Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blog Buzz Question of the Week

Red Letters Campaign has started a great new thing, Blog Buzz. They ask three questions each week and bloggers can choose one or more of these to answer on their blog. By adding the RLC badge, the answers are then fed to RLC and someone going there to read the answers to one of the questions is fed to all of the posts that relate to that question. Very cool!

The question I want to answer this week is on choosing an adoption agency.

Since I was adopting through foster care, this was somewhat different than if you were to adopt "regularly" through either domestic or international means. Most of all it means, especially to me in a small area, that there aren't many agencies to even look at or "choose from."

When I began the process I knew NOTHING and I mean NOTHING of fostering/adopting or how to even gain information on this subject. Today with the internet and yahoo groups and blogs as they are, I would have no problem navigating the maze to come. Since I worked as a special ed teacher, I went to our school social worker to ask about foster care and where to even start. She directed me to start at the state agency in town. So, I called and began the process of being licensed. Looking back I would have done things very differently. The main thing I would tell people to do is find foster parents in their area and ASK THEM! In my area we have three foster agencies. One is the state agency and there are two private agencies. You DO NOT have to go through the state agency to be licensed, the process is the same for all public and private foster agencies, with some minor variations. They all work with state children. I had no idea at the time. The DCFS agency I began with was not great, but I have heard many in many states and even my own who have wonderful experiences with theirs. It is completely dependent on each individual agency. That is why the foster parents in the area would have tremendous experience and voice to give to anyone who is searching for a foster agency.

Many times caseworkers do not do the best job they could. I feel for them as they are hugely underpaid, but they have the JOB to protect children and some of the things I've seen don't completely follow this. I've had many who don't return calls, don't know how to properly transport the children in their care for visits, etc in proper car seats for ages/weights, don't keep correct documentation, on and on. Experienced foster parents in your area can give you knowledge prior to your start with an agency.

Questions I would ask of foster parents and agencies in foster/adopting:

How respectful is the agency of foster parents as a team member in the reuinification of this child? While I and many others go into foster care with the end goal of adoption, foster children have the primary goal of reunification. I know that if a parent can truly work through their circumstances and get their lives together, then they should by all means be able to have their child "back." And I know that God uses me to give those children stability in the days they live with me. But if they can't I want to know that this agency will do what is best for the child. Agencies are typically paid more to keep the child in their home than they are for that child to have their rights terminated. I want to know that this is not an agency's priority, but that they will truly look at the best interest of the child.

How often do caseworkers turn over? Many times caseworkers leave agencies that are not doing the best work for children. But sometimes caseworkers leave due to money and job changes. It's hard to tell, but at my current agency which I am leaving soon, all of the people who were then at the start have left. The agency I'm going to has two of the caseworkers and the people there have mostly been there a long time.

How do they feel about placing transracially? For me, I didn't care if the child was purple, I wanted to be a home for children who needed one and was prepared to help them in any way I could. The state agency I began with, while they outright stated they would place any child in a good home regardless of color, did not speak that through their actions. They did not place many children with me at all, yet AA homes had numerous children. A friend of mine had a 3 mo old baby girl who had a 4 year old brother placed separately. She is AA and so were the children. They wanted the children placed together but she didn't think she was capable. She told them I would take them, but it took 2 days of her almost forcing them before they finally called and I took them in.

What are agency "rules" about length of time a child is with you when termination occurs and then looking at family as placement? Meaning, here if a foster child has been in a placement over a year and termination occurs, the foster home should be first priority with no regard to extended family or anyone else. That child has a bond with you and it should continue, if you are willing and able to adopt. This does not always happen. If relatives haven't come forward within a year, why should they just hand a child over to someone they don't even know when now the parents cant' care for them. But it's done. And RAD is created when these bonds are broken. Ask about the agency's feelings and rules. If you don't know them, they will walk all over you in some cases.

I'm sure there are many more questions but that is all I can think of for now. Hope it helps!

1 comments:

Jess said...

Thanks this was very helpful. i didn't realize that the agencies are payed more for a child that is reunificated. you would think they would be paid more for a child that is out of the system safe and quick?

I am going to have to bring this up with the social worker, lets see if i get a strait answer.

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I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!


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