As of today, we are certified as a Foster/Adoptive Resource Family with the City of Baltimore Department of Social Services. It is real, it is happening, we are in business. But what does that mean–we are certified. We did everything that was asked of us, and apparently we did it a lot faster than they are used to.
Sometimes people are amazed that we have to go through this process when people having biological children have simply to carry a conceived child to term–or at least the mother does–and poof there is a baby. No social worker looking into your relationship with your Mother, your educational background (yes it does make a difference if you went to college), weighing whether you have the capacity to be a parent, checking your income and expenses in detail and whether your home is suited for young children. It all makes perfect sense though. When given an opportunity isn’t it the State’s responsibility to ensure that any children that come into its care are placed where no more harm will come to them? Certification means that the State has done its job to ensure that those children will be properly taken care of.Certification means that we are eligible to take placement of a foster child. Additionally, if the plan has been determined for that child to be permanently placement outside of the biological family, then Baltimore City will pursue the termination of parental rights and begin the process for adoption through the Baltimore Court System. It has taken us quite a bit to get to this point, but it wasn’t as onerous as we had imagined, at least the certification process anyway. We have yet to fully understand how the process for placement and adoption will work. At this point our understanding is that a placement worker will be assigned who will then work with us and make contacts with the social workers representing individual children. There doesn’t seem to be much structure to it, however, I don’t expect this to be any different than what we have already been through. The challenging part will be becoming foster parents.
Since we will foster before we can adopt, there will likely be some period of time where we work with the child’s social worker and potentially the birth parents. It could be a few months or as long as a year before we have any finality to the adoption process. I think as we have recognized our interest in younger children, we have also recognized and have been more willing to assume the increased level of risk associated with that population of foster kids. Frequently there are still active plans for reunification with birth families when children are very young. Neither of us however, wants to have a child whose natural parents are working actively with some success towards reunification. We may want to be true foster parents someday, where we help kids through a really rough period and with their families and social worker towards the goal of reunification. But right now, we want as they often say on http://www.Adoptuskids.org, kids who need a forever home.
I think we still need to balance our strong desire to have a child right now against the children who might be presented to us. What might seem like a wonderful match may not be something we can handle because of the tenuous situation with the birth parents. We still need to wrap our heads around the prospective bump in the road where a child that we agree to take, lives with us for a few months and then the court decides that he should be placed back with the biological parents or with a relative. I’m not sure what our pain threshold would be in that circumstance. We both feel though that in the end if the birth family can pull themselves together well enough to bring their child home, then it is probably the best thing. However, having a child with the intent of adopting and then having him removed would be emotionally difficult, and actually might be pretty devistating. But like most things we have encounted together we do what we can and the rest isn’t something that we control. It will be whatever life has for us.