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Friday, January 28, 2011

Adoption through FC: Questions to Ask at Orientation and Facts

Here is a list of questions you may want to ask during orientation or privately to a social worker:
1)  How many newborns come into foster care every month?  Do I have to have any special training or are their different requirements to take care of a newborn?
2)  Will I be able to get WIC for the baby? (That's what our state program is that provides ALL of your formula and then baby food as they get older).
3)  Does the state help with daycare costs? (Our state pays up to $700 a month, must be licensed through the state and city though, sorry, can't pay your friend to do it unless they are licensed).
4)  Is their a clothing allowance?  (Our state is $300 per lifetime, we never asked for the money though).
5)  When can I start the adoption process once I bring home a child?
6)  How long does it take to get licensed from the time I turn in my application?  How long does adoption usually take?
7)  Can I take the baby out of state?
8)  Do I have to pay for my lawyer and home study up front for the adoption or does the state cover that?

Facts (please check with your state, I'll go based on mine but it should be very similar)
1) You receive a monthly "reimbursement" which is supposed to cover the costs of taking care of the baby from food to clothing to extra utilities to activities, etc.  I think what we received was WAY TOO MUCH.  It was over $800 a month....seriously, the baby used maybe a fraction of that.  This money may stop when you adopt however most people we know negotiated with the state to still get that money and it was called a stipend I believe?  This is NOT about the money and getting free money, but seriously, we can all afford to send the kid to college on that amount, so I'm not opposed to asking for it.
2) FC kids automatically receive medicaid.  Therefore make sure that you ask how medical care works, here you can take them to any doctor that takes medicaid.  If that's how it works where you live, make sure to start calling around to pediatricians offices so you already have a doctor lined up!
3) You should receive WIC and get free formula for the baby while fostering the child and then after that depending on your income.  At first, we were so opposed to taking any assistance....but at $27 a can when you can get it for free....why not!
4) There should be daycare assistance.  Some people still can't believe I can be a foster mom and work full time!  Why would foster kids be any different or less loved and cared for by someone other than a stay at home mom!  So just know that you don't have to be a SAHM if you don't want to, but obviously that is up to you!  Please go check into day cares if that's what you'll need shortly after the baby arrives because here, you can be on a waiting list for a few months and if you need to go back to work, that's going to be difficult!  It's different than when you are pregnant and you know when you'll be back to work.  If tomorrow the social worker calls and says come pick up this baby, all of a sudden know you are looking frantically for day care!
5) If the child is native American, they fall under the Indian Child Welfare Act.  My honest opinion is that if you want the least amount of risk of losing a baby and you are not native or Indian, make sure you specify the baby not be native American.  It's a whole different ball game and the tribes will be involved and their preference is almost always to find a home with a Native American family.  However, I'd love for some of you to be willing to take the risk because honestly, there are far too many ICWA cases and very few Native American families willing to take them in and adopt them.  The VERY first question my son's birth mom asked was, "Are you and ICWA home?"  Really?  That's the first words out of your mouth!  Ugghh. 
6)  Ask the social worker, but in our state if you have one child in foster care or you have recently had your parental rights terminated, you DO NOT GET TO GO HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL WITH YOUR NEWBORN.  It's sad, it really is, but I bring this up because most of the families I know that adopted infants, that was the case.  Here, the social worker notifies all area hospitals several months in advance that as soon as that mom checks into labor and delivery, the state is to be notified and the baby is to not leave the hospital.  Even my son's mom had a baby back in June.  A sweet baby girl and I was torn up inside on what to do, in the end his aunt took her and it's working out well but we had decided that if the aunt did not do it, we would have been more than happy (albeit tired as heck!) to have her be our daughter.
7)  Don't think that other FC homes and adoptive parents will be fighting you over a newborn or a baby for that matter.  Just like you've all expressed to me, so many people are worried about the baby going back to the birth mom and for a FC home, a baby is not nearly as easy to take care of versus a 6 year old.  Diapers, late night feedings, etc. and school age kids head off to school every day so many FC homes prefer older school age kids. 
8)  If a parent is in prison (assuming the other parent is not around and not willing to take care of the newborn) and the sentence is for a couple years, it is highly unlikely the state won't move to terminate rights because it's not healthy (in my opinion and many doctors opinions) that a young child be raised by someone for a couple years, then turned over to a parent getting out of prison and hoping that they stay out of trouble and raise the kid properly.  And honestly, at least if the mom was in prison when the baby was born or most of the pregnancy, it's highly unlikely she could do drugs and alcohol through much of her pregnancy.
9) You can specify age, gender, and ethnicity.  Don't be surprised when a placement worker calls and asks you to "just think about" taking in a sibling group.  I think it's pretty darn rare that moms with kids in the FC system have only 1 kid.....and that they don't go have more after the kids are in the system.  But feel free to say no.  Discuss with your spouse in what situation, if ANY, you'd be willing to take more than one baby.  But with that said, most families I know that adopted babies, just adopted that baby, not a sibling group and a lot of that was that the siblings were already adopted out to families that did not want to adopt more.
10)  Babies that are exposed to drugs may see less physical damage than those exposed to alcohol because of how it passes through their blood stream but please research this!  Many of the babies are fine and not exposed to anything but others are and before you get overly worried, ask questions and talk to a pediatrician.  If the birth mom delivers, the doctors are going to watching that baby very closely for signs of drug and alcohol exposure and other development issues, it's not a guarantee, but where I live, they do a great job of screening  the babies.
11)  You have to decide whether it's in your best interest to take a chance of bringing home a newborn  and waiting for the parental rights to be terminated and going through adoption versus maybe taking in a 6 month old or a 1 year old that is legally free and maybe missing out on those newborn moments.  I personally, would opt for taking a chance with a newborn. I do wish I could have been there for some of my son's first moments and having even pictures of that time to show him.  But it's not the end of the world.  On the other hand by 5 months old, he soon slept though the night for 12 straight hours!
12)  You don't have to be rich to adopt.  The FC system isn't looking for a bunch of rich couples, they want couples that want to parent a child and love them unconditionally so don't worry that they think you don't make too much.  If you are going to do it because you think you'll get free money every month, please stop even thinking about adopting or doing FC.  That's just not right to do to any child.
13)  There is an adoption tax credit up to $13,000 and some change.  Find out more here http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html .  Most likely this won't even apply to you if your state is covering the costs in full, but just in case your state expects you to pay anything, this should apply.  Also, if you choose to do a private adoption, check out the credit.
14)  Closed vs. Open adoption-  Everyone that I know has done a closed adoption through FC.  Since our son's birth mom relinquished her rights and that allowed her to skip the trial where her lawyer could have potentially fought the termination of rights, we agreed to a letter and pictures every 6 months.  But no visits.  We obviously are allowed to do visits but at this time, we are not ready to do that and are not obligated ever to do so.

And to wrap this all up, I'm presenting this idea because I've met so many great PCOS ladies and women that have other IF issues and my hope is that all of them get to be mothers some day soon.  And I don't believe that just because you adopt and then keep trying to conceive a baby that that meant that adopted baby just wasn't good enough, seriously, that's so far from the truth!  Otherwise, wouldn't all great moms just have 1 baby?

And I leave you with this quote:
 "If not you, who? If not now, when?

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