Adoption Adventures

Follow Cory and Rebecca on their quest to adopt!

A Long Pause

First, an update on the kid we previously mentioned. After spending another day out with him, we hosted him for the weekend at our place. Throughout the entire process, he was told that we were only babysitters providing respite care so his foster mom could run errands or go out of town. We tried to plan a combination of fun things to do, but also have enough real-world home time to see how we’d all get along on a typical weekend together. It became clear over those days that he needs a different kind of structure than we can give him in our home, and a different kind of family in general. The first two times we got together, he was really on his best behavior and probably showing us what he thought we wanted to see. But as we spent more time with him and his true nature and personality came out, we found that he needs to be reminded pretty constantly of how to act in order to keep himself and those around him safe, except for when he’s entranced by a video game or other project that he’s into. He’s also very persistent about trying to get what he wants (which he’s had to be in order to get through 5+ years in foster care),

i don’t know what these things are

and needs extremely clear-cut, black and white rules with no deviations from the plan.* That alone we maybe could’ve handled, but he’s also dissimilar to us in lots of ways. He really only lights up when he talks about guns, for example, and we’re not a gun family. He also has expressed a strong interest in going hunting, which we would obviously never support. We felt like it would be cruel to not only have to constantly correct his behaviors, but also tell him that his interests aren’t acceptable in our home. I think he’d do very well in a military or law enforcement family, or one that has a ton of rules and is into hunting and eating steaks and whatnot–which is clearly not at our house. So, that’s how that whole story wrapped up.

 

One thing we’ve found along the journey should not be a shock to most folks: the foster care system in the US is underfunded, understaffed, and presents a whole lot of challenges for people on all sides of it. Let me first be clear in saying that I do not fault social workers and others trying to work in the best interest of children in this. Many of the tasks that some people see as hassles that come with the system are very necessary. We have been more than happy to do the background checks, the home visits, the medical tests, the interviews, and otherwise share personal information. It’s the duplicated procedures and the drop-off in services that happens after a prospective adoptive family completes all those tasks that are hard to deal with. Not being an expert on the history of all of the policies and procedures within the system, I can only surmise that policies were layered on top of one another over a span of many years, and not changed even when redundant policies were created, or funding cuts caused some of them to become nearly impossible to implement. For example, our county department of social services expended staff time and resources to train us to become adoptive or foster parents. However, there is no longer funding to pay for social workers who partner with prospective adoptive parents in the county, and without a social worker it’s very difficult to navigate the entire process. For example, without a social worker, a prospective adoptive parent or family cannot access nationwide databases of adoptable kids, since most social workers will only talk with or transmit information on children to other social workers. So, essentially, we’ve gone from being able to proactively inquire about any child in the US and having any adoption social worker in the country be able to contact us to having our home study sitting in a county office where only a handful of local social workers representing kids can see it. What that means for us is this: should a child become legally free for adoption in our county, and if our abilities and preferences match that child’s needs, and if their social worker sees our home study and thinks we might be a good match, we may get a call one day. That’s a lot of “ifs,” in case you didn’t notice, so we’re not holding our breaths.

 

As far as where that leaves us, we’re still sorting that out. A good portion of the reason we wanted to become parents through adoption was because we wanted to give a child or children in foster care a permanent family. That’s a different motivation than the type that it takes to go through the infant adoption process, where there are more potential adoptive parents than babies that need forever homes. We’re not necessarily ending our journey here and–as we’ve always said–we’ll be happy however this whole thing shakes out. But, we are looking at our future more realistically and realizing that we don’t need to factor a child or children in when making immediate or a-few-months-away life plans, as we had been doing.

 

*I realize this sounds like normal kid behavior. That’s primarily because I’m using much softer language for the purposes of this blog than the professionals who have worked with him do. Rest assured, we wouldn’t expect a child who is never demanding or who doesn’t ever try to game the system. 😉

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