Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Still Waiting

I have nothing new to report, really.

We are still waiting for the DNA test results.

We are still waiting for the agency to complete our home study conversion.

We are still waiting for the Child Life History to be written.

All those things have to happen before we can move to the next step in adopting C, which is the signing of the Intent to Adopt paperwork. We signed Lucy's in mid-November and just barely got a finalization date in that same calendar year. So, that's still remotely possible. But all those things we are waiting for were done by this time last year, so that's why the possibility is "remote."

C is sometimes taking a daytime nap now. One. Some days. When I'm really, really lucky, it overlaps with Lucy's nap and I get to eat lunch and maybe even shower uninterrupted.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rules, rules, rules

My state has established a new policy regarding the supervision of children in the foster care system.

There's a sentence to strike fear in the hearts of foster parents everywhere.

Actually, I think this one is a good change. It's called the "Prudent Parent Policy" and appears to be somewhat aptly named. It's not going to make major differences in my life because C is really going to be the last placement for a very long time (I mean it this time!) and she's too little for most of the changes to matter. But, for older kids in care, it's going to make a huge difference in allowing them to lead semi-normal lives.

Under the new rules, the foster parents are allowed to use their own judgement (GASP!) concerning short-term supervision. That means I can:
  • leave the child with anyone over the age of 18
  • leave the child in someone else's home
  • let someone else transport the child
  • even let the child spend up to two nights supervised by someone else, either in my home or in theirs!
I still can't:
  • take a child out of state without permission
  • leave a child with anyone under the age if 18
  • leave a child with a biological family member other than state approved visitation (duh)
The only difference this makes to me is that I can now take C to a friend's house for babysitting if that's more convenient and that I can choose those friends from a longer list of options. And, maybe, that my mother could babysit overnight in our house so Mr D and I could get away for a break. By the time she's old enough for the other changes to be likely to matter, her adoption should be final.

But, for older kids? This is huge. This means that the 4 year old can go to a playdate at his friend's house after preschool. This means that the 8 year old can go to pizza with the baseball team and get a ride home with the team mom. This means the 10 year old can go to the spend-the-night birthday party for the classmate. This means that the 13 year old can go on the school's overnight field trip without the foster parent having to be a chaperone. This means that the 17 year old can travel with the dance team to the competition that is in-state but a 5 hour drive away, so the team is leaving the night before and will stay in a hotel. This means foster children can participate in school and activity carpools without the foster parents having to be the only driver. This means, in general, that foster parents can make normal, rational parenting decisions about where it is safe for the child to be. And that will go a long, long way in allowing at least a semblance of normalcy in these kids' lives.  

I always thought it was crazy that the system put me through all these hoops and trusted me with every detail of these children's lives, including trusting me to feed them, bathe them, clothe them, care for them in sickness...but didn't trust me to know which classmates' houses were safe enough to allow the child to go over and play after school for an hour. (And I'll confess, I kind of did this already with L who became good friends with a girl who lived about 8 houses away. I never let her spend the night, but I did let her go over to play after school, even though the mother was not "approved.")

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Caseworker Meeting

We met with the adoption worker last week. It's the same one that was assigned to Lucy's case, which is excellent news. She is efficient and organized and on top of things.

DNA samples have been sent to the lab and we are still waiting on results. Based on this particular family's history, the caseworker thinks it is unlikely that the DNA result will come back with any surprises, so we are moving forward with all the adoption paperwork on the assumption that the DNA will confirm paternity. If we're wrong, and it shows up that he's not the father, we have to put everything on hold and conduct a paternity search.

We've have to "convert" our home again (apparently this has to be re-done with each child, at least to some extent). We've filled out that paperwork and sent it off. Now we wait for the agency person who works on those to get it done. (Don't have a timeframe on that yet. It's not expected to take long, but our agency caseworker emphasized that she has no idea how many other home studies this person has ahead of us.)

DFCS has to complete a Child Life History again. The same person who wrote Lucy's is assigned to write C's and, just like the home conversion, it isn't expected to take her long to complete but we have to get in line.

Once those are done, we can sign the Intent to Adopt paperwork and get a court date. Adoption worker thinks another December finalization is a possibility.

She did drop a good-news bomb on us, though. Because Lucy's adoption is so recent and because C is "joining a sibling," C is classified as being adopted as part of a sibling group, which means she qualifies for adoption assistance! When the caseworker first said that, I was pleased, but thought only in terms of "that means they'll pay the lawyer's fees this time, won't that be nice." As it turns out, however, adoption assistance is a kind of package deal; you either qualify for the whole thing or you don't. So, in addition to DFCS paying the legal fees, C will be eligible for Medicaid until she's 18 (that'll be secondary insurance to our very good work-provided plan, so won't come up much, but could be helpful if she ever needs anything beyond an office visit or routine prescription) and we will receive a monthly stipend every month until she's 18 as well. We're still a little stunned at the idea that the state will be sending us money every month, but it does ease one of the "how will we do this" questions that we had when we were making the decision to accept her placement. This summer, I started a master's degree program with the idea that I would be prepared to get a full-time job in education when Lucy starts kindergarten; C's arrival pushes that return-to-work date back by about 2 years (probably) and we frankly weren't sure if we would make it that far financially. But, we took a deep breath and stepped up, trying to trust that God would provide. And He did! The stipend obviously isn't as much as I hope to make working full-time, but it's enough to probably give us those extra 2 years before we run out of savings. 

We're trying not to get our hearts set on that December finalization date -- although it would be so cool if both girls had December Adoption Days -- at least until we know more about the time frames for these first two pieces that are out of our hands.

C is sleeping well at night, not much during the day. It's a challenge, navigating caring for an infant who just wants to be held and caring for a toddler who is busy, busy, busy...but it's one that I know will have a relatively short life span.