After approval was received in late November 2010, the match process began. For me, this was the most frustrating part of the journey. I was given permission to look for kids out of state, with an understanding that for the first 6 months, the state would only cover the costs of the home study on kids from my state, and I would have to pay out of pocket if I matched out of state. I didn’t care. I scoured the photolisting sites – TARE, AdoptUSKids, Wendys Wonderful Kids, NWAE. My state utilized AdoptUSKids, but I wasn’t limiting my search to GA. I submitted inquiries on 13 children and got my hopes up. I started a new job in January of 2011, but continued my searching. In April, I got a phone call from Nomi, saying I had matched to a little boy from my home state. He was 7. I got excited, but Nomi tried to keep me from getting too excited. She didn’t think it was a good match – his caseworker had picked me, but there were issues. So, I attended a match meeting.
They presented information that broke my heart. I knew that this wasn’t my son. His level of needs was significantly higher than I was comfortable with, bordering on medically fragile. He was on the moderate to severe side of emotional issues, health issues, behavioral issues, was not potty trained and was relegated to a wheelchair 80% of the time. My home was not handicap accessible. I didn’t say no out of hand. I went home and researched possible special needs schools and daycares, tried to figure out what I could do to make my house more accessible, etc. My heart broke for this little boy and honestly, I think of him often. I did say no and the wait continued.
On August 16, 2011, I was notified of another match while at work one day. A voicemail and an email – I had matched to sibling group of two – a boy and a girl ages 3 & 5. Nomi was very excited and thought, based on the information provided by Elise, the kids’ caseworker, that this was an excellent match. They were only 18 miles from me in a neighboring county. Both were physically healthy and had been in only one foster home. I was given some basic information was asked if I wanted to move forward with a match meeting where I would get more information. I enthusiastically said yes.
Nomi emailed me the very first picture I would see of my children – Mickey and Minnie. I cried in the middle of my office when I opened that photo. I called my mom and told her the news. I shared with my friends and coworkers. I knew. I knew that these were my children. I had chills and my excitement was absolutely palpable.
I also got a two page summary of the kids – first name, time in care, diagnosed mental/medical issues via email. Nomi also shared a story with me that should have raised red flags, but didn’t. Either because I was too excited or because I didn’t know any better. The kids caseworker informed Nomi that the foster parents only wanted to adopt Minnie and not Mickey. She was told that the foster mother would try to make Mickey out to be a monster with significant behavior issues because she wanted the two kids separated. She swore up and down that the only diagnosis Mickey had was ADHD and was a perfectly normal 5 year old – just a little hyper. My initial thoughts were “what kind of horrible person would split up siblings? This foster mother must be a monster!” I was angry with her and had already decided that I didn’t like her. I anxiously awaited the match meeting with was to be the following Monday.