Our Adoption Journey!

A journal of our thoughts, feelings and steps in the process of adopting a child with significant special needs.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sometimes it does take a village....

....to raise a child.
This post is not related directly to adoption or our family wanting to adopt but it is my thoughts and advice on my experiences with CPS and protecting your children.

Not every parent is born to parent. It is generally something you learn by example and adapt as you go. Not every circumstance a child is born into is adequate to give that child a chance for success. I believe in my heart that most parents are loving and capable but the staggering number of children in state care has me and MANY other panicked because it is growing like wild fire and it is not resolving the problems with the way it presently works. Some parents have no business being parents, but the majority who find their lives overturned by DCS/CPS involvement simply lack the skills or support system they need to successfully parent for a million different reasons.

Most of the time, in my opinion,  removing a child from their family can be more damaging to the child than the actual abuse/neglect/reason for removal....compounding the trauma the child has experienced. Having said that abuse/neglect is not ok....ever. I feel that in many circumstances providing a support system and teaching the skills needed for the individual situation is likely to significantly reduce the number of children in state custody.

Things parents in crisis need to know:

It is not illegal to give your child to someone else. You do not need an adoption agency to place your child and the family you choose can go through a kinship placement or adoption certification after you decide to give them custody of your child, however, their are laws and legal issues with interstate adoptions that you might need to have clarified.

You can make a temporary guardianship plan for your child and ask someone you know and trust to parent your child until you feel you are able to parent again.

It is hard and a long process in most cases to get a child back once they are removed by DCS/CPS and you will have very little control over what happens with your child and when you get to see them.

AZ has the worst reputation for "medical kidnapping" and you can be the most caring and attentive parent in the world and it can still happen to you, all it takes is one medical professional, one teacher or provider that doesn't like how you are caring for your high medical needs child and it could be over.

DCS does not tell parents everything. If your child is in care push for AS MUCH involvement as possible ie. Going to medical appointments, court etc. And take notes, write down and research every diagnosis and advocate for your child. Don't be afraid to ask for a supervisor or climb the latter of authority. Make them know you are NOT going to go away and don't believe it if they tell you that you can not handle parenting a child with high needs, because with the right supports in place you can.

Be proactive, as a parent,  and make a guardianship plan before any CPS involvement, just in case so that your child does not spend months or years away from a familiar environment.

Those who know me well know how I feel about drug addicted newborns. If you are pregnant and you use drugs and you want to ever parent your child,  make a guardianship plan and have a notarized copy with you when you give birth and make sure that the person named as guardian can take custody upon discharge and make sure the medical staff knows your plan. Generally when a newborn tests positive for illegal substance they are immediately taken into state custody and it is a very hard and strict path you will have to follow to get your child back. If by chance you are able to fool the medical profession and get to take your baby home it is going to be extremely hard to parent a newborn going through withdrawal while you are still addicted or possibly high/intoxicated. Even the best parents will find a drug addicted baby difficult and heartbreaking but they will also be better equipped to seek the supports necessary for that child.

If you do not have someone close to you that you would trust with your child, there are people out there that will help in crisis situations to become a temporary guardianship for your child while you get your situation sorted out. Temporary guardianship is not adoption and it is not "foster care" you as the parent can revoke it at any time. Absolutely reach out to your community to find someone who is willing to do this but be vigilant of who you trust because a guardian is not regulated like foster care,  but does give you the parents more control over how your child is raised and how much you see your child.

A good guardian will help you as a parent to guide you to get the help/supports you need to parent and help keep you in close contact with your child. A guardian is not compensated by the state to care for your child like a licensed foster parents.

A guardian might be ideal if you are experiencing homelessness and can not get assistance with housing etc.

I am sure that I have not included everything I intended in this post because I am using my phone for this post because my computer is down and my favorite IT guy is working out of town at the moment, but if you have questions, need support/help please email me at becky@preemie-babies.com

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Family Affairs

WOW....the last several months have been incredibly trying as we continue to work towards building our family. Things are still a bit up in the air as far as our options go but are narrowing down. We are exploring fertility options to build our family as we are not ready to emotionally commit to fost/adopt again after our experiences in the process of getting Caleb, and a typical private adoption is just financially beyond our reach as the expenses of such endeavor have soared to the tune of $35000.00+
Several months ago while discussing this with a dear friend she breached the idea of being a surrogate. I would have never asked a friend to do this as I am the kind of person who would never ask anyone I loved to do something I did not think myself of being willing or capable of doing. I was floored by the possibility and the willingness of my friend to even consider giving my family such a blessing. While it turned out to not be possible health wise for her to do this, I know we are truly blessed to have someone that loves us, and values us enough to have considered it for us. During this time....it has been months, I have continued to explore fertility options and make changes in my life to prepare for that possibility both physically and emotionally and it is still a very scary thing. I often wish that somehow we could just connect with a girl who wanted us to raise her child, but things have never, ever been that easy for us. They have always been incredibly challenging and in a way I am grateful because we just don't take anything for granted, we value everything we have worked so hard for. Even though the fertility route is slightly more affordable than adoption, it has still been a challenge to raise the money especially with unexpected expenses of moving and major car repairs etc. I am quite pleased to have saved what I have even if we are still a few thousand dollars away from our goals. While pursuing this, we have still remained open to the possibility of adopting, but sadly we have only been approached with more adoption scams.....I think we are up to 11 already this year. I am grateful that we have not fallen for the lies despite our incredible desire to add a baby to our family, the financial loss would have probably ended all pursuits of this dream, I hope that in the next two months we will be moving forward with a solid plan, either with a fertility specialist, or towards adoption. Either way, we hope to meet our ultimate goal of adding a baby to our family within the next year we hope! So if you know or hear of any situation where someone is looking to place their baby for adoption, please share this page so they can get to know our family and see if we are a good fit for their situation!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What does hope look like?

 Hope is the pair of booties I knitted yesterday. Whenever I hear about an new situation I make something with that particular child in mind. Even though most situations don't go anywhere beyond just hearing about them, sometimes because they are not real, just someone looking to get money or attention, and sometimes because our family doesn't fit the matching criteria, ie. we already have children. As a result, the closet is quickly filling up with a multitude of beautiful things for the baby that finally does join our family.

Friday, September 18, 2015

the good and the bad....

Some things are just too good to be true.....for the last 6 weeks we have been focusing our efforts on a possible situation that was all too perfect. Some friends grandbabies were in CPS custody and they just didn't know what to do, nor if they could handle a toddler and a medically fragile newborn. It seemed like the perfect situation and a win win for all involved. It is turning out good and I am happy for our friends,  but when you are hoping for a baby and this type of situation comes up it is hard not to let your heart get too involved. It looks like our friends will parent both children,  which is great, but a little sad for us, because situations like this almost never happen. I was glad we could help them get through the process,  but it is time for us to move on and begin again looking for our situation that will lead us to our child.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Narrowing down our opportunities.

I have been asked and approached many times now about the shortage of foster homes, and why we are not taking that route for the child we hope to have join our family. Yes, we have made every effort to go that route first, because, we are not wealthy, and adoption from fostercare is pretty much free. BUT,
We live in a region where the population in fostercare is so small they will not license a home to take anything narrower that zero to six years. YES, there is a HUGE shortage of homes for the children in state care in counties near Phoenix, but they won't transfer those kids up to the rural counties so, we can not get a license for the children we are open to right now, which is newborn to 6 months. I have already adopted an older child (Andre was 11 when he was placed with us) and we have already adopted and lost Caleb due to his terminal condition,  so I am not going to be flexible to take on a situation neither me nor my family are prepared to take. It is about stretching our limits hoping to find a situation that fits with our desires and supports updating our home study and recertification to adopt. We know in our hearts there  is another child out there for our family and we are waiting with arms open......the crib is ready, new car seat arriving this week,  I have been busy making clothes and diapers and blankets, making sure we have everything ready at the drop of a hat. A week ago I got a call, but it was apparent very quickly it was a scam to get money from us. I also got a call this week from a social worker asking if I also provide childcare who is keeping our information on file, because he deals with scared young girls facing parenthood too soon, many of which have to make the difficult choice of making an adoption plan. It is great to be able to have things ready, but it also is a constant reminder of that sting of desire and no guarantee that anything will ever come of it. This is the place where patience is tested,  stretched and grown and emotions are so high and all that is left to do is hope, pray and wait.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hoping beyond hope....just 1 more time.

Just weeks after my last blog post we were matched with a terminally ill baby just days after Finalizing Andre's adoption. Caleb came home just after Christmas and life got busy and hectic with a very high needs baby. We nearly lost him to a respiratory infection after 3 months, but after 2 weeks of intensive care he pulled through with a couple new diagnosis, one of which was tracheomalacia....basically he had a very floppy and small airway, and this coupled with chronic lung disease left us with two options, a trach, or take his tonsils and adenoid out when he was health. The latter was performed in August and life improved dramatically. Caleb's adoption was final in September and in October  we made a HUGE life change, we moved to 7.5 acres east of Snowflake and began to homestead. This life has agreed with all the kids and the rural mountain air meant healthy respiratory function for both Andre and Caleb.....and the tiny school is AMAZING most especially with regards to our disabled children. They have THRIVED. Ethan went from a self contained class for moderate to severe mental/learning disability to almost fully mainstream honor roll student. Andre has gone from nearly catatonic (before we brought him home) to learning to communicate with PECs, saying a few words, making choices, singing and dancing to the best of his ability and being included and loved by his typically developing peers.....and Caleb started preschool and just blossomed. I attended school with him every day for his first three months, so that he could learn to eat with his peers who were very motivating for him, until he was able to pass a swallow study and be cleared for the aide and staff to take over. Caleb had not had any significant illness or any hospitalization in his last 18 months. He passed away peacefully in March 2015 at 3.5 years old. This has been an amazing, wonderful and heartbreaking experience for our entire family. Just the other day we were out to a restaurant for my birthday and Andre kept turning to look at a rambunctious little blonde toddler with a look of curiosity and concern on his face, since he doesn't quite understand where his little brother went. We have spoken often about adoption again. It is complicated for us. We are not wealthy, we are not young, we already have what is considered a large family with five children at home, we don't live in a big city, etc. The cards are stacked against us but we still hope beyond hope that we will find the child we are longing to love and nurture. Our experience with foster care/foster-adoption has been bitter sweet and left us questioning if that route is right for us. And my desire at this point is to adopt a baby, so we are going to try for an independent adoption.....meaning we hope to connect with a woman hoping to place her child. We are open to either gender, or even twins, we are open to disability, we are open to any level of post adoption contact, we love Caleb's birth mom and still talk to her regularly, our only really strict requirement is the must be in AZ. We are not prepared for an interstate or international adoption. I just hope we can be as big of a blessing to a woman who needs a loving home for a baby she can not parents as this child will be for us.