Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Onward to Finalization!

We have been waiting months for today. Today parental rights of the biological father were terminated and the relinquishment for the biological mother will be filed some time this week, maybe even as late as next week; Junior will become legally free very soon. His reaction was, "Now I can do whatever I want!" "Um, no. It means you legally have no parents for the time being, the state is your complete guardian until the adoption."

I have contacted our lawyer who will be filing our paperwork for the finalization. The lawyer then has to request the adoption paperwork from our adoption private agency (home study, post placement report and other documentation). DCFS will transfer Junior's case from foster care to adoption within three days of him becoming legally free. DCFS still needs to draft the Open Adoption Agreement that biological mother and us verbally agreed upon during a meeting then we all need to review it before signing. Depending on how quickly all this paperwork goes, we could have adoption day in 2 to 3 months. Oftentimes, when families get to this point, they still need to complete the adoption home study, but we had that completed prior to meeting Junior. When you have to complete your adoption home study, it is 4-6 months from termination/relinquishment to finalization; therefore, it will be 2-3 months for us from termination/relinquishment to finalization. We have waited over three years for this finalization.

Romans 8:25 NRSV
"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience"

Habakkuk 2:3 RSV
"For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay."

I am ecstatic about finally being so close to finalizing an adoption. At the same time, I realize Junior's biological mother is voluntarily relinquishing her parental rights and his biological father defaulted in the case so his rights were terminated by the court. While Mike, Junior and I gain so much, Junior still experiences a loss, a permanent severing of legal ties to either biological parent. I am in contact with Junior's biological mother and she is relieved the case is moving forward; she has stated numerous times she knows we will care for Junior and finish raising him with love and encouragement, but I do not know how she is processing the loss she may be feeling. I do not know what emotions Junior's biological father has experienced through this entire process nor do we know if he will continue to have any contact with us, which will be just another loss for Junior of bio father chooses to not have contact.

Adoption is about loss and gain, healing and forgiving. I am glad we can be the family for Junior as he matures plus we can provide emotional support for his teenage sister. Our family is larger by adding Junior's biological family which is quite large, but we always said it takes a village to raise a child. I continue to pray for all involved in Junior's case.

Still, my heart is full of joy, there is a dance in my step and I sing praises to the Lord for bringing us this wonderful miracle - our beautiful, 5'6" bouncing boy! Oh, how I love him! When I heard he would be legally free very soon and we are moving into the adoption stage, I shouted and danced for joy! Our wild roller coaster of unknowns is nearly done and we just deal with the wild roller coaster of parenting a teenager, oh my goodness! :)

Psalm 9:1
"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."

Our foster-adopt process:
  • October 2010 began foster care classes
  • December 2010 finished foster care classes and began paperwork
  • January 2011 began fingerprints and background check process
  • February 2011 had fingerprints redone
  • March 2011 fingerprints lost in system then finally found, completed paperwork
  • April 2011 background checks completed/passed and foster licensor retires
  • May 2011 a different licensor re-assigned; first home study review with licensor
  • June 2011 second interview with licensor
  • July 2011 counselor talks with licensor, home study on hold while licensor is on vacation
  • September 2011 licensed foster parents; and begin adoption home study
  • December 2011 adoption home study approved!
  • January 2012 try registering with adoption websites, begin struggle with state
  • February 2012 forced by state to transfer case to private agency in order to adopt; our regional DCFS office will not place foster children in our home or work with us because we want to adopt
  • March 2012 begin adoption home study process all over again
  • May 2012 begin home study interviews and inspection
  • June 2012 fingerprinted twice, complete home study interviews
  • July 2012 adoption home study complete and foster license transferred to private agency
  • August 10, 2012 we learn about Junior in another region of the state, plan is adoption
  • August 18, 2012 first foster placement - Junior moves in
  • November 2012 state changes plan from adoption to concurrent adoption and reunification
  • March 2013 biological mother agrees to relinquish her parental rights
  • April 2013 biological father's parental rights terminated; biological mother's relinquishment filed