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.