Thursday, June 21, 2012

Long "Gestation" Period

Black Alpine Salamander
Black Alpine Salamander, Photo: Wiki Commons/GNU*
Our adoption process has been compared to the gestation period of the mighty elephant. As we approach the 2-year mark of our foster-adopt process and the 2.5-year mark for our Jamaican adoption process, I researched gestational periods of other animals. Elephants carry their young for less than 2 years; we have surpassed that duration. The tiny black alpine salamander of the Alps gestate for 2 to 3 years depending on the elevation the creature lives. The dogfish shark is pregnant for 2 years while the basking shark for 3 years. The frilled shark lingers for 3.5 years before giving birth.* While our adoption processes have exceeded the gestation periods of the elephant and the dogfish shark, they have not yet exceeded the 3.5-year pregnancy of the frilled shark, the longest of all animals.

Many foster-adopt families are familiar with the long, drawn out process that fostering a child can be as the court determines if reunification or termination of parental rights (TPR) will occur. This process can take several years. Even if TPR is granted and the foster family is chosen to adopt, there may be appeals by the biological family and various delays before the adoption is finalized.

I have found it rare that families encountered so many road blocks as we have before a child is even matched. We haven't even been able to get to the point where our caseworker can talk to other caseworkers about potential children, until this month. We keep reaching the point of being able to inquire about children then get stalled. We hit that point in January and thought we were getting past that point this month.

I sure hope our "pregnancy" is not 3 years. Two years is long enough and we still have "labor" to proceed through which can be several months in itself. An encourager of ours said adoption is a "labor of Love" - a long, slow labor.

Adoption has many more unknowns than giving birth. With biological children, once you make it past the first trimester, you can expect to give birth between the 7th and 9th month. With adoption, you do not know which YEAR. Our journey continues as we wait for "gestation" to end.

*Source: Mother Nature Network

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More Fingerprints

June 16: We knew it was too good to be true when our caseworker said the agency was able to run our background check with the DSHS fingerprints. June 14 she emailed me requesting we go in ASAP for more fingerprinting because we needed an FBI background check and not just the WSP check. We were able to get our prints taken and processed Friday, June 15. Unfortunately, our caseworker has to be able to access the file directly and not have us email them to her and we are having problems getting her access. I have to contact the processing company Monday to find out how they can send her the results. The results state we have never been arrested and are in PDF so they are not edited, but the caseworker has to receive them directly from the company. Still, we are making progress.

June 20: Found out the company cannot send our results directly to the caseworker, but we have to provide our agency with our logins, passwords and secure access codes for the company's website. We tried that today and discovered our results were purged from the system after we saved them last Friday! Now we have to schedule new appointments and have the process repeated. We are waiting for the fingerprinting company to send the confirmation email that we are allowed to schedule new appointments. I wish there was an easier way to get our background checks processed. We might be able to get our appointments for Thursday afternoon or Friday. There is a chance we have to wait until next week.

After a conversation on Facebook with other adoptive parents about fingerprinting, someone suggested we needed a support group. I think it is time for a letter to my Senators. My Congressman is retiring, but my Senators need to know there has got to be a better way nationally for processing background checks. One central database so the different state foster care agencies and private adoption agencies can pull from the database. Right now, depending on who you are adopting from determines the fingerprinting process and not all states even require fingerprints even be taken.

Unlike the fingerprints with DSHS, these prints cost us money each time they are taken - $48/person - so $96 each time we schedule an appointment. Plus there is the fuel because the closest office is not within our county. It is an hour round trip plus I have to take time off from work during a very busy week. It seems "our" office is not as user friendly as the other offices our agency is use to dealing with for background checks. It is enough to increase my blood pressure and make me scream.

Adoptive parents tell me these roadblocks are worth in the end when our child is in our home and arms. Will the frustrations of parenting really be worth all this? Will we be willing to endure this again for a second adoption in the future when my fingerprints will be more worn and harder to scan; when the laws will have changed possibly to make it even more complicated? I pray parenthood will be worth all the tears, frustration, aggravation, anger, impatience and heartache I have already encountered. A tiny voice in the back of my mind started asking today, "What if parenting is not worth all this anguish? What if the child placed with us grieves us more than enthralls us?" If that is the case, we will have just the one child and deal with our life as it is with God as our refuge.

June 21: Fingerprinting completed for the 5th time! Got the results to our agency untainted via a befuddled phone call and email. Now our home study should be finalized next week.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fundraising to Bring Our Child Home

When we contracted with the private agency this Spring, I asked my parents how bad they wanted another grandchild and if they were willing to help us with the $10,000 agency fee. They were thrilled to helped us. As the path to adoption has been winding so has figuring out how to fund it. My parents were not expecting to pay for summer semester in college for my youngest sister or sending her husband to college this fall.

Since 2010 we have raised $8,731 through various fundraising activities - Swing Night, gifts from family and friends, tax returns and our savings account. We have spent $3,245.95 on the Jamaican adoption which began in 2009. This year we have spent $2,550 for the private agency foster-adopt. In total we have spent $5,796 on the two adoption processes. We now have $5,450 that will be due when it is time to place a child in our home, possibly July.

Mike and I have explored just asking grandparents for help or charging the final amount to our credit card. We will eventually get most, if not all, of the foster-adopt fee back after we finalize the adoption through the Adoption Tax Credit but that is months or a year down the road.

So I have prayed about our adoption process and feel we are being led to open up the opportunity for others to participate in bringing home our forever child. Through this blog I have been able to educate others about the adoption process and this is just one more way to spread the word about adoption, foster care and orphan care. We need to raise $5,515. Please pray, if you feel God calling you to help us to bring home our child, please contact me to find out how you can participate - jocelynegray at yahoo dot com or send a private message through my facebook page - If enough people donate $5 to $50, we will meet our goal quickly. Help us bring our forever child home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Breath In, Breath Out, and Hang On

We met with our caseworker today for our foster home inspection. She inspected the home on her last visit, but is required to make three visits so she filled out the paperwork. We did discuss where to store our alcohol - the wine cooler will be moved to the workshop which can be locked and inaccessible to children/teens. We have to install the locks on the chemical cabinets this month and purchase a fire escape ladder for the third floor.

We discussed our paperwork status. Our paperwork should be complete end of next week because our background checks managed to get processed and pass with the DSHS fingerprints from last year. We did not have to get re-fingerprinted as is expected since agencies are not usually allowed to share fingerprint files, just background check information. It is a blessing from God to have our background checks processed so easily this time. We had fingerprints done three times in 2011 - (1) for USCIS for Jamaican adoption process, (2) for DSHS Division of License Resources foster care license and (3) for DSHS Children's Administration adoption home study. Our home study will be complete around June 15!

We should receive a portfolio of information on a 10 year old by the end of next week, also. This might be our forever child, the child God has been preparing for us and us for him. Our caseworker is also working to contact the caseworker of a 9 year old girl. We are really expecting a placement in July, maybe August so we can get acquainted before school starts in September.

Parenthood is so close. I can almost reach out and touch my dream. After two years of paperwork, phone calls, letter writing, emails, and the emotional roller coaster we are so close to entering the ranks of so many other men and women called parents. It is almost terrifying that we will be responsible VERY soon for shaping the life of a young person.

Take a deep breath, exhale and hang on - parenthood is coming!

Exodus 15:2 New King James Version
"The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will exalt Him."

Isaiah 26:4 King James Version
"Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Take a Deep Breath then Hang On

My heart is racing, my mind is racing and I can really only think, "Oh my, oh my!" We may be in early "contraction" phase of our adoption. Our caseworker is sending us a biography about a 10 yr old child and we are inquiring about another 9 year old. Our decision may come down to one of these two children. More discussion will occur when we meet with our caseworker on Wednesday for our foster inspection and meeting. We are anticipating possible placement in July or August if we are matched this month with a child. I need to be calm and let see how the next few weeks unfold before I get too excited about a new family member.

Take a deep breath and exhale. Then hang on because the fast forward button may have just been pushed.

Isaiah 26:4 King James Version
"Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength"

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cost of Foster-Adopt in WA

Since we have been required to contract with a private agency in order to adopt from foster care, many people assume WA state will cover the cost of our foster-adopt like a typical state foster-adopt. This is not our case. Our agency is not contracted with WA DSHS, but it is licensed to provide foster-adopt services, so the state does not reimburse our fees. If a legally free child is placed in our home, we will not receive fostercare stipends for the child. If the child is not yet legally free, we will receive monthly payments from the state. We are still responsible for $10,000 in fees to the adoption agency.
The fee is broken down as follows:
  • $550 Application Fee
  • $2,000 Home Study Fee
  • $2,000 Family Search Fee (covers costs to search for a child)
  • $5,450 Program Service Fee (post-placement supervision and finalization paperwork)

Taking on this financial responsibility was a leap of faith. Mike and I are blessed my parents are able and willing to help us with a large portion of these fees plus we had some already saved from previous adoption fundraising over the past two years. We had originally done fund raising for our international adoption which is still in process, but the funds are now being used for our foster adoption.

The shock on people's faces when the cost of our adoption is mentioned is repeatable. Then the same question is asked, "Doesn't the state pay foster care?" Usually, but not in our case. Then they ask, "How are other families going to afford adoptions in WA?" That is a good question. If other families are going to be required to contract with private agencies, many will not be able to adopt from foster care except going through the long-term fostercare process hoping that a child in their care will see more eventually become available. This will limit the number of children adopted from Washington's fostercare system. We will foster kids age out of the system. It will be interesting to how the WA State foster care changes over the next few years because of the budget cuts and making families choose between long-term foster parenting or paying to adopt from fostercare.