Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Preparing for Finalization and Family Forever

This month we have been preparing for finalization now that Junior is legally free for adoption. There have been lots of emails and phone calls between us, DCFS, the adoption agency and our adoption lawyer. We waited three weeks, but finally received our adoption paperwork that needed to be filled out and signed. The packet also included all of Junior's disclosure documentation; nothing really new, it just filled in some details. Thursday (tomorrow) I will mail the completed packet back to the adoption caseworker at DCFS and Adoption Support Services has about three weeks to process the paperwork. Once DCFS completes their processing, they forward certified copies to our lawyer for processing so we can get a court date for finalization. Typically 6 to 8 weeks from now we could finalize the adoption. During review of the disclosure documents I did find a clerical error in the termination order for the biological father so we are waiting for the Assistant Attorney General's reply - does the order need to be refiled with the error corrected and if so, how long will it take to get this processed.

In regards to bio mother, we are in a type of limbo now that her rights are relinquished and the adoption is not finalized. Oftentimes, DCFS will highly encourage the prospective adoptive families not to have contact with the biological parents until after finalization. In Junior's case, they have left it up to our discretion - contact is what is in Junior's best interest. I am currently in contact with bio mother on an occasional basis. We did arrange a supervised visit to her hometown since we were up her direction. It was a good visit for us, Junior and bio mother. She seems to have found peace and I am glad for her and for Junior.

Our long journey from no children to becoming legal parents is nearly complete. It was a two-year process from my first call to DSHS about becoming foster-adopt parents to getting our first placement, but about a year from placement to finalization. It is amazing how our lives have changed in less than one year when Junior entered our routine lives. August 18 will be our one year anniversary as a family. He had me at "Hi" on August 11, 2012, the day we met - two adults wanting to become his new parents and a young man not sure he was ready to leave the only town he ever lived in, but not having much choice in where he got to live. Ten months later, we are a functional, caring family expanded to include his biological family, his former foster family and all the other people who love and care for him. Our village is not just Shelton, we have a support system that extends into eastern Washington, northern Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Ohio, Louisiana, California, Illinois, Texas, Maine, Finland and other places around the globe. Junior has many people praying for him, many people who care about him, many people who mentor him, and many people he calls Family.

Our adoption process:
  • July 2010 first call to DSHS about becoming foster-adopt parents
  • 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 signed
  • May 2013 biological mother's relinquishment filed with court and rights terminated; Open Adoption Agreement between us and biological mother filed with court; post-placement report sent to adoption lawyer and DCFS
  • June 2013 Junior becomes legally free; adoption paperwork processed
Through our long, winding journey, I have developed patience, wisdom, and perseverance, experienced moments of peace and joy, learned contentment, had to forgive and ask forgiveness, been taught humility, cried many tears, ranted with frustration and spent hours praying. God has been by my side along this journey and will continue to guide me as we raise Junior to adulthood. Even after all the ink is dry on the adoption paperwork and Junior is legally ours, parenting is a lifelong commitment. As I told Junior the other day, "Even when you grow up and move out of the house, we are still your family. We are your family forever and ever. We will remain family even when we are dead. We are not going anywhere, we will remain family."

Psalm 51:1-13, New Revised Standard
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. 5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.