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Foster Parenting and Foster-Adoption
|Questions & Advice||Foster-adopt Agencies reviewed by BPN subscribers|
Does anyone know of an active, adoptive parents group in the East Bay for domestic adoptions? I've searched online and have found no active groups. Since we're doing foster to adopt through Contra Costa County, we do not have the support of an agency as we wait for our second child. We've been waiting about two years now and it would be great to talk with others like us. We're not sure whether we should continue to wait with the county, or start over with an agency. We had one failed placement last December (reunification just before the child was due to come to us) and we declined another placement because of concerns about how the new child's trauma would affect our daughter.
The county knows we're tired of waiting. Our worker thinks we should wait a bit longer, and that they will charge about $2400 to release our home study. Is it worth it, or do we ditch that home study and start from square one again? Any insight is appreciated. Thanks. Loni
Peggy Pearson works with the Center for Vulnerable Child at Children's Hospital she runs a support group and a lecture series, both take place 2x per month. I believe her programs are open to everyone. I don't think there is a website for her program, but I could forward you a flier.
As far as what you should do, only you can answer that. I have a friend that successfully adopted through Contra Costa County about 4 years ago. They did have a really rough time with lots of waiting. No adoption path is generally easy and fost-adopt is generally harder than private adoptions. My friend said he would be willing to talk with you if you'd like to send me an email. My husband and I initially worked with an FFA and were dissatisfied for a number of reasons. We had one placement that we disrupted and became certified with Alameda County. We have been much happier working with Alameda County, but have still been upset by how deeply flawed the whole system is. We did meet one family from Contra Costa that were becoming certified with Alameda County. I don't remember what exactly there story was, though.
We were on the emergency placement list for children under 2 and immediately started getting calls to pick children up. Often there would be several calls per week. We picked my daughter up from the hospital when she was 3 days old, and adopted her when she was 17 months. That is relatively short for an adoption through the foster system, but there were some bumpy spots including several weeks that we thought she was going to be moved to a biological relative. We are considering more children and will likely avoid emergency placement until our daughter is older. In the meantime, we are considering getting on their adoption-only list, which would mean much more waiting. DT
In response to your ''waiting too long'' I am guessing that you have very clear ideas as to what type of child you would like to join your family.As you've said you did match but turned down the placement. Only you know your family dynamics and I hope were honest when you said no to t he child. I feel that no matter who you work with - county or agency the longer your ''list'' of ''must haves'' the longer it will take to find the ''match.''
In closing I say have a good talk with your case worker and ask them what do you need to do to have your home study ''stand out'' more. I had a friend who had her home study rewritten and once that happened, she did match with a girl who had 5-6 families competing for her. Also re-think your ''list'' (and most foster- adoptive families have one). I have a co-worker who had very specific ''must haves and must not haves'' and their home study was never chosen by the child's case work and they never did match. And yes, they went through one of the area agencies. When I suggested to them that maybe they should go through the county, they didn't want to go that path (since they heard negative things about working directly with a county). Good luck which ever way you go. It will work out. County adoption mom
I'm sorry about the failed adoption, especially after waiting for so long. It's such a roller coaster of emotion for families, and unconscionable when there are so many children stuck in the system. We adopted our second child over 10 years ago through fost-adopt (SF County) and had similar concerns re: the uncertainty of the process and how it would affect our first (adopted internationally), who was just under two at the time. Definitely a very important issue. We were only willing to accept a situation with very low risk of reunification.
I wonder if an agency like ASK which works with other county systems (Alameda, that I know of) would allow an outside family to attend any of their groups. We used Future Families in SF, and were part of a support group of waiting parents. been there
My father and his siblings lost their mother and were abandoned by their father as a child. Inspired by his experience, I had always planned to adopt, but life doesn't work out the way you plan... Now I'm an older single mom and I don't think I have the capacity to commit to raising a child who may have exceptional physical or emotional needs. Nonetheless, I would like to do something to help a child or children who don't have stable family. I'm imagining tutoring, or acting as a mentor for a teen, etc. I would love to hear about ways to help and support children in these types of situations. Signed, anonymous
Provide respite care for foster parents. Foster parents need time off too, and you could provide babysitting for a few hours or a few days. Very much needed. Contact your county's foster care program for information.
Considering becoming a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. Learn more at http://californiacasa.org. foster parent cheering you on!
This is an organization that works with foster youth, mainly teenagers. There is a great need for men to volunteer as mentors. You commit for a minimum of one year, and many CASAs remain a part of the foster youth's life for much longer.
You can serve in a ''Big Brother'' capacity, see what the youth needs, and help arrange for these needs to be met. You can spend time with them once a week, or make other arrangements if you wish.
You may select a youth from a number of case histories that are presented to you after you have undergone a few weeks of training.
Once you contact the organization, there will be a couple of orientation meetings so that you can learn about the mission and be sure that you are ready to step up to the commitment.
There are also other ways to volunteer or help CASA that are not as big a commitment, as a way of getting one's feet wet.
Thanks for your enthusiasm on behalf of these young people Amelia, a former foster youth
This is a great program where volunteers (after training) are appointed to advocate for children who are wards of the court. They attend court meetings to speak about how the child is doing and also have outings with the child (sort of a big brother/big sister type relationship). Often times children who are wards of the court have no stable person who consistently looks after them (no family, changing foster homes, etc.) and a CASA person who can commit to several years of guidance can really help stabilize someone's life. See the website for more information. I know a few people who have done this and it is very rewarding and seems to make a difference to the kid. How nice of you to help a child
There are SO many kids who are needy, but here's one who really needs you right now, and has love and laughter to share too! Perhaps you could join the village to help N. get caught up academically to her peers before she goes off to high school next year. Growing up in an abusive family, then shuttled from foster home to foster home until my friend took her into both heart and home, has left gaps in this girl's academic foundational building blocks... which then, of course, takes a hit on her self esteem. While this child has so blossomed in the last 4 years, it is clear to me that she has a good and contributing and deeply compassionate life ahead of her if we can give her the support she needs now. At the same time, I suspect and fear that this child will go down the path of her origins unless we, the village, can provide this needed extra investment of time, energy, love, and support (more than her foster Mom, even with her community, can provide right now),
Whether you reach out to this child or another,having someone to simply help with homework on a regular basis, after school or in eves, would make a world of difference - to the child, and to her exhausted foster Mom. N needs some tutoring to be successful and catch up to grade level, but the cost of paying for such help is prohibitive. Blessings on your journey, and if you'd like to connect with this foster Mom and daughter, please ask the Moderator for my contact info. Part of the Village
My husband and I are considering long-term foster/adoption from Alameda County or San Francisco County. We attended an orientation for a placement agency and the theme throughout their presentation was ''its incredibly hard - kids from foster care need extraordinary amounts of patience and support- but with faith in God and love you'll do fine'', which is a bit too vague for me. (We also learned that placement agencies are paid by the state for each child they place with a family, so they have an inherent incentive to get kids placed.) Before we go forward, I'd like a little more detailed parent perspective on what we might experience/need if we adopt/foster a child who is in the social service system.
I read through the archives but most of the discussion there involved folks who had recently foster/adopted. I'd love to hear from folks who are five to ten years out after bringing a child into their family - looking back, what do you think about your decision to go this route? Do you think the agency you worked with helped ensure a good match and provided real support when you needed it? If you adopted a child with ''special needs,'' as most in the system are, were these needs fairly manageable or did they take extraordinary effort/place significant stress on your family?
Thank you, in advance, for sharing your honest perspectives! Interested in foster/adopt
With my husband unavailable during the workday, I'm the one responsible for all the appointments with counselor, tutors, social worker, orthodontist, doctor/dentist, teachers. My baseline right now is 4 appointments/week. That doesn't even sound that bad, but the whole reason we have most of these appointments is because I went holy cow, what is happening with this kid? And then started asking questions and got neurological testing and a major psychological assessment and then researched how to get a really good psychologist, and then asked the school what kind of help they could provide and fumbled my way through some terrible 504 meetings, etc etc etc. It's confusing from every direction. Why is my kid exhibiting these behaviors? What is the best way to address them? What resources are available? How willing am I to keep pushing the bureaucracy?
It took me 25+ phone calls to get a new psychologist, and 25+ calls to get a local orthodontist (so we didn't have to make a 3-hr round trip to the one social services wanted). I got a lot of push back and irritated people in the process and questioned if I was doing the right thing in seeking services.
But the hardest part is coping with a kid who has nightmares, who is panicked by a knock on the door, who has a meltdown over even being asked what his homework is, who doesn't speak to you for three weeks because he's always angry. My two biological kids did not prepare me for this. The last person I dealt with who was this hard is now an ex-husband.
Yes, it's rewarding. Yes, I know I'm doing something good. I have seen great progress in our son in 16 months. There are a few times/week that I like him and see the good man he can become. And I've made personal progress too. I have a thicker skin, something I've always needed.
You can ask the moderator for my email address. If you want to chat. doing better, still so hard
''Another Place at the Table,'' by Kathy Harrison.
Don't get started until you check these out. experienced foster parent
Both my boys were developmentally on target and are doing very well. Both are very high energy (but not ADHD). My older son has been found to have visual and auditory processing deficits which means he struggles with reading and some school work, but he is fully engaged, loves sports and has lots of friends. My younger son is also doing very well. I brought both boys home as infants.
With that said, I do know of a couple of families who adopted when I did and their children have struggled with some issues related to attachment disorder. Each child is different and having kids is always a risk, no matter how you do it. I am still eligible for intervention services if the boys need it until they turn 18. I encourage you to build your family this way. There are so many wonderful children waiting for a forever home! happy (but tired) mama
Here are my honest answers to your questions: 1.)The non- governmental agency I went to first was very cold and distant. and preferred to work with either bi-racial couples, gay couples, and/or Caucasians only. (I'm none of those). 2)Alameda County did a great job with training and support before and during the process. The ''bumps'' were corrected within a reasonable amount of time. 3.)You can match with a child from another county, and you will need to factor in time traveling to visit them. The younger the child, the shorter the pre-placement visits. Older children, pre-placement is longer to make transitioning easier. 4.)Be clear on what type of child you want to raise but do know that the more narrower your wants are, you might have to wait longer. Age, race, sex, drug/alcohol exposure, behaviors, all should be thought about long and hard. Be realistic. Think hard and long about your current lifestyle, family community, etc and how it has to change to accommodate a chid. 5.)If the child has siblings and the goal is to keep the siblings in contact with each other then you will need to make that happen. If you aren't willing to do this, then tell the case worker this right away. 6.) The Home Study is crucial and be very real when it is done. Don't create personas that are fake; social/case workers can ''smell'' a made up lifestyle in a nano second.7.) Only surround yourself with people who will fully support you while going through the process. Folks will will shake your confidence and make you question your beliefs and committment. Create a strong, caring, and lovig village early on.
My son has special needs and learning differences. You work a little harder to get them services and the stress might be a little more, but it is no different if you gave birth to the child. Some needs are not readily seen or identified until the child is older. Not every child exposed to alcohol and/or drugs have special needs. The childrent are not ''damaged'' and had nothing to do with what happened to them before they were born.
Keep asking questions. These are my views and experiences. Kim
We are currently Alameda County foster parents and we could not be happier about it. We have an almost-1-year-old baby that we picked up at 3 days old from the hospital. We love her more than anything. We have access to as much support as we need, but we aren't overwhelmed by the demands that the agency put on us. The process hasn't been completely smooth...we believe the system has a lot of problems, but in the end it seems to be working out. We expect our adoption to be final in May or June.
Although we were wowed by the agency at the orientation, we would not recommend them today. We found their certification process and communication style to be patronizing, yet we have always felt completely respected by our county workers. The agency required 2 additional visits per month. Like a previous poster stated, all the appointments were really overwhelming. On our worst week, we had 10 appointments. On our best week, we had 4. Our average was probably around 6.
Find out if the agency that you are considering has full-time social workers. If they are part-time, they will likely take longer to get you ''support'' than a county social worker. We often felt our needs were time-sensitive. By the time our social worker was back at work, we had already tracked our own resources down. The social workers often can't tell you much more than google can.
Beware of considering children that aren't local (which is what many agencies handle). We were required to visit several times a week before they moved in with us. They also did one visit to our home. That was about 8 trips to AND from (about 30 hours in the car within 1 month) Plus we were required to drive back for monthly visits. It made an already stressful situation even worse.
Also understand that many agencies only work with children that were not be placed into county-certified homes. They are harder to place children because they are more difficult for whatever reason.
If you do end up in matching with a child, become very familiar with attachment problems and what they look like for parents. Then, learn about the factors that lead to attachment problems. I learned the hard way that it is no fun to parent a child that behaves as though they hate you all the time. AND it is terrible feeling to know that you have contributed to that child's lack of permanency. Decide what you can handle. Do not believe what a social worker tells you about a child's ability to attach. They may not know, they may lie or they may blame previous parents for the child's behavior.
Best of luck! anon
My husband and I are in the beginning stages of researching the foster/adoption process in the Bay Area. We are a bi-racial couple and looking to foster/adopt an african american/bi-racial child and would be interested to hear other's experiences and hopefully gain some leads.
I've worked in this field for a number of years, and I think there's a tendency with adoption in general, and fost-adopt in particular, to hear one story and paint an entire picture. This is rather unfortunate, because there is so much about each of the above mentioned variable that's missed. It's a process, not easy, but not rocket science. You will have to trust people with your history, you will need to practice absolute honesty with yourself, and be absolutely committed to this way of growing your family.
I've seen amazing families go through this process, those who do really well, are prepared, have a support network, create a community with others who have adopted, and mostly seem to have a crazy amount of love to give.
I wish you much luck! a mom and adoption advocate
Hello, I'm interested in talking with other people who have gone through the foster adopt process in Alameda, and hearing your good, bad, or mixed experiences. I've already read all the past postings on BPN on the subject, and am looking for more information. I'm particularly interested in talking with folks who are at least 3-5 years (or more) out from their adoption, and/or those who have adopted substance-exposed infants, as I'm learning as much as I can about the long-term (e.g. past the age of 3) outcomes/challenges. I would love to either hear about your experiences. Thank you so much! S
I adopted my son 12 years ago. Our story, along with many of the stories of my client's, is long, complicated and mixed with trials and tribulations. I'm so glad to wrote in to ask for more info as this type of info really is important to make a decision from the most informed position as possible. Very smart to do this now.
There is so much content to share, that it would be best to interact more directly via email or perhaps meet in person. Despite the fact that my business is to be an advocate for and support to families considering, in, or post the process of adopting, I'd be happy to meet with you without charge to share with you the info I know about this important but complicated process.
Feel free to contact me so we can have a more in depth conversation about this. Maria
We've been doing the fost/adopt process for awhile - completed our certification and homestudy and been in matching for a few months now (no children placed with us yet). We are thinking about switching from our current fost/adopt agency to a new one, for various reasons. So, I'm wondering if anyone else has switched their agency after they've completed their certification and homestudy with the old one? How was the switching process for you? Were you able to re-use any of the certification items with the new place? Also, if anyone has a recommendation for using either a local agency or the county for fost/adopt, I'd like to hear about it. I'm not sure how the county differs since we've been with an agency thus far. Thanks, in advance, for your response.
Anyway-best of luck, but I'd at least give them a good chance to help you work out whatever is happening. We were really successful with Adopt a Special Kid (AASK) in Oakland, but the process can be hard on you. Remember you will end up with a great kid or kids in the end if you can stick it out! Happy family that stuck it out
I have just had my final home visit to be approved for fostering and am set to be approved pending a few documents I need to send. I have made it clear from the beginning that I want to contribute by taking in infants and preparing them for a new life. This includes drug withdrawal.
Now that I'm at the end I'm being told that there are few infants available. I love my social worker and feel that she's telling the truth but I don't feel that I could keep up with a toddler without easing into it and it wasn't my plan to get to that stage anyway.
I'd love to hear from others about their experiences in fostering. I will not be adopting because I'm already a grandmother and my youngest dd is 20, and that wouldn't be fair to the child.
I'd like to hear from successful adopters about the age of the infant you adopted and any other foster experiences out there whether foster/adopt or just fostering.
I'm in CoCo County. So far the foster program has been great. concerned foster mom-to-be
When we went through the training and homestudy, etc, we were clear that we would consider a child from 1-4 years old (we figured that everyone wanted babies). Once we were certified, the worker said toddlers were rare and we should consider taking siblings! We said we were willing to wait for the right match and didn't think we were ready for siblings (especially for our first placement).
Frankly, it felt like a bait-and-switch. We had been clear about what we were considering and no one said that wasn't likely until we had invested considerable time going through the whole process. It seemed like the person assigned to matching families just wanted a deal -- any deal to clear the case.
The upshot is that a situation will come along that will seem right to you. Don't get pressured into something else.
Once you have a foster kid, you'll have to advocate for them as well. anon
While caring for him was difficult, I don't know that it was any worse than taking care of a healthy/younger child. I still had to wake up every few hours, either to feed or give meds. I still had to watch him closely, as you would any young one. I had to be aware of any signs that would show he was in danger due to his conditions, the same way you are vigilant about an infant. He was on a schedule, both for sleep and for feedings.
I suppose my response is that it is about the same, and if if it is more work, please consider this: You will make a huge difference in this child's life! Loving care, at any age, makes a difference. But, as I can see with my son (yes I adopted him), every time he is uncomfortable, in pain, needs help -- and there is someone there to lovingly give tend to him -- well, that is a message that will stay with him for life. Someone cares.
My son is 3 going on 4 and is healthy, happy and thriving. I am convinced that the time we had together when he came to me made a huge difference in his physical and emotional health. I wish I would have gotten him sooner, but it is never too late to help a child.
Ask for help if you need it. The counties usually offer respite care, so schedule time in for breaks on a regular basis. In my experience the workers are very understanding and encourage taking advantage of respite care.
Thank you for considering doing this important work! Jennifer
I have 2 children ages 9 and 7 and am considering adopting a child. Is there anyone out there who's had experience with adoptions through Alameda County? I'm not sure how to begin this process and would love to hear from any families who adopted through the county or became foster parents, particularly those who have adopted or fostered after having their own children. Pitfalls? Did you opt for an infant or an older child? Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks. Amber
In our experience, the orientation & training try to scare off the faint of heart. You can adopt young children through foster care, have a normal life while you do this, but you have to navigate the process alone. We've had a positive experience, most of the child welfare workers we've worked with were great, adoption homestudy worker was awesome and finished everything very quickly.
PRIDE training is interesting & useful, better than expected, worthwhile even if you don't go through the county. They focus on children's behavior, but we found it more difficult to work with the agency; our foster children have not been esp. challenging.
You can foster, or ask for adoptive placement of a legally free or almost legally free child. Alameda County doesn't have a separate fost-adopt track. If you foster, as you will be strongly encouraged to do, no worker will help you decide which placements to take, or the level of risk of a placement.
Once licensed, you may be offered your 1st placement in a month or less. It's fairly common for newborns to enter care when they are born drug positive. We don't have experience with older kids as all have been under 1 year. (Seems to not be revealed in training)
A placement worker will try HARD to get you take placements, cute & healthy baby! parents are VERY unstable & maybe not able to reunify! better come pick them up right now! another family is being considered, must be placed by 4pm! You have to guess about risk yourself- placement with relatives/siblings & reunification. You can try to get more information from the placement worker, stall for time, and be picky.
Our case may take 2 years or more to be finalized. We are at 15 months many court dates postponed, meanwhile bioparents situation has turned around several times. It is a rollercoaster. Before fostering, we had only heard from people who adopted 1st placements in a fairly short time, maybe we are on the difficult end of the range.
Our 6-year old bio child has been fine, knows the facts and what might happen in the future, been through 2 reunifications,has met the children's bio parents, has handled uncertainty well, hopes we can adopt our current foster child, and is ready to try again if not.
The forums at adoption.com are good: http://forums.adoption.com/foster-parent-support/ Anon
I want to hear some positive OR negative- truthfulness is best. My husband and I are interested in adopting a baby girl through social services of Alameda County. We have 2 biological boy's Ages 5 & 2. And anytime we tell anyone we want to adopt they first say WHY, and than they tell us a horror story of someone they knew/know that adopted and the child is/was a terror. Not sure why that is, but would like some insight into this. Would love to meet with anyone to meet your family if you are open to that to. Would love to hear about the process of adoption and hear how the child is doing, whatever age. thanks so much.
It helped me A LOT to know other adoptive parents adopted kids of all ages as I was going through the process. Again, my son is happy and healthy. Please remember that so many kids in California are at risk of growing up in the foster system, so don't rule out adoption based only on horror stories. I'd be happy to contact you directly too. Happy adoptive mama
Have you read the BPN archives? There are many positive posts about adopting throught the county, and I've posted a few times previously myself about my experience. In the end I realize that any way you have a child it is a worrisome and anxious time. I believe that adopting through the county is the way to go. No or very little cost, many wonderful needy children and you have a very thorough history of the child - not so with international adoptions. My good friends adopted a 5 year old who had been in many foster homes and she is a great girl. My boys both were exposed to drugs in-utero and both were born with very minimal problems and both are now thriving.
Trust your heart and go for it! we are family
I recommend that you look into working with an agency that helps place kids in foster care with adoptive families (Adopt A Special Kid (AASK), Family Builders, A Better Way). I've known some families who worked directly with the county and others, like mine, who worked with an agency. On the whole, I think an agency will give you more support through the process. AASK always has experienced families come into the trainings to talk, and they'll connect you with a 'buddy family' as well.
The best book about adoption I've come across is called The Family of Adoption, by Joyce Maguire Pavao. I highly recommend reading it as early in your process as possible.
As for insight into the special issues for families who have a mix of children born into the family and adopted, you might look into a volunteer-run organization called FAIR (Families Adopting in Response) -- www.fairfamilies.org. A number of the group's founders have families like that.
My child, who is now 10, came to us through foster care when she was five years old. She's had more than her fair share of challenges, but I wouldn't have created our family in any other way! Proud adoptive mother
I want to meet some families who have adopted through the foster to adopt process through Alameda County. I am starting the process and would like to hear your stories possibly meet you and your family if you are open to that. Good or bad stories I want to hear them, give me any advice to go through this process. Also if anyone can recommend any good books to read about the process for that would be much appreciated. Thanks so much anon
My husband and I have recently begun our foster adoption process in Alameda County, ideally adopting a younger sibling to our family of 3 which includes our biological son. We have interviewed 3 private nonprofit agencies -- Adopt a Special Kid, A Better Way and Family Builders. I have also attended the County's orientation session. We are leaning towards Family Builders based on some positive feedback from BPN postings and a more detailed referral from a friend who has worked with them. We also found their orientation presentation to be the most appealing and professional. But we would like to get more current feedback from others who have worked with these agencies and what your experiences have been.
Our one hesitation about Family Builders is that they do not assign a Social Worker until we are at the matching process stage which could easily be 4-5 months from now. Our initial 2 hour intake interview with FB was with a contract employee vs. with AASK, our intake interview was with a Social Worker who would likely be our ongoing contact person and Social Worker, though they cannot guarantee that she would be able to stay with us throughout the whole process, which we completely understand. But at least we would know early on who it would likely be and can determine whether it will be easy relationship or a more difficult or forced one.
I was completely turned off and disturbed after attending the County's February orientation session. The presenter said clearly that family building was not their agency's objective, but placing children is. So to the extent a prospective family makes it difficult for a Social Worker to quickly place a child, ie. asks lots of questions, is cautious about matching, wants to meet the child first etc., the Social Worker's will not call upon that family again very quickly the next time. She even joked that if you have a hyphenated last name, that the staff may overlook you in favor of others. Not exactly sure what she was getting at but I can guess, and my guess left me very offended. Thank you in advance for your feedback! Alameda mom
However, we discovered that Family Builders just seems to attract great people, and we ended up working with someone through the placement process who we all came to really care about. Now that our adoption has finalized, we are thrilled to be free of ''social workers,'' but have to admit that we miss visits from our placement worker now that they've finally come to an end (and our son still talks about our social worker, though he never mentions his own county worker).
I understand your concerns about not having that resource up front as you navigate the larger process, but we found that even though there were times we had to play advocate with the agency to keep things moving (until we got to placement), the combination of wonderful social workers, and a truly open attitude about what makes a family provided us with the consistent resources we needed from the agency - and indeed continues as we attend classes and support groups they provide.
Best of luck! It's a daunting and ultimately very worthwhile experience. Finally a Family
You're right to pay attention to how you feel about the processes of each agency, since they vary. I'd also recommend asking about what kinds of support they offer after they place the child(ren) with you, and if they offer any post-adoption services.
We liked that AASK had long-standing relationships with child welfare workers in many counties, which is helpful in the ''matching'' phase. They also link every family with a buddy family, who's adopted their kids through AASK. I can't remember when in the process that happened, but it was one of the most useful things the agency did. While people probably have varying experiences with their buddy families, ours was wonderful. It helped to make the whole thing real during the phase when it seemed to be all about paperwork. Best of luck! Sarah
We are interested in adopting through the foster-adopt program, and would love to hear of recent experiences. We would prefer a younger child, 18 months or so, in part because we have 2 other children. How long has the process taken from the time you begin training? Have your adopted children had significant special needs? If you have older children, have there been unanticipated challenges with this adjustment? Thank you for any thoughts or advice! -hoping to adopt
My husband and I are planning to adopt an infant or up to 3, 4 years-old child through the Foster Care system. Some of our friends are so negative and judgmental about the children in the Foster Care system being a ''crack baby'' with severe mental/physical problems with their parent/parents being incarcerated!!! I am sure there are many cases like that but we keep telling the friends not all children are like that and it's really case by case. I would very much appreciate if anyone who is raising a child adopted through Foster Care system could share her/his experiences with me. Thank you so much in advance! MST
There are many wonderful children waiting for adoption. Some have had a tough start. Most are amazingly resilient. If you adopt through the County you will know the child's background, health, and life experiences up to that point. The social workers work hard to make the right match. I know several families who have gone through the foster/adopt program. My children are eligible for a full array of support services offered through the County if they have a need up to age 18. It's free, it's local and it's a wonderful way to build your family. I encourage you to do it! anon
When you fost/adopt you get a lot of information before you even meet a kid. We even talked with the current foster parents of several kids.
It's nice to know (although you wouldn't do it casually) that if a foster kid's a bad fit for your family you don't have to move forward with adoption.
Don't freak out too much about having birth parents locally - be open to keeping contact. It can be easier to talk about birth parents as actual people that they know (when that's possible).
You should spend time with people who support your decision. We have a friend whose birth son has issues (always good to remember it happens with bio kids, too) and who adores our kid. We spend more time with her and less with the folks who looked like they thought our kid was contagious.
Fost/adopt is the cheapest way to have a kid. You get a monthly stipend until the adoption is finalized (it doesn't cover all the kid-costs, but still). MediCal continues until they're 18. It's what universal health care is like -- hand over the card and no co-pays, bills, nothing. It has made it easier to spend money on other kid-resources without stretching ourselves.
We are happy to tell you everything we've figured out about FSA agencies, the county, and what we wished we knew when we started. It's not without its bureaucracy -- but less than a private or international adoption.
If you'd like to meet a foster kid (who was held up for a while due to possible Native American background, although no tribe was ever identified,) just to get a different picture in your head, email us. aj
So trust your gut. Adopting from the US foster care system is a wonderful thing to do and the odds that your child will be 'tainted' are no more than the odds any adopted baby will be. Fan of foster care adoption
There is a real range of children in foster care, and the process of being approved to adopt helps you begin to think about what you can handle and what you cannot. What's most important is what your family feels is right for you - it's not your friends who will raise this child. And the well-meaning family and friends who expressed their concerns about the route we took have fallen head over heels for our son right along with us - none of us ever talks about those long-ago conversations now.
Good luck to you! Becoming a parent - any way you do it - is one of the hardest most wonderful things you'll ever do. Anon
My husband and I are very interested in adoption, and have been pursuing this through the county, and also through ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) agencies, since my husband is part Sioux.
We were very enthusiastic about this, and particularly about the possibility of a child who has some heritage in common with one of us (my husband) and our bio son, who is 2 1/2 years old.
However, now that we have attended several trainings and met with one social worker we are feeling very discouraged. In a nutshell, we have been told that we are guaranteed to get a disturbed child, are likely to have him/her snatched back and our hearts broken, etc. I understand that it is the social workers' job to give us worst case scenario, but there seems to be a universal message of future misery, and emotional and physical danger of several types to our son.
I did read the one positive county-adoption story, and it helped. Can anyone else clear away some of this negativity with a success story? We are open to some tough times, but can only be open to limited amounts because our soon is involved. We're just not sure what the reality is.
Thank you so much! Jenny
I am so sorry that you have been given a bleak picture of the adoption process. Yes, they have to tell you all the risks, but there are ways to mitigate these risks. One way would be to only consider children who have already had their birth parental rights terminated (and yes this can be the case even with infants). You can also ask for a different social worker. In my case, I told my social worker that I could not take a child with special needs. Don't be afraid to be honest with what will be the best match for your family. There are children of all ages and races and abilities and histories waiting for a loving family. I know of two other families who adopted through the county when I did and they also had a pretty easy time of it and their adoptions all were finalized quickly (many months ahead of me).
I want to encourage you to go for it. There are so many deserving children waiting for forever homes. anonymous
Maybe more information would help your fears. I recommend reading Toddler Adoption by Mary Hopkins-Best, Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray and anything by Nancy Thomas, but particularily, When Love is Not Enough. Probably any child who is available for adoption through fost/adopt will have some attachment issues and it's good to know that these can be healed, though sometimes not without a lot of hard work on everybody's part. There are thousands of resiliant and beautiful children available for adoption today. - - - Hang in there. Thrilled, but tired, Adoptive Mom.
He is above average in intelligence, sweet, beautiful, and mostly healthy. He has asthma, which may have to do with us living in Richmond... He and I bonded so deeply, I can't imagine how it could be deeper.
His birthmother's rights were terminated before I adopted him, so I never had to worry about losing him. (I have always felt sad for her...)
I don't want to put my name on the web with this, but if you'd like to talk, please call me. -happy mama
We were a family less than one year after beginning the MAPP class. Some in our class were matched with young babies. Some children are already legally unrelated to their birth parents. Some are more complicated.
When you go through the process, you fill out a lenghty questionnaire, setting up a profile of characteristics and risks you're willing to accept in a match, from gender and race to drug exposure and bed-wetting. This helps them to make a good match. And when you are matched, you don't have to move forward with it.
Yes, our children had some serious adjustment to do, but they're good and sweet and smart. And parenting any child comes with risks and adjustments for all.
We found everyone with the county that we worked with to be dedicated, intelligent, decent, and caring. It may not be this way for everyone, but don't write it off. anon
One of the most useful (and challenging) resources outside of the county has been Pact, an Adoption Alliance (see http://pactadopt.org/). Although children available for public adoption in California are pretty evenly split between Anglo, Latino, and African-American children in near Bay Area counties it is mostly Black children who are available for placement.
Pact provides support and training for families who have adoptive children of color. They offer reecommendations for reading, short classes and an annual week-long family summer camp with separate programming for parents and children. Pact makes us better parents and isn't afraid to challenge us in ways that make us pay attention to what's best for our kids that we might otherwise have missed.
I didn't see the initial post and am not sure of the racial background of the person who asked for advice but me and my sweettie are white folks and many people who seek formal adoptions are also white folk (as contrasted with 1) foster care providers who in Alameda County seemed predominantly African-American and 2) informal adoptions where folks ask family and friends to take care of their birth children).
Facilitating our African-American daughters ability to connect with their birth culture --and being aware of the power plays involved in who is ''available'' to be adopted and who is ''adopting''-- is something we are (and will continue to) work at. Part of learning to do that is made easier by Pact as well as reading the blogs of adult transracially adopted people of color like http://birthproject.wordpress.com/ and http://twicetherice.wordpress.com/
Much love and best of luck on your journey
I’m a stay-at-home-mom with a 4-year-old daughter & a husband who is highly devoted to our family, but whose work requires him to be gone 4 days per week. We are seriously considering adopting a child (or perhaps siblings) through the foster care system.
We have found the information provided on the BPN site to be helpful (http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/adoption/foster.html), & have also spoken with others who have gone through the Foster-to-Adoption process.
But we specifically wonder if anyone has dealt with the specific challenges that we face:
(1) Dynamics with our existing biological daughter: We’re concerned about our daughter feeling jealous; getting attached to a prospective sibling who is later placed with their biological family; having to share her room for now; etc.
(2) My husband working so far away: It’s hard, but we’ve adjusted successfully & hope the situation will eventually change. But for now, he leaves Monday morning & returns late Thursday night. I am aware that the Fost-Adopt process requires many hours of meetings, paperwork, classes, etc. Can we do some of this on weekends?
(3) Dynamics with grandparents & relatives: We’re close with them & they all adore our daughter. But they live far away. Nonetheless, we’re concerned that they will favor our biological daughter over any foster or adoptive children.
We do have a lot to offer: We’re both educated professionals; my husband makes a good income; we’re stable & own our own home; we enjoy parenting & I have experience working with young children as a volunteer preschool classroom aide. We’re excited about adopting through the foster care system. But we also want to be well informed & prepared & to make sure that everyone involved winds up as happy & well-adjusted as possible – including ourselves as parents.
Thank you. We will be extremely grateful for any perspectives on the issues we’ve described Prospective Fost-Adopt Mom
1. Trainers should be able to help you with this dynamic; part of the course work. Communication is vital. Could write a book in answer to your question. Jelousy is a natural part of the transition, I believe, but as things adjust and accomodate it should subside to normal sibling rivalry/dynamics.
2. Time demands. We took the training on consequtive Saturdays for 8 weeks in the mornings. Initial paperwork needs some devoted time to but after you're fost-adopt parent, there's almost nothing. CPR/First Aid needs to be current, classes thru Red Cross offered on weekends. You need 8 hrs of CEU's per year (both you and spouse) which can be at a site or some on- line training or parenting videos.
3.Your family will probably surprise you with their willingness to love your adopted child as your biological. As any relationship, they will have to get to know him/her and the more time they spend together and communicate (e-mail, pictures, phone calls, etc), the bonding process comes along nicely. You can lay the groundwork for this by talking to them about the fact that you're considering adoption and discuss their thoughts and feelings prior to taking classes. Lots more ideas if you'd like to e-mail me please feel free. Best of luck! G McGuire
When it comes to your daughter she would probably feel jealous of a new child regardless of how that child came to be in your home. I am sure that your duaghter has already experienced friends or family moving away. Although it would be hard it the child had to leave I think she would be able to cope and hopefully be happy for the child that he/she is able to be with his/her birth family.
Your freinds/family may treat a non-birth family the same as your birth daughter, but they will probably follow your lead. You will need to feel confident and comfortable enough to tell them when they are being insensitive or inappropriate. More than likely they will come to view the child as part of the family.
When it comes to your husband being away four days a week I worry for two reasons. 1) children in foster care have often experienced many losses and disruptions. Intially they might worry that he won't come back or they drove him away. It would be very important that he be able to take several weeks of leave to be home when a child is intially placed. 2) Parenting is hard, even your birth children. When your husband is away you would be the only parent and a lot would be expected of you. Many of are parents are single mothers and seem to manage well. It is important that you figure out who your support people will be when your husband is not home. As for the paperwork/training, the agency I work for offers the required training over three Saturdays and we also offer fingerprinting and cpr/1st aid training on some Saturdays. It is certainly doable.
I hope this was helpful, please feel free to contact me via e-mail or at work. I hope you pursue this journey. I have known many families who have found great reward and joy. If you get this before 8/19 I can get you an invitation to our annual picnic where you can meet foster-to-adopt families. Sarah
In hindsite, I would suggest that you: 1. Be proactive about finding an agency that you are comfortable with. There are a number of private nonprofit agencies in the East Bay (FamilyBuilders, Adopt A Special Kid, A Better Way) that serve this purpose and offer training and matching. 2. Plan the age separation between your two children - I suggest 2 years or more. Less than 2 years can create an unfair dynamic, as they are not competing on even ground. 3. Consider the needs of raising a child who is not your ethnicity. It is a huge reponsibility to prepare a child to feel included in a culture that is not shared by their immediate family.
Fortunately, there are support organizations like PACT and IPride who help blended families like ours. 4. Learn all you can about the special needs of kids who have been neglected. There are many first person narratives available which explain the kinds of behavior you can expect - you need to understand what problems can likely be overcome once the child feels secure (1-2 years) and others which may have more serious results. 5. Don't wait too long! Start now, because the longer you wait the more the upset will be for your daughter when her little brother or sister arrives. It takes 3-6 months minimum to go thru the home study/training/ CPR etc. and then you could be matched quickly or it could take years, as it did for us.
There are many challenges in this process, and it takes perseverance and much inner strength, plus a willingness to open your lives to the social workers. You will be exposed to a shameful side of our society: the tragic results of child abuse and neglect. But you will be joining a community of blended families who support eachother and know they are doing something big, something essential, to help alleviate a child's suffering and loss. Kristin
1) I guess just remember that kids become siblings, sometimes through child birth and sometimes through adoption. If you're concerned about her feelings, ask her is she has any! Chances are you can ride the tide of excitement over getting a sibling. Just imagine if you became pregnant...what would you say? Say that!
2)My other half is a pilot and is away for days at a time. I have found that having other children has alleviated a lot of the constant attention activities that an only child has. It is my sense that the foster system is so in need that they will find a way to work with your schedule. I ended up being the point person for a lot of the communication...with email - almost everything is possible!
3)If your family members are favoring your biological daughter over your adopted children then you need to do more footwork with them laying the ground rules. ANd also, in their defense, a bit of that is natural. It's been several years now since we adopted our first 2 kids...whatever weirdness that ever existed is gone. And it was non-existant when we adopted the younger 2. But if it ever crops up...it's THEIR issue, not yours. If it goes so far that the children become aware of favoritism then you need to insist on stricter ground rules for your relatives!
PLEASE UNDERSTAND: if you are adopting through the foster care system...this is a huge government-run agency. Many of the practices seem to work against the child's best interest. Commit yourself to the process, and understand that the major feelings of chaos are going to come from dealing with the system, not from the kids. There are transition issues that you should take classes for...but there is no class that will prepare you for taking a child you have bonded with and releasing them for a visit with a birth parent who will resent you and will have legal rights over you until the child is legally free. Seriously prepare yourself and ask lots of foster parents about the process. It's daunting...the children are a snap by comparison. anon
We would love to hear from people who have advice or experience adopting non-infants either through the County or internationally. We are currently receiving referrals for fost- adopt through a non-profit agency. The social worker has started dropping comments about how difficult it is to find children under 6: ''that's what everyone is looking for'' and ''we don't see many except in sibling groups or with very serious issues.'' It's a little frustrating as we were pretty clear about what we were willing to consider from the beginning and if it wasn't viable it seems the agency should have told us before wasting resources on us. Our parameters are not narrow, by the way. We also heard that the County has changed its training because they want to focus on getting long-term foster families, not adoptive families. All seems to suggest that the need is not there for who we are able to adopt.
We are starting to consider beginning the process for international adoption, just so that if the County process doesn't work, we don't have to start from scratch. Mainly we want to get this resolved within a year as there's an aspect of our lives being on hold because we don't know when a child might join our family.
We would like to hear from anyone with experience with fost/adopt or international adoption of non-infants. What did you wish you knew when you started? What would you do differently and what worked well? We would appreciate email addresses as well. We can't attach ours as our agency doesn't know we are considering a dual path. thanks, anon
By asking these big questions, you have (as my adoption counselor told me 8 years ago) started the journey toward the child of your heart. It will be quite a journey, the most incredible you've ever taken. Lots of luck whatever you decide! sabrina
These kids are all races, (at last assessment it was nearly one third caucasian, one third African American and one third Latino. I highly recommend giving A Better Way a call and come to some of their free support groups to get more of your questions answered. I would also be more than happy to talk with you some more.
Also, the current mandate in the state of California child welfare system is permanent placement, NOT long term foster or reunification services. Whether that is a good thing or not is another question, but that is their current mandate. There are 10,000 children in California right now available (and eager)for adoption.
A Better Way has already started the process with us of placing another child with us, so our son can have a sibling. The willingness to accept a child under 2 has put us in the ''high desirable'' list in their system.
Please don't let the runaround scare you off. It is a beurocratic system to navigate, but so very worth it. Shoshana
We also know of a couple that had a bad experience with a local agency, who did not prepare them properly. Go through AASK! Links
http://www.adoptaspecialkid.org/ http://www.bayareaheartgallery.com/ http://www.bayareaheartgallery.com/images/_f_gallery06.jpgRich
Fost-adopt is a cooperative process so please talk through your concerns and give them a chance to work with you. Also, will international adoption meet your family's goals? Int'l adoption can take a long time too, the kids can have just as many challenges as domestic kids, the cost is high and the supports are often much less. You have to do what's right for your family, but please don't be dishonest in the process.
thanks and good luck in your family building! anon also
AASK is an excellent adoption agency that takes care of everything at no cost to adoptive families. That's right it costs nothing to adopt children who are in foster care. After adoption these children often qualify for adoption assistance, state funds that make monthly payments to help adoptive families to help with expenses for child rearing. We adopted 2 siblings who were 3 and 4 when they moved into our home and 4 and 5 when we adopted them. We know families who adopted infants through fost/adopt as well. Please contact AASK at 510-553-1748. AASK will help you become parents of a child or children who need forever families. I know AASK will give you correct information regarding all of the possibilities of fost/adoption Parents of 2 adopted from CA foster care (with help of AASK)
As for adopting young children, I have heard that it is not easy. It can takes months to years after placement before a child is freed for adoption (i.e., parental rights are terminated, etc.), and fost/adoption meants that you make a committment to the child knowing that he/she may ultimately be returned to their birth family. Many children who have been removed from their parents will have significant issues--it goes with the territory, and would be equally true with an international adoption, although the exact nature of the issues may be different. That doesn't mean the problems will be dreadful or untreatable, and dealing with them while the child is young makes a huge difference. And everything I've heard about international adoption indicates a similarly lengthy process without the chance to get to know the child before you take them in. Seems at least as risky in its own way.
All that said, sometimes things work out. We were hoping for a newborn and expected a child over 6-months-old because supposedly newborns are never available. But we ended up accepting an emergency placement (which we had had no intention of getting into) of a 4-day-old and have had remarkably smooth sailing through the court process--finalization whould be in a feww weeks!
Best of luck to you--there are a lot of kids who need homes, but the process is sometimes slow, difficult and emotionally risky. Libby
You said you had heard that the county has shifted its emphasis to recruiting ''long term foster care'' families. I don't think this is correct, but I think I know where this perception comes from. About a year ago the county officially made recruitment of ''concurrent planning'' families its highest priority. This is when the county simultaneously works on a reunification plan while also planning for an eventual adoption as the backup plan. They hope to recruit families who are willing to go either way, i.e. who will take in foster kids who may be reunified, but who will be willing to adopt the child if they are not.
However, the county is still quite willing to work with families who only want to adopt -- or who only want to foster, for that matter. In my experience, there's no hard sell for concurrent planning -- they encourage you to consider it, but they'll take ''no thanks'' for an answer. I was clear with the Social Workers throughout that I only want to adopt, and they were fine with this.
The other point I wanted to bring up, since you mentioned international adoption, is the expense. International adoption is very expensive -- less so for an older child, but it will still likely cost you far more than the $10,000 tax credit available for covering adoption expenses. On the other hand, not only is adopting a foster child completely free to you, you will be eligible for a monthly stipend (even after the adoption is finalized -- it's called the ''adoption assistance program).
If you want more info, feel free to email me. Diane
Does anyone have any experience with being a foster parent in
Alameda County? My husband and I are considering it. We have a
son who is 21 months old as well. I am interested to know how
the experience may affect my son and our family life. Any input
Our friends are about to adopt to children. They're siblings (5 &
7 years old) that are currently separated in foster care homes.
(Their mom is in jail - drugs.) The children have been in foster
care for years now and the mom has agreed to give her children up
for adoption which is where our friends come into the picture.
Our friends and the children are in for a huge life change and we
want to give them something that may make their transition into a
family a little easier. Can you recommend and books or whatever
else that might help?
The Parents website has a lot of recommendations for interacial
adoptions but I didn't see any for kids, parents, and adoptive
parents with this situation.
Specifically- Don't be shy about acknowledgeing that these kids
have known, and perhaps loved, many people, caretakers, and
foster families before coming to their new home. MAINTAINING
LINKS with many of these people is crucial to any child's sense
of continuity, emotional safety, and identity.
Consider that any information you may have about their family of
origin and history is their private life, theirs to tell when
they choose to share it.
Consider that their mother may be making a very difficult choice
in finally deciding to place her children for adoption- a
situation that is permanent.
If you choose to, you can really let your friends and their new
children know that you are part of their community by hanging in
there!! Make and effort to get to know the children, offer to
babysit or take the kids out some time. (-When the timing feels
right to the new parents.)
Education, respect for all parties involved (the adoptees, the
adoptive parents and the 'birth' parents) and sheer stick-to-it-
tive-ness (to coin a phrase) can lead to a lot of love, and
Best wishes to all in this transition.
All of the decisions that a family makes about adopting are
important and personal (open/closed, domestic/international,
same race/other race, boy/girl, one child/siblings,
infant/older, etc.). I adopted through Alameda County and am an
advocate for local adoption, while respecting the other choices
people make. There are thousands of kids in California waiting
for adoption, of every race, age, and degree of 'ordinariness'
possible. I am single and adopted my Asian/European-American
daughter through Alameda County four years ago at the age of
one. From everything I read on this list, it has been no more
challenging than I might imagine having and raising a biological
child within a marriage might have been-that is, the joy of
watching your kid grow and learn, mixed with getting through the
difficult stages, making difficult decisions, enduring awkward
family visits, and all that. This was not an open adoption, but
we stayed in touch with her birth-dad's family. While the
experience was not always easy, in the end it has been rich and
worthwhile. We were very fortunate to get to know her bio-
grandparents before both died last year, and we are also in
touch with her biological brother who was adopted by another
family. My notion of family has expanded over time and we
celebrate that my duaghter has three moms -- birth-mom, previous
foster-mom, and ''forever mom'' (me). Like every parent, at
various junctures I have had to make tough decisions based on
what's best for my kid, sometimes for the short term and
sometimes with a longer view.
My daughter was exposed to drugs in utero. She is a challenging
child at times and I'm quite sure that most of it is her innate
personality, but presumably some of it could be effects of the
initial separation from her birth-mom and the toxic exposure.
She was very fortunate to live her entire first year with a
wonderful foster mom who remains our friend, so there was no
attachment disorder. As she transitions into kindergarten, we
are getting professional counseling for the two of us to help
with some difficult behaviors, but for the most part, it has
been quite manageable and ordinary. Overall, she is an average,
bright and affectionate child who brings great joy to me and
The finances of adopting from the county are rather astonishing.
The cost is zero (that's right, they even pay you back the $40
for CPR training!). That ironically means you don't get much
adoption tax credit, because you had no expenses. Not only that,
but kids adopted through the county are eligible for a number of
subsidized services like Medi-Cal and the 'adoption assistance
program,' which means they get monthly payments toward their
support until they're 18 (in our case, $425/month). I didn't
even know I would get this when I adopted and didn't expect to
need it, but with one income and the cost of living here
including full-time childcare, it has been a tremendous help.
There are horror stories about every kind of adoption, but I am
convinced that they are greatly outweighed by the millions of
experiences of people building every variety of family
imaginable through opening their hearts to children needing a
family. I applaud your openness to considering adoption and wish
you the very best.
Happy local adoptive mom
In my experience with Alameda County, the workers explained that you
can somewhat manage the level of risk that you are willing to
take. You may indicate that you are willing only to consider children
whose parents no longer have legal rights to them (either through
abandonment, relinquishment on the parents' part, or through the state
terminating the parents' rights). There are children who are in
various points in the process of becoming wards of the state,
i.e. they may be available for placement before or after the
"termination of rights" hearing has taken place. Then there are appeal
periods, and waiting periods which you will be informed about, during
which the child's custodial status is in transition. You can decide
what level of risk is acceptable to you. You also need to do research
about the rights that birth parents have, which vary by state
(i.e. how long they legally have to "change their minds.") Also, you
need to decide what level of openness you are willing to live with,
e.g., would you be willing to have any contact with your child's birth
family, at any point, or not. Adopting a local child would be quite
different in this regard from adopting from another state or country,
for instance. Finally, be prepared to hear stories, perhaps even
"horror stories" from people, or through the grapevine, about
foster-adopt or adoptive parents who have had children placed with
them who were later returned to their birth families. From my
understanding, there are risks to be calculated, but there are points
of no return, when your legal rights to the child are secure. Hope
this is helpful!
I have two children who were adopted as infants.These children are now 13
and 16 years old. We were successful using Alameda County for one and the
services of the Gradsteins in San Francisco for the other. Also keep in
mind that you can use a paralegal to prepare your paperwork for the court
and file it yourself. This will save lot of money. Be patient and good luck.
We went through the Alameda County fost-adopt process. Extremeley key for us was the MAPP (model approach to ?p? parenting) class - 10 weeks, saturday classes. I thought I'd just ''snow'' the teachers and jump through the hoops, but I learned so much that when it was over, I wanted more. And when the kids came, after the honeymoon period was over, what I'd learned became emormously helpful in enduring the storms, and creatively helping the kids heal. We were lucky to encounter only wise, devoted, smart people at Alameda system. Hope the same for you. It's a huge commitment. anon
One suggestion I would make would be to look at a private foster care agency. I used to work for Alternative Family Services (offices in San Francisco and Oakland, although they work all over the area). I thought it was a terrific agency - families get lots of support and help and they provide extensive services for the kids. They do a lot of long term foster care as well, so you might have a child with you for an extensive period of time. The reimbursement rate for foster families is also higher than the county rates. I think being a foster parent can be an extraordinary experience. I hope it works out for you. Here is Alternative Family Service's 800 number: (800) 300-1022. Susan
2003 & Earlier
Adopting siblings who've been in foster care
I appreciate your e-mail and wanted to support you in trying to finding something that will help your friends make the transition. Just the question tells me you are a caring and supportive friend. This is exactly what they need! Being there for them and offering support and understanding can be the best present. But, if you would like to look for something else, Tapestry Books is a catelog specifically for adoptive families. The web site is www.tapestrybooks.com or adoption.com is an excellent web site which offers a great deal of support for both foster and adoptive families. It also has a ''store'' which is apart of the web site. I hope this is helpful, good luck to you and your friends. Cindy
Let them contact PACT. The people at PACT will be able to give them recommendations on books to read and what to expect. There phone number: 510243-9460 or www.pactadopt.org adoptive mom
While the only older child book I know and like is completely out of print, I do have some ideas for you. There is much you can do, better than anything you can buy. Start to open your world to new understandings about adoption and adoptive families. Until confronted with it, most people have little knowledge about the issues unique to adoptive families. The more educated you become, the more you can be a true support to your friends and their newly expanded family.
More advice about adopting through the county
I am adopting my daughter through Alameda County and have had a very positive experience. Would be happy to talk about it via e-mail or phone if you'd like. Also there are past exchanges on the parents' network website. Finding my daughter has been a highlight of my life -- good luck in this adventure! nicole
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Our friends are about to adopt to children. They're siblings (5 & 7 years old) that are currently separated in foster care homes. (Their mom is in jail - drugs.) The children have been in foster care for years now and the mom has agreed to give her children up for adoption which is where our friends come into the picture. Our friends and the children are in for a huge life change and we want to give them something that may make their transition into a family a little easier. Can you recommend and books or whatever else that might help? The Parents website has a lot of recommendations for interacial adoptions but I didn't see any for kids, parents, and adoptive parents with this situation. Thank you
Specifically- Don't be shy about acknowledgeing that these kids have known, and perhaps loved, many people, caretakers, and foster families before coming to their new home. MAINTAINING LINKS with many of these people is crucial to any child's sense of continuity, emotional safety, and identity.
Consider that any information you may have about their family of origin and history is their private life, theirs to tell when they choose to share it.
Consider that their mother may be making a very difficult choice in finally deciding to place her children for adoption- a situation that is permanent.
If you choose to, you can really let your friends and their new children know that you are part of their community by hanging in there!! Make and effort to get to know the children, offer to babysit or take the kids out some time. (-When the timing feels right to the new parents.)
Education, respect for all parties involved (the adoptees, the adoptive parents and the 'birth' parents) and sheer stick-to-it- tive-ness (to coin a phrase) can lead to a lot of love, and solid community.
Best wishes to all in this transition. Melissa
All of the decisions that a family makes about adopting are important and personal (open/closed, domestic/international, same race/other race, boy/girl, one child/siblings, infant/older, etc.). I adopted through Alameda County and am an advocate for local adoption, while respecting the other choices people make. There are thousands of kids in California waiting for adoption, of every race, age, and degree of 'ordinariness' possible. I am single and adopted my Asian/European-American daughter through Alameda County four years ago at the age of one. From everything I read on this list, it has been no more challenging than I might imagine having and raising a biological child within a marriage might have been-that is, the joy of watching your kid grow and learn, mixed with getting through the difficult stages, making difficult decisions, enduring awkward family visits, and all that. This was not an open adoption, but we stayed in touch with her birth-dad's family. While the experience was not always easy, in the end it has been rich and worthwhile. We were very fortunate to get to know her bio- grandparents before both died last year, and we are also in touch with her biological brother who was adopted by another family. My notion of family has expanded over time and we celebrate that my duaghter has three moms -- birth-mom, previous foster-mom, and ''forever mom'' (me). Like every parent, at various junctures I have had to make tough decisions based on what's best for my kid, sometimes for the short term and sometimes with a longer view.
My daughter was exposed to drugs in utero. She is a challenging child at times and I'm quite sure that most of it is her innate personality, but presumably some of it could be effects of the initial separation from her birth-mom and the toxic exposure. She was very fortunate to live her entire first year with a wonderful foster mom who remains our friend, so there was no attachment disorder. As she transitions into kindergarten, we are getting professional counseling for the two of us to help with some difficult behaviors, but for the most part, it has been quite manageable and ordinary. Overall, she is an average, bright and affectionate child who brings great joy to me and many others.
The finances of adopting from the county are rather astonishing. The cost is zero (that's right, they even pay you back the $40 for CPR training!). That ironically means you don't get much adoption tax credit, because you had no expenses. Not only that, but kids adopted through the county are eligible for a number of subsidized services like Medi-Cal and the 'adoption assistance program,' which means they get monthly payments toward their support until they're 18 (in our case, $425/month). I didn't even know I would get this when I adopted and didn't expect to need it, but with one income and the cost of living here including full-time childcare, it has been a tremendous help.
There are horror stories about every kind of adoption, but I am convinced that they are greatly outweighed by the millions of experiences of people building every variety of family imaginable through opening their hearts to children needing a family. I applaud your openness to considering adoption and wish you the very best. Happy local adoptive mom
In my experience with Alameda County, the workers explained that you can somewhat manage the level of risk that you are willing to take. You may indicate that you are willing only to consider children whose parents no longer have legal rights to them (either through abandonment, relinquishment on the parents' part, or through the state terminating the parents' rights). There are children who are in various points in the process of becoming wards of the state, i.e. they may be available for placement before or after the "termination of rights" hearing has taken place. Then there are appeal periods, and waiting periods which you will be informed about, during which the child's custodial status is in transition. You can decide what level of risk is acceptable to you. You also need to do research about the rights that birth parents have, which vary by state (i.e. how long they legally have to "change their minds.") Also, you need to decide what level of openness you are willing to live with, e.g., would you be willing to have any contact with your child's birth family, at any point, or not. Adopting a local child would be quite different in this regard from adopting from another state or country, for instance. Finally, be prepared to hear stories, perhaps even "horror stories" from people, or through the grapevine, about foster-adopt or adoptive parents who have had children placed with them who were later returned to their birth families. From my understanding, there are risks to be calculated, but there are points of no return, when your legal rights to the child are secure. Hope this is helpful!
I have two children who were adopted as infants.These children are now 13 and 16 years old. We were successful using Alameda County for one and the services of the Gradsteins in San Francisco for the other. Also keep in mind that you can use a paralegal to prepare your paperwork for the court and file it yourself. This will save lot of money. Be patient and good luck.