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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! I'm new to this forum so please accept my apologies in advance if I ever repeat questions already asked.
My husband and I have started the process of becoming approved for foster to adopt again after a couple of years out of the system. The first time we were approved our caseworker told us that because we wanted to adopt we had to be very specific about the type of child we wanted to adopt. We had specified that we wanted to ADOPT a son up to approximately 8 years old, we could not accept special needs but mild learning disabilities and race were not an issue. We have 2 daughters and want to make the change to our family a positive experience for them.

Over the course of time we were approved with the agency we received several calls for placement. We were called for a sibling group of 3, a teenage boy, a sibling set of 2 (8 and 12) and the list goes on. After a long, long wait we got a call for a 2 year old boy with slight developmental delay and his 10 month old sister who were not legally free for adoption yet but that they believed would be. My husband and I discussed the situation and called the caseworker back within the hour to accept the placement. She told us the paperwork would be stated and she set up an appointment to do a training with us for the following week. We purchased cribs, clothing, toys, and set up their bedroom. We prepared our girls and we were all very excited.

The following week when the caseworker showed up we did our training and she didn't mention the kids. She was sorting out paperwork and putting things away and I asked, "when should we find out when the babies will be coming?" She looked at me with no emotion whatsoever and said, "oh, yeah, you're not getting them. They decided to keep them in another county. I'll call ya if we have anything else for ya." Our family was so sad but I was devistated.
We did not do our recertification the following year because I was actually angry with her lack of emotion.

Now, here it is a couple of years later and we are trying again. We've filled out most of our paperwork, submitted our financials, and are on our way. Before we start the process of actually jumping through hoops again I have some questions.

Has anyone else experienced something like what we did?
Is this standard practice and we just didn't know?
Were they just testing us?
Is there hope to adopt from foster care in PA or are we just kidding ourselves?

Any advice or support would be so appreciated.
 

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Welcome Amglo, and I hope this forum can be some support to you even though it has been fairly quiet lately!

I am so sorry to hear about your experience, it sounds truly awful. I wish I could say it was unusual. Foster to adopt is so very different from pursuing a direct adoption, though, I feel it is important for you to know it could happen again, and/or in various other manifestations.

It's good to keep in mind that the job of social services is two-fold: to keep children safe when they are in imminent risk of harm, and to reunify them with their families. That is the primary purpose of their existence. When they go to TPR (termination of parental rights of birth parents), they have failed, really, in their mission. They have a hard time recruiting foster parents, particularly foster parents that are willing to abide by their central mission, which is reunification with birth parents. Their interests inherently contrasts with your interest, which is to build your family.

Another important point is that it is hard to say you will not accept a child with special needs. By virtue of the situation---in which a child has been forcibly removed from his birth parents due to abuse and neglect that rose to the level that a judge would agree he was at imminent risk of harm---means that child is going to have special needs. He may not have physical disabilities or anything visible, but when a vulnerable child experiences severe neglect or abuse, we are talking about trauma and deep psychological wounds that take time to heal. Being in a healthy family does not cure these wounds, in fact, sometimes being in a 'healthy' family makes them worse for awhile. The likelihood that you would have an 8 yr old boy with no 'baggage' , who is freed for adoption, is highly unlikely.

That said, if you are willing to learn about trauma and how to help heal children, there are many, many children in need of healthy families to give them a new shot. Resources available!

To your caseworkers lack of emotion: they are hugely overworked and underpaid. They have dozens of kids and families in their head at any one time. It was probably a careless oversight on her part, but not one you should take personally. I doubt it was a personal test of any kind. It just speaks to the volume and overwork of our child protection system.

I'm sure others can offer more insight. In the meantime, i would suggest either opting only for an infant (baby placed immediately due to exposure to drugs in utero) or opening your mind to learn more about trauma and abuse/neglect and the impact on children's development.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the insight Lauren. I should have been more specific about the needs we would/would not accept. We let them know that we could not accept a child that would need round the clock care forever. We are definitely aware of trauma and healing that will need to take place. We know that this will disrupt our normal family flow and are prepared to create a new normal. We are working with an agency that provides training and classes, that is actually why we chose them.

Now that I know that this type of thing can happen again I think I can be better prepared. I never expected that I could become attached to these babies that I had never met. It was not explained to us that even if we had gotten the call that it didn't mean we would have them in our home. I know it would be impossible for our caseworker to go over every possible situation and outcome but I would have thought that would be high on the list. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't just us!

I have faith in the system and actually pray quite frequently for those struggling parents that they can find the strength to be the parents that their children need. I hope for reunification but our thoughts were on those children that won't be reunified when we decided on foster to adopt. Clearly we still have a lot to learn. I'm glad I found this forum.

Thanks again for replying!
 

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I am so glad to hear the agency is giving you good training; many do not. In addition to what they are giving you (if you haven't checked these out already), I would recommend the Child Trauma Academy and Bruce Perry's work and the Circle of Security website as excellent resources to understand and help traumatized and neglected kids.

Thanks for clarifying what you mean by special needs. So many other foster parents go into this without sufficient knowledge and training and then reach a point of despair (and often disrupted care or disrupted adoption) when their foster/adopt child does not respond to the love and care they are offering. It is a long and tough road for some; not for all, but those are fewer and far between in my experience. There are so many unknowns with fostering.

That said, I like to say there are so many unknowns with biological children as well. I have been surprised at times by big problems that crept up with my birth children that I certainly did not anticipate or think 'could' happen. So it just goes to show you, we can't really plan for anything. We just have to educate ourselves and seek support!!
 
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