My husband and I live in NH and are starting the FACES (Foster/Adopt) classes on Tuesday night. We haven't 100% decided yet if we are going to Foster or if we are going to hold out and wait for a child that is already legally emancipated. Is it true that we are more likely to get a younger child if we roll the dice and Foster in the hopes of being able to adopt? I'm really nervous of getting attached and being heartbroken when I have to give them back. The DHHS (Department of Health & Human Service) worker keeps telling us that their main goal is reunification. I have heard that adopting an older child is sometimes easier because most people want children under the age of five, but to be honest I am really scared about the trauma histories of some of these older children that have been exposed to abuse/neglect longer. I realize there still will probably be some bumps in the road with a younger child because even at 3 years old they are still effected but at 7 I'd imagine there memories would be that much harder to overcome.
Also, the one thing that has really been weighing on my mind is that both my husband and I have Misdemeanor convictions on our records. Do any of you that have Fostered or Adopted have somewhat spotty pasts with Criminal Convictions? My most recent was in 2011 and I've been on probation for 6 months but am getting off probation in the next few months for good behavior. I had probably 6 different Convictions between 2007 and 2011 mainly theft related all Misdemeanors. I do have a history of substance abuse but have been clean/sober for the past two years. My husband had a DUI (Drunk Driving) in 2003. We are not bad people, but we have made some mistakes. Also, would a Bipolar and PTSD diagnosis disqualify someone from Fostering? I'm embarrassed even sharing all of these things but I really need some peace of mind. I did mention the criminal stuff to my DHHS worker (not in detail) and she said we should be fine, but yesterday as I was filling out the Foster/Adopt Autobiography and listing off all of my convictions all I could think was, "Wow, I look so horrible on paper!" We tried for a year to conceive a biological child but through testing found out that would never be possible, I was diagnosed with a Unicornuate Uterus and Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Now we have shifted our focus to Adoption. I just want to be a mommy and I know I will be a great one. Any thoughts or advice???
I could wait three years and have my Criminal Record expunged but I really don't want to wait. My husband is nearly 40 and I am 31 so the clock is ticking. Am I wrong to feel like there must be Foster/Adopt parents out there like us that have made mistakes in the past but still want to provide a stable and loving home to a child in need.
Thank you all for listening.
It is hard to predict what they will say about your police record. Much will depend on what the crimes were, how you can explain why it won't happen again, and the mood that day of the certifier (I think!). In my area, a DUI is considered a big deal, but I don't know how recent it has to be to be a deal breaker. As for the bipolar and PTSD - they will want to see that it is under control, maybe an evaluation from your therapist. A PTSD history can actually be a plus, if you can explain that your trauma history helps you understand a child's trauma response.
About the age issue - age is only one factor, albeit a major one. I had a sibling group, ages 3-9 when they came into care, and the littlest ones were by far the most effected by the abuse/neglect they all lived through. In fact, the oldest 3 were returned home, and the youngest 2 could not be, due to their level of behaviors and needs. One advantage of the foster-to-adopt route is that you have an opportunity to know and love the child before committing to adoption. No file or description of a child adequately describes daily life with that child, or predicts how your feelings will develop. My strongest attachment with a foster child was with a little girl with the highest needs. She had blown out of several foster placements before me. But for whatever reason, she and I attached, and it worked. Not that love is enough, or that she dropped all her issues. Her file sounded like a train wreck, and her behaviors (at first) were off the charts. That didn't prove to be a barrier to loving her, and life settled down to intense but manageable. The lesson I learned was that there is no predicting.
My advice would be to be honest with the certifier, show how you have learned from your experiences, and hope for the best.
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)
Hi Kristinkarr! Your fost/adopt preferences seem similar to mine! I wanted to be a mommy to an infant as well so I decided to "roll the dice" with foster care. The older kids thing scared me as well. Remember that you have the ability to accept or not accept any foster placements that you are called about. This means that you can wait for a call where it seems like reunification would be unlikely. However, there are no guarantees of adoption in these cases. To be honest, I accepted an infant knowing almost nothing about his story and adoption looks likely but we are still at the mercy of the judge. The wait here is 2-3 YEARS for an infant freed for adoption. However, I hear about 2-3 year olds all the time who they can't find adoptive homes for. I got three calls for kids under 3 the first week, 2 of which were days old.
As far as the misdemeanors - i can only say what my experience has been in CA. Here, I just had to file additional exemption forms for my conviction. In my case - it was easy because the law I broke living on the east coast is not a law in CA so they didn't end up considering it. As long as the state doesn't feel like it would interfere with your ability to parent, the should be fine. DUIs are a strange case here, but I've been told longer than 8 years ago is okay. I tried to hire a babysitter with a more recent DUI - 2 yrs - and the state said no way. The explanation I got was that it shows poor decision making. As for the PTSD/bipolar, they will probably want a note from your doc saying he/she feels confident that it will not interfere with your ability to be a good parent.
Trying to adopt from foster care in Los Angeles.