From 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.