Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Inch by Inch

We are still moving v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y towards M's adoption date.

Last week, we signed the Intent-to-Adopt paperwork, which stops the per diem payments, but doesn't seem to change anything else. Also last week, our attorney received the packet of paperwork she needs to file with the court to request a court date to finalize the adoption. (This packet included the Intent paperwork we'd signed.)

We haven't heard anything since. We were told the attorney would file the paperwork as soon as she could, but that it could take the court a week to respond with a court date. With the holiday getting ever closer, we're not sure when that "week" is really up.

Everyone involved with experience with this county still seems to think an adoption date in December is a realistic possibility. We sure would like to know the date, though.

We did have a bit of a reality check in the lead-up to signing day. I keep saying we're moving slowly and Mr D and I both feel like things are just barely inching along. But the truth is that things are at least moving and at speeds that really are "fast" for foster care. Our agency caseworker wanted to be there when we signed the papers, but she couldn't. She had to attend a TPR hearing for another case. A TPR hearing for a little boy who is nearly 3 years old and has been in care for over 2 of those years. His current foster family has been his family since he came to them at about 9 months of age; they are willing and eager to be his forever family. It was the fourth TPR hearing for his mother who has only made it to 4 visits with him in the entire 2-plus years he's been in care. He doesn't really understand who she is. Compared to that? M's case is flying.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Signing Date

It didn't quite play out the way I'd hoped, but it may still all turn out OK. (Well, it will all still turn out OK. There is only a minuscule chance at this point that the adoption could fall through, which is the only result that isn't "turning out OK.")

The Director reviewed and approved our homestudy. She was done with this early in the first week of November.

However, the DFCS caseworker wasn't able to set a signing date with us until early next week.

I'm still being told a December closing date is a "reasonable goal." This particular county (and caseworker) have a reputation for wrapping things up pretty efficiently. (Other counties in my state, however....oh, boy. The county in which I live? Currently has a 3-5 month wait from the time of signing to even getting a court date assigned...which can still be another few months out. Hence, we are finalizing the adoption in the county in which M's case is held.)

After we sign, our lawyer has to file paperwork with the court. Then we get a court date.

And then I will be able to be confident that we'll be able to finalize in 2014, before Christmas.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Wheels Are Moving....

For the last several weeks we've felt like we were stuck in the mud, with our wheels spinning.

We've finally got some traction under those tires!

Completed Steps:
  • Sent all information necessary to convert the home study to our agency
  • Obtained an attorney experienced in foster-to-adopt cases
  • Agency home study worker edited and completed the conversion and sent it to her supervisor for review
  • Supervisor reviewed it.
  • Conversion as sent to DFCS. (Yay! This really was the biggest hold-up. We were on the bottom of the figurative to-do pile on the DFCS caseworker's desk until she got that paperwork.)
  • DFCS employee went to Social Security office to file for an SSN for M.
Still to go:
  • DFCS caseworker to review our home study and approve it. Then she'll send it to her supervisor (the Director)
  • Director to review our home study and approve it (CW tells us the Director is usually through this step "within about 2 weeks" but emphasizes that she can't promise that -- you never know what else can suddenly drop onto the Director's plate.)
  • Appointment at DFCS office to sign final intent-to-adopt paperwork
  • Get a court date (Should be less than 30 days out from above appointment)
In my fantasy world in which everything goes smoothly from here on out, the Director will get the files by early next week and complete their review by the end of October. Then we could go sign the paperwork in early November and get a hearing date by early December. Crossing our fingers...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SSN Saga Update

After reading Alice's comments, I started making some phone calls to see if it was possible for me to deal with the Social Security Number issue personally.

The hospital in which M was born confirmed that they only file for an SSN if the parent fills out a certain piece of paperwork while there. (This part of the information took several days as it was hard to find the right number to call for the answer and several people told me to talk to someone, only to have that someone never answer their phone and not respond to voicemail messages. Probably because that someone wasn't the right person to be asking in the first place!) This procedure seems to vary from state to state, as in my state (and in TX, apparently) the filing is automatic. (In my state, in fact, there's a space on the birth certificate for the SSN.) In M's Birth State, it appears to vary from hospital to hospital, as I found other hospitals in that state whose websites say that they will do it "automatically." M's hospital had no information on the website, but when I finally got to talk to someone who knew anything, she told me that BioMom would have had to sign something specific for them to file for it.

No way to know for sure, of course, whether BioMom did that or not, but I'm willing to guess that she didn't. That means we're looking at applying for an SSN, not just requesting a replacement card for an SSN that already exists.

I called the Social Security office that serves M's county in my state. They told me that I could not file for the SSN at this point because I am not M's legal guardian, the state is. So, although they would be allowed to issue me a replacement card with the paperwork Alice mentioned (my placement papers, M's birth certificate and shot record, etc), I cannot request a number for her until the adoption is final.

I thought about calling the Social Security office in M's birth state, but, frankly, it's over 2 hours away and I'd have to get state permission to take M over there. Also, I suspected I would get the same answer.

On the bright side, I'm told that the adoption caseworker has a colleague going to the Social Security office late this week and they will be filing for a number for M. So, hopefully, that will be wrapped up soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Next Steps

From Path to Permanency post:

Our "next steps" are as follows:

  • Get fingerprinted again. (Mine are done; Mr D's have been paid for and he just has to find a time to get to the site that does them, only during business hours, of course.) Completed and reported to agency
  • Get updated physicals for all of us -- That is, both adults and all 3 biological children. (appointments are scheduled) -- Adults are done. Kids' appointments are all in the next week.
  • Answer some questions about why we want to adopt, how we will handle any special needs and how the permanent kids feel about the plan. (Done)
  • All the above are our part of adapting our current foster care home study into one that certifies us as a potential adoptive placement. One we've done all those, the foster agency is responsible for writing it up and sending it to DFCS. (Foster agency tells us that their goal is to be done with this by the end of September.)
  • Get an attorney. (We have a couple names that have been recommended to us; we've left a message for one.) Done
  • Answer some questions for the person who writes the "Child Life History" for DFCS. This will include everything that they know about M's life so far, including any family medical history that they are able to get from her biological parents. My hope is that those parents will be fairly cooperative, since they chose to surrender their rights, but we'll just have to see. We've done our part of this and the person writing the report said we'll get a copy and it should be complete in a week or so.Done. Child Life History is complete. We have a copy of the "narrative" part; will get the medical history files later. 
  • Wait to hear from the assigned DFCS caseworker. We hear good things about her, but have not heard from her yet Had our first meeting
New "next steps"
  • Figure out what's up with M's SSN. 
  • Send off physical paperwork once kids' physicals are done
  • Agency to finalize and send Home Conversion to DFCS after they get the physicals
  • DFCS supervisor to review Home Conversion and approve us as an adoptive placement
  • Meet with agency caseworker to sign paperwork confirming our intentions. (At that point, a court date should be less than 30 days out.) When we sign that paperwork, the per diem stops effective that day. Medicaid coverage continues until the end of the month in which the adoption is finalized. (I think. Could be the end of the month in which the paperwork is signed, but I don't think so.)
  • Get a hearing date

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Moments that Break Your Heart -- Take 4

Here's Take 3

He's 13 months old. He's just had major surgery on his skull and his mother is holding him in the hospital room. A nurse comes in to check on him and asks mom how he's doing. She gestures at you and says "She takes care of him. I just came to see him."

This one's not a foster situation, but I never would have heard about it if not for foster care....Sitting in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) waiting room, you overhear a conversation. A young woman introduces herself ("Hi, I'm Allie") to a 10 year old girl, explaining that her job at the hospital is to look after the brothers and sisters. She tells the girl that Allie understands the girl has been upset that she can't see her sister (due to the hospital's policy of no visitors under 12 allowed in the PICU) and offers to set up a video chat later that day. Allie reminds little sister that big sister won't be able to answer her "because of the tube in her throat."

Newborn baby tested positive for drugs in her system. Mother has had two previous children already removed, already through the TPR process, already well on their way to being adopted. All 3 children have different fathers. When you are called about the placement, you are told TPR is "likely" unless the father turns out to have family members who are options, but the caseworker doubts it. In court, the judge tells the biomom that DFCS "is willing to work with her" and that, if she works her caseplan this time "we will hand your baby back to you." Two days later, the caseworker tells you she's already working on the request to file for TPR. The whole situation is heartbreaking, but what's getting to me right now is the mixed signals biomom is getting. Filing for TPR doesn't sound like "willing to work with you" to me. Does she have a shot to get her baby back or not?

Another not just a foster situation....When you leave the PICU with a one year old for a regular floor room, the PICU nurse walks you to the new room to hand over the chart information to your new nurse. She tells the new nurse "foster mom has been spoiling me. She's been in there with him all day, holding him and playing with him." Some kids in intensive care have long stretches of time when the nurses are their only company...because Mom and Dad have to work and/or care for siblings.

Biomom missed a month's worth of visits for one reason or another. An entire month without laying eyes on her baby. In that time, the baby learned how to: bat at a dangling toy to make it move, smile, coo, and laugh. She grew from the-blob-that-is-a-newborn into a tiny little person...and her mother missed it.

Biomom has surrendered her rights after some failed drug screens, but claims to be attempting to get back into rehab. The revocation period to change her mind about the surrender has passed. The caseworker calls and Biomom answers the phone, high. The only coherent thing that she says is "I want my baby."

Reading the Child Life History narrative of a child you are going to be adopting. It doesn't matter what yours says. It's going to break your heart.