. Our licensing specialist gave us some information and asked if we would like to have our file put on the case managers desk to be considered for baby A. After reviewing the information we had received we let her know we did want our file passed on and wanted to be considered for the Red File Staffing for baby A.
We were nervous to tell anyone about the call because this was a weird preliminary call and we had not yet been selected for the Red File Staffing, we only knew our file would be looked at. We didn’t want to jinx our chances by telling everyone. Silly, I know.
We can’t say much but here is what we can tell you. Baby A was a 13 month old girl who had already been faced with a lot in life and at this point there was a lot of unknowns regarding how lasting her special needs would be.
We were secretly really confident we would at least make it to the Red File Staffing and probably even get selected. We thought this because I am an ICU nurse, baby A’s special needs, and since J and I work opposite shifts, we are considered a stay at home parent. These were two BIG things in our favor.
We thought and considered the special needs and the challenges we may face but were excited and confident we were ready to take on this challenge.
While waiting to hear if we were selected to be in the Red File Staffing, I was praying for God’s will. If baby A was the right baby for us, we would be selected. If baby A was not the child he wanted us to have, I wanted the decision to be made for us. I didn’t want us to be faced with the decision of not choosing her if we felt the challenges would be too much upon learning more information. I know being in that situation would be really hard for us because we are so ready to be parents.
Tuesday we were contacted by our specialist, letting us know we were not chosen to be in the Red File Staffing. We were all shocked based on the particular special needs and my nursing background that we weren’t selected to be in the staffing. At this point in the game, they don’t tell you why you weren’t selected. Normally you wouldn’t even know they were looking at your file until you were asked to be in the Red File Staffing.
I guess we are encouraged our file has been looked at and considered. Surprised we didn’t make the Red File Staffing on this one. And trying to believe the reason we weren’t chosen is because my prayer was answered that we wouldn’t have to choose not to take her because her medical needs were too great.
It is amazing how attached you can get and how easily your heart can start loving this little being that isn’t in your life yet.
We have learned a lot preparing to adopt through the foster care system. Prior to our classes, the image I had of foster care adoption was what I had seen on TV or in movies. I envisioned visiting a facility where kids were playing, looking at the children, getting to play with them, and selecting the child we thought would be right for our family. I thought of all of our visits to the pound or pet stores, when it is hard to select just one animal. They all look so precious and cute and how would you ever choose. I don’t mean this in an insulting way, I do not think the children are like animals. I have so much love to share, I imagine myself wanting to take them all home and this is the same feeling I have when I look at my dogs. I love them to bits!
Recently in a TV show, “Army Wives”, they portrayed almost this exact image. The family went to the facility and met the children. The case worker had a child in mind for them but they did go to a facility where they saw children playing. I know it is a TV show but I found it frustrating how simple they made the process look. They decided to adopt and within a day or two were meeting kids, then within a very soon after they were bringing the boy home to live with them. There was no talk of classes, or preparation needed before bringing a child home.
There is a multi-step process to how you are selected to be the adoptive parents in the foster care system.
First I need to explain there are three different types of care through the foster care system. Fostering, Foster to Adopt, and Adoption. Fostering is when the court goal for the children is reunification with their birth family and the foster family cares for them during this time. If the court goal changes to termination of parental rights, the child’s case worker would ask the foster family if they would want to adopt the child. If not, the next step would be a foster/adoptive home. These parents want to adopt but are willing to take children who are not yet legally free for adoption. In this stage there is still a chance the children will go back to their birth family. When parental rights are terminated, if a child is not going to be adopted by their foster family, or has not already been placed in a foster/adopt home, this is when an adoptive family will be sought.
The process for a foster placement is different from for an adoptive placement. We are looking for a foster to adopt placement. I will explain the process we will be going through. Right now we are certified, on the adoption registry and waiting to be selected for a red file staffing.
THE RED FILE STAFFING
When looking for a foster/adopt family or adoptive family, the case worker will look through the registry for a family who is willing to take the age, sex, race, and specific needs the child has. They will pull the family files which are matches and look through the home studies. The case worker selects which families they feel may be a good fit and they want to learn more about.
The case worker contacts the licensing agency of the families to ask if the families are interested. At this point our licensing specialist will contact us, give us the minimal information they know about the child or children and ask if we are interested. Of course we are!! 🙂
The next step is the Red File Staffing Meeting. Our licensing specialist attends this meeting with the representatives for the other families, the case worker, and the foster family. Other people involved in the child’s care may be there as well, for example the GAL (Guardian Ad Litem), or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), or anyone else the case worker feels should be there. Our licensing specialist brings our photo book and our file to this meeting to represent us and discuss why we would be a good fit for the child(ren).
After this meeting the case worker decides who is their first and second choice family for the child. Our licensing specialist will call us and let us know if we are selected. If we were selected, she will share any new information she learned about the child in the meeting. Then we will work together with her to create a list of all the questions we have about the child.
The next step is the Paper Presentation Meeting. We will attend this meeting with our licensing specialist, the case worker, the foster family, and anyone else the case worker this should attend. At this meeting we the case worker will tell us more about the child, we get to ask our list of questions, and at the end of the meeting we will get to see a picture of the child. After this meeting we will have to wait 24 hours to give our decision whether or not we feel the child is right for us.
If we decide the child is right for us, the next step is the Transition Period. The child will transition from the foster families home to our home. This is done through a series of visits starting with visiting the child in the foster home, taking the child out for a day trip, an overnight trip to our house and eventually coming home to live with us.
Usually the child has to be in the adoptive home for 6 months prior to the adoption finalization. Since we are doing foster to adopt and the children are not yet legally free it is still possible the child may return to the birth family and may be longer than six months before we are able to finalize the adoption.
Another step in the process that is…..
Our home study was submitted to the state today!!
We have gone through many steps to get to this point and are thrilled to have completed the home study process and be waiting for approval. This next phase, now that the classes, interviews, and home study are done is a lot of waiting. We are now waiting to get state approval and receive our certification. After we are certified, there will be more waiting, waiting to be called for the red file process, waiting for the red file meeting, waiting to see if we were selected, etc…
The nice part about this stage is we have completed everything we can do but it does feel odd to have to hand it all over to someone else and wait. We are so grateful to have our friends and family to support us! Thank you all!!