Main Factor Inhibiting Foster Child Adoption

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We are foster parents who'd planned to adopt the 4-year-old girl in our care (with case plan already for TPR) once she became available, but she was removed from us after 8 months and placed in another foster-to-adopt home, not because of abuse or neglect, but simply because we had stepped on some toes by advocating for a different preschool and therapy program (which would have cost the county considerably LESS than what they were spending) from the "therapeutic preschool" 50 minutes each-way by contract-van transport, that the county had placed her in since age 3.

We learned that the agency's statements that foster parents are "respected members of the foster care treatment team", free to advocate for the child's best interests as we perceive them, are LIES. Interdependent relationships with service-providers who have conflicts-of-interest; job security issues of inept social workers, guardians and therapists; "insider" placement preferences; and individuals' power trips all seem to be higher priorities than the children's true best interests. We have taken this issue as far as we could within the agency, and written to the Governor, County Commissioners and state representative.

Unfortunately 4 months have gone by while we put up with interdepartmental stall tactics. Now we have gotten a local TV news investigative reporter involved and though our hopes are dimming for getting this child back, we hope to make a difference for others in the System. We discovered that the owner of a Montessori school, where a friend teaches, is a relative of the Director of our county department of job & family services. Though the Director had reviewed the case personally at a county commissioner's behest--then refused to reverse her agency's decision (or even tell us about the formal grievance hearing we just learned we're entitled to), we hoped her relative would be willing to plead our case. Instead, she said the bureaucracy is bigger than ANY person's power to control it--and urged us to adopt internationally!

Our story is sadly only one of hundreds (thousands?) that occur each year involving people who are thwarted or even emotionally brutalized in their attempts to adopt from the social service system in this country. The "word" gets around and inhibits others from ever considering foster care or adopting from the System. It is not fair at all to criticize those who choose from the beginning to avoid dealing with them and manage to come up with the thousands of dollars it takes to adopt even an older or special needs child from an orphanage internationally. That is where the greatest need lies, anyway, since foster kids in the U.S.--whether adopted or not--have much greater resources (however mismanaged) devoted to their care through childhood and beyond, than any child growing up in an orphanage or on the street, of the countries where international adoptions are occurring.

One factor for us, since we don't know how adequate our medical insurance will be after we retire in another 6 yrs, was the Medicaid coverage till age 18 that is usually provided for kids adopted from the foster care system. We are told that some states are better than others, and have considered trying to adopt from another state's foster care system--though competition is keen and children with less-severe issues who are already legally free, often have 100+ home studies submitted for consideration.

At this point it is hard for us to even think about another child, since we still feel that this little 4 yr old girl is "our" child who was abruptly and cruelly taken away from us. We may end up not adopting at all, especially since we are in our 50's (though very healthy and active). Or we may take the money from what we'd hoped would be a college education fund, to adopt from Guatemala--where age restrictions are liberal--and hope that family medical insurance will be available and affordable post-retirement. That's IF we have any money left, after spending thousands on attorney fees and perhaps an independent psychologist (if the county will allow him access to the child and her records) to keep pursuing our case through next week's interdepartmental hearing (with a stacked-deck panel THEY choose) and then to the courts.

Credits: Linda W.

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