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Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


I'm still catching up on this thread but I wanted to chime in and say that I'm a child welfare social worker in California was well as a foster parent and can answer questions on both sides of the table. I do a ton of volunteer foster parent education and advocacy.

My job us to work with the parents trying to reunify with their children to mitigate the safety risks that landed the children in foster care, while concurrently working with relatives and foster parents on the "Plan B"

My foster daughter was one of my clients, and has been with me just under a year and is starting her senior year of high school. She is permanently placed with me, meaning there are no reunification plans.

I'm also a single parent household of people have questions about that.

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Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Solaron posted:

I have a theoretical question (and it may differ state to state - I'm in Ohio FWIW).

First - I'm sure some of these/most of these questions can get answered in the classes, but they canceled our most recent set of classes because of lack of interest, so my wife and I are driving between 4 different counties over the next 2 months to get them done and I would like independent verification of what we learn there.

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?


Agreeing with VorpalBunny here - that sounds overwhelming. I don't know how you do it. My wife is a professor who teaches online classes so she's able to be home 99% of the time, luckily.

In California, and probably your state as well, the child is placed with you as a foster child from day one until the day the adoption is finalized and the child becomes eligible for your health insurance. In California, adopted children remain eligible for adoption assistance payments and Medicaid until they turn 18 (or 21 in some cases.)

You keep receiving a foster care stipend and visits from social workers until the adoption is finalized.

And having a teenager makes being a single parent a little easier - she's a trustworthy kid who does well in school and is responsible enough to have a key to the house and a bus pass. She's been home by herself all summer while I work and the only negative thing that's happened is she eats twice the normal amount of groceries

She also has three grandparents and some cousins in the area who can watch her when I have to be gone overnight, which is helpful. People don't think of this often while fostering, but remember - your child has a family, and they can be wonderful people. Her grandparents weren't able to take her in because of marginal economic circumstances but we all go to her dance recitals and cheerleading events together, and will be sitting together at graduation. I'm paying for us to visit her great grandmother and mom in Las Vegas for Labor Day, too.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Kodilynn posted:

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.

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)

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


I'll see what legal code I can hustle up for you when I get home!

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


I take it as a good sign when they have high standards for foster homes - these kiddos are going to need an absolutely safe and supportive environment. As a social worker, nothing hurts me more than when one of my kiddos gets hurt worse in foster care than they did at home with their parents.

I'm currently going through four months of training about adoption and permanency social work and one thing stood out for me as a foster parent myself - how foster and adoptive parents have to mourn the loss of the family they thought they would have have, and the kind of support they imagined they would have.

No child is going to be the one you expected (unless you are super enlightened) and often adoptive families had struggles with infertility prior to adopting. A child that's been separated from their first primary caregiver isn't often an easy child, and many have had addition traumas in their lives as well.

Additionally, adoption and fostering aren't celebrated and supported the way getting pregnant and having a baby are. People say hurtful things like "well, we don't know if this baby is going to be yours" while fostering, or "you signed up for this" during hard moments. We don't get baby showers, and maternity leave varies. That poo poo hit me HARD because god knows not many people understand my choice to take in and parent a 16 year old who came from a group home, and when I need help they are kind of surprised and skeptical. I get called a saint for taking her in, but when I want to vent about her behaviors I'm shocked at the number of people who will tell me "can't you send her back?"

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Blue Footed Booby posted:

Any chance you could explain this one? It sounds like they can share a room, but not a dresser. I can't come up with even a guess why this might be.

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.

Kodilynn posted:

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?

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.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Foster family agencies in California are often a bit more lenient than county regulated foster licensure. With an agency, you are certified under their license in California only and and it's up to them to determine what meets the language of the law, and will only be challenged if the home gets investigated or goes through an adoptive home study. Counties are much more rigid because they are licensing you to take children from any of the 50 states.

I'm in the amusing position of being both a county licensed placement and a foster family agency home, since technically I'm a "non related family member" for my daughter. I wanted to scold both workers who inspected my home (one a county worker and another from the agency) for doing a piss poor job inspecting just because I'm a social worker and my house looks nice upon first glance.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Also because I'm dying to tell someone, my daughter got her first two college acceptance letters today

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Spikes32 posted:

She won't be living with you next year after all!

She'll be in your part of the world, maybe! I'll give her your number and you can handle middle of the night emergencies for me

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Triangle Shirt Factotum posted:

Mockingbird, my wife and I are (likely) moving to Los Angeles for her medical residency. Could you point us to some websites for California state (and possibly county) processes for adoption? We are both on board with adoption, but are a bit... concerned about open adoption and the impact on the kiddo being tugged around between us and possibly antagonistic bio parents. It wouldn't stop us or anything, but we kinda have a thought of closed > international > foster > open adoption.

Welcome!

Open adoption can sound scary, but please read up on it - it's not often about two families having equal access, but more about a child having access to their family story with the boundaries negotiated by their adoptive parents

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/openadoption.pdf

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/openness/understanding-open-adoption/

Also, foster-to-adopt is one of the last ways someone can have a truly closed adoption as a matter of course. If you adopt a child through foster care (with the exception of older children who have bonds with family members such as siblings and grandparents) they won't force you to have any contact with family, but PLEASE read about open adoption because a child with no history has a higher likelihood of post-adoption stress.

http://lacdcfs.org/shareyourheartla/index.html

Start here! Go to an orientation and hear what they have to say. Fostering to adopt costs a maximum of $5000, which private adoptions tend to start at $20k and have no upper limit. Explore your options!

http://www.cakidsconnection.org/

I have mixed feeling about this program, but these are older children and toddlers already freed for adoption and waiting for families. They need someone, and the first step is foster care licensing through the county and state.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


N. Senada posted:

One of my big dreams is to foster/adopt a child by the time I'm 35.

My spouse and I have long conversations about this, but what is the hivemind's opinion on finances, space, etc. when it comes to fostering? In my ideal world, I'll have 1 year of finances saved up that would cover expenses for me, spouse, and a foster child in the event of loss of income. And also, I think that our ideal space would be a shared dining/living space, and two bedrooms (one for the married, one for the foster).

Are these reasonable/unreasonable ideas? What does the general good foster home look like?

That sounds beyond ideal to me

Fostering comes with a stipend, but depending on cost of living it's often eaten up by the cost of having to have a bigger space, so having a bit extra to take them on trips with you, pay for extra activities, etc is nice. Many areas won't help you with daycare beyond early head start or subsidized programs applications, so be prepared for that.

Look into the fostering options in your area! Often foster care agencies (non profits and private companies) provide additional help, training, and support over county foster parenting (my experience is in California).

I recommend that potential parents go through the county training too so that you have a strong knowledge base - sometimes non profit social workers don't understand the legal side very well so self education is important!

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Kodilynn posted:

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!

Congrats! Please remember that you can take a little while to think about whether the child is right for your home before you say yes to a placement

Also I did respite care for a 15 year old this weekend and my 17 year old was incredibly surly the entire time and has informed me I'm not allowed to have any more kids until she leaves for college. Kids really don't make this easy, do they?

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Solaron posted:

Do you think it was having another child so close in age to her or just having another child there in general that she responded negatively to?

A little bit of both. She's not quite so negative about younger children, but she's very possessive in general and doesn't like that I do "extra" things when we are watching other foster children that I do less frequently otherwise (e.g. We might order pizza because I don't know what the child likes to eat and don't have a good variety of groceries on hand). I try to spend extra time with her and encourage her to see her bio family during the weekends I have other kids so she gets some special individual attention too. She gets pissed off when I have adult friends visiting us too.

Overall it's mostly cranky possessive teenager stuff and she's back to normal as soon as it's just me and her again.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Panfilo posted:

I should mention that in California, families that fost adopt get adoption assistance through age 18 even after you fully adopt them.

And FMLA treats foster and adoptive kids the same as bio kids in regards to needing leave for various things (bonding, disclosure meetings, home study, etc.)

I wish I had taken time off when my kiddo was placed. It was my first rodeo and I didn't realize what a challenge it would be.

Because of my unique circumstance with my daughter, I'm actually a foster parent for two counties and therefore her two inspections per year, including one this week. Going back over my house with a fine tooth comb is incredibly annoying and probably unnecessary but I always worry they'll have some issue that will require me to miss more work to correct.

I saw a really cute little girls tea set and while I was making eyes at it my daughter told me I should ask for a little girl after she goes off to college in July. I'll admit it's tempting, but I think I need a break to rebuild some serenity and be a good parent The challenges of parenting a foster teen with severe depression can be draining.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Kodilynn posted:

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!

You're going to do great

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


VorpalBunny posted:

When we got the call on Friday night for our newborn placement, they told us meth and alcohol exposure. Then revised to just meth exposure (as far as they knew).

We picked her up late Friday night and our foster agency contact was out to dinner with his family and was no help. And our DCFS contact was about to leave for the long weekend. I had to be proactive and have DCFS fax the paperwork to the hospital so I could sign it myself and have the nurses fax it back to her. That was the last contact I had with DCFS until this morning, when someone called to verify she was actually in our home. I haven't heard from or met with a CSW, nor have we met with our private foster agency except for a quick meeting to sign a bunch of forms and take her photo. It lasted all of ten minutes and I wasn't even home, my husband did all the signing. I'm supposed to get her checked out at the local county health office, but the paperwork hasn't been filed yet so I can't even do that. So we sit here and wait and hope everything is moving along ok!

The LA foster care scene is in such bad shape. We got word on a placement for us on 12/27 and the kid never showed up. DCFS had him listed as being with us, but he was somehow "lost" in the system and last I heard no one could locate him. I sure hope that kid is ok...

LA seems to exist to generate the lawsuits that push California forward into the 21st century with regards to child welfare.

In most counties a lost kid would mean workers and management losing their jobs, but it's LA so whatever until the family sues them I guess.

Also you guys inspired me to be proactive and check in on my new kiddo clients and their foster parents, everybody is doing good

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


You're all such wonderful foster parents with such wonderful attitudes towards caring for children and bio families I wish you all lived near me so I could match you with the kids I work with.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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?

One of my favorite foster parents (I'm a CPS social worker) is a single male who takes in boys 12-18 and does a wonderful job as a father figure. He takes them fishing, gets them involved in the community, finds them jobs... he's a backbone in our agency.

That said we did de-license another single male foster parent over possible abuse allegations. Pros and cons. We've had more allegations against the male halves of straight couples than anyone else though.


In other news, my foster daughter was accepted to college and will be moving into the dorms in July

My adoption homestudy is in July too, since the new California foster regulations require it!

It's been a tough few months with her increasingly difficult mental health issues (anxiety is exacerbated by moving off to college, and her anxiety symptoms are super intense and destructive) but she's currently spending spring break with her family and seems to be mellowing.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Kodilynn posted:

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.

Since I'm a case worker I'll field this and offer you some advice.

You seem like you're doing a wonderful job fostering and supporting family relationships. Kiddo and mom are both lucky to have you.

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.

A year of no progress and intermittent visits (prior to you) is a poor prognosis. Drug addiction is a monster, and caring for a child is drat hard.

In California, reunification services are terminated and then within 120 days a hearing is held to decide whether parental rights are terminated (adoption), a legal guardianship can be established, or the child enters long term foster care while they search for a permanent home.

If parental rights are terminated the adoption is usually finalized in 6-12 months, but you would have additional rights in court as the prospective parents.


Now is the time to have a frank discusssion with your case worker if you want to adopt this child if mom can't do it. Don't get left out of the running if your worker isn't sure where you stand.

Good luck to you and this family, remember that adoption isn't the end of contact or love between a child and a birth parent. She'd just have two sets of parents who love her.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Yes, if you don't have an adoption home study completed and approved, you now have 3 months to complete one! (And that's usually how long they take in the first place)

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


VorpalBunny posted:

I understand that feeling completely. We are fixers, we are compassionate, we want everything to work out for everyone. Somehow.

When I went to our first court date, I met our foster daughter's bio great-grandmother (maternal). She had no idea what was going on with court, what the process it, anything. I gave her my mobile phone number and texted her to make sure my info was in her phone. I showed her pictures and video of the baby, and I gave her the county social worker's contact info. A week later I got a text from a random number that turned out to be the bio grandma (maternal). All was pleasant, setting up a regular weekly visit. They would text me randomly asking how she was doing, I would text back a photo.

Then bio mom suddenly showed up at a visit with them. Ok, no problem. But bio grandma has a restraining order against bio mom, so I had to alert CSW they were together. Suddenly bio mom was texting me from grandma's number, demanding tons of visits. Ok, but we'd need to coordinate with CSW. Then I would get texts late at night, phone calls from random numbers, all from bio mom demanding visits at the last minute. I actually got a call from the CSW, while I was en route to a visit, telling me to turn around as no one had cleared visits with her. And just this morning we had a meeting with the CSW where it was revealed bio mom thinks she's pregnant (she missed her period) and that she is giving up that kid but fighting for our foster child. I was told if she didn't make efforts to comply with all the rules, they would likely move to terminate parental rights. She's hasn't done a thing and she admitted to currently doing drugs - yes, even though she thinks she's pregnant.

At the end of the meeting today I promised to stop being so lenient with texts and visits, to stick to the current visitation schedule, and to not let them get away with calling late at night to change things all around. They appreciate what I am trying to do, but warned me to pull back and not be so helpful as we were likely only delaying the inevitable. I, of course, want all my kids to have contact with all their bio relatives, but if it's chaos 24/7 I have to do what's best for them and I guess we'll see if the bio mom gets her stuff together. All signs point negative.

Yes, this is not uncommon. Boundaries are so important when it comes to fostering, because of course mothers and fathers want to have 24/7 access to their children. It's not your fault as a foster parent that they don't, but if they want to reunify they need to work with the system, not around it. Helping them navigate to their case worker, coming to team meetings, passing along information is all good - giving them under the table visits or contact really muddies the waters, though.

I use a google voice number that I turn off at night, personally. And I text instead of calling so I can take screenshots if I need to. And I say this as someone who is hosting six (six!!) adults and 2 children in my home from my daughters bio family for her high school graduation/birthday combo next month.

She's going to college in August We paid the enrollment fees and everything.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


The adoption assistance program exists for exactly this reason, daycare is the subjective issue. Ask for what you need, most places would rather help than traumatize a child with another move.

And I hate to think of the six month placements prior to adoption as "trial adoptions" as if the child must perform to their expectations or be returned like a puppy to the pound. The realty is that legally an adoption or guardianship can't be finalized before a child has been in a home for at least six months, which is meant to allow for full disclosures, arranging care, and evaluating if the FAMILY is meeting that child's needs.

Good luck, you sound like you're working so hard! And remember that "open" can be as much or as little as you want - letters only to a PO box to weekend visits in your home. Don't overstretch yourself - only offer what you can provide and keep your sanity. Keeping track of their sibling you aren't able to care for is just as important - they don't need to live with you to get support and a chance to know their sister.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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.

http://www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy/stateprofiles/ohio.html

Kodilynn posted:

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.

Think of the open adoption as a way for the child to have access to their past and history, not as a favor to the parent. Children seek out the bio families, wouldn't you rather it be in your control with your help and support?

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Like, I am seriously not hosting for my foster daughter's graduation for the benefit of her mother or father or her other relatives that consistently have let her down in her life. I'm doing it because she still loves them and my demonstrative actions lead them to participate and enjoy the event, which is all she wants.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


If not having to worry about the expense allows their caregiver to relax and spend more time engaged with them, that's a good thing. If the money saved provides a more secure home and placement, that's a good thing. If the state can do anything to support a neglected or abused child, it should.

Making fostering and adoption affordable is the whole point of the stipend (technically a reimbursement!) and the other supportive services, and ESPECIALLY the federal adoption assistance program. If only comfortable and wealthy people could afford to foster then these children would be out of luck - for the most part, foster homes are working and middle class. $30 a day in stipend and 6 cans of formula a month opens up so many more homes.

I think we should be proud that we are country without orphanages anymore and focus on that rather than being guilty for accepting support to keep it that way.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Lots of foster parents take breaks between placements. We have one wonderful family who just returned after taking 5 years off so their two kids could finish high school with their full attention. Even if you don't foster again, you're doing a good job and a positive thing for the family

I personally already measured my kids bedroom for where my desk is going to go Teenagers go through a phase where they act like total jerks while they get ready to "leave the nest" and I'm pretty sure we're both excited for college. I'm probably going to take a year off fostering at minimum, though she will be coming home for breaks so "take off" is subjective.

She did get me Mother's Day card though

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


VorpalBunny posted:

We are getting WIC here in California for our foster daughter (she's almost 5 months old), and up until now it's all been formula. Apparently, when kids turn 6 months they start phasing out formula and introduce solids.

Having raised 3 babies previously, one who I exclusively nursed until 13 months, it kind of boggles my mind that the state would be pushing solids so early! She can't even sit up, has no teeth, but they gave us a coupon for bananas and tons of processed baby food. I really question the push for solids so early, and I wonder if there is anywhere I can research why this is the policy. Am I nuts? I don't consider myself a helicopter parent or health nut or anything, but the phrase "under one just for fun" doesn't seem to exist here. They really cut back the formula, even at 6-months old, from 10 cans per month to 7.

Has anyone else experienced this in other states?

Can you talk to your WIC counselor? Sometimes they'll work with you on timing and what they give you coupons for.

A lot of daycares don't really want to deal with bottles, which sometimes encourages parents to wean very early. It's also easier to contaminate a bottle than a sealed single serving baby food package

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Kodilynn posted:

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.

I'm so sorry to hear that.

If money is the only issue between you and adoption, PLEASE tell the social worker (and subsequent permanency/adoption team). You have no idea how hard I would work to throw money at an adoptive family that is as loving as you if that was the only barrier.

Have you talked to the social worker about not setting expected days for visits for the kiddo? Some of my cases I make sure the foster parent has some available time but otherwise we keep the kids in the dark until the parent is physically in the office.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


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

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


I've always had conversations with children around that age by asking how many mommy's and daddys they have. Many times they'll tell me they have Mama and Mama Foster. I also ask them about what a mom or dad does, and what do they do that makes them a mom or a dad? They'll tell me moms and dads tell bedtime stories, feed you, take you to school. When I ask, who does that for you? They say mama Foster and I smile and clap and say "wow you have a good mom!" and see how they respond to that. Usually they are very eager to identify with positive things about the household.

I'll ask if they know why mama foster is taking care of them instead of mama, and get mixed responses. Most of the time they have an idea. Then I'll tell them that mama is always their mother, and Mama Foster wants to be their mother too, and for them to live with her and grown up in her family. Being wanted is a huge key part of this conversation. Mama still wants you and loves you, and can't take care of you right now because she is trying to take care of herself, how do you feel about being part of the family with mama Foster? Mama and papa Foster really want you to stay and love you, and for you to be a sister to the other children.

Excuse the gendered examples, but you get the idea.

Having her therapist on board is an important part of the conversation but sometimes it starts slow at home. Telling her that you love her every day, introducing her as "our youngest daughter," acknowledging her mother in conversation in a positive and inclusive way, like "our daughter would love to come to the party after her visit with her mom"

No power struggles with family is the key to a successful adoption, especially tribal. You'll be adopting the tribe alongside the child, so be ready to be open and responsive to their requests.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Aww

My daughter calls me "parent" and identifies herself as my "child" which works fine for me. Usually in the context of "I'm your child so if you love me you'll buy me xyz"

She's 18 now and leaves for college in two and a half weeks

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


VorpalBunny posted:

It's funny (and sad) but we are a month away from court and suddenly bio dad is back in the picture. And bio mom called me a few times last night at 10pm - I did not answer the phone.

We didn't have to deal with this when we foster/adopted my youngest son. The bio parents never contacted us, never visited, and when the grandfather and great-grandmother realized they weren't going to be able to adopt him they simply stopped coming to visitation.

I was advised by all social workers involved in our case that this is very common, people try to cram as many visits and as much training as possible right before court to somehow make their case better, but this baby is almost 7-months old and never met her bio dad and only met bio mom 3 times. I know cases go left all the time, and we are prepared for the worst at court, but to think somehow making a lot of noise and drama at the last minute is a good thing is one of the reasons they are in this mess. I just feel sad for everyone involved and try to stay out of the way. I have been told many times that I have to let them do their part on their own, I can't try to fix everyone.

This is normal. People don't want to be seen as uncaring or bad parents who are abandoning their child. They want to be able to cling to the narrative that they did everything they could.

I'm telling a mom today that she won't be reunifying with her children. I'm not happy about it, but children deserve safety and a permanent home.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


.26 (selection and order for the permanent plan of adoption) is 120 days from termination of services and is when parental rights will be terminated and finalization is usually within 150 days after that.

Things can be delayed if they contest/appeal but LA Is pretty mercenary.

Congratulations, in the most emotionally divisive way possible.

Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Tribal adoptions are so hard My thoughts are with your family, I hope your child and her sibling get the best loving homes possible, together or apart.

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Mocking Bird
Aug 17, 2011


Be careful how you talk about her sibling to the judge and other parties - they may see criticism of them as an unwillingness to maintain a relationship. Remember to talk about sibling as a child who lacked the protection you're giving the younger one, it's not her fault she's had more trauma.

Good luck!

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