Monday, October 24, 2011

Navigating Foster Care

Over the last month, I have attempted to make as many contacts as possible at DSHS to see who might be best able to help us with our foster-adopt process. Most of the people I have spoken to have been unhelpful. One woman who may be of assistance will not be in the office until mid-November. So I have to wait to contact the Placement Coordinator who might be able to match us to a child waiting for a forever family or who is moving from reunification to adoption placement. I have talked to different people in the Shelton office, in Thurston County and in Benton County. I feel like I am running out of people to talk to at this point. We should be meeting with our caseworker in November, finally. I am beyond frustration at this point; I am just about resigned to just go along for the ride, but I have not given up to fight for out child and for the rest of the children in foster care. I have spoken to:
  • foster licensor
  • assigned caseworker
  • caseworker in another county
  • foster licensor supervisor
  • interim foster Placement Coordinator
  • fingerprinting center
  • part time adoption caseworker
  • DSHS workers at HQ
  • Sr Aide to State Representative
  • other foster families
We are into this process 12 months already. From my communications with other foster-adopt families throughout the country, some had placements within a year of starting their process while others endure years of slow processing. It looks like we will be going through a multi-year process.

While we wait for DSHS to go through their steps, a child is waiting for their forever family which we could provide. There is a child hoping, wishing, wondering when he/she will have a forever family. Each night I pray for our child, our child continues to live in uncertainty. I pray his/her foster family is loving, caring, protective, secure, therapeutic and supportive. One day, we will work together to transition the child to our home.

I still have the fire inside me to keep fighting for the children waiting in foster care for permanency. It will be a long process just to make changes in my local DSHS office, let alone changes further up the chain of command. While our process may be long and unpredictable, I hope to make the path better for future foster-adopt families.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Romans 8:25

Romans 8:25 New Revised Standard
"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience"
As we progress through the adoption process, I have been hoping and praying and asking the Lord for patience. I do not know how our journey will end, what turns our path will take or what adventures we may experience along the way.
It has seemed like a very slow process. I am trying to contact all people I can in DSHS throughout Washington State to determine who may be the best people to help us get a child placed in our home. I have found a caseworker in another county to be very helpful. I have a lead on a Foster Child Placement Coordinator who returns in November who might be able to help match us with a child who is either legally free or nearly legally free. We are waiting for our fingerprints to be processed so our caseworker will make set our first meeting. She has been willing to meet with other families before their prints have been completed, but she has not wanted to meet with us until our prints are processed.
Perseverance, patience and passion will get us through this process. And I hope to be able to identify some changes that need to be made in our local foster care system to better serve the children in care. I came across a 2002 study that children spend on average 43 months in foster care. Nearly four years of a child's life is a long time for any child, but especially a child who has experienced chaos, abuse, and/or neglect before experience temporary family life in foster care. Children deserve permanency sooner - either with their original family or with an adoptive family. Every child deserves to have a family that cares about their milestones - first loose tooth, sporting events, school events, birthdays, dances, holidays, first date, driver license, graduation, first job, first house, significant relationship/marriage, and children of their own. Even teens who are not adopted need a permanent family to call their own willing to remain family for the rest of their lives.
With God's strength, I will persevere through this process. With His strength, I will have the grace and patience to deal with the bureaucracy of the adoption process. The child God has chosen for us is out there waiting for a forever family just as we are waiting for the child. I know in my heart all good happens in God's time, but waiting can be extremely difficult, especially when one sees injustice occurring to children. While we wait, I will do what I can to help children waiting in Washington State.