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Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


My wife and I just recently completed the adoption process for her biological daughter (I'm legally her dad after 5 hard-fought years) and after about a year of discussion, we've decided that we want to become foster parents to expand the family and give another child a good home. The ultimate goal would be to find good placement and hopefully work towards adoption if that's an option, however I know reunification is the ultimate goal of these kinds of programs.

We're shooting for a girl between 4-7 which from what I'm told there are a boatload of in our area (Oklahoma) so that works out well in our favor of getting assigned a foster child very quickly. My major concern is about getting really attached and then losing them if they're reunited. I know that's the goal but how do you handle that? It's worse on the kid I'm sure being torn family to family like that.

We have classes set up for this month to get certified already and have asked a few general questions to our case worker, but I'm just looking to see if anyone had experiences to share from either end of the process.

If you are/were a foster parent currently, how long were the kids in your home generally?
What behavioral issues were you up against, if any?
Have you had any luck moving towards adoption and how did the process go/how long did it take?
What are you experiences with the different kids of kids/ages that you've experienced?
How did the agencies work with you and was their communication up to par? We picked a smaller agency and our case worker has been incredibly responsive and doesn't have 80 other kids and families to worry about which took some concern away.
Did you have to keep in touch with the bio-parents at all or was it no communication?

From the other end as a kid in foster care (if you were):
What did you expect or know being in foster care? I know it's a weird question but I'm curious what the expectations are from the view of the child.
When did it become more apparent about what was going on by your age? Like when did reality kick in about being essentially passed around to people who aren't your bio-parents. Was it explained to you at all?
Did you eventually get adopted? Or reunited with your biological parents?

Any info would be great. Our first class is this week plus orientation and we're super excited. My daughter is already asking every day when she's getting a sister so everyone's on board at least.

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Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Thank you so much for replying and sharing that. I had my wife read it as well and it really is an amazing eye opener to hear from someone within the system. We really are pretty much flying blind into this. My mother was adopted, my daughter is adopted (biologically my wife's), and we had our first class the other day. The information was overwhelming and the reality and harshness of what the kids go through is unreal. We both had that moment of 'we have to do this, we want to do this' while watching one of the videos they had us watch. Seeing videos from both sides of it, both foster parents, bio parents, and kids was definitely a reality check as to what this really is, what we're getting into, and we're going to learn more about what to expect as the classes continue.

We know it's going to be a very uphill battle and we're going through a smaller agency which has literally held our hand through the entire process which is streamlined into 60 days. We still have a long road ahead of us but we're really looking forward to being there for whomever is placed in our home until they can either be reunified with their biological parents or become a bigger part of our family.

Thanks again skipdogg, i'm glad it worked out at least in the end and wasn't a poo poo show like some of the things I've heard and read in terms of system abuse.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


VorpalBunny posted:

Backstory - my husband and I have 2 young bio kids, but due to some lovely stuff in my childhood I really wanted to be a foster/adoptive parent if we decided to have more kids. My goal was to fost/adopt a sibling set to go with our bio set, so they could all play with each other but then the siblings would have each other as well.

My husband and I have been foster parents for 2 1/2 years now. We started out doing respite care, which is providing short term fostering for families who have medical emergencies or are traveling and can't take their foster kids. It's like extended babysitting, and we did it to make sure we could handle another kid or two and that our bio kids wouldn't freak out with new kids in the house, how we would emotionally respond to a short-term placement, etc. Our respite kid was awesome, the kids all got along swell, so we decided to go for a long-term placement.

We didn't have an age specifically, but we thought a sibling set near the same age as our bio kids (3 & 1 when we became certified) would be best. We knew it would be a handful, but it made the most sense. So when we got a call about a meth-positive, herpes-exposed newborn in a NICU needing an 8-day placement...we just saw it as another kind of respite care. We were warned that even though it was a temporary placement, things could get complicated and stuff. We took him in anyway, and long story short we just adopted him 2 years later this past April. No bio parents contact ever, weekly visitation with his extended bio family gradually tapered off and once it was clear they would never gain custody they just stopped showing up, and he is the happiest, most healthy little dude you've ever met. And super flirty too, he's 2 1/2 and is SUCH a ladies man!

The most basic thing I can say, for anyone looking to foster, is it is not about you. You are not the main focus of this process, everything is about the kid. As much as all of the training and visitation and appointments seem like a pain in the rear end, they are not for you to feel good about the world. It is for the scared little kid who may be acting like an rear end in a top hat but is really freaked out because even though they have only known chaos and pain and misery, it is their normal and anything you do to change that is shaking their world apart. I cannot stress this enough, this whole process is not about you, or your monetary compensation, or making you feel comfortable or secure in your lifestyle. I have seen too many people get frustrated by this process and quit because they never saw this through the kid's eyes. You should be a beacon of light in a sea of poo poo for those kids, and even if they are only placed with you for a short while, you need to make that short while the best example of leading a caring, loving responsible lifestyle so when that kid grows up and reflects on their life they have that moment of time that may have stuck with them to give them a blueprint for some kind of success.

I have a TON of unsolicited advice for people looking to fost/adopt. I'm happy to post more of it here (once I have another free moment later, I have the two youngest at home with me right now)!

I would definitely love to have any advice that you can give. This has all been a by the seat of our pants experience and we're learning more and more every day that we do research and the stories and advice are definitely welcomed.

We're in the process of overhauling my office (I'm giving it up completely) to put in a bed and make it a gender neutral room so whoever we get can have a place they can call their own while they're with us. We learned quite a bit about respite care and considered it, but we're looking for more long-term placement. I know the ultimate goal is reunification but the average in our area and state from what I've been told and researched is 1-2 year placements and the majority of parents have little to no contact as they tend to be incarcerated or flat out abandon the kids. Our state/area kinda sucks in that regard.

I know that this is for the kids and we're still gauging how we're going to handle the emotional attachment that forms as my wife went through a lot as a kid so she relates to all of this quite a bit. It's new to me but I'm all for it.

The holiday discussion with the bio parents was a weird topic. I remember it from training thinking If they aren't crazy/thieves sure? maybe? The recruiter and case worker we've been dealing with already told us the majority of their cases currently see little to no bio-parent contact which is weird but amazingly abandonment and negligence outranked abuse in our territory which is incredibly unusual based on other state statistics. I would have thought it'd be the other way around. We're still pushing ahead full steam and plan to join the foster parent support groups and other resource groups that are available to keep our heads above water.

photomikey posted:

I got certified as a foster parent a year or two back and never ended up putting us on the list to get a foster child, so I can't answer with a lot of confidence. The one thing that stuck with me through training and has born true with friends I've seen go through it (both as the child and the parent) is that if you get a kid who was removed from a home where they were sleeping on dirty carpet without plumbing in the house and a drug addicted parent with no food in the fridge, and they are placed in your 5 bedroom house in the suburbs with an olympic pool and a 70" TV with cable and a maid and 3 hot meals a day, they will eventually resent you for dragging them out of their perfect family life and forcing them to live in such a shithole. It's not logical, but if you can consider the kid's life through that lens, it will help you understand all the other poo poo you go through.

I would have never thought to think of it this way through the kids eyes of the situation. That's crazy (to me) but it's a complete alteration of the kids expected reality, so in a weird way it makes complete sense.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 16:11 on Aug 16, 2016

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Miranda posted:

I love all you people. I work in the neonatal ICU and we often send babies home to the shittiest situations and not often enough to awesome foster families. I wish it were different. There are also families who take on hospice kids and they're just amazing people. You all rock.

I worked in the ER for about a year and a half and witnessed a delivery where the mother, probably in her 20s, was handcuffed, had the child, they took the child, and she went back to jail shortly after recovery. It boggles the mind what situations these people end up in and I saw my fair share of situations that were just mindblowing where I cannot fathom what kind of situations we send these kids home to (it was an indigent hospital to boot) and it was really depressing at times. We had a few instances where cops/DHS was called because of clear abuse or suspected abuse. It was heart breaking.

quote:

Don't be afraid to reach out for resources either. Your licenser will be able to help with them as well as the social worker for any kid you have placed with you. Look into foster parent/caregiver support groups as well since there are usually a number of veteran foster parents involved in them and they are great at helping you navigate and advocate for yourselves and your foster kids. They are great when you need to vent, figure out how to report any disclosures of child abuse your foster kid may make (you'd be surprised how open kids can get when they feel safe and loved), and they will be there for you when you have kids transition from your care back to their bio parents or relatives. Look into any training or classes you take and be aware that you're getting kids from many, many different kinds of backgrounds. I'd also read up on the Indian Child Welfare Act since you're in OK and you'll likely have Native American kids places with you (they are over represented in foster care in just about every state with a significant Native American population).

We have already been invited to come to the resource group this month even though we're not yet certified to meet some of the other parents and get some exposure to it all, and we're definitely going. I fully intend on taking every resource available and getting any help we can get as this is a complete unknown.

quote:

Most of all I really do want to say thank you. We have a huge lack of foster parents in my state, especially for older children, and it's a tough but rewarding service you are providing. Social worker shortages and general turnover doesn't help either. Good luck! I make it sound more difficult than it is but honestly, a lot of the time it won't be anywhere near that bad.

We're mentally preparing for the worst just in case but keeping a wholly positive attitude for the process as we want to be able to offer our home as a safe place with love and understanding and serve as mentors for a child either while waiting for unification or possible permanence as the situation may warrant.

Just a minor trip report!

We had our second and final class on Saturday which was a full day of nightmarish videos, tons of information, and ending on a happy note because after the Annie video (if you don't know what that is, I don't recommend googling it) you really need some positivity coming back. We're still plowing ahead full steam, and got all the paperwork turned in we're actually ahead of schedule for getting certified. We still have the home study and fingerprints ahead of us, but we're still determined that this is something we want to do. A mixture of nerves and excitement are in large supply as we overhaul space ahead of time so the child we get can make it their own.

One of the other families in the training was a pastor and his wife and while the Annie video elicits anger, even rage, not to mention making you feel extremely uncomfortable he went off the deep end about why they needed to make this video and who could convince a child to reenact such a thing etc. While I agree with him, he took it to quite the extreme and made things kind of awkward for a few minutes as he was visually upset and red in the face. It got everyone in the room for sure, but that reaction was a little jarring and unexpected. Even the trainer was caught a little of guard.

Thanks for the feedback and information everyone, it's been incredibly helpful and insightful. Obviously I won't be able to share the specifics once we do get a child but if there's interest i'll post random trip reports if anyone wants to hear them as we go through all this.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


N. Senada posted:

Being a foster/adoptive parents is one of my aspirations. I am in a stable, committed relationship but I'm under the impression we'll both need to be working for the rest of our lives. Does fostering require a stay-at-home parent? What's the challenges of fostering as a single parent vs as a couple?

This is subjective to our area and what we've been told, but my wife and I both work full time jobs. The system pays for daycare and transportation as needed but given the age range we specified they'll be in school so we'll just pick them up at the normal time without having to worry about it. We had a single lady in the class with no children who works full time currently that had the same aspirations we did so I imagine it's the same process as long as you have the space and capability/capacity for it all. As for the specifics of the challenges, I obviously can't speak to that but they all come with individual challenges from whatever situation they were pulled from. They're scared, go into survival mode of fight/flight/regression for a time or can be a model child for a honeymoon period then the issues surface as they get comfortable. It's different with every child.

Funny enough, single and couples are both encouraged, but in terms of single parents they prefer single women over single men -- or so I've read.

Friends of ours have fostered for probably 10 years and finally get to adopt the 2 year old they're fostering which is awesome. They only take infant/newborn to 2 year olds as they're less aware as to what's going on so it presents less of a challenge I guess behaviorally? It may manifest as the child gets older, but then again it may not. The age range we selected I fully expect to come with emotional or physical baggage that we're going to continue therapy for to make sure they get the help they need along with the care at home. This is going to present unknown challenges to us so I think the biggest challenge you'll have is figuring out what you can handle, what ages you think you can handle, etc. and the challenges that come with both boys and girls. In our case we went with girls only in our home because we already have a daughter and we want someone just a bit younger than her but aren't equipped to handle an infant. Sometimes kids look for that mentor situation and fall into that role really well, othertimes not.

I've done nothing but research and contacting resources, social workers in the system, and friends and others that we know who currently foster just to get an idea of what we're getting ourselves into. Every experience is wildly different but doesn't stop me from wanting to be there for another child when they aren't afforded that luxury or opportunity of love and understanding and patient hand. The more I learn, especially from the group support meetings I plan on going to with my wife, will be the greatest asset to learning how to handle the different challenges we're going to come across and then adapting that information for our situation.

The one major thing I took away from Saturday is that if you're married or have kids, it will put a strain on things. These kids need and require attention. It will test limits you didn't know could be tested. Make sure to learn to take time for you, make date nights, utilize respite homes and parents for a break as needed, and don't ignore biological children. Serparate time for both kids together and seperately. Stuff like that. We know this isn't going to be a cake walk but really do the research and consider everything before you just jump in. We talked about it and planned and discussed it for a year before finally making a decision to move forward.

Edit: The most depressing thing is that once kids reach age 8 they're less likely to get a home or adopted and teen adoption rate is like 12%. So, if you can handle 8 and older, that's awesome. I wish we could but there's a thing about a bio-childs milestones we don't want to overstep (something we learned about!) so the younger age was preferable.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 14:33 on Aug 22, 2016

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Tulalip Tulips posted:

The need for foster parents for older age group kids is just unimaginable. It's been brought up here but people really don't understand just how hard it is to find foster homes for kids who are over the age of about 8, if you add in behavioral issues, substance abuse problems, medical needs, developmental delays, etc it gets even harder. We just had a huge regional issue with having kids spend weeks over night in hotels (and their days in their social worker's office if they weren't in daycare or school) because placements couldn't be located and I just got done with mandatory after hours work because of it. So I can definitely see where you're teacher is coming from; if anyone shows any interest in older kids when I'm doing community outreach I immediately want to jump all over them and I have to remind myself to slow down and not put on the MLM type sales pitch.

They really hammered this home on our second class and quietly tried to push the "are you sure you guys don't want a teenager?" angle a bit. We actually considered reaching out to the local youth shelter (I hate that we even have to have one of these) and taking in a gay teen that we know has just been ostracized and rejected by their family because of their sexuality. They'd have full support from us but we already have a 19 year old in the house going to college, we really don't have room for another with taking on a foster child as it is and I know they'd need their own space at that age which we simply don't have. Now if the 19 year old moves out then that could be a conversation...

I feel really bad for the 8+ group. They really can't catch a break and the videos in that regard are overwhelmingly depressing.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

And since this thread seems like a good place for some feel-goods:





She hates taking photos with me, argues with me, gives me the silent treatment, makes huge messes in my house, spends all my money, and also loves me so much she has nightmares I might disappear, and I feel the same. This is a very worthwhile thing to do, and I have no regrets about it.

You are amazing and awesome

quote:

If we foster to adopt, from how I understand the process, the child(ren) will be placed with us for anywhere from 6 months to a year before adoption is possible. At that point, the stipend/reimbursement stops and the medical coverage stops, correct? What if the child develops medical or special needs due to something from their birth (drug exposure, etc). Is that something that medicare would continue to cover or that my insurance would then cover as their adopted parent?

We have some friends that foster short term kids with no plans to adopt. In their experience with their agency the shortest a child has been in their care was 9 days and then they were reunited with their bio-family. Where it went after that they'll never know. They've had placements up to 6 months but not much longer than that. When they outlined what they wanted with their recruiter and local office, they were very specific in what they were looking for in time frames.

Other friends of ours only foster babies and they want long term placements. Over 10 years they've had a host of different newborns that stay a year or two then go back to their respective families or extended families like grandparents etc. that step in and want to take over care. They're finally adopting the 2 year old they have after rights were terminated so they're super excited. They still plan to continue what they're doing regardless but that's how they put for the their requirements.

As mocking said, if they're still a foster child you'll get a stipend a month, plus medical is generally 100% taken care of through Medicaid via your state. They're pretty gracious about assisting with disabilities here at least. As soon as you adopt them, that coverage ends and they're 100% your responsibility and on your dime. It sounds harsh but really take this into consideration that these kids eat your food, use your resources, and are on your tab with state assistance. At the adoption point you'd put them on your insurance (check costs ahead of time) and roll from there. Your state may have different rules though.

The possibility for adoption depends on when the parents rights are terminated. This can take years to happen. Even when it does you're in for a fight with the system to adopt. I'm basing this on what we've been told and what I've witnessed with friends that have gone through it. They had one that came up for adoption and the neighbors of the family waited until then to move in for the rights on adoption and they lost the kid to them because of family ties or whatever. Judges are weird.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Solaron posted:

My wife and I finished our 36 hours of training last week (did 21 hours of it last week). It was pretty pointless - I understand the idea behind it and I think training is important, but this seemed designed to let someone check off a box somewhere and that's it. There were no tests or reviews, most of the videos didn't work or were skipped by the presenters, the slideshows didn't follow along with the manuals very well, etc. In order to get the classes done in a timely fashion, we went to 4 different counties and had 5 separate teachers. That said, it's nice to have that out of the way. We've been assigned a case worker for our county but now we have do do the home study process, which I've heard can take between 3 and 6 months.

Cincinnati's heroin problems are creating some pretty huge strains on the system so I'm hopeful that we will be able to complete the process quickly.

3-6 months? Holy crap. Ours take 4-6 weeks on average. Placement for the age group we selected is usually same-day when your house is set to 'open'. Downside is due to funding and consolidation, they're reducing Case worker staffing by like half and combining the adoption, foster, and basic health services staffing all into one which has some major advantages down the line (hopefully) but may increase wait time for certification which sucks.

We've done everything but the home study which is this coming Sunday. The prediction is we'll have placement by Thanksgiving. The range of reaction from family has been from "that's awesome you're amazing let us know if you need help/a break" to "Are you out of your mind?" so that's a thing we'll be up against on the holidays.

It's amazing how different states handle the whole process, but overall I'd say going through an agency has simplified it SO much compared to going directly through the state.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

I started my foster parent classes in October, was certified by December, and was moving my daughter in at the end of January.

Being a social worker myself helped streamline the process as I read my states foster parent licensure guidelines prior to having my home inspected, so there was only one walk through and no corrections.

Can we disambiguate between having your home approved for foster care and having an adoption home study done, though? In my area of California it takes six weeks minimum of 6 weeks to become a foster parent, but it can take months to complete an adoption home study and often they don't begin the process until the foster parent has a child placed in their home.

Ah yeah there are quite a few differences between foster home study and adoption. We just had adoption study done in March (which was finalized in June yay!) so they sadly couldn't use that same stupid paperwork for the foster care inspection because it wasn't done by the state but a licensed LPC. I don't get that at all, but, it's the rules. The guidelines for the foster inspection seem a bit more... specific from what I'm told. The adoption one was "yep bed food roof you people aren't insane or abusive gold star" and 30 minutes later we were golden. I have no idea what to really expect from the foster one. We're being a bit more prepared for this one in terms of cleanliness and safety.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

Have you looked up your state guidelines? I did things like turn down my water heater, put my meds in a locking closet, and add a second clothes dresser to the kids room because they aren't allowed to share. For an inspection where your license covers infants, you're also required to effectively baby proof, even in places like the garage (delayed a friend of mine for two weeks).

But California is often overkill anyway.

(And they can't use the adoptions homestudy because foster homes are under the management of a state agency, the same way daycares and assisted living homes are)

I haven't but I knew about locking up medications which we've installed a lock-door on our bathroom cabinet which is about 5ft. off the ground as it is and can now lock. I employ a social worker at one of my clinics so I should probably ask her as she used to do them as to what to expect. We're getting a second dresser but didn't pick it up yet, but now that you've said that I think i'll push that timeline up a bit. I hope they don't look in the garage heh. There's a lot of woodworking scraps out there right now from remodeling among other failed/abandoned projects and I'm horrible about throwing that crap out.

Like I said, the adoption home study seemed to not really care about specifics, just that she had a bed/food/healthy/etc. and not specific at all. I need a drat checklist for my state. Off to harass my social worker!

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


So just an update - our home study is finally complete. It took two 2.5 hour sessions to get through everything including interviews for everyone including our nephew who lives with us and our daughter. Tons of questions, they Google your names looking for anything they can find to ask you about. We're now just waiting for it all to get typed up and reviewed in-house by our agency and then by the state agency. We were told this will take about a month or so and then we'll meet once more for orientation and final signatures to set our house to 'open' status. I'm excited for sure, but man for a system that is desperate for foster families they sure drag it out.

We're coming up on the holiday season to boot which apparently bumps the number of kids coming into the system, or so we're told. That's really drat depressing, but our families are on board to welcome the future child to the family so they'll have plenty of support and love coming into whatever hardship they're facing.

This is sooooo much different than adoption was. Adoption was just looking around the house, yep you have bed/food/clothes/toys ok sign here hour later we're done. I look forward to signing the final documents and getting this rolling.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Yeah those rules are the same here. You have to have separate dressers for each child, they're not allowed to share. We had to get an extra one as part of the process. We're in the home stretch of being approved finally. Should have placement around Thanksgiving. How's that for timing?

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

Historically foster children were kind of crammed in whatever corner they fit into, often sharing space with biological children who then got preferential space for their belongings, leaving the foster children to live out of bags and boxes. The requirement for each child to have their own space for belongings is meant to enforce some equity.


Congratulations!

My foster daughter comes with me on all of my trips. So far she's comes with me to a wedding in Arizona, a short vacation in San Diego, and I took her to see her family in Las Vegas.

I'm on my solo vacation for a week right now, after 10 months of her being with me. She didn't want to miss school and she's enjoying the attention she's getting from my 5 friends who are taking turns watching her.

She's coming with me to thanksgiving in Texas and will be meeting my extended family - my brother and his wife are thrilled and are planning a welcoming gift for her, which made me feel incredibly warm and fuzzy, especially since they had their daughter in July and she's been getting a lot of attention as "the first grandchild" even though my kiddo transitioned to my care in January last year.

Thanks! Our FD will get to come along with us to Disney World, so hopefully they'll get some good memories out of that. It's crazy to think we started all this back at the beginning of August and we're just now getting towards the end of it and doing the final signatures. It's a slow process but it's going to be very rewarding and I'm really looking forward to it, albeit a bit nervous about the whole thing. Both sides of the families are fully on board (my mom was adopted herself, my wife's family adopted her two brothers) so we have full support on both sides which I'm very thankful for.

I hope it turns out for the best and we can serve as mentors for the families that are in need. We've discussed doing respite care for babies on the side as my wife and I both have baby fever 99% of the time but can't have one ourselves.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


VorpalBunny posted:

My husband attended a meeting last night with our foster agency, where they discussed all the new regulations happening here in California in 2017. They are loosening the requirements for people to get and retain certification, and are increasing the standards for bio families seeking reunification. The amount of training required will decrease overall, which is awesome, and they changed a few requirements that directly affect my family - kids of the opposite sex can now share rooms until the age of 8 (it was 5) and there can be up to 4 kids in a room. I have NO IDEA what room they might be talking about, that seems kind of crazy to me.

The good news is it makes our situation a little easier to work with. We are still on the fence about taking in another foster child right now (our kids are almost-6, 3 & 2 - a handful!), but these new regulations make it easier for us to renew our certification and give ourselves a little more time.

As I understand it here, 4 kids can share a room under the age of 5 of the same sex. Once they're over age 5 they can't share a room. Moving it to 8 is interesting. We have people here that I know that use room dividers that have passed DHS standards which seems kinda fishy to me.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Our Agency is pretty helpful in the financial dept. Since my wife and I are both full time workers they pay for 100% daycare costs, there's a financial stipend monthly to cover extra expenses, and they provide a "fun" stipend yearly to cover tickets n such to theme parks. They also do some travel reimbursement. They have a shop room FULL of Halloween costumes, supplies, donated goods, carseats, etc. basically whatever you need based on what you're fostering it's readily available for use.

We've done some quick math and with the stipend we'll be just fine financially. Medicaid covers any medical expenses and our existing PCP takes it, so getting the child care won't be an issue.

We started this process in August and finally are in the home stretch. The paperwork is making its rounds for final review, then we'll have orientation and final signatures to set our house to 'open' status. 10-14 days and we're finally at the finish line ready for placement.

All this being said, I HIGHLY recommend agencies but do your homework. Different ones do different things. Ours does a Christmas party that we've been invited to even though we don't have a placement yet

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


So after beginning this process in early August to become certified foster parents, we have an appointment Monday for final signatures to make our house 'open' for placement! I'm super excited, wife is excited/nervous. Agencies in our area have a very high (like sometimes same day) placement rate due to the demand in this area. It's going to be interesting!

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


So we've been approved for about 3 weeks now without a placement. Granted, that means people are with their families or our house wasn't a match for those displaced. We've had a few calls with some horrifying details that really hurt to hear with some of these kids given their ages, but were told we were the last resort if kinship didn't pan out.

Was told that this is the first time in years for our state that there's actually an abundance of homes available and vacant opposed to the number of placements needed which is great news! Hopefully we'll get one eventually but it's somewhat heartwarming to know that it's not all terrible.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


4th placement calls the charm! We're getting our first placement tonight! Major mix of anxiety and excitement. We've had 3 calls previously fall apart as they were splitting sibling sets that later found placement for siblings. This one is solo so we don't have to worry about that and it's long term foster to adopt as the parents have failed for 3 court hearings and have no interest in even trying to get their kid back. Going to do right by them and give them the chance their parents didn't.

This one is only concerning as the case worker really knew nothing about them other than why they were removed from the home and couldn't tell us what, if anything, they are coming with. So, totally by ear and on the fly for our first go-round!

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Panfilo posted:

Have you had a disclosure meeting yet? During that meeting they'll answer everything they know at the time, and in subsequent hearings along the way more information may come to light.

Not yet. He's having difficulty getting a hold of the kinship that they're currently placed with to pick them up to bring them to us. This is the first male case worker i've talked to and he's not leaving a good impression. I wanted to ask questions over the phone but he was in a rush and didn't really give me the opportunity. They gave us the overall basis with the placement coordinator, but even she only had the basics. This is their first foster placement as they've been with kinship for 6 months, but because of tribal restrictions they can't take her out state since they are moving when in the system. Tribal rules are weirdly strict. They're supposed to come tonight, but our timeframe is now in limbo which is slightly frustrating. I'm sure we'll get more information when they arrive, but in terms of disclosure, this one has been a near mystery other than the basics.

With the other 3 placement calls that we had the placement coordinator and case worker told us EVERYTHING over the phone. Like I had 30+ questions down to the fine detail and they answered every last one of them. This one, not so much to a frustrating degree.

We know there's no behavior or medical issues, the kinship has them in therapy as a precautionary thing due to age and what's happenening (which is great! Way to go on being prepared and proactive!) They're doing great in school but only in Kindergarten so that is what it is for now. The rest of the history is an unknown at the moment other than we have to do the usual doc visit and paperwork tomorrow if all goes well tonight.

Edit: to clarify though, we do know WHY they were pulled from the home and it was friggin heartbreaking.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 22:32 on Jan 18, 2017

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

Kids with tribal representation can lead to a long and potentially difficult adoption, just to let you know. Federal rules gives special legal protection to native kids placed in foster care, and the adoption would have to be approved by the tribe.

The rule about leaving the state seems strange since often that doesn't apply to tribal relatives.

We're tribal and went through it with my wife's biological daughter. I adopted her last year. It took a year long very difficult fight, but in the end it was worth it and she's officially my daughter.

We got blindsided with some of the details on our placement and while I'm pissed at the agency and case worker, the foster child just breaks my heart and melts it at the same time. We had an incredibly rough night, lots of tears, she's understandably very scared. She connected with my wife and daughter and hasn't had a male figure in her life in 6 months so I'm very hands-off for now until she approaches me. Going to be a rough first few weeks and we're ready for it, but my wife and I are both very frazzled this morning.

On the plus side they brought her entire closet of clothes and toys with her which was mountains of both, so we're set in that regard for multiple seasons.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Lareine posted:

Problem is that native children were being removed from their homes at a disproportionate rate and given to non-native families and it ended up being used as a form of cultural genocide. The LDS Church was really into doing this, breaking the "curse" of their heritage and turning them into good little Mormons. The way it's now set up is that only after all other tribal-centered placements possibilities are exhausted, only then are non-native placements are considered.

We are tribal so we were the first call on the list as we're one of the only tribal foster families in the area that matched.

In our case the dads rights were terminated because of what he did. Mom keeps loving up (drugs, worse) and has resolved to admitting no interest in trying to repair it but won't terminate voluntarily at this time. She currently has been granted no visitation by the courts until further notice. The only reason we have her is that the kinship placement has to move out of state for work and tribal laws prevent her from leaving the state with her. We were told we can keep in contact with the kinship for support and we did last night which was upsetting to the child, and understandably so, but the kinship said to trust us and that she'd be safe with us. We talked with her a bit too and will definitely stay in touch and let her skype as needed.

Tribal adoptions are a major uphill battle and I know it and my wife knows it. Hell, we already did one. If this works out long term, we'll do it again!

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Lareine posted:

That makes things easier but as with extra rules, there is always extra bureaucracy involved even if you already fulfill them. Good luck!

Thanks! My wife is the same tribe as her which works to our benefit, but even then they're the HARDEST in the state to do this through. Other tribes are a bit more lax on it, but this one in particular puts up the biggest fight and happens to be one of the larger ones in the state. Baby steps though, this is only day 2.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Panfilo posted:

A big thing that can help speed things along is to have broader preferences, especially in regards to race. There are some fost adopt parents that are incredibly picky and then complain when they don't get a placement in two years. What they don't realize is that the placement social worker isn't going to want to waste her time trying to find a good match just to hear 'no' for the fifteenth time. Parents that are flexible in some ways open up more potential for matches and get placed much sooner.

We had no race restrictions at all. We don't care. Just want to give a child a chance and here we are!

Second night was MUCH better. We let the girls pick where we went out to eat (we eat out every Thursday) and they both shockingly picked the same place. My god the foster kid can out eat my daughter and she's younger. No tears, no problems, it was a great night which for a second night was very welcomed. I don't think I sat down once yesterday until it was time to go to bed with the nonstop running around with the kids.

What wasn't as welcomed was waking up 5 minutes before the alarm to the choir of vomit from foster kiddo. We were taking her to the doctor anyway as required, so we'll just kinda lump that into the conversation. If we make it through the weekend I think this will be just fine.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Missouri Fever posted:

I just read this godawful long report on terminated adoptions:

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#article/part1

OP, be forewarned that these are incredible horror stories, and I do not want to derail from you posting about your personal experiences right now; however, I think this report is useful for the thread in general, as a way of hammering home how institutional support in the adoption process is very, very important.

I've actually read that before believe it or not. It is depressing but way out of scope compared to what happens locally/nationally. There's a good reason we have such stringent rules and regulations, at least here, regarding fostering kids so we can help prevent situations like that. Our foster child is growing on us and plays with my daughter and I every night. We have an absolute blast and she's hilarious. We are starting to encounter the behaviors though with her separation anxiety and signs of RAD; both of which are very concerning. We are maintaining her visits with her therapist for this reason, but with her enrolled in school it's been an uphill battle as she'll get so upset she'll start throwing up because we have to go to work.

I love what we're doing, my wife and I couldn't be happier that we did this, but we're starting to see where our stress from her stress is starting to cross and we need to make sure we acknowledge that so we don't burn out or overreact. We're doing very good at keeping each other in check and utilizing the resources we have.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


We had two emergency placements offered to us neither of which panned out. Generally from what I've come to understand is they're usually trying to very quickly get kinship placement together and they just need someone long enough for the process. Both times it didn't pan out and they got kinship/family placement before they actually got to us. One of which was physically en route in the car and called us mid-transit to let us know.

Bit of a trip report/update on ours!

We've had our 5 year old placement for about a month now. We've gotten into a great routine every day, every weekend, she asks tons of questions, gets along great with my bio daughter. They're almost inseparable and argue like sisters. She's finally learned to trust me (men in general are a no-go because of her history) which has been a nice change. She will finally sit with me and talk to me sometimes when she's feeling comfortable enough to.

The biggest hiccup we've had now is that we changed case workers. The prior regime gave us incorrect information and has us believing that there was 0 contact with the biological mother this entire time. Turns out that wasn't the case. We had our first phone call with her and it went well until the end when we had a major meltdown and FD was more or less inconsolable for a few hours. That was rough. Now mom is pushing for face to face visits which I'm fine with as that's what the court had ordered to begin with (shame we didn't get the memo) so we're working on getting those scheduled weekly. Until then, phone calls will have to suffice. I don't look forward to how the end of those will go. If the phone call was any indication, face to face is going to be so much harder. The case worker and I are tag-teaming those so they follow guidelines and all that.

Been a very stressful but very rewarding experience. She's a great kid, has manners, argues like a 5 year old, and is generally a goofy kid. I can't fathom why people do what they do to children, but if bio-mom wants to get her life back on track I'm going to cheer her on and support her every step of the way that I can. That's all we can do in the end anyway.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


VorpalBunny posted:

I cannot stress how much it helps to have social workers and lawyers who actually communicate with you and follow-up on stuff. We get court notices in the mail, but we also got a letter from the child's lawyer with court info and we talked about it with both our foster agency and the social worker. Now we play the waiting game. Visits are starting this week, but I doubt the bio parents will be involved. They've got 6 months to get their act together (the list of requirements they needed to meet, classes and treatment and stuff, was pretty staggering) or we move onto the next step, which I guess will be termination of parental rights and then adoption placement. My guess is, unless some bio family hiccups happen, she'll be ready for adoption in 18-24 months. But we take everything day by day and take nothing for granted, knowing she could be placed in another home at any time for any reason.

Our previous case worker didn't talk to us for poo poo and gave us misinformation. I didn't actually realize how frustrating it was and how much it pissed me off until our current case worker keeps me in the loop on literally everything that is going on with the case, the court, bio-mom, all of it. Bio-mom is on her 4th attempt to keep herself in gear. Her conditions were pretty straight forward; clean drug screens, keep a job, have a place of residence, etc. and we'll revisit things on her next court date which we'll definitely be there for. I keep in touch with bio-mom and cheer her on as need be and hopefully she'll actually get to see her daughter for the first time since December soon. I'm excited for her and really do hope this leads to reunification. Her daughter is wonderful but I feel so bad every time they talk as it results in a major meltdown for both of them.

Bio-mom said I'm the first foster parent that actually took to talking to her on a regular basis and sending her photos and keeping her in the loop about what's going on and encouraging visits. Case worker even thanked me for being proactive on all of it instead of just waiting to be told what to do with it all. I guess the previous family allowed almost no contact, regardless of what the court ordered which I don't understand how that's legal, but the previous case worker with them didn't seem to give a poo poo either. Goes again as you said to creating roadblocks for the families.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


So we've been doing weekly calls with bio-mom which usually ends in tears for both her and FD. This Sunday is our first face to face meeting. I'm excited for mom to see her daughter for the first time since Christmas but my god my nerves and anxiety over all of this are through the roof. It's one thing to be able to console FD for several hours when we're in our home NOT in public and have more control over the situation. I can't imagine what a truckstop dumpster fire this is going to be when it's time to say goodbye this weekend. We get 2 hours at the park since mom doesn't have a vehicle, she has to walk to meet us. I know this is for the best but drat the emotions it brings to both, especially a child who doesn't really understand what or why it's happening, the aftermath is just unreal. Thank god we're off for spring break the next week. It's always a rough 24-48 hours after phone calls. I can't imagine what a face to face is going to do.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Tsyni posted:

This is more a theoretical question to satisfy my curiosity, but is there much bias against single male foster/adoptions and gay couple adoptions?

Our agency has 3 gay couples (2 female 1 male couple) that come to our monthly support groups and we love them to death. They are completely not picky and none of us care. They are outstanding parents and they have the BEST stories!

VorpalBunny posted:

Hey everyone, I hope radio silence means everyone is keeping busy with placements and stuff.

I just got the wonderful word that bio mom to our latest foster placement might be pregnant again! Our foster child is not even 3 months old, so...yeah. Apparently she also called the social worker last week demanding visitation, then promised to call back and hasn't yet. I guess there is a reason why bio grandmother and great-grandmother have a restraining order against her.

We'll see how the next few months go, our next court date is end of August.

Our placement is great! We've had her for a few months now. Bio-mom was initially difficult and not wanting to do visits, but has opened up and we've given them a lot of support and made visits happen. Our FD has anxiety and separation issues which with trauma cases is to be expected. She finally considers me "safe" and will come to me for comfort and fun now that she's realized I'm the goofy fun parent that will play games and goof off where as my wife is more of the provider roll than the fun roll.

Our new case worker is outstanding as well (we saw her last night for our monthly inspection) and openly communicates with me and keeps me in the loop on everything. Overall we're having an excellent experience and I know that's not common (knock on wood) but it's great.

It will be a few years down the line when we hopefully get a bigger house, but we've discussed taking in a gay teen in the far future as there's a VERY large population here of gay teens who were kicked out and ostracized by their parents with no support. Those are the one's we just want to bring into our home and give them a chance to be successful. Wife tells me my heart is way too big because I want to save all the children but she's good about limiting me to two... for now!

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 20:35 on Apr 5, 2017

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Didn't expect this turn of events, but since we have some case workers (past and present) in the thread...

We've found out that our bio has failed to do... anything that was required of her for a year unbeknownst to us other than visits and they're moving forward with termination of rights. It's a sad state of events and my wife and I aren't anywhere in the mindset of what the hell is going to happen or what the timeline is going to be with the foster child in our care once this goes down. The judge gave the bio 3 months and 2 weeks to get all the classes she neglected to complete (takes longer than that to even do them really and both attorney's talked to me privately about it) on top of the required family therapy and she's failed to do any of her drug screens since October. The judge issued to move forward with the motion and asked the state prosecutor and child's attorney if there were any objections and neither had any objections as both stated it's been a year with no results and they don't expect that to change.

On the bio's behalf I did speak to her success with visits and that she hadn't had the support prior to us (we encourage her a LOT and stay in constant contact as opposed to the previous placement wouldn't even let her do visits and never called her once) so to give her the opportunity to get this done. I've been on her since to make sure she got her poo poo in line, but she's still failed to get her required calendar together. I don't see this ending well regardless of my attempts to help as I can only do so much.

Back to my point, if termination does happen, what's the timeline of events in your experience? I assume the child remains with us in the interim, but what else should we expect? I feel so bad for her and the child right now, this is going to hurt everyone involved.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Panfilo posted:

Supporting what Mocking Bird said, I can't stress this enough-

Depending on what state you live in (I can only speak on California) there is a difference between Foster parents and Fost-Adopt parents. The licensing is different, and when the time comes for permanent placement, there are a lot of foster parents that get left in the dust because they didn't get the licensing for Fost-adoption. Some people think that because they were in emergency foster care they would get priority if the child needed to be adopted, but this isn't necessarily the case.

We are registered as foster-adopt as that was our initial plan. We took the child on under the pretenses that adoption was definitely a possibility, but reunification was always the goal. We have meetings with the attorney, agency worker, and case worker this week to do some Q&A with what to do/expect as I e-mailed all of them and asked for a face to face. As you both said it differs state to state so I'll be very curious to hear what our process is for this state.

quote:

However, and I tell this to all new social workers as well as foster parents, working harder than the parent helps no one. You could create an artificial appearance of success if you hold moms hand through every step of the process, but you also need to think about what things will look like when that support goes away (in your case, if kiddo goes home). Mom has got to show an ability to maintain. This process should have started a year ago.

To this end I'm certainly guilty of trying way too hard to make reunification happen. I facilitate visits (beyond what's required), I keep in contact with bio parent to ask about her calendar, classes, work, make sure she's at least trying to keep up with it all. It's a shame it went this way but I've definitely done more than any other foster parent they've dealt with and they've actually said that in e-mails thanking us for doing so much compared to most parents they work with. I'll do an update after the meeting.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Had our meeting last night and voiced our concerns about what's going forward.

From the sounds of it, bio has the opportunity (3 months 2 weeks) to complete their plan per the judge. If they make significant progress they can ask for an extension up to 2 months to be granted to complete the plan. They still haven't started the family therapy that is required so that's not a great sign. If the Judge thinks that not enough has been done, or not enough, they'll set a day within 30-60 days for a termination hearing where the parent can appeal, request a judge trial, or a jury trial. If it's a judge trial, it's pretty quick. Jury trial can take awhile because it's the same process as any other case. Or she can choose to flat out relinquish.

We did find out that we can word our adoption contract very carefully with "continuity of care" as opposed to "we can't afford this" if we move forward to adopt the child to get the stipend and daycare to continue to be paid for by the state which would definitely be required. We ran the numbers and we really can't afford to take on another child due to daycare costs based on age with what we're making now without cutting out our monthly safety net that goes into savings; and given that we had to replace our furnace last year, I'm not willing to jeopardize home repair threats and those associated costs. It's sad, but it's just reality. I don't want to lose the child but I can't disrupt my own family for it in the end either, so this is going to be incredibly difficult if bio fails completely.

If they move her to an adoptive status, we'd help write a short bio and they'd approach families that are adoption only for trial adoption that goes for 6 months and it kinda goes from there. This is going to suck.

If we adopt the child, then we have to have a discussion about open or closed adoption and if we want to continue or terminate contact with the bio. The pro's and con's of that are another argument. Ugh. This whole situation and process sucks, but I'm glad we did it.

Edit: It's depressing as well, and I know there's nothing I can do, but the child has a sibling that is a bit older but is in a therapeutic home due to behavioral issues that I can't have in my house due to other children. Because of her age and behavioral issue she'll probably be stuck in the foster system until she ages out. Her chances of being adopted are slim at best and it kills me knowing that.

Both kids are tribal which makes this sooooo much more complicated. None of their family/kinship passed the clearance to take them either.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 14:41 on May 10, 2017

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Solaron posted:

This is good to know. My wife and I are considering this as well, since we've been told that the 2 boys and the newborn will probably end up being available for adoption since the parents aren't making any progress. We can take on the 3 kids but with one of them having fairly severe special needs and ~20 medical appointments per month, we can't afford to adopt them without retaining some of the subsidy. We don't want to appear greedy or anything, and we don't know how Ohio handles it and what we can keep if we do adopt them, but the financial strain just isn't doable otherwise.

We're in the same boat. Affordability is definitely the issue and I hate that to be the excuse, but the fact that daycare is covered as is the clothing allowance (children destroy shoes/clothes) and the monthly stipend make it less painful. It's a far cry from enough, but we're fine as it is right now. If that all disappeared with adoption, we would end up in debt that we've fought pretty hard to get out of.

Glad to know that stuff is an option though, I'd hate to lose the child at this point as I've grown a bit attached as they've become really attached to my wife and I.

I actually go out of my way to make sure that the child sees her sibling at least once a month and we have phone calls at least once a week (unless said sibling is grounded which... happens a lot). She's a couple hundred miles away so we unfortunately can't just get up and go on a whim. It's usually that we're in the area for a trip over the weekend so let's get together which is a sparse occasion. The state has issues with bio getting her to communicate to bring the sibling down so they can have time as a family which is unfortunate. I've been pushing bio to be more responsive to the case worker and she's been doing a little better lately. I think the reality of all this is finally setting in for her albeit a bit too late.

The 'open' adoption, if it did happen, I want her to continue to see her parent but at the same time the less friendly part of me wants to go "You had your opportunity with all the encouragement and support we could give and you still failed. Sorry." but I know I can't bring myself to do that.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


We had our meeting with the case worker to play 20 questions last night given that this is a tribal case which always makes it far more complicated. We did get some really good news though. The reality of what's happening finally clicked with bio and they're actually going to the classes she's required to go to, has appointments set up for the other, and passed the first of 6 required UA's with flying colors. They still have to do alcohol screenings on the regular, but she's actually committing to getting this done. That being said, this is attempt number 4 where she starts then stops, so I'm really hoping she stays the course.

On the plus side, even if they DO fail, the grandmother has been approved to take the children if rights are terminated so they'll still be within the family and able to see their bio on the regular which was a huge sigh of relief. Being tribal we're pretty much dead last to be asked to adopt, so I'm actually glad that the grandmother got approved this close to the deadline.

After long discussion though, we'll probably be closing our house - at least for now - to any more foster kiddo's. It's been an experience but incredibly difficult and stressful on our family and we agreed we can't subject our own child to this again as it caused some issues there as well. It's a shame, I really enjoyed it but really it's not what's best for my family. I'd encourage anyone who's heart is in the right place to at least explore the option as it is very rewarding work; but it is still just that - work. It's far from easy and they don't stress that enough.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Well, our concerns have been somewhat confirmed.

I spoke to the case worker for bio and they're not doing poo poo with their required plan. They stopped doing UA's, they're not doing any of the required classes, they've cancelled the last 2 visits and no-showed their kids recital (I gave them a months heads up, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week, day before, day of, and still no showed) and other than getting an apartment she's making absolutely no effort. It's crushing moreso because I have to deal with some pretty ugly meltdowns when visitation expectations are set and then cancelled twice. This part of fostering sucks. If bio doesn't get their poo poo together by August 23rd, and at this point let's be honest there's no chance in hell as the classes themselves last 4-6 months, then they'll set a date for a termination hearing. The judge already warned her of this back in May and set some pretty high expectations. It's just a shame. No one wins in the end and the kids lose in the end.

We've moved back and forth on adoption as cost is a sad but relevant issue. We're both on the fence because we don't want them going anywhere else, but daycare costs will eat our lunch. Hopefully if it comes down to that, we can negotiate a stipend into the adoption contract for continuity of care.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 20:11 on Jun 12, 2017

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


We've had long standing open discussions with both the case worker and the therapist and have been completely honest from the get-go that the only thing holding us back really unfortunately is the cost of daycare. The good news is that we really only need the assistance for 2 years at most, at that point my biological daughter qualifies to walk home from school since it's so close where she can take foster kiddo home with her which would solve a lot of it. The therapist said we just need to word the adoption contract as "for continuity of care, we'll need the following" and kind of go from there with the details for daycare and such and the estimated time frame and the state will review it. So if we can get through that barrier, we'll be solid. Our state has had MASSIVE cuts to funding to the point that the foster care programs could lose funding for things like stipends which would cripple most of the families in this state in the program. We don't so much depend on those, only the daycare portion thankfully. I think I'm just frustrated with the whole thing right now.

I really do think bio mom has figured out that she's not going to get them back and is starting to give up. I had such high hopes for her and thought we had her really motivated. Everyone involved were encouraging her, keeping up with her calendar, helping her with class enrollment, etc. all she had to do is show up, and she failed to do that. I know it's all too familiar but it still sucks. This was our first go round and we really thought we struck gold with the child we got since she is incredibly well behaved, very polite, and has no behavioral issues. Month after month in the support groups we hear these horror stories and think "Man, I'm glad that's not our situation". How do you even begin to explain to a 5 year old any of this? Her meltdowns are getting more intense every time she cancels and not getting to see her but once a month is going to be a nightmare for her mentally. We keep her as occupied as possible to keep her distracted, but we're getting to where at this point I'm not setting any visitation expectations until we know we're in route. Other than the case worker visits which she's technically required to keep for the sake of documentation, it feels like it's just a losing battle. The visits I was doing once a week was just being nice because they needed that time together to have that connection.

I hate the mentality to expect the worst come August, and it's definitely weighing heavy on us realizing that this kid is going to have a major trauma if her mother all but disappears from her life at the end of this. We have her in therapy weekly and that will continue probably for the rest of her life because of this. All we can do is sit and wait and try to keep her safe and happy.

Edit: Something of note, this is also a tribal case. It was pointed out that we'll be asked dead last about adopting her as tribes prefer to keep children within that circle regardless of relationship to the biological parents. It's a horrible reality when it comes to tribal placements.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 13:41 on Jun 13, 2017

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

You seem like such a wonderful foster parent, I want to acknowledge what a good job you're doing.

Your kiddo will recover from her mom withdrawing. It's a trauma, but not one that never ends.

Make sure the tribe knows your plan for keeping her connected to her culture - make one if you don't have one! Make a friend in the tribe or through the bio family who will be your child's "ambassador" and make sure your child has access to cultural and religious events and traditions. I've seen families who make those plans be very successful, especially when there were no tribal foster placements in the first place.

Well thanks! We try to do the best we can, I absolutely adore being a foster parent and I spent a lot of my free time volunteering long before I got into fostering. I've brought my daughter into a lot of it and she's helped out with food drives and stuff. I love that she's getting into it and I hope it puts her on the right path. That being said, this will probably be it for fostering for us for a while if we do manage to get to adopt as it's been an extremely exhausting process and people really don't understand or realize how hard it is. It's been hard on our marriage at times, it's been hard on our daughter, but we've really pulled together and gotten through it really well. I almost wish they'd stress more of how hard this really is as it's really understated in training but you have to be an extremely strong person in body and mind and have the patience of a saint to deal with it all. If we didn't have such a strong support system between the therapist, the wonderful case worker, and our parents this would have never succeeded.

We have talked about down the line (WAY down the line) about fostering gay teens because that's an insanely large problem in our area. I wish I had more room, I'd save all the children much to my wife's protesting haha. She keeps me realistic and grounded.

My wife is actually tribal (different tribe than the child, otherwise this would be far easier) and we do quite a bit of that stuff. I've been welcomed into that with the family when we got married and the history and culture is absolutely beautiful and incredible. We've been up where her tribe originated and usually go once or twice a year because it's amazing out there and it's important for our biological daughter to know where she came from. Plus I'm a huge history and culture nut so I love that stuff anyway. If you've never read a tribal paper, even if you aren't tribal you should pick one up just to see how different that world can be politically and developmentally. It's pretty dang cool.

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

My daughter leaves for college in August and that's in for me fostering for a few years as well. Two years with a teen with significant trauma and mental health issues was completely draining, and unfortunately my support system didn't turn out to be as sturdy as I hoped. The fact that she's succeeded this much is its own reward, but it's been at the expense of my sanity and security deposit.

My partner and I want to spend some time as a childless couple with some freedom before we consider adoption, though obviously my daughter will be coming back for school breaks.

I think you did mention the tribal part before, sorry for forgetting! Many times it can still be considered a tribal adoption even with another tribe because they have more faith in you preserving the culture.

And yeah, it's hard to get across how hard this is to do well. Even when I'm training foster parents they don't really believe me. And sometimes I gets easier and sometimes it doesn't over the weekend I brought a 17 year old boy into foster care who'd been adopted at age 6 due to his behavioral issues.

Congratulations on your daughter going to college! That's awesome!

I know couples that have done this for YEARS nonstop, but they only take infants and are foster only, never adoption. I think that's how they maintain sanity and that's the trick haha. People fight over babies in this system for sure. Our FC's sister is about 150 miles away from us so visitation is only once a month unless we're out that way for something else (which does happen) but I feel really bad for her. Her age and behavioral issues will make her getting adopted a very tough fight. She was inpatient for awhile because of the type of abuse she experienced really destroyed her psychologically. She's in therapeutic care now with a family, but she'll end up stuck in the system until she ages out. I hope we can keep in touch but we simply can't have her history in our house as a threat to her sister or my child. It's just not worth the risk.

I have to tell myself many times it's not my responsibility for the sister or mom beyond what we're supposed to do, but if I couldn't have frequent contact with my sister I don't know if I could handle that. It's weird enough she's in another country but at least I got to grow up with her.

I think the reality of "this poo poo is hard and will really be a test of your life" doesn't click until you live it, training aside. You REALLY have to have a super strong support network (and thank god we do!) otherwise it'd be a mess. Having family cleared for respite has been a freaking blessing when we need a night out to ourselves.

On another note, our agency had their 4 year re certification process from the state today and they had me come in for the interview and I guess my positive attitude made the poor old lady doing the interviews cry a bit. Tears of joy as she's very thankful for all the foster parents, but I apparently light up like a child at Christmas with excitement when I talk about the girls and the agency, or so I'm told. I'm sooooo insanely glad we went with an agency, they've been a great go-between for us and the state. It's like having a personal action lawyer.

Kodilynn fucked around with this message at 16:28 on Jun 13, 2017

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


Mocking Bird posted:

Aww now you're gonna make me cry, I love good foster parents more than I love good pizza (so a lot)

Next time I'm definitely going agency since I am focused on harm reduction for higher needs older children like your child's sister and any kind of support helps, since I am emotionally incapable of asking the agency to move a child.

My daughter was in a group home before she came with me and has been on involuntary psych hold for self harm a couple of times since. That's when your support network really gets to flex its muscles or not. I found out during that time that my family would have preferred I send her back to the group home, which led me to cancel some holiday plans since I'm not taking her somewhere where people are suspicious and wary of her.

I had a very sober grown up moment when I went out and bought Christmas presents for her and forged my parents and grandparents names on them so she would feel included.

That said, my brother and his wife and my step sister embraced her 100% and that was wonderful.

Plus I did this as a single parent, whereas next time there will be two sets of hands on deck with my partner

Holy crap how did you do that as a single parent? My wife and I require two sets of hands so we can get a break in once and awhile. I can't even fathom doing it that way so props to you for pulling that off.

When we did the paperwork for placement which seems like forever ago now, starting fires and sexual abuse were the only things we said no to for our placement. Self harm and disabilities be it developmental or other we can deal with and have tons of resources for from what's offered. We're not a therapeutic home and have no desire to be, but god bless the people like yourself who can take kids like that and make their lives so much better.

Both sets of uncles and grandparents instantly took to our FC and welcomed her to the family and include her on everything. She's going to get inundated with gifts for her birthday and Christmas if she's still with us that she won't know what to do with it all. They spoil the kids rotten but that's what they do. We're getting to take her to Disney World with us this fall I'm so excited :

Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


So we're a mere 3 weeks or so away from court to see if a termination hearing is going to be scheduled. I have no idea what exactly to expect but my expectations are low. Bio has failed to do any drug screens or alcohol screens in 3 months, even told the caseworker they wouldn't pass if they did it at the moment, and failed to do any of the required classes. They won't return the other kids phone calls when they want to talk to her, and has more or less cut off communication with us other than to confirm if required visitations that the state set up are still on. I'm really disappointed in them but I guess I should have seen it coming.

I guess my next big question is, how the blue sam hill do you explain to a 5 year old that rights are being terminated? Her therapist is going to court with us and is fully on board and ready to give us all the help we need, but I don't even know where or how to begin this discussion. And what should I expect for anyone that's been through it? I've actually asked the case worker and I get little to no information in response other than that "we'll see" which is a difficult answer to swallow.

Since the kiddo is tribal, adoption is going to be a fight but I was told we will be asked at the hearing if we're interested as this judge has a history of doing so. I didn't expect we'd be in this position or at this point a mere 8 months later, that's for drat sure. I had such high hopes for bio to start, such a shame.

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Kodilynn
Sep 29, 2006


VorpalBunny posted:

I have no advice for an older kid. Our current placement is only 6 months old, and her next court hearing is on 8/31. I have been told repeatedly the social workers are recommending termination of reunification services, which puts the adoption stuff on track for us, but mom has suddenly gotten interested in visitations (both of which she canceled last week) and she confirmed she is pregnant again. It's the kind of chaos I know we should expect, but seeing it on full display is really heartbreaking. Again, our placement is only 6 months old and more interested in teething and crawling than anything else. She's only seen her mom 3 times in her life, after we picked her up from the hospital.

I have also started massaging the idea of taking in the newborn with my husband, if the new baby should be taken in by DCFS. We'd then have 5 CHILDREN in a small 3 bedroom home here in Los Angeles. I can't tell what might drive me more nuts, 5 little kids in our small home or knowing her full-brother is out there in the world and cross my fingers he ends up ok. But then, what if she has yet another? It's making my head spin thinking about it, so I just try to take it one day at a time.

I'm more worried about the other child in the situation who is 150 miles away. We're not her parents so it's not our place but the whole thing just has me rattled since no one really knows what to expect which is fair. I hate going in without a plan other than 'show up and be quiet'. We originally thought about bringing foster to the court hearing, but since school will be in and given the content of it, I'm thinking that'd be a really bad idea.

At least with infants they really won't know any difference. At 5 and 9 respectively, they'll know to an extent. I expect it to get ugly for a bit with behavior for both.

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