paperwork

Hello!

helloCan we just ignore that I promised to update more and haven’t? Seriously, I am sorry about that. Life is, as expected, crazy.

In the last 2.5 months, we (I) made the decision to pause our foster application due to all the insanity in our lives. Between my starting grad school, the 4-5 hour round trip commute to work each day (it’s gotten worse 🙁 ), being Communications Chair for the South Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and my constant house hunting (I really want to own a home!)… PLUS Husband’s finishing his MBA and applying for a Doctorate and his work, we barely have time to sleep. Also, I have been actively job hunting and made it to the final rounds with 2 jobs but things happened and, wibbly wobbly, both fell through.

Then I turned 39! And we went to Painting With A Twist with a small group of friends. Husband, SIL, and I went off book and made our paintings our very own by not really following directions all that well…

And on October 10th is our 5th wedding anniversary!

Since we do, in fact, have the ability to time this avenue of bringing a child into our home, we are taking advantage. Also, in the last few weeks, I have been really drawn to changing our age range to teens or at least an older age range. Right now we are approved to adopt 3-8 year old children. I’ve been thinking about upping it to 12 or 13. The older kids are more rewarding from what I am getting from my friends that foster teens as you can speak to and reason with them. While I would love the cuddles of a little one, well I have plenty of friends with little ones plus, a new baby in my family is coming soon!!

Now, frequent visitors will have noticed that there is finally a new blog design. I changed my hosting, rearranged a few domains and hopefully it will speed everything up. Also, I plan on using FletcherFam.com as a family focused website as opposed to just this blog which is very child-focused. I will post here when that goes live.

From last post, my MPA classes are going well so far. This semester I am in an “intro” to Public Administration and a Human Resources course. I promised more info last time. With all the heartaches and hardship we’ve gone through with the adoption process in the last 2 years, I finally decided that something needed to be done. My ultimate “grown up” goal is to be the COO or CEO of a foster care agency or government entity working towards the protection of children. In 5 years, I hope to have graduated and be working in the industry. This MPA will supplement the knowledge I gained from my MBA to focus on non-profits and government agencies.

I hope you’re all well!

spacer

Foster Licensing Progress! Plus Everything Else…

I wrote this in May and never hit post for some reason. Since then, I totally dropped off the blog grid. In the last 3+ months,  a lot has happened. The most important thing (to me) is that I applied for and was accepted into the Master of Public Administration program at Florida International University! This is a highly competitive program with only 25 applicants each year. To say I am over the moon excited in an understatement.

There has been more, but if I write it all in 1 post then it could easily be 3 more months without a post. Along the MPA lines, I need to write more. This will become clearer as I post more about current events in future posts.

Other notable things that happened…

  • I got a NEW CAR in April! She is a Hyundai Elantra in a glittery dark blue (which works for both my Doctor Who obsession and Gator blue) that I’ve named Eva which is short for Evangeline Lily.
  • We went to Megacon for the 5th year and it was as amazing as ever. While we were there, I got a new tattoo (#10) which is a TARDIS with text inside that reads “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.”

  • I also got tattoo #9 3 weeks before that – the outline of a lotus flower
  • April 23rd was the 1 year anniversary since we received our home study
  • We spent a week in West Virgina 98% off the grid – no wifi! 🙁 -visiting Husband’s family. Bonfires, house hunting, bbq, and lots of friends and family time. We did, in fact, look at 3 houses to buy. However, unless we get truly amazing jobs, we aren’t moving there.

So, in May we had our 1st foster home visit. And rather than rewrite the following to bring current…

+++++

Last Tuesday, I took the day off work as we were finally able to schedule the home visit with Z for the mid-afternoon. It worked out perfectly. We had just finished lunch when she arrived after we had spent the morning doing some last minute tidying up.

The visit lasted about 90 minutes during which we went over the rather extensive packet of papers, did the walkaround tour of our house, the fire inspection, health inspection, then she took pictures. The outcome is that we were left with a list of 15 items to purchase or fill out/complete. Since then, I have done all of them including traipsing all over the place looking for the right fire extinguisher – 2A10BC.

We’ve also decided against getting licensed for 2 for the time being, so no bunk beds for us! The kid’s bedroom is huge with a full wall closet and private bathroom. If we ever decided that 1 child is easy peasy and we want a 2nd, we will revisit the bed situation.
Affidavits (2)
References (3)
Husband’s auto insurance card
Fire extinguisher
Fridge thermometer
His medical records
My medical records
My employment verification (2)
Vaccination records (2)

In 100% completely new news, I have made a crazy life decision and decided to get a second Master’s degree, this time in Public Administration. Yes, I might be crazy. In fact, I’m fairly sure that I am crazy since it will begin this August providing I am accepted into the program. It is an online program through FIU which is local to us so I can attend all the networking socials and whatnot. I will be able to take 1-4 classes each semester. With my first Master’s, I took 2 classes and worked full time. I’m actually super excited about it even if I think I’m crazy for taking it on at this point in my life.

Let’s recap, shall we?
Grad school – starting in 5 weeks
2 part-time jobs (oh yeah, I’m back to that…) with 90 minute one way commute
Foster license
Pursuing adoption
Everything else I do in my life on a daily basis

spacer

Foster and Life Update

ty-elephant

I am so amazed and grateful for all the folks that have found my blog and FB page – WELCOME to each and every one of you and thank you for reading.

Since my last post in our Facebook page about our upcoming home visit on April 2nd, we had to reschedule as our entire neighborhood lost power just hours before her visit! But of course, it’s not that easy and we still haven’t set a new time. Not only that, but the original license person (Z) has been in touch and will be helping/ completing our foster license. We received the foster license packet a few days ago to start combing through prior to her visit. There is a long list of items to have ready for the first visit – half of which will take at least a month to obtain. Erg.

Another avenue has possibly opened up for us with a phone call from my aunt. She knows someone that works with children from Colombia who I am now playing phone tag with. I have no idea if it’s considered a private adoption or international adoption or what, but we’ll see. I’ll keep everyone posted especially once I find out the name of the charity/ company/ ministry. I’m not terribly thrilled about this option as it seems like it would be religious. We might not even be considered seeing as we have no religion in our home even though I work for a Jewish institution.

In 100% completely new news, I have made a crazy life decision and decided to get a second Master’s degree, this time in Public Administration. Yes, I might be crazy. In fact, I’m fairly sure that I am crazy since it will begin this August providing I am accepted into the program. It is an online program through FIU which is local to us so I can attend all the networking socials and whatnot. I will be able to take 1-4 classes each semester. With my first Master’s, I took 2 classes and worked full time. I’m actually super excited about it even if I think I’m crazy for taking it on at this point in my life.

Let’s recap, shall we?
Grad school – all application pieces have been submitted except the 3-5 page essay about my career goals
2 part-time jobs (oh yeah, I’m back to that…) with 90 minute one way commute
Foster license
Pursuing adoption
Everything else I do in my life on a daily basis

An update on Babycakes.. she had her surgery and is the proud recipient of a new liver! The surgery was 3 weeks ago and so far so good. She still isn’t alert and aware as they’ve kept her in a coma, but at least her body has accepted the new liver.

spacer

Foster License and TWO Kids? Madness!

Sorry loves,

When there isn’t much to discuss, the posts are few and far between. Since last time, quite a few things have happened, just not terribly much in the adoption world.

Foster license: 2 weeks ago, we submitted our paperwork for our foster license. We are still waiting to be assigned a licensing person to complete the license and schedule home visits.

WHAT?! We’re finally getting our foster license? What madness is this, you ask?

How about some backstory, hmm?

A little over a month ago, I was called about a child fairly close to being legally free. The problem is that once she is legally free, she will be going to a pre-adoptive home. We are not currently one of those as we don’t have a foster license.

So a month ago, I called Our Kids and spoke to Donald about getting the paperwork for said foster license. I’ve been told repeatedly for months that we need to get it but have shied away for several reasons. It would appear now that the only way we will actually get a child in our home is to be licensed.

It took about 2 weeks to get our acts together and fill out all the paperwork.

2 weeks ago, we submitted our paperwork for our foster license. We are still waiting to be assigned a licensing person to complete the license and schedule home visits.

elephantChild 1: In mid-December, we met a beautiful little baby (Babycakes) and I fell very much in love with her. She is my friends foster child and in need of major surgery. She is far from legally free for adoption, but that didn’t stop me from cuddling and snuggling with her on multiple occasions. Fast forward the next several weeks of visiting, snuggling and generally loving on Babycakes. She is ridiculously cuddly and such a little love. And then her foster mom was told how large the family was and that they hadn’t been ruled out to adopt her. Then the family started visiting.

At that point, we realized our journey with her was futile and we’d be better off just loving on her but not in a potential adoptive parent type of way.

littleladysifChild 2: About a month ago, a 3 year old child (SIF) was brought to our attention by someone at Our Kids. I contacted her case worker to get more information. We texted and called back and forth frequently and then on Tuesday, CW called me to ask if we were still interested in SIF. If we were, would we be willing to go to court on Thursday (yesterday) to appear before the judge in order to get a court order for visitation. This was needed due to SIF not being legally free for adoption.

So we made our arrangements and went to court. I was a bundle of nerves and Husband was, as expected, calm and collected. We took the train downtown, found the courthouse, and met the GAL and CW’s supervisor. The both told us a little bit about what was going to happen and to basically stay quiet unless the judge speaks to us. Great. I can be quiet.

Court began late, but just sitting and watching everything unfold was very interesting! Mom and grandma were there which apparently threw a wrench in the plans. SIF has been in foster care since August and mom hasn’t done much for her case plan so this was supposed to be a TPR and request for visitation for us from what I understood. Things didn’t quite go that way.

Mom decided that she wanted to parent and take care of what she was supposed to do 6 months ago. Dad is still missing and everyone is trying to track him down. Everyone agreed to allow her. But they also scheduled mediation and a trial. We’re debating attending those as well.

In the meantime, we will follow her case and stay in touch with CW. Our contact at Our Kids will keep us updated on her as well.

And we work on our foster license, keep cleaning out the kids room-turned-storage room and prepare to be parents.

spacer

What’s Been Happening…

Nothing.

Well, that’s not true. The only change is that we are currently working on paperwork for our foster license. That’s right, after so much discussion against being foster parents for our own personal reasons, we’ve come to the realization that it’s likely to be the best chance at us getting phone calls and a child.

That said, by the time we were assigned a licensing specialist (Z), Husband and I were both so sick that we kept putting off a home visit and filling out the paperwork. I finally printed the paperwork and started going through it on my own. Meanwhile, Z is using our Home Study to pull other information from.

..

Honestly though, after my first phone call with Z, I was a little more worried about what we are getting ourselves into. Every time I mention the licensing paperwork to the friends we’ve made along the way, I get similar reactions: disbelief. After 16+ months of being 100% certain that we do not want to foster, they’re surprised that we’ve changed our minds.

To a degree.

Our plan is to give Z the same criteria we have for adoption for our licensing, but give further criteria that we are willing to foster children with a very high chance of parental rights termination. She said when Placement starts calling, they don’t always review our criteria as it’s likely for emergency placements or a huge need. We do not want to take in every child that is offered to us. Does that make us selfish? Possibly. Will we end up changing our minds? Maybe. But for now, this is our plan.

We started talking about getting licensed during our visits with Ballerina. Both her CM and TH told us our best bet to push things along would be if we were licensed. That way she could move in with us immediately. It would have been a total immersion into parenting a teenager 24/7. Speaking of Ballerina, we still discuss her quite a lot. I knew it affected me quite a bit, but I didn’t realize how much it affected Husband too. He is the one that brings her up most frequently. I am of the mindset that if she didn’t want to be adopted, we should stop dwelling on her. That… is so much easier said than done.

I still search for kids nationwide, but no luck so far finding a good match.

In the meantime, I am keeping busy researching Doctorate programs for once Husband graduates from his Master’s program and finds a job.

In the meantime, won’t you pretty please help me out? Since it’s been over a month since my last post, my ranking on Top Mommy Blogs has plummeted. (No big surprise there.) Can you please click on this logo to help? The website has so much info on all aspects of parenting, but you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want. Thanks!

Please click! A visit a day boosts my blog ranking at Top Mommy Blogs - The Best Mommy Blog Directory Ever!

spacer

Moving Forward

ballerinaI spoke to both TH and CW last night about Ballerina. We have our 3rd play date on Sunday, but aside from picking up the pottery, not sure yet. We’re going to come up with some ideas and see what she wants to do.

CW said everything sounded great – she had also spoken to TH – and I told her we are ready to move forward towards adopting Ballerina.

!!!!!!!

Husband and I have been non-stop discussing everything involved and feel good about our decision. There is uncertainty not really knowing how Ballerina is feeling about us, but aside from “time” we don’t know how else to truly know. TH says she’s happy and excited, but we want to hear it from her. Does that make sense? We know they talk a lot and she trusts him, but we’ll be her parents and we hope that she will open up to us more about our combined future.

We are still making assumptions about her based on being a teenager, super shy, scared of rejection, etc, etc, etc and none of them are really fair. We cannot generalize how we think she feels when she is a totally unique kid. I mean, if she turns out being the kind of teenager I was, we are golden. However, if she’s like my best friend, well, we’re in trouble. (Love you, my Zeffer!)

A-N-Y-W-A-Y… back to the CW’s call. She said we should do a few more weekends of supervised visits. It will take her a few weeks to get the paperwork done and approved for us to have unsupervised visits anyhow. Then she asked me if I could help her get a copy of our signed home study.

Um, what?

I thought we were the only ones that didn’t have it! Silly me, I thought when we were told our home study had been sent to Our Kids, that it meant the completed and signed one. She said without the signature, we cannot move forward as she can’t submit the unsigned one to the judge.

Grrrrr!

So this morning I sent off a very nice email requesting for FRC to please send the signed home study to CW as we had been matched and would like to move forward. And 3 minutes later received emails saying both our ACW and her supervisor were out of the office until next Tuesday.

Patience is SO not a virtue that I willingly possess.

spacer

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

spacer

And then there was this….

My phone buzzed yesterday around 4:15pm. I glanced at it, saw our ACW’s name flash on the screen, and started having breathing problems.

Subject: PRIDE ADOPTION HOME-STUDY

Good afternoon,

This is to inform your ARC memo has been approved. We will be forwarding your PRIDE Adoption Home Study to Our Kids. Our Kids in turn will ensure that a copy is sent to the other Full Case Management Agencies for the purpose of matching available children to you family. Lastly, a copy of the original approved adoption home study will be mailed to you.

Regards,
[ACW]

And with that, our home study was approved.

approved

I had the overwhelming urge to throw up all afternoon yesterday. While I know we still have a long way to go with the matching process, I am SO HAPPY to have this part done. I immediately posted about the approval on FB and have been feeling the love since yesterday afternoon. My friends, I love you all and cannot wait to introduce my child to you even if only virtually.

spacer

ARC Meeting Recap

This morning we had our Adoption Review Committee meeting!

Husband took off Wednesday night from work since we had to be downtown in the morning. We had yummy dinner last night and relaxed watching TV and playing video games.

This morning, we woke up early and were ready to leave the house by 8:20am. The ARC was set for 10:30am. We drove to the metrorail station, parked on the roof of the garage, then got on the train heading for Government Center. We arrived so early that we found breakfast at GC and hung out taking our time eating.  I wasn’t sure exactly how to get to Our Kids, so after walking outside twice, I asked a police officer to point us in the right direction. My GPS isn’t that accurate on the walking setting.

We went on our way and it was only about 3 blocks away. The walk was super easy and really nice. He talked about trying to find a job in the GC area so we could ride the train together. I see couples doing that and even taking their kids to school on the train. We found the correct building,located the gate to walk in and then I fell.

Yup – I faceplanted right outside the building. I twisted my right ankle and ripped up my left knee. By some miracle, even though I landed flat on the ground, I didn’t skin my hands, rip any clothes, break my sunglasses or my phone. I was holding my phone, texting and walking and was sure it – or at least the case – was going to break. Nope, it was perfect. But oy was I in a lot of pain. He said I cried out as I fell. In my mind I yelled the F word really loudly as I hit the ground. Note to self, texting and walking is just as bad as texting and driving when you’re a klutz like me.

I sat for a few minutes then he helped me stand. I wobbled for about a minute to catch my breath and stop shaking then started walking since we were getting close to the time we had to be there. We checked in with security and went upstairs. We had to wait for about 40 minutes, but our ACW’s supervisor came out to let us know is was going to be a little while since they were running a little bit behind schedule. Great, no problem. I sat there with my foot propped up on my laptop bag. I saw 1 person I know that I was introduced to via email and then met at several events.

When we were taken back to the conference room, we met the panel: Paula, Allyson and Becky (via phone call). Paula explained about the review process based on both our background and on the state of things these days. She asked us questions if we had any concerns. Then asked why we decided to adopt and a little bit of our background.

She said the reason we were there was 2-fold:

  1. bc husband had a blip from the FBI on his background check. He explained what it was from and that it happened 22 years ago. He elaborated where I’m not going to in this blog.
  2. bc I was in therapy for anxiety. I told her the reasons behind my therapy, which I won’t go into detail here as there are people that could get hurt if I write about it. I told her about my learned coping strategies, that I’m still in touch with my therapist, and that the last year was spent doing a lot of pre-adoption and parenting type therapy.

After we answered the questions, she told us what happens next. We don’t get the results today. (I actually knew this coming into the ARC since I asked a friend what to expect.) They will write up a report, hopefully by tomorrow afternoon, and submit it to the administration. The administration will read the report, check out our file and then give us the approval or denial. They couldn’t tell us if we were approved, but it seemed like we were. However, we’re waiting for the actual official approval before I jump for joy.

She did recommend, though not mandate, that due to our backgrounds, we look into parenting class at either FRC or one of the other agencies. It would help us to make new parenting choices and not fall back on what we grew up with.

After the meeting and we said our good-byes, husband and I were leaving when Paula came out to catch us. She said from the sound of things, her family and upbringing were a lot like mine. We chatted for about 15-20 more minutes about different things like getting firmly entrenched in the local foster/adoption community (that I am and just A-D-O-R-E!), finding friends with parenting strategies we want to emulate and asking them about it, and reading up on as much as we can to learn about foster kids problems, attachments, etc. Regardless of how prepared we think we are, we’re not. And rather than fall back on not ideal parenting strategies, we should start now forming behaviors, etc for our children.

She’s amazing. Seriously. She’s one more amazing person that I’ve met along the way in the past year.

spacer

Next Step…

I was informed yesterday by the psychologist that Steve’s evaluation will be sent to our agency today.

HUZZAH!

This was the only thing in the way of getting before the Review Board. Once it’s turned in, they will schedule a date for us to present our case for why we want to adopt. At least I’m guessing that’s what they’ll ask. I really don’t know.

After going before the ARB, we should be approved for adoption. There will be nothing else in our way… I *think* but honestly who knows as things have a way of popping up after we’re told we’re finished.

I understand that the actual matching process is a PITA, but it will all be worth it in the end. We will be matched to a child, not a child to us. Meaning, whichever of the 6 agencies has a child within our parameters will review our home study to see if we fit into the kind of parents and family that would be best.

We’ve had #Fletchling’s bedroom furnished and ready for occupancy since October. October! And have not been able to use half of our apartment since then. Yes, that is, in fact, 5 months. This weekend we decided to empty out our storage unit and bring everything back home to either keep, donate or trash. It’s going to go right back into this huge empty bedroom for us to work on until we’re at the sleepover stage with the hypothetical child.

We decided to adopt April 2013. Tomorrow this process has taken an entire year and we’re still awaiting a completed home study.

spacer

A Real Update!

It Takes a Village to Adopt a ChildFrom every single amazing foster parent, adoptive parent, child advocate, guardian ad litem, volunteer, and the many others I have met since we began this journey in mid-April, I have truly learned that it really does take a village. And along the way, I have made some great people that I happily call friends! (And future sitters maybe… *grin*)

I feel like I’m on a whirlwind journey with all that I’ve learned lately about the foster care system in Florida – or at least Miami-Dade county – lately. A few weeks ago I attended the Our Kids Town Hall meeting and was able to meet some of the judges and a magistrate that rules over the foster care and adoption courts. Also, the CEOs of most local agencies were there for a Q&A session which got a little heated in my opinion. Today I attended my first association meeting and it was, in short, AMAZING! Magistrate Steve Lieberman was there and spoke for the better part of 2 hours. He asked us questions, we asked him questions, and we all learned a little more about wading through the legal system.

I came home super amped up to join the legislative committee to change the laws and statutes and talked nonstop for about 20 minutes telling Steve everything that I learned. To become a Guardian Ad Litem. To volunteer to redo SFFAPA‘s website. To basically do anything that I can possibly do to advocate for kids lingering in the foster care system.

The update you’ve been waiting for is that we’re still stumbling over all the roadblocks they’re putting in front of us. It really feels sometimes like they want us to fail. The latest is having our back up caregiver (essentially the person we would leave our child alone with) had to all of a sudden get background checked and fingerprinted. Um, we gave our ACW her name and contact info in October. On January 30 I received an email stating they needed her to do everything. Even though her job makes her infinitely qualified in the eyes on the FBI and court system, they required her to come in and get fingerprinted. After talking about our entire process with her, she wasn’t even going to argue her background. She went in and got it done on February 7. I must have asked them like 3 times for the results which took until February 25. Ours took about 3 days.

I must have emailed our ACW and her boss a dozen times asking if they needed anything else and was assured that they had everything. In this case, I’m actually glad they refuse to pick up the phone since there’s a paper trail.

On February 6 we were told that Steve needed a psychological evaluation based on a few things in his history. We expected this and weren’t worried. On February 10, at my email prodding, we were told they would refer him to a psychologist and await the recommendation. The same day they requested a letter from my psychologist detailing my therapy and information about my discharge from her care. She revised the letter she submitted IN OCTOBER with a sentence about ending my therapy. On February 20, we were finally told to find a psychologist on our own, tell them why the eval was needed and that, OH YEAH, we needed to pay for it.

Now, have you ever gone to a psychologist without insurance? Do you know how much they cost? We didn’t either and neither did my friend OKB at Our Kids. I called both numbers our ACW gave me, bitched on my FB page, and gave the quotes to OKB. We are so fortunate to have such an amazing group of supporters as someone I’ve known a long time but never met Steve said she could help. Within days, everything was arranged. Right now we’re awaiting for her to submit the report to FRC but know it can take some time as he had to fill out a ton of forms after speaking with her.

By the way, the quotes from FRC’s recommended psychologists were upwards of $2,000 and $450.

Oddly enough, having things in our own hands right now make me feel better since we aren’t waiting on FRC to grace us with an email likely requesting more crap from us. Once the evaluation report is complete, we will have the date to go before the Adoption Review Committee set.

All in all, I am still hoping to get before the ARC by the end of March. Hoping. Who knows how long these people will take.

As of tomorrow, our home study has taken exactly 6 months and isn’t completed yet.

spacer

Possibly Wanting a Younger Child

Husband and I have been discussing the age of our adopted child and seem to both be wanting to go younger after all. Nothing is set in stone and, of course, we don’t even have a finalized home study yet. Supposedly, on the home study front, we will have that done in January. We finally heard from our case worker and she is coming back for the final photos and documentation on January 4th. We’re a little leery of believing it’s going to happen due to the lack of communication from her for so long and everything else. But anyhow, hopefully January.

Incidentally, January is a HUGE month for me as I will be leaving my current job officially on January 31st and starting my new job full time during my few weeks off during the month. I am going to miss a handful of my co-workers SO much, but really excited about moving on to my new job. So yay!

It Takes a Village to Adopt a ChildWhen we were out shopping Saturday night, we met a super cute 3 year old little boy and his mom while standing in line checking out and both thought it was the perfect age. He was bright and precocious and patient and sweet and just a good kid. You know, for the 10 minutes we were chatting with them. It seems our 5-11 years old age range may be changing to 3-8 or 9 year old range after all.

From what *I* remember, we will get tuition for a Gold Star pre-school until he or she is old enough for kindergarten/ elementary school. I’ve asked the amazing MPC but she’s likely on vacation so not sure when I will hear. We probably won’t tell our ACW we’re even considering it until we’re totally sure. Still lots to discuss and think about. Plus, when we bought all the bedroom furniture, it was with a 5-11 year old in mind.

Time will tell what we do, but this is really exciting to think about. I even bought a super cute floppy knit elephant last week for our little Fletchling.

spacer