Sunday, September 18, 2011

We are moving forward!

Our foster-adopt process has quickly moved forward. Now that we are licensed foster parents (the license will be in the mail this week), the adoption section of DSHS has mailed us the adoption paperwork. The paperwork was mailed on September 12, we picked up our mail September 14. The "Welcome" letter stated we were to get all our paperwork, in by September 30. After I have been asking to speak with an adoption caseworker or at least get the paperwork for months, they give us 17 calendar days to submit our paperwork? Or what? There was no explanation of what happens if this deadline is not met. As organized as I am, I got our portion of the paperwork completed and mailed back to DSHS on September 16. The four references will be mailed this week and my husband's medical form will be mailed this week, also. I luckily had a doctor's appointment already scheduled for September 15 and took mine in and got it filled out that day. I also sent an email to the caseworker asking for clarification on statements in the letter. The letter says we have to go through the fingerprinting process all over again. I will do this if need be, but is this really necessary if WSP and DSHS already has our prints and just has to run them through the system? It would save time and effort on our part and save tax payer dollars which are stretched very thin already.

Thursday I met with my State Representative's Senior Aide about our case and discussed the good and the bad about our process. We agree there are communication and process issues that need to be addressed in the local DSHS office. Since July 2010 the Foster Licensors have told us we do not need to be licensed to pursue adoption, but the Adoption Caseworkers have told us they will not talk to us until we are licensed foster parents - message disconnect. Getting phone calls returned from DSHS is nearly impossible unless I call three times in one week. The office did not re-assign us a licensor when ours retired even after I got the Representative's office involved. I had to call and demand the contact information for a licensor so we could proceed. I have been refused the supervisor information when I ask for the name and phone number of the Adoption Supervisor. I only got this information when we became licensed foster parents. Then they give us this 17-day deadline which does not make any sense. Not everyone can get their doctor to respond within 15 days; luckily I already had an appointment and our doctors are really easy to work with and know we are working through the adoption process.

Once ALL the paperwork is in, I wonder how long it will take the caseworker to set up our first meeting. The letter stated we will have several 2-hour meetings. Much of the Caseworker's (CW) concern is our lifetime commitment to adoption, parental training we have received and resources we may utilize after placement and adoption. We have gone through all this with our previous two home studies so we will review what we know and plan to do after placement - counseling, discipline techniques, family integration, educational services, etc. I know very little about this CW, just name and contact information. I do not know of any local families that have dealt with the person and have not heard his name before this month so he may be new. This adoption home study process could go quickly or it could drag on for another year as some families locally have said it is taking 9-12 months for the adoption home study.

Patience. This is a practice in patience, hope and faith. I pray for the child waiting for a home who will be eventually placed in our home. We are adopting a child who is available for adoption and has been in care for an unknown amount of time. It makes my soul ache to know this child lingers in foster care wishing, hoping, praying for a family while we are wishing, hoping, praying for a child. All the child and we can do at this moment is wait for the system. One day that child will be set free from the system and achieve permanence as our child. Permanence. That is a good topic for my next blog post. As the verse below states, I will come to you. We just do not know when that day will be; the timing is in God's hands who watches over us and protects us.

John 14:18 (New King James Version)
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

To the Birth Family of My Child

I have been thinking about who our adopted child may be while we wait for a match and it has me thinking about the birth family of that child. Our child may or may not know his or her birth family. A child from Jamaica has a very high chance of not knowing his/her birth family. A foster child may have some contact with his/her birth family. So I am taking this time to write a letter to the birth family of any child that may become ours. Once we are matched and know more about our child, I will write a more personal birth family letter. I have been praying daily for the birth family and the caretakers of our future children for awhile now so the birth family is in the back of my mind constantly.

Dear Birth Family,

At this time, I do not know what the circumstances are that have led to your child being placed in care outside of your home. As I write this, my husband and I are waiting to be matched as the adoptive parents of your child. We promise to love, nurture, guide and teach your child. We - you, us and the child - are now a family. We may have little or no contact, but we still influence who the child is and who the child will become. We will teach this child that you love the child and wanted to care for him/her, but for whatever the circumstances, we were chosen as the forever family for your child.

If at all possible and if in the best interest of the child, we would like you to be involved in the child's life. This could mean some annual visits or just letters, emails, phone calls or Skype. The child needs to know that there are many people who are involved in raising him/her - birth, adoptive, foster, immediate, extended and those who are like family. We strongly believe "it takes a village to raise a child". While we want you to have contact with us and the child, please understand that during the first year, contact may be limited while we work on bonding with the child to re-assure the child we are a safe, stable and permanent home.

Our goal is to be a stable, safe home for your child. We hope some day you can come to see the child as "ours", not yours, not mine, but ours. The child has your genetics and your traits. The child will develop the values and some learned traits of my husband and myself. Some day, the child will become, hopefully and God willing, an independent adult with individual ideas and goals that honor both you and us, the family that gave the child a strong beginning.

I do know you have experienced a variety of emotions during this process including anger, disbelief and sadness at losing custody of your child. I, too, have experienced emotions during our own process including frustration, anger, joy and peace. The child has experienced a wide range of emotions that are very confusing, especially if the child is young. It will take time for all of us to process through these emotions singularly and together. My husband and I have accessed counseling services since we began our adoption journey and will continue family counseling once your child is placed in our home. For us, counseling is not a sign of weakness, but just another resource to tap to deal with complex issues involved in the adoption process. I do not know what your circumstances are, but I hope you have others you can talk with to help you through this difficult time. Also, I hope you realize that your thoughts and emotions regarding the adoption of your child by us will vary through the years to come and I hope you will come to peace with us being the forever family of your child.

While we have prayed for years for a child to become ours through adoption, we understand our joy does result in loss for you and the child. We extend our empathy to you and the rest of the birth family. We have learned through the years that sorrow must be experienced in order for joy to be experienced. I have not experienced your form of loss, but I have experienced loss in my own personal ways. Each person experiences life differently; we hope we have the empathy to better understand your circumstances.

We are here to care for your child. And we hope we can continue to keep you involved in your child's life. We are just more family to help your child to adulthood.

Your Child's Forever Family