what is the real deal about fostering to adopt? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 07-30-2012, 10:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am wondering mostly if they look at parental age and finances (or how much they do) when looking to foster to adopt.

 

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#2 of 11 Old 07-30-2012, 10:58 PM
 
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Short answer:  yes, they look at both.  And regardless of age, they'll look at your health.  They want to be sure that you're physically capable of managing life with children and can afford to do it without any assistance from the state (because if they forget to cut checks one month--they want to know you can support those kids on your own).  They get pretty invasive when doing a home study.  I feel like if you make it through the home study and the training, you must want it bad enough. lol.gif

 

And personal pet peeve:  foster kids generally have a goal of reunification.  Unless and until that goal is changed by the court to "adoption by (named party who is non-relative)" and all contesting of that change is done, you really can't bank on them staying.  I hate how caseworkers often say "There's no way this one's going home".  I've had at least 3 of those cases (and one of them really DID look impossible--and that child was RU'd and subsequently re-removed in another state almost a year later).


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#3 of 11 Old 07-31-2012, 09:16 AM
 
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And my answer is a bit different from heather's. I'll say my experience is that age and finances dont matter much at all...that if you're young enough to likely be able to raise the child to adulthood (that is, they may be unlikely to place an infant with an elderly person....though all bets are off with relatives as they offered my son to his 76 yr old great grandma before putting him in foster care at birth, but she declined) and if you have enough income to pay your own bills then its acceptable. So really it just depends on your agency and the county or state where you live and how THEY do things.

 

I'm on my way out the door but i'll try to be back later to elaborate.
 


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#4 of 11 Old 08-01-2012, 09:43 AM
 
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Another thing i thought of last night was that one of the main things an agency will be looking for is a stable environment. Its not so much how much money you have but can you manage that money? Its not so much how old you are but are you in decent health? That sort of thing. The last thing a kid in foster care needs is to be thrown back into a chaotic environment. If you're thinking "we dont make enough money" or "i'm probably too old" its likely thats not true....the state tends to be pretty flexible about such things.

 

But i do agree with Heather that with foster care you cant really depend on anything a social worker tells you about the case because there is no way to predict the future. If you are doing regular foster care with the hopes that you can adopt, that probably WILL happen...but you shouldnt count on adopting any particular child in your care. You may have five kids reunify before one stays.

 

My experience was pretty good...i started fostering with the intention of wanting to adopt (in my state most available kids are adopted by foster parents or relatives so if i wanted a younger relatively healthy kid foster care was pretty much the way to do that) *but i also wanted the experience of fostering and knew from the get go reunification was almost always the initial goal*...its kind of a hard thing to "support the plan" of getting that child back with mom when you desperately want that child to stay with you. Esp if you know going back to relatives wont be such a great thing for the child. BUT it CAN be done. Just dont fall into the trap of "the worker placed this baby with me saying rights will be terminated and now they are working on moving baby back home/a relative has shown up from out of state wanting the baby/bio dad is getting the baby and its SO UNFAIR!"....always know that at any time that child can be removed from your home. It can be very emotionally difficult. My very first foster placement was a healthy newborn with very little in the way of relative involvement, TPR at four months old, no visits with biomom and i STILL didnt truly breathe and know he was staying until i got the final decree of adoption just before he turned 11 months old. Because you just never know.

 

You can also choose to adopt a child where parental rights are already terminated and once they place the child with you as an adoptive placement there is little chance the child would be moved (in most cases the child is still a foster child for six months until the adoption finalizes but its usually a different experience than regular foster care as there is no longer a goal of reunification and in my state the preadopt parents have rights to make med. decisions etc) depending on where you live adopting a legally free child might not be easy to adopt (some states have few kids who are available to adopt to parents who have not fostered them, it just depends.)


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#5 of 11 Old 08-01-2012, 08:12 PM
 
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Yeah, in my state, pre adoptive parents of already legally free kids did NOT have the same rights as queenjane and this was particularly troublesome for us when it came to vaxing, but could've also been a hellacious problem if we wound up with a doctor that felt our pre adoptive daughter needed a reflux med or something that we didn't agree with.  We watched it happen with two prior foster placements and until you're finalized, the kids fall under the same supervision scenario because the state is still the parent (technically).

 

And agreed that they will look at stability above all else.  But if you're on assistance and really need the stipend to care for that child (and my experience is that the stipend generally covers barebones--not even for the older kids) or you have a health condition (we're not talking just being overweight and out of shape... in my state your primary care physician had to sign an affidavit saying that you were in "good health" and note any ongoing/chronic conditions like diabetes, etc. although I'm not sure how they'd have handled you actually having one) that makes it difficult for you to care for a child long-term... you'll need to show them the support network/plan you have in place to handle that.

 

Also, I meant the same thing as queenjane in terms of age: they want to know how likely it is that you're young enough to see a child through age 18.  If you're 50yo, they're not likely to place an infant with you if they think the case is going to go adoptive (which they never really know--so it could happen anyway if they place an infant they think is going home).

 

My experience with it all was good, too.  But I didn't initially get into fostering to adopt.  And I wound up adopting about 3 months before my 3-year license was set to expire (and we had decided not to adopt out of foster care).  So for me, it wasn't quite the roller coaster I've seen other people on... which is hard for everyone--including the kids.


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#6 of 11 Old 08-02-2012, 06:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

Yeah, in my state, pre adoptive parents of already legally free kids did NOT have the same rights as queenjane and this was particularly troublesome for us when it came to vaxing, but could've also been a hellacious problem if we wound up with a doctor that felt our pre adoptive daughter needed a reflux med or something that we didn't agree with. 

 

In the state where you adopted, how do they handle adoptive placements vs foster care placements? I guess what i mean, is if a family wants to ONLY adopt, not foster, and they, say, pick a kid off the state photolisting, do preadopt visits, then the child moves in...is there any special process for that? vs you being a foster parent, and wanting to adopt, so they place a child with you they think is on the adoption track (which is kind of what happened to me with K)

 

Michigan might be different than some other states in that one person in the state, called the MCI (Michigan Children's Institute i think?) guardian, is the legal guardian for all state wards in michigan (children whose parents' rights have been legally terminated)...if you arent a foster parent and want to adopt a legally free child then that child would be placed with you as an adoptive placement and you have to wait for "MCI approval" before that happens.  Its almost like the finalization is a formality. (of course this all could have changed in the past year or two)...i have never had an "adoptive placment" only foster children that turned into adoptive placements. Even with my daughter, she was legally free but moved in as a foster placement and we could not file adoption papers until we got her subsidy situation hammered out and we couldnt do THAT until we got her at the appropriate foster care level of care (because subsidy amt is based on foster care amt)....it actually took almost a year from placement until those papers could be filed (my agency sucked)...once they were filed the adoption finalized within days, because the children had already lived with me for the required six months. So even though my daughter was going to be adopted by me, i *couldnt* make medical decisions, couldnt be the one to sign off on the IEP (well i could but the agency worker also had to sign)...i went ahead and made medical decisions but only because they really didnt ask about stuff like vaxes...but they COULD have.

 

Thats why its so important when people post wanting information about adoption they really try to talk to someone in their state or they contact an agency and just ask, because each state is so different. Some states make adoption matches by committee, others the social worker has most of the power to choose. In some places the foster parent actually has to "go to committee" and be presented along with other interested people but here i cant imagine that happening, the foster parent pretty much has first "dibs" unless a relative steps up or unless for some reason the agency really doesnt think the relative is an appropriate choice.

 

(blah blah i really need to learn to be more concise. sheesh. redface.gif)


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#7 of 11 Old 08-03-2012, 11:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

In the state where you adopted, how do they handle adoptive placements vs foster care placements? I guess what i mean, is if a family wants to ONLY adopt, not foster, and they, say, pick a kid off the state photolisting, do preadopt visits, then the child moves in...is there any special process for that? vs you being a foster parent, and wanting to adopt, so they place a child with you they think is on the adoption track (which is kind of what happened to me with K)

 

There are two ways.  NJ actually has a separate division for adoption (kids whose case goal is adoption whether they are already legally free or not--there are 6-7 different "statuses" in the adoptive unit with varying levels of risk of the adoption happening).  Kids in foster care that wind up becoming legally free for adoption are handed to the adoption unit.  Resource parents usually have a foster care home study done but you CAN ask them to ALSO do an adoptive home study at the same time (it's actually a little different) and have the worker send one to the foster unit and one to the adoptive unit so that while you're fostering, you can also be considered for adoptive matching of legally free kids who are not being adopted by their current caregiver (which is sometimes a kinship placement--we were matched with one of those).  They don't tell the resource family this option exists, though; and they're no longer doing adoption-only home studies (I don't think, anyway).

 

Even if you're not licensed for adoption, they're going to ask if you'd be willing to adopt if they think a case is going there.  They can just do the extra work in the interim.

 

Our daughter was placed with us through the adoptive unit.  She not yet legally free but her case goal was adoption by non-relatives.

 

 

Michigan might be different than some other states in that one person in the state, called the MCI (Michigan Children's Institute i think?) guardian, is the legal guardian for all state wards in michigan (children whose parents' rights have been legally terminated)...if you arent a foster parent and want to adopt a legally free child then that child would be placed with you as an adoptive placement and you have to wait for "MCI approval" before that happens.  Its almost like the finalization is a formality. (of course this all could have changed in the past year or two)...

 

I honestly don't remember who's ACTUALLY in charge, but I know that it's similar in that the finalization is really a formality.  Every kid gets a law guardian and they generally come out and have to be in support of the child being with you or it's not going to happen; but I don't know how common it is that they wouldn't approve.

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
i have never had an "adoptive placment" only foster children that turned into adoptive placements. Even with my daughter, she was legally free but moved in as a foster placement and we could not file adoption papers until we got her subsidy situation hammered out and we couldnt do THAT until we got her at the appropriate foster care level of care (because subsidy amt is based on foster care amt)....it actually took almost a year from placement until those papers could be filed (my agency sucked)...once they were filed the adoption finalized within days, because the children had already lived with me for the required six months. So even though my daughter was going to be adopted by me, i *couldnt* make medical decisions, couldnt be the one to sign off on the IEP (well i could but the agency worker also had to sign)...i went ahead and made medical decisions but only because they really didnt ask about stuff like vaxes...but they COULD have.

 

Even once my daughter's bps rights had been terminated (which took about 6mo), then the state became her "parent" legally.  During that whole first year (the time until finalization) she was technically a foster child and we had zero in the way of rights... outside of choosing the doctor she went to (which we opted to do out-of-pocket to see a doctor we trusted).

 

 

Quote:

Thats why its so important when people post wanting information about adoption they really try to talk to someone in their state or they contact an agency and just ask, because each state is so different. Some states make adoption matches by committee, others the social worker has most of the power to choose. In some places the foster parent actually has to "go to committee" and be presented along with other interested people but here i cant imagine that happening, the foster parent pretty much has first "dibs" unless a relative steps up or unless for some reason the agency really doesnt think the relative is an appropriate choice.

 

I would say they need to talk to another family that's been through it first.  I don't find that the agencies or the state are 1) always straightforward (or even truthful) because they have an agenda; and 2) even when they're trying to be straightforward or truthful, they truly DON'T always know all the stupid stuff or haven't been informed of seemingly large changes.  I had the latter with a very good worker.

 

Once you do that, then you can go speak to the more official people because you'll be able to probe with more specificity. There is usually a foster or adoptive parent association around.

 

 


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#8 of 11 Old 08-03-2012, 12:35 PM
 
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As far as i know, we only have "legally free" and "not legally free" kids here....there may be unofficial "this case is headed to adoption" type cases that they may unofficially try to put in homes they know want to adopt, but its not official. My last two (not sure about the first, i never went to court with him and wasnt super involved in the process) kids werent transferred to the "adoption unit" (this is all in-agency, not sure what happens at the county/state level) until the day after TPR. I had actually touched base with my adoption worker telling her i wanted to adopt my son's sister (who was not yet placed with me) to give her a heads up before TPR since the foster care unit was acting crazy and really resisting placing her with me. I wasnt sure WHAT kind of bs they would tell her so i wanted her to know straight from me what i was willing to do. She had been the adoption worker for my first son and had written my homestudy so we already had a relationship. She would also be the one making the decision about who to "support" to MCI for placement of the children, which was lucky for me because there was a relative who wanted them (who didnt even know my son, she really only wanted the girl) but my worker didnt really support that placement (for various legitimate reasons) even though the foster care unit was really pushing her as the best option. She was furious that the foster care unit (all within the same agency) was going to try to be underhanded and move the kids to this woman and she said they couldnt do that, as the kids were in the adoption unit now and SHE would be making the placement decisions. It was all very crazy.

 

Are parents who have kids placed with them for the purpose of adoption allowed to homeschool in NJ? when i first started the process a sw told me no, they couldnt (here in MI) because foster kids cant be homeschooled, so i would need to wait til finalization (for the mythical school aged child that was never placed with me anyway)...but i had been told by someone else they absolutely CAN be hs...so she checked with her supervisor and was told, yes, pre-adopt parents (of post-TPR kids, presumably) CAN homeschool. I dont think i would have been able to HS my daughter though, as placement papers had not yet been signed.

 

Yeah when i said "talk to someone in their state" i mostly meant other parents who have been through the process. Because many times even workers dont know the regulations or what they are talking about.

 

All of this talk is really making me dread starting the adoption process again, which i was hoping to do next year.
 


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#9 of 11 Old 08-03-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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My experience: they look at age and finances but neither are major barriers to most people interested in fostering/adopting. Where I live, the age rules are simple: you have to be at least 21 (not sure if there's an upper age limit for fostering, maybe for adoption) and you have to be at least 10 years older than the child you foster/adopt. As far as finances go, they just want to see evidence that you can pay your expenses. They don't want you doing it as income. From what I recall, it was just a worksheet and pay stubs, something like that. They might also run a credit check but I kind of doubt it. I know that many foster parents are in serious debt and have terrible credit. We have good credit though, so I can't tell  you about that first hand.

 

As far as the discussion about reunification goes, yes my experience is that even if you are adamant that you want to adopt and that's all you're interested in, they will push or manipulate you into fostering even when there's little chance of adoption. Then, even when adoption is very likely, there's still the whole first year where they're legally obligated to search for any blood relative willing to take the kid. It's a tough emotional roller coaster. But then if they can't find anyone willing or able, the kid is most likely going to be able to be adopted by the foster parents. If you're a prospective adoptive parent who doesn't foster, you're basically last in line for these children. So that means that a lot of people have said "no" to those kids and they really need someone who can step up to the plate.

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#10 of 11 Old 08-04-2012, 06:28 PM
 
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Are parents who have kids placed with them for the purpose of adoption allowed to homeschool in NJ? 

 

Nope.  In fact, they tried to codify that policy last year.  The homeschool associations fought it but I removed myself from the board of the association I was with since I'm out of state and unable to physically be somewhere if it's needed (plus a few other reasons). So I'm not sure if they got it into the statutes or not.


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#11 of 11 Old 08-05-2012, 08:29 PM
 
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And personal pet peeve:  foster kids generally have a goal of reunification.  Unless and until that goal is changed by the court to "adoption by (named party who is non-relative)" and all contesting of that change is done, you really can't bank on them staying.  I hate how caseworkers often say "There's no way this one's going home".  I've had at least 3 of those cases (and one of them really DID look impossible--and that child was RU'd and subsequently re-removed in another state almost a year later).


We have been at this a year now and one thing we have learned is that the social worker is not necessarily your 'friend.'  Which is not to say that they are an enemy, but they have their job to do, and have to work multiple plans at once, and some less professional ones may say things to get a placement.  Our current worker is phenomenal, but our first worker was difficult. 

That social worker asked us two weeks before kids were placed with us if we were  a 'foster to adopt' license (there is foster only, adopt only and foster/adopt licenses in NV)  and suggested that the kids may become available.  A week or two in, we learned that the kids were not going to be open for adoption;  they were being removed from grandparents (where they had been placed after removal from mom) by grandparents request, but mom was entering rehab (part of her plan) and grandparents immediately worked on getting the kids back (they changed their mind).  In fact, the kids were back with grandparents within 3 months.

SO, luckily, we are foster to adopt, but are not interested in adopting at this time (it just seems more streamlined to go this route just in case).  However, if we had hopes to adopt, we would have been quite disappointed!

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