ACW

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Fletchling’s Email

Hello my darling readers and friends! I know it’s been quite a long time since you had a substantial update from me. Unfortunately I don’t have much to write about now.

Adoption news? None really. We keep hitting and stumbling over and into the roadblocks our agency puts in our way. We are awaiting our back-ups background check and fingerprint results to come back. We are also awaiting the date to be set for us to meet with the Adoption Review Board.

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page – and have seen it several other times – and decided to finally do something about it:



I couldn’t resist. Even though I have this blog and Facebook page, I don’t think I’ll really be posting every single thing about his/her life online. I do feel like I would be more likely to write letters and send tons of photos, videos, and tons of other things to the email. I also plan on letting friends and family use it to send notes, birthday wishes, and more to the little one.

I know there are a lot of folks here that I don’t personally know, so I won’t be openly sharing the email, but if you want it, by all means, ask!

My first email:

Dear Fletchling,

I set up this email account to send you anything and everything that I/ we want to give you one day. I planned on giving you the password on your 18th birthday, so…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my love!

In my next emails, I will tell you how daddy and I met and about our lives before you joined our family.

Much more later. I only just set up this account and need bed.

Love,
Mum

Apparently I’m channeling being a British mommy… mum. *giggles*

Have any of you done anything like this in any format? Someone suggested using a thumb drive or maybe creating a Livejournal or a private blog.

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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.

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I’m still here…

Untitled-1I know it’s been well over a month since my last entry, but there is literally nothing to report. We are completely stalled and haven’t had a response to the many emails I have sent to our case worker. It would appear that we are not unique in this either. Of the other classmates from our PRIDE class, only 1 couple has a completed home study and only bc they had extenuating circumstances and already had a child identified. All the others, from the informal survey myself and another classmate completed, no one else is even close. Not even the potential foster parents which surprised me.

We graduated on September 10th and were told they had to be completed by December 10th. Hi, it’s December 16th. We haven’t heard a peep since November 20th when I received an email about an adoption picnic event. From the get go, it’s been very difficult to get in contact with almost anyone from our agency. We’ve actually looked into switching agencies in the hopes of completing our home study faster, but it seems like they are all pretty slow. Joining and attending the association meeting is pretty eye opening. We’ve learned a lot about the process talking to other families.

I’ve had so much more luck talking to my friends at Our Kids than hearing a peep from our own agency. No, I take that back. I was called a couple weeks back by one of our awesome PRIDE instructors asking about placing a child with us. Unfortunately, he was way far out of our criteria and also not having a home study, we couldn’t have accepted him no matter what.

This whole process is just extremely frustrating and painful. I know that one day we will have our little one in our family. But until then, I am struggling. And with every new post about my friend’s pregnancies, my heart breaks a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond excited for every single one of them, but it still breaks my heart that they will all likely have their babes before I have mine we have ours. Even the ones that just announced in the past week.

Having an inordinate amount of stress at work isn’t helping either. I am currently wrapping up the largest event of the year that we’ve been working on for months. And come January, I am taking a new job. In being fair, I’ve given my boss the opportunity to meet the salary of my new job, but it has an expiration date on it.

Plus, we were really really hoping to have a child in our home – or at least going through the visits – by Christmas/ New Year’s.

To the person/people that read every single post in my blog on December 5-6, I am in awe. There is so much that I’ve written over the years that I’ve even forgotten most of it. Hope you enjoyed it!

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Short Update

Hiya,

Things are better than the last adoption post. I was overreacting and am well aware. We ended up meeting with our ACW* last Saturday and went over a few more questions. She was at the house for just shy of 2 hours which included walking around the house and seeing all the changes we’ve made. We’ve fully furnished Stormie‘s bedroom and moved Steve’s desk into our bedroom. Thank goodness the rooms are so large bc otherwise, all this furniture wouldn’t fit.

At the foot of the bed are 2 3-shelf bookshelves that he can use as a side table from the bed itself. They fit perfectly under the curve of the footboard.

I hung a shelf in the laundry room for the chemicals and cleaners.

We are going back in today for more questions. Honestly, I don’t know why they’re not all done at once like a couple from our PRIDE training, but c’est la vie. Maybe she’s required to see us a certain number of times. Whatever the case, I’m not sure.

* She made sure we realized that she is not our case worker and merely the person performing our home study. Once she finishes, we won’t be interacting with her again unless she happens to be the CW for our matched child.

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Furniture and Frustrations Galore

Not much is happening on our end..

The new furniture was delivered and it is awesome! I finally feel like we live in a grown ups home. The rug and couches make everything look so much better. The dresser is just amazing and so pretty that even if this adoption doesn’t happen*, we’re moving it into our bedroom. We’ve removed all the cartoon, superhero and Doctor Who artwork from all the walls and are going to hang it in the kids room. Yeah that sucked. I was so used to seeing the Andy Warhol-esque Darth Vader, psychedelic 4th Doctor, the Avengers arm wrestling and tribute to Jim Henson art in the bedroom. (What do you mean we have weird taste in art?? lol) Not to mention all the other art in the living room and kitchen.

Going along with the grown up theme, we took down everything and need to re-frame them all with black frames. Black couch, black frames, yellow walls (not our choice), and a multi-colored rug to tie everything together.

Steve has to re-do his fingerprints for some unknown-to-us reason so he’s going in Friday for that and to meet with our ACW. She wanted me to come down as well but I’m running a 600+ person event Friday at work so that’s not happening. Besides, she’s coming to our house on Saturday for home visit #2.

No, no she’s not. She just emailed to cancel.

I feel like a rock that was rolling along so nicely and gathering momentum that just smashed into a wall with a gap slightly smaller than the width of the rock. Like we have to fight to push through to get this done. Just letting the process work seems to not be working for us. In fact, it is frustrating both of us and normally Steve is pretty unflappable. He’s my rock and even he’s having issues with this whole process.

I know in the end we will have a child and be parents, but… when?

We set our 2nd home visit appointment nearly 3 weeks ago and she just said she had to reschedule due to “an unexpected conflict.” I’m sorry, but that’s not really our problem, is it? If I had a personal issue but had a work thing that was super important, I would have to alter my personal issue or find coverage for the work or personal thing. In fact, I had to email my boss to see if I could leave work early next Tuesday to go deal with this stuff.

This just makes me feel like she’s talking down to us: “Please remember even if the interviews are done in my office, that doesn’t replace that fact that I still need to do a walk thru in your apartment.” Am I over-reacting? Probably. It’s OK, I know this whole process is making me freak out over every little thing.

I really hope my next post has good news in it!

* …anytime soon. We’re getting pretty frustrated with the process, but not nearly as much as my friends M&E in Orlando!

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Moving Right Along..

It Takes a Village to Adopt a Child

Why yes, I do plan on using this for all my progress posts

More updates from the list of requirements

  • Drivers license’s DONE
  • Social security cards DONE
  • Marriage license DONE
  • Current lease DONE
  • Paystubs to show we’re gainfully employed – Mine are DONE, we either need to print his or note it in his bank statement
  • Tax returns for the last few years – just need to make the copies
  • Bank statements for all our accounts – Have for mine and our joint account
  • Lola and Phoenix vaccine records – need to make appointment for his annual then get printouts for both
  • Steve’s divorce decree
  • Physical’s for us both – need to make appointments
  • Employment verification for us both – mine is DONE and faxed back already. I emailed our ACW to let her know.
  • A voided check DONE
  • and a few others, plus all the forms and signatures required in the inch thick packet.

Also, I emailed one of my closest friends about the reference and need to mail her the form. Also, Steve’s mom will fill one out so I need to mail it to her as well. My aunt will probably do one as well. Now to contact the others and mail those off as well!

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First of Three ACW Visits

It Takes a Village to Adopt a Child | credit: Becca FletcherWe had our first home visit with our ACW on Saturday!

When I spoke to her last Friday, we set up our appointment for yesterday afternoon and getting our fingerprints done Friday.

One thing she mentioned which we both – actually a few classmates too – questioned was the need to get things done within 90 days and if not, we’ll have to have stuff run again (abuse reports, domestic violence reports and fingerprinting). The reason not being that we won’t have new fingerprints or anything like that, but rather so they can ensure that nothing has changed in our background – criminal or otherwise. OK, explained that way it makes a whole lot more sense!

We sat and answered her questions and she answered ours for about 90 minutes. After that we gave her the tour of our home and yard. I had to hold Phoenix so he wouldn’t bolt out of the middle bathroom so she could take a look at it. She was amazed at how large the child’s bedroom is and that it has a private bathroom and massive closet. We pointed out where the furniture was going and how we were moving the desk currently in there into our bedroom. We then selected the next date she’d come out to ask us more questions and show her the hopefully furnished bedroom.

From the list in my last post, we still need the following items before her next visit:

  • Drivers license’s DONE
  • Social security cards DONE
  • Marriage license DONE
  • Current lease DONE
  • Paystubs to show we’re gainfully employed
  • Tax returns for the last few years
  • Bank statements for all our accounts
  • Lola and Phoenix vaccine records
  • Steve’s divorce decree
  • Physical’s for us both
  • Employment verification for us both
  • A voided check DONE
  • and a few others

She left a huge packet of info for us to begin filling out and signing. There was some informational info in there as well about the process, etc. We also need 5 personal and professional references. We have 3 in mind and need to select the other 2. Oh and also ask everyone if they’d be willing to write a letter for us.

We learned that she won’t actually help us with the placement of our child. Once she completes the home study, it will be passed to her supervisor for final review and approval. If there is anything that needs further explanation, we will be referred to the Adoption Review Panel. If it gets approved, he will pass it along to Our Kids and I will make sure my contacts there have it as well. They will then work on matching us with the best possible child so we can begin the informal setting dates, day visits, and eventual sleepovers.

Aside from these visits with the ACW, there really isn’t much going on. We have to work with the process and let it work for us.

All we can do is cooperate and wait patiently and try not to look at the little munchkins on the photolisting sites.

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