After almost a year of trying to figure out how I was going to build my family, I made the phone call today. I am 33 years old and have all but given up on finding someone to marry and have children with. Truthfully, I haven’t given up – I am just frustrated. Five years later, I still hold out hope that there is someone out there. But, I really want children and I have decided that I am not getting any younger and I don’t want to keep waiting. I also started to prep my family for the choice I was making. They were initially supportive, if a little concerned.
The phone call was to an adoption agency – actually three calls. After extensive research I had narrowed it down to 3 that I wanted to talk to. Over the next week, I made my choice and started the home study process. I met my adoption specialist, first at her home and wrote the first of three checks to pay for the home study. We spoke extensively about what I was looking for in a child and why I had made this choice. I came away excited. The process would be extensive, the cost too, but I was moving forward. I left that first meeting with paperwork to take for background checks and fingerprinting.
There would be two more meetings and two more checks written over the next 2 months. Each meeting we spoke more and what we discovered was that, while private infant adoption was the route I had chosen, I wasn’t all that concerned with the child being an infant. We even began to talk about sibling adoption. She asked the question that would change my life. “Have you ever considered foster care adoption?” I hadn’t. I didn’t know anything about it. I told her I would research, as her agency didn’t do that type of adoption. We went ahead and finished the home study, but by then I was fully interested in gathering more information on foster adoption. I had called the state hotline and was given information on an informational session in a neighboring county.
I attended that session with hope and it was squashed rather quickly. The focus of that session seemed to be fostering. I wasn’t interested in fostering, I just wanted to adopt. As an aside, I think fostering is amazing. Foster parents are a special kind of warrior – I just wanted to build a permanent family and not grow attached to children that may not stay. Yes, that is selfish, but I know my heart and I didn’t have what it took to be a foster parent. I discovered what I was looking for was a child that was “legally free”, meaning parental rights were terminated. The local DFACS office was not keen on us adopters. They needed foster parents and they stressed that foster parents are often given the first adoption option once a child’s plan changes. They told us it would likely be a year before they would even get to our home studies. They suggested that we contact one of two private agencies that our state had contracted with to deal with us “straight adopters”.
I left the meeting energized, if slightly disappointed. I began researching the two agencies and made a choice to go with a Christian based agency that was located about 50 miles from my home. I went to an informational session with them and was directed to a 40 hour training class that is mandatory for getting licensed in our state. They wouldn’t go any further until that class was completed and the ones they offered were not doable for me because of proximity. I was told I could go to any in the state, so I began searching classes. I discovered one that worked with my schedule and was just a few minutes from home. It was 4 hours a night, 5 nights a week for two weeks. The next available class was 6 weeks out. I signed up.
I attended the class the last week of May/first week of June 2010. While in the class I discovered it was being presented by the other agency that I hadn’t chosen. The class presented some pretty tough information – I was emotionally drained. I sat in a room with approximately 25 other people that were there to renew foster licenses, obtain new foster licences or adopt. Each of our journeys were as different as we were. One family had fostered over 100 children in another state. I was the only single woman with no kids in the room. The other singles already had children.
The class warned us of the trauma many of these kids have been through. They talked about common behavioral problems, separated siblings, lost family connections, drug and alcohol exposure, attachment issues, food hoarding, etc. All of these were fairly common issues that many kids in foster care struggle with due to lack of proper parental bonding, multiple placements, abuse and neglect. We were warned not to expect the child to be grateful for being taken in or adopted. Some of this information was hard to hear, some was what was expected. I finished the class and had felt a connection to the two workers presenting the class. I spoke to them and discovered that they felt they could take my private adoption home study and use it toward the state adoption home study. That is when I chose to switch to that agency – FF.
FF called me about 2 weeks later, after reviewing the private home study. Much of it could be used, but there were still state required things to be done in order to obtain a state approved home study. I got the call while on vacation with my 14 year old niece at Disney World and the ball began rolling quickly.
Nomi, my caseworker, came to my home 3 times, as require, I got a TB test, a full medical screening, my 3 months of bank statements were reviewed, character letters from friends and family were submitted and I had to childproof the house and setup bedrooms. I had to set my criteria for the child or children. I had made the decision that I wanted to adopt siblings, though I was open to one child. I learned in the class that siblings were harder to place, and I loved the idea of keeping siblings together. I wanted the children under age 8, didn’t have a preference on sex (though I knew for sure it would be boys) or race. I selected mild to moderate as the level of special needs I was able to handle. I had to get new fingerprints with a different classification from both the GBI and the FBI. And the home study process came to it’s conclusion in late September. I was approved by FF and the file was sent along to the state for approval. That approval came right after Thanksgiving.