Fostering to adopt is hard. It is messy. It is a marathon, not a sprint. One needs to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the storm that comes through when you choose this route….BUT…..there is always an eye to the storm….a calmness that you can find if you look.
This is where God shows up and shows out.
In our journey, we had NO intentions of solely fostering. There are many people, that I know and love, who are rockstar foster families. They bring in a child, love and nourish that child while loving and nourishing the family of this child…then, when all is said and done, they are able to give them back to that family in hopes that true change has been made. That family has become a chapter in another families life. They have left a thumbprint of love, hope, mercy, and forgiveness. Our goal was adoption only and possibility concurrent while we wait.
9 Steps to Beginning your Journey of Fostering to Adopt in the State of KY
- Contact your local DCBS office
- Have a phone interview
- Request info packet
- Attend a 2 hr info meeting
- Fill out application
- Attend PS-Mapp classes (ours was once a week for 4 hrs….for 10 weeks)
- Fill our homestudy packet
- Get a homestudy done on your home
- Become approved
For us, we did all these steps, received our first placement of 2 children and lost them quickly due to the unethical comments made by the children’s social worker. We received our second placement a few months after that first one. Prepare for the “worst” case scenario and pray for the best. These children suffer from a loss and grief, neglect, abuse (physical, sexual, mental, emotional)….there is SO much baggage.
Because of our case and the eventual diagnosis’ of our children, we went ahead and took Care Plus classes. These classes help elevate your child(ren) to a status of not just a foster child but a foster child with moderate to severe needs. We also subjected ourselves to the sexual abuse classes, which I do recommend, they are just not easy. The last group of classes is Medically Fragile. We do not have any children who would classify as medically fragile.
The benefits of adopting from the foster care system are giving a child a forever family, watching beauty rise from ashes, these children have a last name, they have love, an education, stability, food, a roof, and sometimes they are reunited with their siblings and a family is willing to adopt all of them. You will receive a stipend every month. It goes by what “level” your child is on (regular foster care, care plus or medically fragile). You get this stipend till they are 18 or in some cases 21. This is to help you with respite (people paid to give you a break), gas money, food, any expenses related to that child. One of the biggest things, for the child, is that they will receive a free college education to any college in the state of KY. There is support for after they graduate high school, there are programs that can help them find a job, get an apartment….there is so much good that can come of this if you utilize it. Also, to be noted, this adoption is free of charge.
The cons of adopting are most of the time, the foster parent is not told everything. You feel like you are the last on the totem pole with little support from your worker or the child’s worker. Social workers are few and they are massively overloaded. Most of the workers are wonderful….there are some, like with our first case, that are not wonderful and they can cause a lot of harm for you and for the children. There is also a limit of how many children you can have in your home (this includes bio children, foster children and/or adopted children.) Some exceptions are made when it is a sibling group. There is an emotional toll that taking in a troubled child can bring…..your biological kids grow up a bit faster because they see things that they really should not see, but on the flip side….it has made my children compassionate and they look beyond the exterior to the heart of a child.
It is a beautiful, hard, messy, exhausting, God honoring journey.
Here are a list of a few questions to ask BEFORE placement:
BEFORE PLACEMENT OCCURS:
- Name, date of birth and ethnicity.
- Why is this child in human service’s custody? Did the case involve domestic violence, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or substance abuse?
- What is the previous placement experience of the child? If the child was moved previously, why? Have relatives been explored?
- Does this child have siblings? Why are they not being placed with the siblings? If being placed separately, is ongoing contact recommended?
- What is the child’s understanding of why he/she has been separated from their family?
- Has the child been evaluated and if so what is their diagnosis?
- Is the child in therapy? (Occupational, Physical, Speech, or Mental Health)
- What are the child’s unique behavior problems, emotional problems and unusual habits?
- Does this child harm younger children or pets?
- How is the child’s health? Allergies, immunizations, dental care, medication? Does the department have any birth history?
- Where is this case in the legal process? What is the expected length of placement?
- Will the parents be visiting? How often? How much? Where?
- What is your expectation of me, as the foster parent, regarding transportation for the child?
- If the child is school-aged, do they have an Individualized Educational Plan?
- Does the child have sufficient clothing? Will there be clothing allowance?
- Will there be a pre-placement visit?
- May I talk with the current foster parents before making a decision? (Get the foster parents input about the child, how he is doing developmentally and what they’ve found to be successful in parenting the child).
- Religion: important or not?
- What will the maintenance rate be?
- What makes our family an ideal match for this child? (It is very important to understand how the department made their decision).