Thursday, April 14, 2011

Student Guest Post: Adopting Through the State

by Anonymous (student doesn't want any chance that adoption in process will get derailed)

What we are studying in adoption law strikes close to home for me. My husband and I are currently in the process of adopting a child through the state of Texas. After having been immersed in the state adoption system for over a year, I have come to believe that the system is greatly flawed and unfortunately, I believe that it is the many children who are waiting on adoptive families who suffer. I will share a bit of our experience to illustrate this point.

We began our adoption journey in February 2010. We attended about six classes on Saturdays through the state that were facilitated by a CPS worker. We completed our classes at the beginning of March. These classes do not distinguish between people who want to only foster children, people who want to foster to adopt children or people who only want to adopt a child. There seems to be significant difference between the guidelines for these three areas to justify providing special classes targeting each of these groups, so I’m not sure why all three groups are trained together.

From the beginning, my husband and I have said that we only want to adopt a child. We have made it clear that we are not interested in becoming foster parents. Shortly after we finished our classes, we were contacted by the worker who has been assigned to work with us. First, he kept talking about foster care even after I reminded him that we were not interested in foster care. Next, he said that he thought he might have a child for us. He said that actually it was a sibling group of three children. At this point, he had not met us, seen our home, nor had we had a home study. I told him that we had not had a home study yet and also, we were not interested in more than two children. He finally scheduled a time to come meet with us on the weekend to see our home and make sure that we had completed all of the necessary safety procedures. When he came to our house and we showed him the bedroom where we planned to place the child that we would adopt, the worker immediately told us that we could easily fit three children in the room. We again reminded him that we were not interested in three children, but if we were, they would each have their own room.

In June, we were scheduled for a home study which was completed by an outside private adoption agency. After the home study was completed, we were approved by CPS to adopt at the end of July. Unfortunately, we were given little guidance about how the process worked after becoming approved to adopt a child. It seems that the worker assigned to us has little experience with people who are interested in adoption only. He said we should go onto the state website to look at available children and let him know if we were interested in any of these children. We were told that after we said we were interested in a child, we would receive the child’s file to look at and determine if we wanted to continue exploring the possibility of adopting the child. So, we submitted interest forms on two children. We didn’t hear anything for about two months. Finally, we learned that actually, when you put an interest form in on a child, you don’t automatically get to see the file. It appears that periodically, the child’s worker and supervisor will review all of the files of families who have submitted interest forms on the child and choose one family to move forward with placement for. Our worker also was unclear on what the steps would be after we reviewed the file of a child we were interested in adopting.

In November, we attended an adoption match party, which involved prospective adoptive parents coming together to engage with children who are available for adoption in a casual and fun setting for the children. The children were not to have been told exactly why they were there, but it still felt bit like they were being put on display. Although this was a rather strange event, it was nice to be able to engage with children without worrying about the child becoming disappointed if you chose not to explore adoption of the child. At this event, we were able to meet a boy hat we had submitted an interest form on as well as a girl that we enjoyed visiting with. We let the staff know that we were still interested in the child that we had previously submitted the interest form on as well as the other child we had met.

In January, we finally received the file for the boy that we had been interested in and then a couple of weeks later, we received the file for the girl. We decided that the girl would be a better fit for our family. We were able to meet her again in the middle of February. The first weekend, she visited with us during the day. Then she spent three weekends with us and moved in with us in the middle of March.

It seems like the beginning of the adoption process was extremely slow moving, but then when we met a child that was a good fit for our family, things moved very quickly. I believe things moved somewhat more quickly in our case because our child was not in a healthy foster home and her worker wanted to get her out of that situation as quickly as possible. Again, when we were moving so quickly with the process, we sought guidance from our worker, but he was very unclear on what the steps would be and frequently seemed confused about what was going on. Luckily, the child’s worker was more knowledgeable about the process and has been able to provide us with more information.

We have been frustrated with the way the system works and how little support we have received from our worker relating to the transition process and the legal process of adopting. I can imagine that several prospective parents may give up on the process and get frustrated with the process before finding a child to adopt. I do not know for sure, but I would imagine that the process goes more smoothly when you go through a private adoption agency, because you are paying the agency to guide you in the process and coordinate things for you. Due to my work experience with abused children, we were determined to adopt an older child through the state, but I’m sure that a lot of prospective adoptive families who would make excellent families for these children might not have this strong desire and give up before completing an adoption. Since there are so many older children who are in need of good homes, it is unfortunate that they don’t have stronger advocates to help them find these homes.


Linda said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for adopting an older child.

The "matching parties" are a humiliating. And we mustn't kid ourselves. Those kids know EXACTLY what those events are for.

Your experience with the social worker who told you that three kids could easily fit into one room shows us another example of what is wrong with the system.

Jessica said...

Thank you for this post. Your experience mirrors that of many other families who have tried/are trying to navigate the state system, and explains why some choose international adoption.

Wishing you good luck!

DannieA said...

I'm very sorry your family had a rough go at it!

It seems that depending on who one's assigned SW is, will fortell how the rest of the process will go.

I do believe that if one isn't stubborn or has worked in some kind of system (e.g. public schools, special ed. within public schools) that the process itself turns people away. It's a shame because I'm sure some families would be excellent families for children needing a home.

it's also good to note that every state is different as well. My daughter was placed as a low legal risk placement, but she was still a foster child before adoption. Some county judges in different states will not terminate parental rights until a child is in a home with a foster license that is willing and able to be an adoptive resource if that is how the judge rules.

Thank you for your post.

Von said...

Not nearly as rough a time as the kids hey? Of course those kids know what they're there for, it's humiliating, demeaning and appalling.

bytheriver said...

We paid a private agency and got about the same response - after we finished our application and were one visit away from complete homestudy, they called and told use we would not find the child we were looking for. They had the child description wrong. They also said that we needed to look for 3 children and had to foster the children before we could consider adoption. We were pretty discouraged with our attempts at domestic adoption - as they said the social workers pick the parents and as older parents we realized we would never get picked.

CherylS said...

Three kids in one room? Even when you rent, you are only allowed a maximum of two people per room. It doesn't seem like the "screening process" was that rigorous as far as inspection from the social worker goes. And kudos for adopting an older child. I understand why many couples want to adopt babies, but, like you said, there are so many other kids out there that need good homes.

Anonymous said...

if you don't mind me asking, how old is the child you are adopting? I commend you on adopting an older child, but I can speak from experience that the older the child, the more they have been exposed to, and the more help, whether it's counseling, or attention they may need. I know it's not the case for all of them. if I could give you any advice, it would be to make sure and get them involved in activities like sports or something, it's a good outlet and a way for them to feel like they ate part of something.

Anonymous said...

We our in a different state, but went through a similar process. We ended up not adopting through the state. Highly discouraging, indeed.