So here is where we are in our journey as of today.
We decided last fall that we wanted to focus strictly on adoptive placements. The ways to find adoptive placements in the foster care system are:
- To look at children posted on the TARE website and submit for information about children that meet your criteria. The downside to this option is that it is statewide (most children posted on TARE have exhausted all local options), it is not always current and it seems to take a long time to get a response when you do make an inquiry. For us specifically, many children on TARE needed a small family or to be the youngest child in the home, which made them incompatible for us.
- To receive e-mail bulletins from our agency of children who are ready to be placed in an adoptive home. These go out when parental rights are terminated and the current placement does not wish to adopt. Occasionally, also, there are bulletins labeled “Legal Risk”, which means CPS is ready to move the child to an adoptive home even though rights have not been terminated yet or the state is still looking into another placement (i.e. a family member). If you get an email that appeals to you, you request that your agency submit your home study to the caseworker for consideration. This also may take time to get a response, and the more “appealing” children receive lots of home studies to be considered. (See my Red Rover video.) These may be local or statewide.
- The third option is to have your agency submit your home study to the Adoption Unit of a specific CPS region, usually close to where you live. They can look at potential matches that may not have gone out via bulletin or posted on TARE yet. This process may move more quickly, depending on the matches available.
We committed to pursuing any options in any of those 3 avenues. We submitted our home study to the San Antonio Adoption Unit, since there are many potential placements in San Antonio, and our agency has developed relationships with the people who work on placements there. We searched TARE and submitted to get information on several children there, and we sifted through the bulletins we got via email and responded to a couple to be considered. We knew that the right match might take a while and resigned to wait.
We were looking for children within our children’s age range, children with needs we could manage and for 3 or fewer children. Those criteria are pretty much the “mainstream” criteria, so we didn’t really stand out to get picked from other families. Plus, as we knew from feedback from another submission, having 3 biological kids could be a negative thing, since that made us a large family once we added children, and smaller families are preferred for some children.
On January 16, I received three emails. One was from a caseworker of a TARE inquiry we had sent, telling us that a boy that we had asked about had been placed with family. It was good to know. Sometimes you never hear anything. The second email was for an adoptive placement of a boy similar to that one boy. And the third email was for an adoptive placement of a sibling group of 4 kids. Normally, I don’t forward emails to Mark unless I think he would want to submit for them, but I forwarded both adoptive emails to him that day. We had said our limit was 3 kids, but there was something about the picture of these 4, and the oldest boy wanted a dad who would teach him computer programming. To my surprise, he responded and told me to submit for the 4!
We contacted our agency, and they jumped on it. They knew some information about these kids from their connections at CPS (the kids were in San Antonio) and were very excited that we would consider them. Because they are a sibling group of 4, there isn’t a lot of interest in them. Plus, they are a little bit older, so basically, we jumped from the “mainstream”. And that completely changed the game for us.
Our agency submitted our home study to the caseworker, and we were quickly chosen! (I think we were the only ones who submitted.) We were given what information our agency had about them, and it seemed like a good match for us. We began the process of an adoptive placement. There are several steps to go through at the beginning to try to ensure a successful placement.
First, there is an initial staffing, which was our agency and the children’s caseworker talking about the children’s backgrounds and needs in an adoptive home, who we are as a family and concerns that need to be addressed. Then, our agency talks to us about what was presented, and we decide if we want to proceed or not. That happened on January 22. We were satisfied with the information we were given and felt equipped to handle the needs of the children, so we decided to proceed.
Then, we get a chance to talk to the caseworker ourselves and the foster parents to get a more clear picture and specific information about the children. The caseworker also wanted us to read the children’s case file, so we went to San Antonio and did all of that on January 30. The case file was eye opening, but I won’t go into specifics. After that, we are given another chance to walk away or proceed. We proceeded. There are concerns for sure, but we felt affirmed and equipped to continue. At that time, we gave their caseworker a small photo book to give to the kids to tell them about us.
The next step is to meet the kids. We were so excited to meet them and planned to meet them the following Saturday, February 8th. Mark and I decided it was best for us to go by ourselves for the first meeting, just so we could have time for them to talk to us and us to focus on them. We went last Saturday, and it was seriously one of the most memorable days of my life! They are the sweetest kids, and meeting them made me feel like they were my children, meant to be a part of our family.
So that brings us to where we are today. We have another day visit planned this Saturday, this time with our kids. Then, the plan is to do a couple of overnight visits on the next 2 weekends, then have them move in at Spring Break. They would be a foster placement for 6 months, and we can finalize an adoption after that.
We would really appreciate your prayers as we move forward. We know from past experience that there is still a possibility that this could all fall through before placement. We don’t think it will, and we hope it will not! There are also many preparations that need to be made to accommodate them, including a vehicle and some furniture and room preparations. We need to be wise with finances in making these preparations. After placement, we know there will be challenges with adjustment, with building trust and the logistics of parenting 7 kids. We know it won’t be easy, but we believe it will be worth it. Please keep our family in your prayers.
I cannot wait to share even more information and pictures once they are OUR children! Stay tuned!