Friday, July 10, 2009

Laughing to keep from crying!

Well as my grandma always says, I am laughing to keep from crying!

We endured 27 hours of foster care training, 2 medical checkups, 3 home study visits, 2 background checks, got fingerprinted, bribed 6 people into writing reference letters, coerced 3 different families to babysit, and drove a total of 270 miles.....Only to find out this week that we took the wrong class!

HA HA HA HA. See? Laughing to keep from crying.

We had been very clear all along to our home study worker (who came out three times) and to our two instructors (who we saw a total of 9 classes) that our plan was to do emergency foster care for the next year or so until our adoption was complete. All 3 workers said it was great, there was a great need for emergency foster parents, that would be perfect, etc. No problem.

So on the day of our last session I called the caseworker to tell him we were done with the training, the homestudy was being processed, we are anxious to begin emergency foster care, Now what do we do next? The conversation went something like this:

Caseworker: "Emergency foster care?"

Me: "Yes, we decided that would be the best route since we are adopting internationally and we aren't sure how long it will be before it is completed."

Caseworker: "Well if you want to do emergency foster care you have to go through the Bair Foundation."

Me: "Are you serious?? Of all the people we have been meeting with over the last 9 weeks, why did nobody mention this before?"

Caseworker: "Well they don't really know how DHS works. They are just contracted to teach the class and to do home studies but they really don't work for DHS."

Me: "They are contracted by DHS but they don't know how DHS works?"

Caseworker: "Yes, I'm sorry for the miscommunication".

Me: "Oh".

I did call Bair Foundation to see if PLEASE PLEASE could they use our DHS paperwork and training. I was told no, we would have to take the classes all over again, do a home study all over again, etc.

So apparently we won't be foster parents after all. :(

I want to say, however, this experience has really opened my eyes to the problems in the system. There was a boy on the panel on the last class who was 17 and getting ready to age out of the system. He has been in foster care since he was FOUR MONTHS OLD!! I cannot understand WHY a child, who could have EASILY been adopted at 4 months, would have to spend his whole life in foster care. I know the goal is to reunite a child with his birthparents but there has to be a point when you say enough is enough and it's time to find this poor kid a family already!! This kid admitted he was getting ready to drop out of high school and didn't know what he was going to do after that. All I could think about was what if somebody had gotten to him, mentored him, loved him earlier. I shudder to think of what will become of this boy with no high school diploma, no guidance, and nobody to call his own.

Because of our family size we will no longer be able to do foster care. I do hope that at least one family who happened to read all the way to the end of this blog post, especially after reading the last paragraph about the boy about to age out with nobody to call his own, will consider being a foster parent in my place. (Just be sure to take the right class!) :) A child needs you!!!

P.S. To those who wrote reference letters or babysat: I'M SORRY!!!!


Chelley said...

Ugh that is such a bummer that you went though all that !!

The system is stuffed everywhere!!
Even in Australia there are huge holes and nobody seems to have the answers to fix it!!

Pan Cratius said...

Good insight into the problems, Charissa.

Molly said...

That truly makes me sick to my stomach. This system is so messed up and our children are having to suffer because of it. It's like America's dirty little secret. They truly are treated as if they are easy to forget. I happened to see the preview for Orphan and I wanted to scream. It was so upsetting to watch knowing that people just watching the preview would never consider fostering. Seriously, the church needs to take this head on.

I am so sorry. That is so frustrating! Oh, I posted answers to your questions and hope they help.

Bethany said...

OMG no way. I'd be beyond frustrated too! But you are right, there is SUCH a need!!

Marlita said...

Preach it sister! People have such a negative view on being foster parents, when it really is such a big blessing!
We love having Shawn in our family, and yes at times it's frustrating to deal with "the system", it is not this little guys fault!
I wish if even one family per church would consider this there would be a huge need met. At least you tried :)

Aubrey said...

Wow! I just had this conversation with a friend last night. It saddens me that these very adoptable babies remain in the system so long that they are no longer adoptable. It is so sad that they aren't given a chance to have a family life. When they age out of the system they are completely alone.

Thank you for sharing this. I hope it touches someone's heart. I pray that someone can fill your spot!

SO sorry this happened to you guys! I know the red tape is tremendous and the fact that it was all pointless is beyond frustrating, I'm sure.

Kelly said...

ugh! Welcome to the system! :( .... how frustrating, but how wonderful that you are reaching out in this way!

jennifer... said...

I'm so sorry! You're persevering people to not let any of these things make you quit serving these little ones.

Larsen Family said...

Wow. I am sorry that this mess happened. It really stinks for the many children in foster care, but God has his reasons sometimes; and we don't always understand. I pray that because of ALL of your efforts someone will rise up and become a foster family for those needy kids.

Adeye said...

Oh my goodness, that is just sooooo frustrating.
I feel so bad for the 17 year old. This stuff really gets me going. I just don't get it---where are the families to adopt? Why is the orphan crisis at it's worst ever? It absolutely breaks my heart.

Thank so much for all you love, support and encouragement on my blog. I so appreciate it! I know you have journeyed this road. It is so wonderful to know that someone has gone before us and has experience with what we are facing.

Kelly said...

It just so happens that I am about to embark on the road to foster care. I will attend the first meeting in August. Most likely the reason the boy never got a "forever family" is because of the system itself. I am sure there were plenty of families that would have adopted a 4 month old... if only it were that easy. There are all these crazy rules, as you know. If there was a family member who "says" they want him, no matter if they are a crazed addict or had several other kids already in Foster care, the judge will work to put the child back with the bio-family. The family will have requirements and sometimes they say they are trying, but they never follow through, thus dragging along any possible relinquishment of parental rights. Why this is the case is beyond me. The system does not work for the children, it works for the adults, even if they are unsuitable parents. (off my soapbox)

markay714 said...

This stinks so bad. I went to the first class for local foster to adopt program when I felt impressed that I needed to adopt. It is ashame that it is FAR easier to adopt internationally than it is to deal with what you have to do to help homegrown children! I was sick at that first meeting and knew it wasn't something I could stomach! So sorry!

Dalene said...

Oh isn't our government just dandy?

Delahne said...

I didn't know you couldn't foster at all. So sad to know. You have the heart and the land to have a whole tribe of foster kids!

The Urbans said...

Delahne, They allow a maximum of only 6 children in a foster home. Of course the abusers are allowed to birth as many children as they want, but I'll save that for another blog post.

Kerry Shealy said...

I just spoke to an agency last week that helps people adopt across state lines because it is so difficult to adopt out of the foster care system in Florida. I asked him how I could find out about infants with special needs who need to be adopted. He had no idea and this is his specialty! So, he called another agency who said they didn't really think a baby would be "in the system" to adopt. So, these kids just go from home to home until they reach a certain age and then it makes it even more difficult to find a family.
This is another reason I hope Roger can win his House have a voice!!!

Mama of 4 Blessings said...

Having just gone through the training myself I can definately relate to your frustrations. I'm so sorry it didn't work out Charissa. You have such a loving family with big hearts that you would have made great foster parents! We have had so many of our friends "give up" because of frustrations with the system. It is very hard and frustrating. Our family will never quit these kids, it's them we go through all this for! We struggle through the state we are in right now due to us being military and with them knowing we are due to transfer they refuse to actively work with us. You have to advocate for yourself in this process, there is no one looking out for you in the system. God is in control, always remember that:) Thanks for sharing

Janell & Kenny said...

Bless your heart! I'm bummed that all my great comments were for not! Thanks for calling me yesterday. I appreciate your support. We look forward to visiting and meeting your new additions le dog and le gatto :)
Miss you much my inspirational sis-in-law!!! ps this is sad...did you hear about the family in florida??? They had several adopted special needs children. What is this world coming to???

Melissa said...

So sorry to hear this. The system is SO messed up. My hubby and I were just in a meeting today to start an orphan/adoption/justice ministry and he was saying the church needs to take over foster care and such. I agree that would be great but don't think the Government would relinquish it's hold. The kids are being hurt by this and people who want to help are being turned off by the bad treatment that we as foster parents sometimes have to endure.

Amy said...

Argh... what a ridiculous system! Here are some amazing people opening their hearts and their home to a child in need... and told that they cannot do it because their home is so full of love... I'll be honest - that is a load of BS!
So not fair for you guys... :(

The "system" obviously does not work - and makes it harder for these poor kids that need help... so sad!

ArtworkByRuth said...

We were licensed foster parents for two years before we decided to adopt internationally. Yes, there are many waiting children, but DHS is the biggest barrier to many of them finding forever homes! God doesn't waste our time however, and you will use what you learned or your new connections to bless others! Praying for your next steps!

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. As a social worker who worked at DHS as a foster home coordinator I am APPALLED!! Yet at the same time this shows you why I only lasted a year. There are so many "policies" that they get in they way of providing good and common sense care. It is so frustrating. Well hopefully you picked up a tip or two in the trainings that can be useful.

Anonymous said...

It is sad. So many problems need to be fixed. No one seems to have the answers/authority/???.