Thursday, November 20, 2014

File Review Days Suck

Part of my job as a recruiter is to review a child's foster care file to understand the family dynamics and to see who the important people are in the child's life who might be permanency resources.

Today is a file review day.  And I hate it.

Don't get me wrong, parts of it are rewarding - being a detective, searching out those caring people that have been lost, getting to know a child better through understanding their situation...

But I hate that there are a million "evaluations," but no birthday cards.  I hate that apart from a dedicated team of social workers, I see this child growing up alone.  I hate that a child can be in foster for years and years with no family to call their own.

It makes me sad and angry.  Angry at a system that promised this child something better the day they terminated their first parents rights.  Yet, that is where we are.

Day in day out, this very real child has no one.

So, I'll wade in deep in the hope that I might be able to do something extraordinary - find this child people who will give this child birthday cards, hug them before they go to bed, take care of them when they are sick, walk them down the isle, love them, be their family.

Wish me luck.


Consider #olderchildadoption for those who are #stillwaiting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There is no better gift to give a child than a family.

Sometimes someone says something that stays in your mind, in  your heart long after you hear it.  "There is no better gift to give a child than a family." is one of those for me.  

A co-worker said it during a meeting last week and I wrote it down and thought how beautifully simple it was.  In my new role as a recruiter, I am searching out for families for youth who desperately need them.  
I can give them the gift of time (gladly), the gift of their story (go, lifebooks), connections to healthy adults & support while they are in foster care.  But the one gift they most need is the one gift I most want to give them - a family.  The right family.  A prepared family.

Praying that I will be able to give this gift to some youth soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why Can't I Adopt a Young Child From Foster Care?? | Where are all the toddlers??

Q:  I hear people say that there are SOOOO many kids in the foster care system who need home, but when I ask if I can adopt a child 0-8 years old, the county says they don't have any adoptable kids that young.  Which one is true??  I'm a good person and all I want to do it provide a home for a child that needs one and I keep getting stonewalled!   So frustrating!       
 -wannaadopt3

A: Great question!  It is one you share with many, many others, I assure you.  There are many factors that go into an adoptive placement decision, but most social workers follow a general placement preference for a child in need of a permanent family.

Most of the time, this is the "list" a worker will go down when deciding who is best to adopt this child, deciding at every step if this is an option for a permanent family for this child based on the willingness of the adults to parent and their suitability to do so.

If you are hoping to adopt an unrelated child that you have no current connections to, you are at least 6th on this list.  For any child to be on a "waiting child" list, placement options #1-5 have either been inappropriate or they have said no to placement of this child.   And of course, each step of this process takes months and sometimes years, and all the while the child is getting older and most likely is experiencing further moves, trauma and stress in their little lives.

General Placement Preference:
  1. Birth Mom or Birth Dad
  2. Birth Relatives the child has a relationship with
  3. Birth Relatives the child does not have a relationship with
  4. Current Foster Parents
  5. Kin - people in the community or in the child's past that have/had a relationship with the child (past foster parents, school teachers, neighbors, sports coaches, etc)
  6. Unrelated foster/adopt family in the child's community
  7. Unrelated foster/adopt family in the child's state
  8. Unrelated foster/adopt family outside of the child's state

 For example:
  • 6.5 years, child comes into care (median age of entry in 2012).  
  • 8 years, birth parents rights are terminated, because birth mom & birth date have been deemed unsuitable to parent  (Most states  have legislation that reunification with birth parents can last about 15 months before rights can be terminated) and extended birth family begins to be looked at an option.
  • 8.5-9 years, extended birth family has all been contacted and either haven't shown interest, said no to placement or have been deemed unsuitable (due to past CPS involvement, drug/alcohol issues, felony charges).
  • 9 years, current foster family said no to adoption
  • 9.5 years, a search for kin is undertaken, but with high caseloads and new kids coming into care everyday, its difficult to do the exhaustive search for people who may have been in this child's life 5,6, 7 years ago...
  • If no extended family member, if not one current or foster parent, if no teacher or coach or friends parent said yes...  Child is posted on a WAITING CHILD listing.

Breaks my heart... but more importantly it breaks that child's heart.

If you are are wondering what you can do to help even one child,  consider becoming a concurrent foster placement for a child or sibling group.  

Be willing to take a that child(ren) on day they are removed from their birth parents and to be COMMITTED to adopting them if they can't return to their birth family.  

So when that 6.5 year old (or infant, or teen) is placed in your home, YOU are there, hugging, tucking in at night, dropping off at school, being there for the child, through every day of the 15 months of possible reunification and painful termination of parental rights.  YOU are there for the birth relative search.  YOU are there when the county gets to step 4 and YOU can say YES!  The steps stop here, with me, THIS child is home.

That helps.  That heals.  That is hope.

Yes, its risky for your heart.  Oh so risky.   I understand, I do.  I've done it.  I've lived it.  I've cried over kids returned to birth parents, I've ached.  But, I also know that it is worth it.  It is so worth it.

So if you find yourself wanting to adopt a younger child from foster care - that's okay, the simple answer is that there ARE infants & toddlers who need a home from foster care, but they need a special kind of family.  They need a family who can ride the roller coaster with them.  To support birth family as long as possible and to be in it for the long haul, for the child's good - no matter where they grow up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dream Job!

For the past year I have been working in the adoption field in a admin position for domestic infant, international and a limited amount of foster care adoption.  While I have enjoyed and find WAY too much pleasure out of organizing paperwork and helping educate people about adoption in general - you all know my passion has always been foster care adoption and more specifically those children/youth who are in foster care.

This week I accepted a position within the same agency as a child specific recruiter.  Don't know what that is - watch this and you'll get a strong idea (but grab some tissues first)!




I'm excited to get started and share tools along the way that I find for recruited for adoptive families for older kids in foster care as well as tips and stories from the trenches!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Twitter-ite

I am not much of a Twitter-ite, but I do Twitter from time to time... Andt here's the cool thing - today AdoptUSKids & Ambassador Susan Jacobs re-twittered my stuff - I think that is very honoring!




Do you Twitter? Come follow me!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Digital Scrap-booking: How we do it -

When I was fostering and now as a recruiter, lifebooks are VERY important to me.  I think the gift of giving a child/youth their own story (or at least you part in it) is a gift that is never wasted, especially when a child is moving through the system.

Because of this, I got in the habit of creating a monthly collage of photos for every child that stayed with me.  And the habit has continued on with Sweetie.

Every month, no matter how motivated or un-motivated I am feeling,  we take a few pics &  I create one 8x10 photo collage with photos & milestones of that month.  Its become the only way I scrapbook (even though I have far, far too many digital pics) and has turned into something pretty special to us.  To be able to see her grow up month to month.  To feel EVERY month that she is looking SO big only to have her look SO SMALL in that same photo the next month... To have an easy way to share how cute she is along with what she's doing... on facebook (just make the digital image smaller) and then use the same photo to track her growth over the years.


Every few months, I print them out via Target and put them in a basic three ring binder along with other memories along the way.  



Not sure how long I'll be able to do it monthly - she might object at 16, but for now, it is so much fun!  If you want to start this tradition with your family, a great, free website is http://www.picmonkey.com/.  Works slick to both edit the photos and put words right on it.  Have fun and let me know how it works for you!


Three New Blogs Added to the BLOG LIST

Three new blogs have been added to my Adoption & Foster Care Blogs List - check them out.



I am the mother of four children (two adopted from foster care at 4 and 5 years old). I started blogging a couple years after my son "Abraham" was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Abraham has been home almost four years and he is doing great! He is connecting at home (slowly), doing great in school, and his teacher even says he's a class leader! Miracles are happening and I'm so happy to have an avenue to connect with other parents who are in the trenches and I love to share hope with them.
http://www.thisradmom.com


We have been foster parents for almost 3 years. Our daughter came to our home as a newborn just a few weeks after we were licensed. She joined our forever family at 21 months old! We have cared for and loved on other foster children in that time; each of them has returned home. I write memories and messages for our daughter on our blog.The blog is also a place for her birth mom to check in as well.
http://joyembraced.wordpress.com/


Our journey to foster care began in 2012 and we have had 12 temporary (respite) children stay with us since then. In October 2013, we took a full-time foster placement (Little Bitty). She is 3-years old and was one of our regular respite placements, with whom we formed a sweet relationship. We love her dearly. We are battling daily to trust His plan for her life, as well as the rest of us. We serve a Mighty Rescuer.
http://www.runningtothefather.blogspot.com/


*Want your blog listed here?
Email me with a link to your page, short bio and what category you want to be listed in (Birth Families, Adoptees, Foster Families, Foster Alumni, Adoptive Families, Social Workers).  I will check it out.  Links will be checked monthly and updated as necessary.