Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Late post -- we are final!

Oops.

I just realized I never did post an update after we finalized C's adoption.

It did happen in late February, we have pictures with the judge, her name was legally changed and we are just waiting for the state to send us an updated birth certificate so we can finalize all the paperwork. (I'm hoping the attorney will manage to "accidentally" get us a copy of the original birth certificate again, too.)

The home is officially closed -- I have no more bedrooms! -- but we have asked to be notified if there is another biological sibling. Birth mom is incarcerated (and has been for about 4 months), so I'm assuming we're safe from that all for a little while. I asked the caseworker, somewhat jokingly, if there was any news of another pregnancy already; she said she sure hoped not. I'm crossing my fingers that the jail would tell DFCS if they had a pregnant prisoner with a history with CPS, so that means she's probably not pregnant right now. I really have no idea what we'll do if we get that phone call; agency caseworker said (if birth mom was pregnant already), she would go ahead and decline the placement on our behalf to save us from ourselves. We'd still want to know of the child's existence, even if we couldn't take the placement, and hope to be able to set up contact if another baby ended up adopted. But that's all a bridge to cross when we get there.

Mr D and I went away for a weekend recently -- our annual just-us trip -- and noticed that "five" is apparently the number that makes people say "wow!" when asked how many kids we have. We heard it almost every time; that happened rarely when we used to say "four." I can't imagine what people would say if we ever start saying "six." (There I go again. I will not think about another sibling, I will not think about another sibling. I will not think about another sibling!)

It's nice to be down to normal business -- no more caseworker visits, no more documenting medications, no more asking for copies of visit notes from the doctor -- and I have a little less of the time-on-my-hands feeling that I had after Lucy's adoption finalized. A busy 2 year old and a baby starting to crawl will keep me quite well occupied, thank you very much. Also, there were never family visits for C, so that was one less thing that went away, so to speak.

It's a little strange to be thinking about colleges and preschools at the same time, but the age gap is really what makes this doable for me. I can't imagine having added two little ones when my original crew were younger and less self-sufficient.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Later this month? We think?

The lawyer finally got the packet of information from DFCS, so she can begin the process of getting a court date.

It's missing one key piece of paperwork that she had sent over specifically for us to sign, have notarized and be included. We signed it. I specifically remember a group discussion about whether it was like a mortgage document where you're supposed to sign in blue ink so the courts can tell whether they have the original or not. (Gotta love an inefficient caseworker!)

Luckily, it's not paperwork the lawyer needs to file with the courts ahead of time. So, she says she'll bring another one to the court date and we'll sign it then. There is one more adoption finalization date on the court calendar for this month and the lawyer is pretty sure we'll be on it.

I'm feeling a little guilty that I don't feel more excited at this news. Partly, I think, that's because we don't actually have a court date set yet. But mostly, it's because my frustration that the caseworker messed up again is overwhelming everything else.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Almost....there

The local sports news is full of signing dates right now as various players "commit" to play football in college. We have a different -- much more life-changing --  kind of signing date coming up!

The county caseworker finally has all her stuff together and we will be signing the Intent to Adopt paperwork later this week. Once we've done that, the lawyer gets involved and as soon as she gets all the paperwork she needs and files it, we can set a court date. And the lawyer is fantastic, so I'm confident things will move quickly from that point on. She says to expect a court date in February.

C will turn 6 months old in February.

Whenever I get frustrated by the "delays", I make myself repeat the above sentence. 6 months old and legally adopted? That's ridiculously fast, even for a case as simple as this one was. We just got spoiled by Lucy's county caseworker who probably would have had us final before Christmas. 

One of the questions DFCS had for us recently was about whether we would continue to foster after the adoption. We gave the same answer we had after Lucy's adoption; in general, no, but we would like to be notified if another biological sibling comes into play and we would make the decision at that time about whether we'd be open to another one. Just typing that makes me a little terrified. I really, really don't see how we could make another placement work in the next 2.5 years. And after that? I don't know if I could plunge us all back into this system after having been out of it for so long. But, we will cross that bridge if (or when) it is before us. It's honestly hard to believe (given the girls' birth mother's track record) that there won't be another baby, eventually.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Random Updates for the New Year

  • We still don't have a finalization date for C's adoption. The new caseworker has a new reason every month for why she isn't ready to schedule a meeting for us to finalize the paperwork. (October: She has everything she needs, just needs to write this narrative. November: She's missing something, so agency caseworker forwards her the email (sent in early October) providing her (again) the items she's missing . December: She just needs to write this narrative. January: someone will be calling us soon with some questions (thought we did that months ago, too?) Wonder what the February excuse will be. At this rate, she'll probably be "missing something" again....)
  • Since DFCS has let this slip into the new year, I'm going to spend another clothing allowance. I was feeling a little guilty about that, knowing how thin the resources are in foster care; the case manager's lack of organization has gone a long way towards helping me get over that! I'll buy the girls both Easter dresses and some other "fill-in" items in C's next size up as well as in Lucy's. Lucy's next size up will be 2T and once we hit 3T, I have quite the stash of hand-me-downs. The clothing allowance may be for C, but she'll wear the things I buy for Lucy eventually and I still have all of Lucy's hand-me-downs from the last year or so so there's no point in trying to buy for those sizes.
  • Speaking of benefits I don't think we should still be getting, C's next WIC follow-up visit is next Wednesday, so we'll probably have another 3 months of her formula covered. At 5 months old, she's only just started eating some cereal, so there's still a lot of formula to buy in the next few months.
  • It's already time to think about preschool for Lucy for next fall. I love my church (and the preschool there), but we live 30 minutes away. Having an hour of travel time during a 3 hour class window drastically lessens the list of things I can get accomplished while the child is in school. So, we are researching closer options. And having to think about things like: 2 or 3 days a week? 3 or 4 hour days?
  • Lucy's favorite word right now is "No." Fun with the terrible twos and she's not even quite two years old yet!. (It would probably help if I could always resist the urge to laugh or smile when she's so matter-of-fact about it. I say it's "time to go!" and she replies, oh so sweetly and reasonably, with a smile: "No." )
  •  I googled their biological mother for the first time in a while. She was arrested just before Thanksgiving and tested positive for several drugs. So, the "surrendering rights to C so she can focus on getting and staying clean" plan hasn't really stuck. It makes me sad, because I keep hoping that she'll be ready and able to make that change in her life that will allow us to include her in the lives of her daughters as they grow up. Right now, the drug use makes her too unstable for any kind of contact to be an option.
  • Nothing turns up on google for their biological father. I don't know whether he's clean or just not getting caught. He's not interested in contact, so there's none there either.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pause

So, I was tempted to title this "Screeching Halt" but that would imply something has actually gone wrong with the process of adopting C. And it hasn't. We've just hit one of those annoying little periods where we are SO CLOSE to being done and waiting on JUST ONE THING and it's . . . just . . . not . . . getting . . . done.

I got a call the week before Thanksgiving from the caseworker. I got excited, hoping she was calling to schedule a time for us to come sign the Intent to Adopt paperwork.

She was calling for our Christmas list for C.

I'm not ungrateful for the people who are willing to shop and buy for kids in foster care so they can have as "normal" a holiday as possible. I'm eternally grateful for those who made it possible for our previous placements.

But.

C is 4 months old.

She is in a home with a same-sex sibling only a year and a half older than she is.

She needs nothing.

I couldn't even come up with one idea. The caseworker wouldn't let me just take her off their list, though, so we ended up with a list that says "clothing and diapers" in the next size up from what she's wearing now. 

Anyway, I asked about the status of the adoption case, since I had her on the phone.

We will not be finalizing in 2015. We may not even be signing paperwork in 2015. She said she has everything. There is a "narrative" she has to write (agency caseworker has no idea what she's talking about) before she can put together the paperwork for us to sign. She wasn't going to get to that in November and wasn't even certain she'd get to it early this month. And I KNOW and UNDERSTAND that we are not her only priority or even her highest one, most likely. I was hoping, though, we'd be one of those "get it done and off my plate" kind of things and she'd be efficient about it for that reason.

We have a meeting this week, so we'll see if I learn any more about where we are in the process.

I'm disappointed -- that we can't be done this tax year for financial reasons, that we can't have 2 "Christmas" adoptions, that we can't send out Christmas/adoption announcement cards -- but, in the long run, it's not that big a deal. Still kinda hoping for January, so we can maybe sound out New Year's/adoption announcment cards? On the other hand, at this point, it probably works better financially to not sign Intent to Adopt paperwork until January, so she gets the new year clothing allowance. Except, all she's getting for Christmas is clothes, so I'd have to spend the clothing allowance on her future prom dress at this rate!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DNA Results

We have confirmation of paternity! The DNA results (finally!) came in and they show that C's father is the person who surrendered his rights and is also Lucy's father.

So, they are full biological sisters.

More importantly, we don't have to search out a different biological father and figure out if he (or his relatives) are going to take custody of C.

Now, we just move through the final hoop jumping and red tape of paperwork.

We're still being told a finalization date in December is a possibility. Mr D is hoping for it; I'm trying not to get my heart set on that. We shall see. It's all going to depend on how quickly this paperwork gets filed and signed off on. We've told the caseworker that we will essentially drop everything and come running at her call to sign the Intent to Adopt paperwork.