October 11, 2021

Bullet points of adoption process/road blocks and other thoughts

This might move a little faster if I describe what happened in the spring using bullet points. Nitty gritty isn't fun to write about. Shit, nitty gritty isn't fun to live, so that makes sense, right? 

*  How do you know? (Not quoting a Whitney Houston song here). It's just hard. The system works like this (apologies if I've already explained):  

1. Get matched with kids. Sounds easier than it is, well - especially if you have specific parameters. Like we said we can't take kids who have reported sexual abuse. Sadly, that eliminates a good deal of the kids out there. We just didn't feel equipped, as much as that broke our hearts. Lost track of how many times we looked at each other and said SO MANY PEOPLE MESS UP KIDS' LIVES.

2. Visit the kids, create a bond. Doing this with out-of-state kids is tough. We initially were leaning towards international adoption - remember the movie THE GOOD LIE prompted our journey. If we'd gone international, we'd have had to both spend 2 weeks with kids far away and leave our kids at home. Yeah, that sounded impossible, domestic it was.

3. Decide if you want to move forward (all the while, the team is also deciding if this match continues to make sense and if the kids are old enough, they are voicing their opinion, etc).

4. Kids move in for a pre-adoptive trial period. During this time, parents are considered foster parents. The trial period lasts about 6 months, give or take. It gives everyone a chance to decide if this fit is indeed going to work. Young kids DON'T ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THE TRIAL PERIOD. How could they survive the stress of fearing that their every move was being scrutinized? And worrying that they'd be sent away?

*  We were asked in March if we wanted to move forward with the boys. (I need to pause here while I look back and see what the hell I named them here, sheesh - get it together E). The foster mom, Debbie, let the team know that she and her husband were divorcing. The team called and let us know that Debbie had a change of circumstance (they didn't reveal what it was) and that they might need to move the kids to us as early as April.

Did we want them? 

*  Needing more info. I finally asked if placing the boys quickly was because they were too much for Debbie to handle or if maybe the husband pulled the plug. We knew he worked odd hours, the boys rarely saw him, but when they did - they complained about him not being nice. I was told about the divorce and we felt better that it wasn't because the boys were awful. We'd heard that after they visited our home, they acted up big time for Debbie. Makes sense when you think about it - so much for them to consider. Constant state of WHERE AM I GOING? 

* They wanted Debbie to adopt them. This was the first person who ever took care of them. *pause here and consider how sad that is, they are currently in real time 9 and 11* We felt it was great news that they'd bonded with Debbie, who is almost 10 years older than us. Failure to bond is a red flag. If they bonded with her, they could most likely bond with us . . . eventually. Deb explained to them that she was too old to adopt. She'd been fostering for over 10 years. Never considered adoption. 

Coach and boys on a walk with the boys.
 Tank and Mini were on this visit too.
* We said we wanted them. Through our visits, we felt we'd gotten to know them. Still, you never really KNOW them. We had our hesitations. Visits were fun. Walks in a forest preserve near Ed's college campus. Playing basketball at a park. Tank and Mini staging an Easter Egg hunt in advance of Easter since we wouldn't be with them, etc. We also knew that we'd have 6 months to decide, BUT WE DIDN'T WANT TO GET THEM AND THEN SEND THEM BACK. How awful would that be? 

* Paperwork. In order for us to adopt them across state lines, paperwork called ICPC had to be completed. The office that was handling the boys' case didn't have ANY experience with ICPC. THIS IS IMPORTANT. 

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a statutory agreement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. The agreement governs the placement of children from one state into another state.

This was part of the message hanging near a hotel pool where we stayed with the boys. This particular pool was gross. I was like, I THINK YOU HAVE OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT.

* We were told the ICPC would take 30 days. It was early March. Until the paperwork was complete, the boys couldn't return to our house for a visit. We could continue to see them in Indiana. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it:  DUMBEST RULE EVER. If we were pre-adoptive and the boys knew us and we planned to have them move in with us and background checks were complete, etc. WHY THE HELL MAKE US WAIT THAT LONG TO HAVE THEM COME BACK TO THEIR POTENTIAL HOME? Some idiot in a suit must've said along the way LET'S JUST MAKE THIS HARDER ON PEOPLE. 

I'm posting more tomorrow. I've been a busy writer trying to bring you up to speed.


Busy Bee Suz said...

I get all the rules in this scenario to protect the kids, but damn, some of the roadblocks are downright idiotic.
SO many bad humans out there messing up kids' lives. There has to be a special hell for them.

You don't often hear about couples getting divorced while in their 60's. Maybe they finally got fed up with each other?

Pat Birnie said...

I agree with Suz- they are trying to protect the kids, but some of this makes zero sense and just makes you shake your head. Like why can’t they come see you for that 30 day period?? It must be so confusing to the poor kids. Not to mention what they are putting wonderful families like you through. I t breaks my heart.

Kari said...

I get the impression that the roadblocks are meant to help but are actually harming the kids, if that makes sense? I can't comprehend what these children go through or the emotional harm they will sustain for the rest of their lives as a result of this process.

Kara said...

If you do Instagram, there's an account called Family and Coffee. She works as a social worked, but is also fostering to adopt. Even as someone who is inside the system, she gets thrown random roadblocks. You aren't alone.

Ernie said...

Suz - What happened here last night was fairly eye opening and Mini was so bothered by the fact that we'd talked to their former therapist (number provided by Debbie). She told us some new info and said that she still sees the step mom in the streets, strung out. Mini was so upset - how can these people walk the streets? Why aren't they in jail? They messed up their kids big time.

No idea on the divorce but I think they were leading separate lives for a while. We met him once. Unimpressed. She's a nice lady with a good heart. She's got lots going on.

Ernie said...

Pat - Technically we can SEE them, it just involves us continuing to travel there instead of having them come here, which is so trying. Why not have them here where all of our family and resources are so we can see how they assimilate? Like for more than a week at a time? Foreshadowing here: we needed a more clear picture of what life was like living with them - not just visiting.

Ernie said...

Kari - We were initially pleased that they'd only been in one foster home. Well, that was only part of the truth. The more they get bounced, the more tough things are for them. Yes, the impact of their past will always haunt them. Sad.

Ernie said...

Kara - I do NOT do Instagram, but now I want to. I'd be very interested in her perspective.

Jenny in WV said...

It just all seems so sad and against common sense!

Perhaps I'm mis-remembering, haven't the boys been with Debbie for only a year or two? It's heartbreaking to know that spent half of their childhoods passed before someone took care of them.

Also, seems nutty that the boys couldn't come back to your house. I know I like to know what to expect and I would think they would have an easier time with a permanent transition if they had several opportunities to get a feel for the flow of your household routines.

Totally unrelated comment: How is Curly making out with her new hair products?

Nicole MacPherson said...

Wow, a six-month pre-adoptive period...imagine sending kids back after that. How awful for everyone involved. I understand there need to be rules and protocols, but that seems really difficult. Looking forward to the next update!

Gigi said...

It all sounds so very stressful for everyone involved. I know the "rules" are in place to serve the children but, honestly? Some of these things make it seem that no one actually thought any of this through with the children's well-being front and center.

Bibliomama said...

The whole process of deciding if you're equipped on every level to take children you don't really know into your lives would be stressful even without random stupid bureaucracy. Just, like, whyyyyyy

Ernie said...

Jenny - Our eyes have been opened to so much sadness in this process. The boys moved in with Debbie in April of 2020. We learned of them in Dec 2020 and met them in January 2021. So they'd been with Debbie for like 8 or 9 months when we met them. They had a VERY rough start in life. Some of that information has only come to light in the last few days. More on that later.

Curly likes some of the products but has ditched others. At this time she is looking forward to her first haircut since I ruined her hair with a thinning shears. Scheduled for 10/18th. She needs it be shaped. Updates to follow. ;)

Ernie said...

Nicole - Yes, sending kids back would suck but our worker continues to remind us that the trial period is in place for a reason. Those 'fun' weekend visits don't necessarily give a good idea of what life with them is like. Some of the rules are tough because it seems they get in the way of getting to know them.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Oh and YES I couldn't agree with you more - having the kids stay here for an extended period of time so we could get an idea of how they flow with the family would've been huge. Hello, you have our fingerprints, we are pre-adoptive - how bad can we be? And how helpful to the kids and US to get a glimpse of real life more than one weekend.

Ernie said...

Gigi - I agree. And perhaps people shouldn't adopt out of state. Because it tends to make states get all angry and nutty and protective over kids THEY DIDN'T BOTHER TO PROTECT THE FIRST TIME AROUND. Um, foreshadowing.

Ernie said...

Ali - There was SO much trust involved, because how do you know? Well, I've got more on that scheduled to post here very soon. Stay tuned. But yes - stress. And the red tape and the people that make the red tape - so trying, in a situation that is anything but easy. Sweet Jesus.