I have been thrilled (THRILLED!) with the number of people that are so interested in what we’re doing and ask a lot of questions. I love telling people about what we’ve learned about this process, because the picture we had of foster care before we started out was just a tad…..[wildly] inaccurate.
Below are some Qs we get fairly often, in case you find them interesting.*
How long till you’re licensed?
Our home study was near the end of Oct. It can take up to or more than** a month for our home study person to get it all written up and submitted. Then our agency will compile everything we’ve submitted and make sure we haven’t missed anything, then give us our license! For which we will buy an Extra Special (probably $1.99 Ikea) frame!
I have a kind of vague understanding of it probably being Thanksgivingish when we’re licensed, and then a placement could come at any time after that, but will probably be two months-ish? But could be a week? Could be next spring? I think? Maybe? Christmas? My birthday?
All I’ve been told is: Whatever you expect, it’ll be the other thing.
So like, once you’re licensed, can you just get any kid, at any time? Like, you could have a 15-yr-old who’s really into knives dropped on your doorstep tomorrow?
Ummmm… no. I’ll try to stick with short answers here.
We have said that we are initially open to under 7-yr-old, “basic” needs, one to two kids. “Basic” means no identified behavioral, health, or learning delays/challenges, although it’s not uncommon to have those “identified” once they’re already in your home… A licensed foster family can set whatever boundaries they want, although the more specific you get (ie: we want one infant girl), the longer you’re likely to wait, and the more families are likely to be submitted for those placements.
We will get calls on certain placements with some basic information and will be able to say whether or not we want to be “submitted” for that placement. Depending on how many families are submitted to a child’s/children’s case worker, you may have a better or worse chance of receiving that placement. So for example, if they call and say we have a 2-day-old and a 9.5-mo-old, I might go ahead and say um……….. maybe a family with a little more baby experience…?
Adoptive placements have a much longer and more involved process for selection. A family finds out a LOT of information about an adoptive placement before making a commitment. But once you’re committed, you’re committed.
Do you guys want to adopt? How does that work?
Yes, we want to adopt. Placements can be foster, foster-to-adopt, or adoptive placements. We will be licensed for and open to all three. Also, um, the lines between those three distinctions are blurry at best… Usually an adoptive placement is an adoptive placement, but it’s when the papers are in your hand that you can finally really relax.
And the reunification rate for foster kids to their biological families is under 30% at the moment, so there is also a very decent chance that a foster placement will become adoptable at some point. In this case, the foster family is the #1 top choice that the agency and the CPS worker want to adopt them, because we obviously want to have the least-possible amount of major upheaval for a kid. This is a BIG deal. So there’s a gravity to every placement, even ones that don’t come with “adoptive” anywhere on your paperwork.
So is it kind of like a “try before you buy” kind of thing?
No. I can… kinda see where this thinking comes, maybe, I guess? But they are humans, not test drive cars. It’s not a situation where we shuffle displaced kids around until they find their perfect family who decides that they want to keep them forever and ever. It’s not going to be about whether we “like” them enough to decide to “keep” them.
[My mom’s teachings on the idea of covenant come to mind, if that means anything to you. Which hopefully it does… We’re not shopping, here.]
How long will you have foster kids once you get them?
As I understand it, there is a <=/=>** ten-day period when a placement first comes, often, where the case is being put together for the stipulations on their parents to be able to “achieve reunification” (ie: get them back). During that ten days, they might find a kinship placement or a different solution, and they might be gone that quickly, although that’s not terribly common, as far as I can tell. From there, it is likely <=/=>** 6-18 months. I think that usually a judge will rule a certain period (ie: 6 mo, 12 mo) of the probationary-type period where the parents have to meet certain criteria. If they don’t, there might be an extension. So… I wouldn’t say it’s really a finite thing, but it will keep changing based on parental progress/judicial decision/etc.
Any other questions?
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*Please, oh experienced foster friends, do correct me if I’m wrong. I am still but a foolish young trainee. And do correct me in comments (kindly?) so that everyone can benefit from your abundant wisdom!
**A common relative measurement used in the foster/adoption system. I like to imagine it notated like so: <=/=>. Logically/mathematically, of course, in the strictest sense, this measurement and the value following it have absolutely no significance whatsoever.