Hi! And welcome! I'm not around much these days, but I do lurk and post occassionally. My dw and I have twice foster-adopted. We lived in one state at finalization of first adoption and a second state at finalization of second adoption. Prior to that we did straight fostering, no adoptions, in the state where we finalized our first adoption. We also have once explored a private adoption with someone considering our family for placement.
Originally Posted by Polliwog
There really aren't a lot of legally free toddlers floating around. Most are adopted by a relative or their foster family. Those who aren't often have significant special needs (developmental, trauma-related, etc) or come into the system with older siblings. It's not really that the SW wants to be pushy. She/He has children who need a place to go and they only have so many names on their lists. Nobody wants to move a child more than is absolutely necessary so social workers tend to place young children in homes where they are likely to be adopted if it comes to that.
Yes, yes to the above. The state rightfully is focused on #1 getting kids in safe, *stable* situations as early on as possible, and #2 finding families for kids (not generally finding kids for families). It's not that they're trying to be pushy. It's just that the goal of the system is to make sure kids are safe and hopefully safe with their parents. Second to that the goal is to get kids into the best alternative the fastest. And usually the two goals have to be served at the same time just in case the first goal doesn't end up being met.
It doesn't serve the goals of the system to spend resources on families who can't support that because they have a set of incompatible. When you start going through the homestudy process, you aren't paying for that. They are making an investment. I've seen a lot of families drop out along the way, and I can understand why the state wants to make sure that they are clear very early on what they are looking for, for their kids.
The truth is, if you truly don't want to foster, if you only want to adopt, then chances are good that you will either be doing a special needs and older child adoption (as in school-age) with the state or that you will be adopting in some way other than through the state. Even in cases in which a baby -- possibly drug addicted or alcohol affected -- is born to a mother who has had rights terminated to older children and who has no apparent ability to safely parent, there is a legal process that must be followed. Legal processes are by nature long, in order to protect all parties. It can take years (not months, years) before parental rights are terminated. In my daughter's case, which is nearly identical to the above, it took several years before we could legally adopt her. She was placed with us at six months. The kids like her are placed with foster families willing to adopt because if they had waited until she was "legally free" to place her with a forever family, the process would have automatically required a trauma for her in moving to an adoptive home after becoming attached to a foster family. Ultimately, its what's best for kids.
There is never a guarantee with fostering, even someone decides it is a "low risk" pre-adoptive placement. With my son, his parent's case was pretty open-and-shut. And in the 13 months before we could adopt him (he was placed with us as a newborn, and we finalized his adoption one month after his first birthday), which is very fast by foster care standards, he was almost taken from us twice, both times to place with relatives who had previously said they wouldn't take him. It's always a wild ride.
But looking back, I'd do it again in a heartbeat because it meant I ultimately am able to parent my two amazing children. I wouldn't go back and change it for the world.
Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71
I just wanted to add that we felt like our social workers didn't like us either. By the end of the process, we loved them all. I think the whole thing is a very complicated dynamic. Lots of people start the process and bail out. Lots of people come forward to adopt a specific child and bail. My take on our initial encounters with social workers is that they are exhausted and overworked and dealing with extreme dysfunction. They almost can't let their walls down to interact with a person who wants to and can parent. They also need to have such strong professional boundries in dealing with birth parents and removing children that they become robotic.
At the end of our adoption, the social workers were openly thankful that we so engaged in the process. As it was going on, they seems annoyed by us.
Yes, I've worked with many social workers over the years. IME, there has often been some awkwardness in the get-to-know you phase. I totally relate to the above quoted post.
Originally Posted by Polliwog
I think it's important to talk with the social worker about things like one parent not being sure that he wants to adopt. The social worker can help clarify things for your DH so you both can make the right decision for your family. What good does it do to lie to the SW? That's why they have the required classes (often MAPP but there's others.) Many families choose to bow out from the process during the series of classes or afterward.
In most states, you would require to send a pre-adoptive child to school if they are of school age. What you do after finalization is up to you and the needs of the child. Many people think they want to homeschool an adopted child but that might actually not be best for that child. Or the reverse can be true.
Originally Posted by Smithie
"Side question......how much do you 'tell' or 'not tell' about your familys' personal lifestyle,etc?"
Honestly, it's never come up. I've been through two workers now, and they're both very professional. They do not ask intrusive questions beyond what is on the form. And DH and I filled out the forms together, coming up with answers that were honest, but generic. I hope/assume that the workers have made observations about the state of my house, how I treat my kids, how DH and I treat each other, etc. But that have most certainly not probed to see if one of us is reluctant to adopt!!!
"The social worker can help clarify things for your DH so you both can make the right decision for your family."
I reiterate, the social worker is not your shrink and not your friend. It's OK (more than OK) to decide during the process that foster/adopt is not for you. But you don't want a social worker making that decision FOR you because you got her involved in your "processing" and she got the wrong idea about your family. If your DH needs to work this out more, then he can talk to you or a therapist or his extended family or his best buddy or anybody who's not currently compiling a case file on him. Sheesh!
In my state, foster kids can use the virtual charter school, which is technically public school but keeps them at home with you. I agree with Polliwog, however, that homeschooling might not be the best choice, or might not be the best choice right away, and it's important to be open to that.
I agree with both of the above. You'll find your own middle ground somewhere in the process.
Good luck! I hope you find the best path for you soon. The process is overwhelming, and yes, often scary. In fostering and adopting, between moving agency to state and then moving between states, we've been homestudied a few times. Each time, we entered a different "program." We were no less nervous and unsure the third time than the first (or at least not significantly less). It's all big stuff. Hang in there!