I worry sometimes when people read my blog that it might keep people from adopting. There are so many children in need of families. I am going to do a little post on State adoptions because that is what I know. I hope one of you who has done a foreign adoption will post some information on that. Let me know if you do so I can post a link onto here for you.
First the facts: There are over 100,000 children waiting to be adopted in foster homes in the US. These are special needs children. They were taken from their homes due to neglect or abuse. These children are generally preschool age and older with the majority being school age. Babies and toddlers are generally adopted by their foster parents. This is not always true though. When you begin the process with social services you need to make them aware if you are interested in only adopting a baby or toddler. They are NOT an adoption service. They are looking for homes for their children, not looking for children for you.
The process looks something like this. Contact your local social services. In Nebraska it is Health and Human Services. Make an appointment to talk with a case worker and explain what you want to do. They will want to know if you are willing to foster parent with the goal of adopting or adoption only. Only you can decide what is right for you. Then you must begin a home study which they will conduct. This is a mountain of paper work, references, finger printing and a home visit. It takes several months to complete. During this time you can begin looking through listings of children. We looked for months but ended up finding our boys through the case workers call to another case worker in a larger city. Once you decide you are interested in a child or sibling group (most of them are sibling groups so be prepared to ask to take more than one) they will inform the child's case worker. She will call you and discuss the child's emotional and physical history with you. She will ask you questions. This case worker compiles a list of interested families and generally a committee will meet and choose a prospective family. Once a family is chosen then a meeting is set up. I will never forget that first meeting. I swear my heart was beating so loud I could hear it and I thought I might die before I made it to the front door! Our boys had been with this wonderful family for almost a year. We did a few visits there. Then we started taking them on outings. Then they would come to our house for a day, then over night, then weekends.
Once they were in our home we still had a couple of visits from case workers. After several months an adoption agreement was drawn up. We signed and all the papers were filed. We eventually had a court date and the adoption was final. Until it is final they are still wards of the state and legally must go by their old last names. We did switch them to our last name every place where it legally didn't matter. The state still had to be contacted for all decisions, medical or academic until we finalized. They were considered our foster children even though they were a pre-adoptive placement.
That is it in a nut shell without all the emotions and feelings thrown in. Those feelings are like a roller coaster. I will write about that part of our adoption next time. Here are some websites on state adoption.
I would like to remind you that even though it may not list any special needs that all children who have been through the trauma of removal from their homes are special needs. They have issues of abandonment, neglect, or abuse. There may have been drugs and alcohol addictions in their families. The level of special needs can range from minor to severe so be prepared to ask questions. You need to google and read about: Reactive attachment disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, fetal drug exposure and about children who have been sexually abused. Of course not all of these children have all these things but if you read about them it will help you when reading a child's profile. Discuss these issues freely and openly with your spouse. I could say to make a list of what you can't handle but it seems none of stick with these lists. Plus you really don't know if a child has many of these issues until they are older. I am not trying to scare you. I just want you to go into it with your eyes wide open. These kids deserve homes. They have been through things children should not have to experience. Many of them can heal.