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.

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