Since my last update, we have had two home visits with our case worker.
The First Home Visit
The first visit was a chance for us to meet the case work we have been assigned who will be with us throughout the entire process. It was also a chance for her to see our home, and make an initial assessment on whether or not it was suitable and safe for children. (spoiler alert: we passed with flying colours).
During that first visit, we sat at the dining room table and discussed some of the reasons behind our decision to become permanent foster parents. Our case worker walked us through the next round of paperwork and took our ID's for a background check.
We openly discussed one major roadblock to us proceeding with the foster process; the details of which I will leave off the blog for the time being. Aside from that one road bump, our case worker assured us we'd have no problems and that we were perfect candidates.
She left us with a stack of homework that we will complete over the next 2-3 months. Its mostly around being able to recognise developmental delays in children, and knowing what interventions to apply. Still - its a lot of work and research!
The Second Home Visit
The second visit kicked off the offical assessment process. Our case worker arrived with a stack of thick paper work. She sat and interviewed us for two hours to fill it out. She asked us about:
+ Our families & how we were raised.
How were we disciplined?
What where the house rules?
Who reared us?
+ Our support networks.
Do our friends & family know we're fostering?
What do they think?
Are they willing to be part of this child's life?
+ Our top 3 reasons for becoming foster parents.
+ Our thoughts on managing common behaviours in fostered kids.
How would we handle certain behaviours?
Drug addiction in infants?
+ How would we feel if our child was unified with their birth parents?
+ How would we raise this child to ensure their birth family was always part of their identity?
+ What do we think could stand in the way of a child bonding with us and vice versa?
We have 2-3 more home visits yet to finish the interview process.
Our next visit will focus on questions surrounding our understanding of the care team approach (raising a child in collaboration with the department as well as birth parents if they choose to be a part of the child's life). i'm not entirely sure what the third visit will focus on at this stage; but she commented that we are flying through it all very quickly!
We are booked into a weekend of mandatory training in late July. After that training and after all of our home visits are complete, our case worker will gather up our file and present it to a selection panel who will approve or reject us as permanent foster parents. After we've receive the panel approval, and child can be placed with us as early as that night!
Our case worker told us she thinks we would be best suited to a newborn or a an infant. Apparently there is currently a high demand for families for newborns, which was a surprise to us. We'd always been told that placements of newborn babies are very rare. The risk of being placed with a newborn baby, is that a judge might rule that the child be returned to its birth parents. Orders of permanent care cant be imposed from birth; parents need to be given due process in court to prove they can parent. Our case worker says 9/10 the outcome is predictable (care orders are granted), but it is never a certainty.
We have both decided this is a risk we are willing to take; so are likely to be placed with a baby when we are approved.
There has been another development as well. We've decided to put our international adoption application on hold for several reasons:
1. It is too expensive to pursue at the same time as preparing to become permanent foster carers. We needed to raise around 4k by the end of the month to pay for the adoption training, and it just wasn't realistic. It is also a huge amount of money to spend on training we may never end up needing.
2. There are local children in far more immediate need of a loving home via permanent foster care, and for us, the reward outweighs the risk. The stories our case worker has been telling us have broken our hearts wide open and made us more keen on the idea of giving a home to a local child. We can't reject these children simply because they come from less than ideal circumstances.
3. We are confident we will be approved as permanent foster parents, and we want to focus on getting through this process as quickly as possible. There is so much work and paperwork involved with both process, that doing both as the same time was practically a part time job. We want to be ready to take in a baby the moment we are approved; so we'd rather spend that time preparing a nursery and finishing our homework.
We might pick it up again years into the future, but for now, we are no longer pursuing international adoption.
Accordingly, I have changed the name of this blog series. Although we still hold the highest hope that our permanent foster placement will eventually culminate in our adoption of the child placed with us; its no longer our primary focus. Its been a journey of growth, so the change of the title reflects that.