It seems as though the only blog updates I do at the moment are those pertaining to our quest to become parents. I have plans to remedy that in the near future; however it its an all consuming task, so it makes sense that it is eclipsing our lives right now, both online and offline.
Adoption Progress Update
In late July we will undertake the second stage of the adoption process by attending a workshop where we will meet other adoptive couples and work through some of the skills required in adoptive parenting.
In August, we will move onto stage 3 - a workshop pertaining to separation and attachment issues in adopted children.
So yes, the adoption process has begun; but as you can see, it is a slow one full of long waits.
More pressing and more recent is the progress we have made with our quest to become permanent foster parents.
Permanent Foster Care Update
3 weeks ago we attended our first mandatory information session specifically for permanent foster care. It was presented by DCP case workers & a guest speaker who had been a foster parent for over 20 years. It was a very inspired and insightful evening.
We went to the session with our first round of paperwork already completed and ready to hand in, We were able to submit that paper work on the spot, thus formally commencing our application to become permanent foster parents.
The next step in the process is for the department to process our paperwork, and call us to arrange a case worker to interview us at our home. The purpose of the visit is for the department to get to know us better (they will ask us about our childhoods, parenting style, marriage, support networks etc) and check that our home is a safe and suitable place for a child to live (do we have room? is it free from hazards? is it hygienic etc).
The home visit we will have in the next few weeks is the first of many, and the case worker doesn't expect to see a completed nursery for the baby at this stage. That hasn't stopped us from starting to gather bits and pieces to prove that we are serious and prepared. The little bird already has a growing library and toy collection as well as a pram!
We have begun the process of adding an office to the back room of our house which will fee up and our spare room to be turned into the babies nursery. once the ball gets rolling with foster care, it can be as little as 3-6 months before placement occurs (far shorter than your average pregnancy!) so we figured we best get a wriggle on, since we have a few renovations to finish to make it work.
Because we're starting to get into the nitty gritty of it all, we are getting more and more questions and comments from family, friends and associates.
Most of the comments and questions come from a good place and are positive, but I admit, sometimes people say some rather insensitive and downright stupid things and its hard not to feel insulted. I often have to remind myself that no one is trying to be cruel, they simply don't understand.
I think Q & A is a really effective way of answering a lot of the common questions we get, so to finish up, I've answered some of the common things we get asked.
Q & A
What is the difference between adoption and permanent foster care?
Adoption is when a birth parent voluntarily signs over their parental rights to someone else.
This allows the adoptive parents to assume full parental rights of the adopted child.
Permanent foster care is when the courts have ordered the children to be removed from a parent never to be returned - but the parent refuses to sign over their parental rights to another person.
The department then becomes the legal guardians of their children and places them in forever homes with permanent foster parents - however it is the department who retains the full parental rights, not the foster parents.
Is there is a chance the birth parent could come and take your child back?
There is no chance of that happening. Children who are placed in permanent foster homes are not eligible for re-unification with their birth parent due to sustained and ongoing abuse, neglect or other issues. Once our child is placed with us, they will be with us until they are adults.
The only real difference between permanent foster care and adoption are the legalities surrounding parental rights.
Can you eventually adopt the child you permanently foster?
This is rather common. After they have been with us for 4 years, we can go through the courts to adopt our child. However, it depends on a number of factors; including the involvement the birth parent has had with the child over those 4 years.
Wait... so the birth parent still gets to have a relationship with your child?
This would be the case in adoption as well. ALL foster placements and adoptions in Western Australia have to be open. It is up to the birth parent to decide if they want to be part of our child's life; we will facilitate it if they do. it can be as much as weekly visits, to writing letters or sending photographs.
Doesn't that bother you!?
Research indicates that maintaining some form of relationship with a birth parent or family member is best for a child's sense of identity, and we want what is best for our little bird. We also don't hold it against these parents that their kids were taken of them. Both of us are educated enough to know that it doesn't always mean they're bad people - there are a lot of circumstances such as mental illness etc that prevent them from caring for their children properly.
What age will you get?
We have nominated a preference for a child aged between 0 - 2 years of age; so it will be somewhere between there.
We chose this age because those are the formative years of a child's development, so we want to give them as many early interventions as possible before they begin school.
Could you get a newborn?
It is highly unlikely.
What about siblings? Or twins?
We're very keen to give a home to siblings or twins within our age range.
In fact, my secret preference is for twins! or maybe even triplets!
Can you choose if you want a boy or a girl?
We can, but we wont.
It doesn't matter to us, and picking one gender decreases our chance of a placement. We wouldn't want to say no to a boy when there might be the perfect little man out there waiting for us, and vice versa.
How long will it take until a child is placed with you through permanent foster care?
It can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months.
How long will it take until a child is placed with you through adoption?
Anywhere from 2- 8 years.
"I dunno, I've heard some real horror stories about Foster care kids."
No shit sherlock!
Sorry to be blunt on this one - but the state does not forcibly remove children from their parents unless something horrific is going on. Almost every child in the foster care system has experienced a high level of trauma, and this will impact them throughout their entire lives. Be it through abuse or neglect. This means that the children we are likely to care for will have very different needs from your kids. There may be behavioural or attachment issues. They'll probably be 'difficult' in some way or another.
I'm not sure why people say this to be honest. Its as if they are trying to warn us or scare us. We are well aware; trust me, we've read more books on it than you can poke a stick at. We know the blood, shit, piss, bone and tears associated with therapeutic parenting; but we are not afraid of loving someone difficult who deserves all the love in the world after the unfair start they have had in life.
If you're only prepared to parent on the proviso that your children are perfect, well adjusted and trauma free, then you probably shouldn't be a parent. There are no promises in life and birth children experience trauma throughout their lives that can mess them up also; divorce, death, assault, sickness, addiction, injury - the list goes on. You never know what your child is going to get, and It is a parents job to love, no matter what.
Can't you have kids of your own?
I don't know.
We have had 2 miscarriages now, and have been unsuccessful conceiving since. We are still trying month to month, I'm starting to work with my doctor on a fertility plan. We are both on a fertility boosting diet & supplement regime at the moment.
However even if we can, we'd still be adopting. THIS IS NOT OUR BACK- UP PLAN.
So what happens if you get pregnant in the middle of all of this?
No big deal, we simply put the whole process on hold and focus on a healthy pregnancy.
We will return to it all once our birth child is of an appropriate age (I'd like my kids to be close in age, so probably after 2 years). A pregnancy does not signal the end of our journey into adoption.
What happens if you end up with a baby through foster care and then all of a sudden you fall pregnant?
Not going to happen. Its called birth control. At a certain point closer to being placed with a child, we will pause our efforts to conceive and resume when our first child is settled in. (again, probably after 2 years).