Thursday, September 4, 2014

Path to Permanency

Ever since we were told that M was legally free and that we could "begin the adoption process" I have been Googling phrases like "adopt from foster care" and "timeline to finalize adoption" in a desperate attempt to find information about how long to expect this to take.

Unless you arrived here using the same source -- or have been through this yourself -- you might not know that the results were not helpful.

Most of the "articles" I found were vague or focused on people who aren't even fostering yet, so their "timelines" included an undefined time to be matched with a child or get licensed. Most of the blogs I found were waiting for parental rights to be terminated or waiting out an appeals process. So, I thought I'd add my own story, atypical as it may be. The reality, which I knew already, is that it's just not possible to give a "typical" timeline. Every state has different laws, every county has different policies, every judge has different personal quirks, and every case has different nuances. All those things affect the timeline.  But here's ours, so far.

We aren't final yet, so this will have to be updated regularly.
  • M came into care, in March, at age 5 weeks. She came directly to us from the hospital in which she was born.
  • When she was almost 4 months old, her mother began failing her weekly, not-even-random, drug screens.
  • Shortly after that, in early July, her mother signed a surrender of parental rights.
  • In August, her father also signed a surrender of rights. Around the same time, the DNA results came back, confirming that he actually is the biological father, so no search is necessary.
  • In late August, M is officially "legally free." At this point, M is 6 months old and has been "in the system" for 5 months, although she probably would have been in care longer if she'd been able to leave the NICU sooner.
  • DFCS has assigned us an adoption case worker and her foster care caseworker will transition all files to the new one by early September.(I suspect this has already happened.)
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.)
  • Get updated physicals for all of us -- That is, both adults and all 3 biological children. (appointments are scheduled)
  • 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.)
  • 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. 
  • Wait to hear from the assigned DFCS caseworker. We hear good things about her, but have not heard from her yet. 
So, as is often the case in foster care, we're waiting. All the pieces we know we need to do are completed or in process to be completed. What I still don't know is how long we wait....


  1. Wow, I've never heard of a baby being legally free at 6 months old, that's amazing. Good luck with the adoption process!

  2. We've completed three adoptions through foster care (in Texas) and they've taken between three and six months to consummate after the kids were legally free (three seperate cases). Circumstances vary greatly from case to case and state to state, but 3-6 months is a decent idea for a