People Question…

It Takes a Village to Adopt a ChildPeople question why I blog. I have been blogging on different platforms since 2000. I do it for myself. For my well-being. To share my story.

People question if I/we are adopting to just get a child. Yes, of course. We want a son or daughter. Or both. But also to raise them and make them even more amazing little people.

People question why my blog is all “me”, “my”, and “I”. Well… do you see a child placed in our home? I certainly don’t.

People question if I truly want a child or just the experience. Let me tell you, this experience is so difficult and emotionally taxing, so it’s definitely not for that. I want a child. We want a child. We want to be parents together.

People question how I am so open about everything. What do I have to hide? Don’t read it if you think I’m too open or if it makes you uncomfortable.

People question why I post so much about the adoption process. If it helps one person then it’s all worth it. Seriously. I felt completely lost at the beginning and would have loved to read a real story of someone’s process while I was going through it. So many adoption blogs are international, private, and/or infant. I’m not saying mine is unique, but also, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

People question what will happen if our future child reads this. Is that a bad thing? I have nicknames for everyone that needs their identity protected. It also shows just how much we want them and how far we’ve come to be their parents.

People question why we’re not longer visiting with Ballerina. It’s not a story to tell on a public forum. There are so many details and reasons, but the main reason is bc she no longer wants it. As a teenager, she had every right to put on the brakes for any reason and she did.

People question how I’m handling the loss of a potential placement. Poorly. I am even more emotional these days. Mostly bc we don’t know why. We did everything right as far as we can tell. We followed all the proper procedures. We were a great fit with her and for her. We would have rocked her 48+ months until she turned 18 and helped her in so many ways.

We don’t know if she will change her mind and want to visit with us again, but we’re not banking on it. It is honestly easier that way as much as it hurts.

People tell me that I am amazing for wanting to adopt an older child. Thanks. But we’re not doing it to be amazing. We’re doing it to complete our family in a way that makes sense to us.

And finally, to the people that never (or almost never) question my sanity, reasons and motives for doing all of the above, you’re awesome! Thank you for standing by our sides and enjoying reading about our journey. This has already been a 14 month journey and there is no end in sight. Even if we were to finalize an adoption tomorrow, I wouldn’t give up all the truly amazing friends I have made along the way. I honestly don’t know how we would get through this whole thing without the support of our family, friends, and new friends.


NFPA/FSFAPA Conference & Ballerina

Untitled-1We had an amazing time this past weekend at the NFPA/ FSFAPA Conference. Between meeting folks from across the nation, to playing in the pool with our friends kids, seeing old friends and family, and all the sessions… And not to mention the pillows. OMW the pillows. My bed had 5 of the softest, fluffiest pillows.

But I digress. We both learned a lot about ourselves, the process, and how we can help to empower our future child/ren. We also had 9-10 hours stuck in a car together plus all the down time to talk and to discuss Ballerina. As an aside, we must’ve gotten the “how are things going” question about a dozen times and asked why we hadn’t brought her with us at least twice. We honestly didn’t know that was a possibility.

We decided that yes, we absolutely want to adopt her. We have so much to offer her to help make her way into adulthood in just a few short years. 54-ish months to be exact. (Why is it that things in months sound so much shorter?) We discussed her school, speculated on the kinds of books she liked to read, how she’s spending the summer, her hobbies, family trips we’d take, high school, colleges, and more. Then we questioned if she even wanted to live with us. Wanted to be our daughter.

That question still plagues me. I hope she does. WE hope.

I know in my past posts, I seemed ambivalent about that. But it’s a yes. We want her in our family. We want her to be our daughter.

But in the end, if this doesn’t work out, we only want the best for her. And I genuinely hope she knows that.

We’re told this process can take months and that she (or we) can decide at any time not to move forward. We’ve been asked repeatedly if we are sure. But in the meantime, we are going to do our best to show her that we do want to be her parents.

People question why I write and why I put my entire life out there. Aside from not having anything to hide, it’s cathartic. Writing about my life and our process really helps me. Getting it all out there helps. Sure, there will always be critics and folks that tell me to close the book, stop oversharing, that no one cares. To those people, I say… then don’t read it. I’m not going to change my life to suit you. Unsubscribe, unfollow, block me. I don’t care.


Questions to Ask

ballerinaSooooooo…. we are meeting Ballerina’s therapist (TH) Thursday morning to ask him questions. So. Many. Questions.

Actually, we have a huge list that I need to better sort by the person being asked. I have questions for Ballerina herself, for TH and for her case worker. I’m not sure if it’s normally done this way, but we’re meeting with the adults in Ballerina’s life before we meet her to ask them all the details and go over any concerns we may have. Honestly, I think doing it this way is genius! I would never want to ask someone in front of a child about their history of abuse, why they’re in care, what their background is, etc. I would think it would cause a bit of a backslide to hear it all again.

We are meeting him Thursday. If we choose to move forward, we will then meet Ballerina’s case worker and the CW’s supervisor. And then, and only once we’re all satisfied with moving forward, we will meet Ballerina.

Here is the list I’ve compiled, in absolutely no order and unsorted. You’ll notice there are several duplicates as all I did was copy and paste all the input into a single file.

Why she came into care?
What trauma did she go through?
Does she have specific triggers?
Past diagnosis?  Current diagnosis?  Medication, Name, what for?  How many mg.?
In regards to treatment what issues is she still struggling with in therapy?
What are her treatment goals?
What challenging behaviors does she exhibit?
What is the most challenging/ inappropriate/ negative behavior(s) she has exhibited if any?
Do they know her likes and dislikes in hobbies, food, etc..
What are her strengths?
What are her social skills
Is she afraid of the dark
What triggers her outbreaks
Any habits does she have?
Is religion important to her? Which denomination does she identify with
Does she have a healthy appetite?
What is her history of abuse?
Does she want to be adopted?
Birth parents- both mother and father present?
Does she want to keep in contact with adult relatives?
What circumstances brought her into care?
What are the most important things you want us to know about you to make you happy and part of our family?
What was she told is the reason shes in care
Does she have a history of stealing, lying, pyromania, etc
What are her medical issues – physical, mental, emotional
How does she feel about adoption
What are her likes and dislikes
Does she have any hobbies
Is she creative
Does she like comics
What are her favorite shows, movies, music
Does she want to go to college
What does she aspire to be when she grows up
How has she been at forming attachments in foster care?
What things are the most important to her
Why did the child come in foster care
Does she have siblings and do they need to maintain contact?
Are there any other relatives that the child would like to maintain contact with
Is there any maternal or paternal history of mental illness, like depression, bi polar disorder, schizophrenia
Does she have a history of sexual abuse? If yes, has there ever been any sexual reactivity?
How many placements has she been in since being in foster care?
What were the circumstances of her failed adoption/ placement?
Is she on an IEP?
Is she developmentally on target?
What are her fears about adoption, if any
Has she ever expressed what she is looking for in a family?
Birth parents. – How long before their rights were revoked or they were TPR’d?
History of foster homes
What happened to end her last placement
Ice skating- How often does she get to go? Would she be interested in lessons?
Is she on any medication? Why? What is her diagnosis?
At school – Does she have friends? Many? Who does she hang out with?
How are her grades?
What does she do after school?
Has she has been in other trouble or is therapy due to foster care?
Does she like dogs? Cats?
Does she have siblings?
How many placements? Why did they fail?
What reasoning or discipline style does she respond to best?
What is her learning style?
What are her challenges at school?
What therapies is she receiving? What are the goals of the therapy?
Is she willing to transfer to a school or does she wish to stay in the same school.
How many different homes has she lived in?
How many potential placements?
How old was she when she was put in care?

Many many thanks to everyone on FB, twitter, at work, via email and, of course, here for giving us a chunk of these questions. You are all my rock stars!


Mini Checklist

Completed registration for NFPA conference? CHECK
Home study in hand? CHECK
Sent to Our Kids? CHECK
Sent to local agencies? CHECK for the 3 that replied to my email a few days ago


NFPA Conference

Hello! How are you? I’m still floating from actually having our home study completed. We attended a mini conference last Saturday and I finally got to introduce husband to the many friends and amazing supporters I’ve made in the foster/adoption community. Actually, we were immediately asked about a sibling group but alas, too young and 1 too many.

The day we received our home study, I finally registered for Finally. I’ve been coveting a membership for over a year. But honestly, it might be more detrimental to my sanity. They send you kids that match the parameters of both our background and what we selected for the children. Do you know how much it hurts to see all the smiling faces that just want homes? If I could inquire on all of them, I would, but we have our limitations.


We have the extreme fortune of being given scholarships to attend a national foster parent conference this summer and I need help selecting the classes. There are seriously so many classes that I want to take that I wish I had a time turner to take them all.

My choices have been narrowed down from 4-5 in each section to these. Of these, which would you take?

Session 1
A: I am a Foster Child, all the World is Watching to see what I will Become. I Know Nothing About this World I Belong to………Teach Me!!! — A workshop based on the importance of positive parenting and experiences and how to create experiences that result in permanent connections. Techniques to make fostering a lighthearted, positive experiences for the caregiver, family and most of all, the child in our care will be discussed.


B: Surviving and Thriving Being Helpful — It seems no matter what we do, we can never get it done. Whether it’s our kid’s disturbing behaviors, our co-workers and/or spouses (and their disturbing behaviors), or the agency and state’s ever-shifting, never-ending demands…someone always wants more than we can give. This pragmatic and inspirational workshop is about breaking our own co-dependence and thoughtfully cultivating the internal resources key to thriving (rather than just surviving) the ongoing chaos inherent in the helping act.

Session 2
A: Childhood Traumatic Grief — Childhood Traumatic Grief is a training that provides audience with an overview of childhood traumatic grief, signs and symptoms as well as recommendations on how to help children who are experiencing traumatic grief. For a child in foster care, loss of a parent due to DFPS removal process can feel as if the parent(s) has died. The emptiness of not belonging or having a family can be interpreted by a child as a permanent loss. With time and support from caring adults, children can adjust to the loss of a loved one. Through understanding these effects and how children grieve differently a caregiver can also promote placement stability.


B: Attachments, Relationships; Parenting from a Whole Brain Perspective — The goal of this workshop is to provide participants with tools and strategies to help youth achieve integrated and healthy brain functioning. The training discusses the neurological relationship between the brain, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive functioning in a format easily understood by all. It further explains how relationships, experiences, and memory can affect a child’s brain development and self-regulation. Strategies are explored to help parents, social works and child welfare professionals work with their youth from a “whole brain perspective.” This training is adapted from innovative research in the field of neuroscience, described for the parent and professional in a straightforward and clear manner.


C: Creating and Nurturing Articulate, Expressive, Cultural Thinkers and Lifetime Learners — Education must be a priority, not an option, for youth in foster care. This workshop will provide the “To Do’s” on how to establish an Education Committee that will provide educational opportunities, enrich the lives of our youth, and enable them to become responsible, resilient and active members of their communities.

Session 3
A: Positive Moments, Permanent Changes — A look into the little moments, actions, gestures that seem to make the biggest impact on foster youth. A compilation, of youth, of all ages sharing what matter the most, both positive and negative while in foster care, will be discussed. Looking into our own behaviors will be explored to create an awareness of the effect on others both positive and negative and how we can change ourselves for the better through the experience.


B: More Than You Ever Wanted to Learn about Maintenance Adoption Subsidies! — This workshop is geared for adoptive parents who have adopted or are contemplating adoption of children from Florida’s foster care system. Although, some federal regulations will be discussed, most information will be related to the statutes and administrative rules of Florida regarding the process for negotiation and approval of maintenance adoption subsidies for children adopted from Florida’s foster care system. The workshop will also present the necessary steps for an adoptive parent to follow when requesting an increase to an existing maintenance adoption subsidy. The workshop will also discuss the important steps all adoptive parents must follow in order to prevent any interruption in the child’s monthly subsidy payments and Medicaid coverage when preparing to move out of the state of Florida. (Italics added are mine.)

Session 4
A: Fostering the Future — What is your role in the life of the precious children in your care – adoption, reunification, emergency/safe family or long term fostering? Knowing your role determines your action and how you will maximize the positive influence you have on the child. You will be equipped to operate in EXCELLENCE, master ORGANIZATION, become their ADVOCATE, be an agent of HEALING and PREPARE these precious children for the next step in their bright future.


B: Post Finalization: Post Adoption Communication or Contact Agreement Regarding Siblings or Birth Family Members — This workshop is geared for adoptive parents who have adopted or are contemplating adoption of children from Florida’s foster care system. The workshop will explain the value of as well as the pros and cons of a post adoption communication or contract agreement. Examples of post adoption communication or contract agreements will be provided. The presentation will also explain how changes can be made, if necessary, after a post adoption communication or contract agreement is signed and approved by all parties. The workshop will discuss the benefits of mediation if all parties cannot agree on changes to an existing agreement.

Husband is taking the following and we want to divide and conquer so we learn the max amount of information.

Session 1: Developmental Trauma: The Connections That Make a Difference of a Lifetime — This workshop will explore the impact that childhood trauma has on brain development, including what research shows us about the differing sizes, activity and composition of the normal brain compared to the brains of children who have been abused and neglected. A brief overview will be given of the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive effects of trauma and explore how changes in the brain can have life-long effects, if new neurological connections are not made. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on the importance of early intervention, consistency, continuity and how healthy relationships and predictability can establish new neurological pathways for connections in the brain that will make a difference of a lifetime.

Session 2: Creative Discipline — Parenting and disciplining children who have experienced trauma takes an entirely different mindset. It takes renewing your mind regarding typical disciplinary actions and creativity to attain a loving outcome. Every family is different and every child is different. Explore Grace-Based Parenting that is centered on God’s way of parenting us as His children. Change the environment in your home and find peace for each member of your family.

Session 3: Picking Up the Pieces after Sexual Abuse — Can my child ever have a healthy relationship? How do I help my child heal & thrive? Can their view of sex change? When should I seek help for my child? What do I do if my child is acting out sexually? As a sexual abuse survivor and adoptive mom of 6, Karla will give you the unique insight of the child and help you to understand their thoughts, actions and behaviors. You and your family can thrive and make it through this.

Session 4: Equipping Your Foster/Adopted Child with the Tools to Find their Success Story — The dreams of tomorrow must be a vision of today. It is our responsibility to help guide our foster/adopted child to their dreams, their goals, and equip them with the tools to get there. But first, we must be in a place of communication with our child. Do you know what your child’s dreams are? We must equip our children with the tools to a better tomorrow, today. Let me help you understand your foster/adopted child and the missing links in the foundation that are key to guiding them to their success story. It all begins with a solid foundation.