back to the beginning

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ok, back to the first class. We've had quite a few distractions lately, not the least of which involves a lot of struggle with Ben. It's understandable because we've had such upheaval in our lives lately with babysitting Hailey, my thyroid troubles, and all the adoption classes and discussions. If anyone knows someone who adopted or fostered after having children of their own, we would appreciate any advice on how that affects the current children. Or any resources to help us involve the children while keeping them secure and less fearful.

Anyway...our first class was awhile ago, but we've only had 4 total because we had a snow day for one of our classes. The first class we talked about the differences between foster care and foster-to-adopt and straight adoption. This is information we found EXTREMELY useful since some of it we didn't know at all. It was nice to hear some myths dispelled and confirmation of some of the instincts we had about the whole process. We talk more about differences between foster care and adoption in several of the classes, but this was a nice overview.

The basic difference, which seems like common-sense but has a lot of different aspects you don't think about, is that a foster child is not legally your child and an adopted child is. This means that you don't make decisions about your foster child's future, health, travel plans, schooling, etc. without the consent of the biological parent/s. For instance, we would not be permitted to cut a child's hair without their parent's prior permission (beyond just maintenance trims, that is). Also, we have to inform the parents of all scheduled doctor, therapy, dentist visits. We cannot take the child out of state without the permission of the parents. It seems like a lot of questions and rules, but according to our instructor, it works very smoothly and without incident most of the time. There are rules that are common to all foster parents regarding the care of foster children, but there will also be individual agreements between the biological family and the foster family regarding care as well.

Once the child is adopted, then all the decisions are legally yours as if the child were your own biologically. Adoption usually can take place within 2 years of placement. Two years is pretty much the maximum allowed by the state barring any court actions. Different counties tend to view this in different ways. Apparently the smaller counties tend to be a little more strict on the deadlines, but Montgomery County has a TERRIBLE reputation for not terminating parental rights in a timely manner. Ohio has a House Bill that designates 1 year as the deadline for terminating parental rights. There can be two 6-month extensions based on evidence of the parents' compliance with the requirements to regain custody of their child/children. Thus, the 2-year thing for adoption. However, a child could be placed with us that is further along in the process, so legal adoption could occur as soon as 6 months if we would get a child who is in the custody of the state already. That probably won't be what we choose to do because it makes it much more difficult to get a child. We will probably weigh the 'risk' of reunification with the parents when we are presented with the opportunity to take a child. The county usually has a pretty good sense of whether or not the children will reunify with the parents when they do a removal. And frankly, the rates of reunification are not all that high in general.

There's obviously a lot more to all of this, and we would be glad to answer questions if anyone has any...not that we're experts by any means; we only know what we've learned in class and from our research. But it basically comes down to this - adopting through the system is the absolute safest way to adopt period. (This does not include the risk of children reunifying with their parents during the foster care portion because you do not absolutely have to foster in order to adopt through the system.) The reason it's the safest is because all legal requirements are already fulfilled through the state. Once parental rights are terminated, then that is the end. (At least in Ohio) Private adoption in the US is probably the riskiest of all scenarios, but I know of several people who have had/are having problems adopting overseas as well. There's a lot of deception that occurs in both of those situations. Private adoption, especially, runs a big risk of the birth mom/dad changing his or her mind or lying about things on the agreements, etc. This reassures me about the process. I'm a little scared of the foster portion because we will be choosing to accept some risk of family reunification when we foster. (which I am so conflicted about because OBVIOUSLY the best choice is for biological families to reunify and heal, but we really want to adopt as well...) The adoption portion, however, does not scare me in the slightest because of how secure it is.

hope and disappointment

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I haven't blogged in awhile; I've been feeling pretty run-down and blogging seems to take so much emotional energy for me. I had high hopes for increasing my blog posts, but now I feel like I've let myself down. I've been reminded lately of how much I set myself up to be disappointed...last week I received some disappointing news regarding one of the aspects of our foster care paperwork. It wasn't that big of a deal and was easily fixed, but I just felt so let down. It was something that I was depending on someone else for, and it just didn't pan out in the way I expected.

This week, I received disappointing news about my health. I thought things were in a really different place regarding my thyroid issues...well, I knew I was still sick, but for some reason, I had put it in my head that when I visited the doctor this week that he would make me well again. I'm not sure why I've been believing this; it's not like he's magic...nevertheless, there it was, that hope I had for him. Once again, I left feeling tremendously discouraged and let down. I had really pinned all my hopes and plans on this one doctor's visit, kind of just ignoring what was actually going on in my body.

I know the reason for all this disappointment - it's misplaced hope. I had hope in other people for my application, I had hope in the doctor for my health, I had hope in myself for accomplishing my lists...all that hope that I'm placing everything and anywhere but in God. So the only thing on my list this week (and forever, really) is to put my hope in God and Him only. Yes, I know he uses other people and medicine and my abilities to get things done, but if I rely on those things without really seeking Him about those things, then I'm missing the point. I think I tend to compartmentalize, thinking, 'hey, God gave me medicine, it will eventually make me better and thus, I do not need to bother Him with this issue anymore., Or...'God called me to do this job, He gave me these specific abilities, and thus, I do not need to ask Him about it anymore.'

Now that I write this stuff out, I realize how ridiculous I sound. It's not like I stopped seeking God or spending time with Him, it's just like I have made my life a list of problems/needs and solutions. I have a pattern:
1) I consult God about these issues.
2) As soon as I feel He's given some sort of answer, I mark it down in the "solution" column. Even if it's not solved completely, I take what He's shown me as the final solution.
3) I mark it off the list completely, never to bother Him with it again.

Clearly this a pattern that is not working in my life. And the only way I'm going to make it through life, and especially this adoption journey, intact is to establish new thinking patterns.

New pattern:
1) Lay down my pride (thanks Jeremy Camp). It's embarrassing to admit that maybe what I thought God was telling me wasn't His final word to me in those situations. It's embarrassing to admit that I only sought His input to a certain point. It's embarrassing to admit my health weaknesses. I hate being weak or wrong. But now I have this step:
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

2) Seek God about ALL my needs, problems, life...continually...remembering this step:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5
Side note: it doesn't say "look to me, find your answer, and then go merrily along your way"...it says, "remain in me".

3) Put my hope for my solutions in God and God alone.
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.
Psalm 25:4-6

one training session and two psa's

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tonight was our first night of training, which we did in Greene County since they are apparently sharing training sessions now so that each session can be fuller. There was a full house tonight, about 16-17 people or so. Most of them were couples, although there was a single older lady and a younger (25-ish is my best guess) single girl as well. I'm excited about doing the rest of our training, since our teacher (Maggie) was very personable and quite funny. I was expecting something much more dry and clinical than what we got tonight, and I was really thankful to be wrong. Another couple there, also going through Clark county, is at an almost identical point in their process as we are. I was encouraged that we have people to talk to while we do this process. If all goes well, we'll be ready and licensed by the end of February, maybe even a little sooner.

I came away still fairly nervous about the process...not the licensing process, but what happens when we actually accept a child. I have SO many questions still about how it will work in a very practical sense. I feel like we understand the legal and red-tape aspect of it ok, but the one thing that we don't know (and I'm not even sure that anyone will be able to tell us) is how it will work when we actually bring a child home. Hopefully the next few weeks will give us some help with that though.

We also got an answer to prayer today as Wendell does not have to go on the business trip that would have caused him to miss one of the sessions. That would have potentially put us 2-3 months behind in the process. We could use continued prayer that nothing will come up that will cause us to have to wait for the next session to complete our training.

A couple of lessons from this evening...public service announcements, if you will.
1) The iphone GPS/navigational app is very very poor. That, and I don't know how to use an iphone very well. It doesn't have any directional capabilities, so if you want the directions to be going in the same direction you are, you have to continually rotate the phone around so it looks like you are going the right way. Fortunately, we made it there ok. Also, if you are using said application and it asks you if you want to drop a pin, say no! It is not going to do what you think it is. I'm not sure what it means or why it dropped pins all over (probably had something to do with me clicking yes, yes, yes), but DO NOT drop the pin.

2) If you are a man, live in Ohio, and are prone to having sex...you should register with the Putative Father Registry. If you do not register, yet somehow father a child with someone who is not your wife, this registry will protect your paternal rights. Apparently, after every "encounter", shall we say, you should just go ahead and register with this government database. It will require that you put your name and the name of the woman with whom you have had relations, as well as the date of said relations. If you do not register and at some point wish to prove paternity or take custody of your child, the courts will apparently not look favorably upon this failure to document your relations.

To summarize your responsibilities...say you've had sex. With a woman capable of childbearing.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Am I married to the woman I just had sex with?
  • Am I certain that I am going to be with this woman forever?
  • Did we use birth control correctly (or at all)?
If the answers to any of these questions are no, then I encourage you to visit the Putative Father Registry of Ohio at http://jfs.ohio.gov/pfr/. Your children may depend on it. This concludes my public service announcement.

Quite Good

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I was watching an episode of Mad Men this week where one of the characters is thinking of adoption (and apparently - well at least according to this particular TV show - in the sixties, adoption was not all that common), and someone says to him "well, it's just not natural!" That particular conversation really stuck with me because of some verses that I've been meditating on. What is more natural than adoption? It's exactly what God intended from the start. It is His plan.

"Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." Romans 8:23-24a

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..." Ephesians 1:4-5

Six years ago, I received my first adoption information packet from Family Life. Just basic stuff, but what struck me most was all the scripture included with it. It had never occurred to me before how much the orphan was mentioned in the Bible. I never took seriously the verse in James about the true religion that God accepts being that which cares for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27-28). And when I got to the verses about our adoption into God's family, it was humbling to realize that I never even paid attention to what the Bible actually SAID about this issue.

Adoption always seemed like some far away issue for me. I knew people who had adopted, but it was only overseas and only infertile couples. It took a couple years past that first packet before I started really hearing about and listening to options that weren't international. International adoption seems (still) a little glamorous to me. Plus, there are so many horrific stories about failed domestic adoptions. International adoption is touted as a "safer" option. That appealed to me for awhile, until I started learning about how many children are waiting for adoption right here. Our conversations about adoption took a different turn about 4 years ago or so when Wendell and I realized that it wasn't a far-away issue...it was a next door issue. We decided that we couldn't justify thousands of dollars and work for an overseas adoption when children in our own area needed a family to love them. We can't deny the child we see at the store a loving home in favor of our own personal "safety" when it comes having a child become a part of our family.

We need a continual reminder of the oft-used (perhaps over-used) quote from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe where the children ask the beaver if Aslan the Lion is 'quite safe'. The beaver replies, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe, but he's good. He's the King, I tell you." This path, it involves risk to be sure, but there are no guarantees with any child. Ben or Maggie could have died a day, a week, a month after they were born...they still could be taken from us at any moment. Fortunately, our children are not our OWN. They are God's. They (and us, too) belong to a King who most definitely is not 'quite safe'...but He is quite good.
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