Foster Care Adoption

 

Everyone knows that the ‘system’ is broken. Almost everyone can agree that children deserve to grow up in a loving, nurturing, and safe environment. There are thousands of children waiting to be adopted. I have written articles on how to get more of these children adopted. I have donated, promoted, and supported organizations that help children find their forever homes.

It wasn’t until I tried to do it myself, adopt a waiting child, that I truly saw and experienced what is standing in the way of these children being adopted.

My husband and I were asked to adopt a child from foster care who was legally free for adoption. We completed everything necessary to adopt her. We received consent and an order from the court formally placing her with us for adoption. Then, everything began to change. The same court that signed our order placing child after consent was trying to move our little girl back to a home she was removed from for substantiated accusations of abuse and neglect. There was no notice to us and we found out about the attempt through a social worker.

 

In 2014, my husband and I began our family building journey through adoption. We were chosen by an expectant couple and welcomed our son through a direct placement adoption in 2015. We had always wanted our children to grow up with siblings in the home. So, soon after our son’s adoption was finalized, we began to pursue our second adoption. This time, we wanted to adopt a waiting child: a child that was legally free for adoption.

In May of 2017, we became a licensed foster family. In June, we received a call about a nearly three year old little girl who was legally free for adoption and in need of a pre-adoptive placement.

We were thrilled to get the call and were eager to meet her along with the woman who had been raising her since she was 5 months old.

Welcoming our new addition was challenging, rewarding, and more amazing than we could have dreamed. Watching our son and (pre-adoptive) daughter become brother and sister and our family grow and bond together is why love makes a family. We are four individuals who share no biological connection, but who are undeniably meant to be together as a family.

In the months to come, my husband and I, with the help of our daughters adoption worker requested consent from Michigan Children’s Institute. MCI is the agency that is the guardian of all of the legally adoptable children in our state. We received consent and then filed our adoption petition with the circuit court which was signed into order in November of 2017. Our girl was out of foster care for the first time since she was 5 months old! She had already experienced so much loss for a child of her age. First, she was removed from her birth parents and then a relative placement where she had been for over 2 years before an ‘incident’ where she was found in the street.  We found out later that she had 3 mommy figures and 4 daddy figures, multiple caregivers, and spent time in 4 separate commercial daycare centers. Being a part of our family also made it the first time in her life where her address was consistent for an entire year.

We began receiving documents with her adoptive name and we were all looking forward to adoption day!

Then, things began to change. We had known that her former foster parent/relative placement had lost her foster care license due to the ‘incident’ and had not wanted our now pre-adoptive daughter to be moved from their care. However, four agencies had agreed that our soon to be daughter had to be moved to keep her safe and to ultimately be adopted.

In April of 2018, with no notice to us, the court that had signed the order formally placing our daughter with us for adoption, had held a hearing to move her back to the former relative foster placement, pending the Michigan Children’s Institutes appeal and other hearings relating to her former placement. We were not given any formal notice of this or allowed to participate.

From that point forward, we obtained our own attorney and have been to court nearly a dozen times since May 2018 and counting. We’ve been battling to ensure that the court order formally placing her with us for adoption is upheld, along with a best interest hearing to determine where she will live pending the MCI appeal that has been filed.

We have produced 5 years of bank statements, 5 years of tax returns and paid over $51,000 in legal expenses. My husband and I have been personally testifying for hours about our lives, how we parent, and how our daughter reacts to being around her biological relatives.

We have all heard about the ‘system’ being broken. The child welfare system is more than broken. There needs to be real change in the laws that build families through adoption and determine the fate of our children’s lives. Currently, my family is living within the gaps in the legislature. We’re trying to survive and above all else, stay together. After our case, we plan to join other families built through adoption or who hope to be and fixes the legal issues that are terrorizing us now.

 

Please donate to our cause and help to change the legislate for all of the other families hoping to adopt waiting children.

http://gofundme.com/schults

Review Of To Have And Not To Hold By Lorri Antosz Benson

Finding an adoption story that is similar to yours is like looking for a needle in a haystack. All adoptions are different. To Have and Not to Hold is an adoption memoir written from the birth mother perspective. In 1981, Lorri Antosz Benson made an adoption plan for her daughter in the Chicago area. This is a real-life account of the journey through unplanned pregnancy, to adoption and to open adoption. Read my full review here.

National Adoption Awareness Month with Rachel Garlinghouse

Adoption education has been very important to me since I began my journey into adoption. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was ignorant to all of what adoption was and could be. I was looking to build my family. Nothing more. It was surprising that I couldn’t just adopt and forget it. Adoption forever altered the way I look at the world.

As a mother, I want to make a world for my children that they are proud of and safe in. At the very least, teach them that they matter, are powerful, and can build a life they love.

By sharing my experiences with motherhood and adoption, I am planting little seeds to make this adoption world more positive, more educated, and more tolerant. Adoption awareness month helps me do that. All the other mothers touched by adoption gave me courage, education, and support. For that, I am thankful.

Rachel Garlinghouse is the author of many adoption books for parents and children. Most recently, I read ‘The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption : The Whit & Wisdom You Need for the Journey’. I had the opportunity to read it and write a review recently. It was truly the book I needed as a mom to be via adoption in 2014 when I felt isolated, overwhelmed and wasn’t sure if I’d ever fit in as a mom. Rachel creates a space for a mother via adoption to find validation in their feelings and their journey. She shares her own story and champions you along in yours, all the while standing for a positive educated adoption world for our children to live in. She also answered some questions for Adopt Mom Style in support of National Adoption Awareness month.

-When I first announced my son’s arrival on facebook. I was floored by the crazy things people said to me. It was a huge wake up call for me that adoption is very misunderstood. That was my motivation for sharing my experiences with motherhood and adoption. The goal being to give my children a more positive adoption world to live in.
What was your moment? What is your why?

Waiting to adopt is really when I realized the many misconceptions people have about adoption. We were asked, “So you can’t have your own kids?” Or, “Don’t adopted kids have issues?” Or, “Doesn’t that cost a lot of money?” And I realized, adoption isn’t just about joyfully adding a baby to a family. Adoption is BIG and complicated and misunderstood.

The reason I do what I do today, everything from my books to articles to blog posts, is to educate, inspire, and empathize. I want parents-by-adoption and hopeful parents to not feel isolated, downtrodden, and scared. I want them to parent with joy, education, and empathy. And I want them to be able to educate others.

-National Adoption Awareness Month brings more attention to children available for adoption. How would you get more children adopted from foster care? (not necessarily teens)

There is an incredible need for adults to adopt children from the foster care system. At this time, over 120,000 children are free for adoption, just waiting for a forever family. It is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the system truly is broken. Some states (mine included: Illinois) are much worse than others. There’s budget issues, staffing, a lack of people willing to adopt. Case workers are overworked and underpaid. There are so many things that need to be fixed, but I will say that if someone feels that nudge to consider adopting from foster care, they should meet with other families who have done the same, get educated on things like trauma and attachment, and take the necessary steps to move forward. Even though the system makes it difficult, it is not impossible.

– What does National Adoption Awareness Month mean for you?

I love November. As a writer, I’m able to share my experiences and resources, but I’m also able to highlight the stories of others. This month on my blog, I’m featuring four interviews that will be of interest to families-by-adoption, including with Heather Avis (author of The Lucky Few) who adopted two children with special needs, Alyssa Schnell (author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing), and Matthew Paul Turner (author of the incredible children’s book When God Made You). Each person offers insight and encouragement. I’m also sharing books and articles and posts by adoptees and birth parents. I think the more voices we have, the better off we are.

– If you could completely erase one thing about the adoption process or just change it, what would it be?

I think there needs to be national domestic infant adoption laws when it comes to termination of parental rights, birth father rights, revocation, etc.  When different states have different rules, it encourages unethical practices:  moving expectant mothers to a more “adoption friendly state,” for example.    I don’t understand why, in 2017, we are still allowing unethical adoption laws.   If you aren’t sure what this means and why it matters, read the book ‘The Girls Who Went Away.’  What those young women endured was heartbreaking, and I don’t ever want one expectant mother to place her baby for adoption under coercion.   One way to stop this is to have national adoption laws.
You can read more from Rachel at her blog: White Sugar, Brown Sugar.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month 2017

I have a ton of feelings about National Adoption Month. On one hand, I feel like it has a little bit of an adopt-a-thon feel. Adoption is the most sacred part of who I am. Giving it a month seems a bit off. On the flip side, I am determined to make this world a better place for my children. Who will all have been adopted. If this month helps to make the world of adoption a caring, compassionate, positive place, then I better jump on board.

What is adoption awareness month?

It is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau with a goal to increase national awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system. This years theme is ‘Teens need families, No matter what’

What can you do to support the cause?

If you have experience, specifically with older child adoption, SHARE your story! Talk about your experience! It could be your story that gives another family the courage to be open to a teenager.

What if I only have experience with infant adoption?

You can  share your story! Adoption needs to be talked about. All angles of adoption are so very important to the big picture of creating an adoption positive world for our children.

I really do stand behind sharing adoption truths. It is the adoption streo types that hurt our children the most. Whether they are already adopted, still a glimmer in our eye, or completely grown, working together to make adoption a positive main stream component to our families will change the world they live in. So, National Adoption Awareness Month it is.

What are your thoughts on adoption awareness month?

 

3 Ways Adoption Changed Me

Newsflash! Adoption and family building is a life-long conversation. Just ask anyone who has had natural child birth (they will tell you all about it.) The way you choose to build your family will forever impact you. It changes your identity.

Read the rest here.