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The high price of the foster care adoption process.
(Page one of three)
The journey began on Thanksgiving Day during the holiday celebration. Keeping with tradition, I asked each of our children, following grace, to state something that they were thankful for that year.
To my great surprise, each of the three, stated thankfulness that related to careers, money and health. I made a comment of the perception, laughed, and continued with the celebration. My husband and I had chosen this day to inform our adult children of our decision to begin the process of adoption of another child.
I had previously done research on the Internet, spoken with friends that had adopted and contacted an attorney, as well as called for information with a few agencies. We had desired another child for a very long time, years in fact, but had waited until this point in our lives to actively pursue the topic. I was unable to give birth to another natural child, so adoption was our only option.
Beginning the Adoption Process
Following the holiday, I made an appointment to meet with a recruiter that I had previously spoken with by phone to obtain more detailed information, and to request a contract to be signed to begin the very long process required to become certified for adoption. Thus, our long journey began.
Our meeting with the recruiter was filled with questions about what was required to become certified for adoption. The recruiter was an employee for an agency that did fostering and adoption. We were very clear that we were only interested in adoption of a child, not to foster.
To make a long story short, following the meeting, we received the application, filled it out, returned it and waited for the acceptance and the information to begin what was explained to us as classes required of all persons to adopt a child within the foster system.
The Long PATH to Certification
Our Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) classes began in early January and were to last sixteen weeks. Within these classes we were to learn the requirements of foster parents and informed that in order to adopt a child in the foster system that we had to become certified foster parents first.
We attended class every Monday night for two-hours as well as a few for eight-hours on Saturdays, only missing one because of a serious illness that I had following the death of my grandmother. Within the classes, each week, we were required to provide documents, information, proof of income, physicals, records check, background check, fingerprints, pets vet records, water analysis, childhood histories, references, interviews, and inspection of our home; all required for what is called a home study for adoption.
We completed the process the last week of April and waited for the letter to come telling us that we had been certified to adopt. The weeks were very difficult for us, not knowing if we had "passed" the home study. Finally, the third week of May the letter came that we so desired. Now we just had to wait to be matched with a child in the system. We had stated that we desired a child in the age range of birth to ten years. We thought that we would likely be called for a child in the upper end of that age range.
During the following month, I searched the adoptable children listed on the internet and contacted the adoption person within our agency, only to find out that our agency rarely receives the type of child that we desired. I was very dismayed at this point and was giving up hope that we would be able to adopt a child in this way. Much to my utter surprise on a sunny afternoon at about four o'clock, I received a phone call that would forever change my heart and life.
Drug Addicted Infant Girl Abandoned
The person that was calling me was the placement counselor for our adoption agency. She was calling to tell me of an eight-day-old baby girl that needed a home. She told me that the baby's natural mother had left the hospital abandoning her, telling them that she did not want the baby, that they had no information on the father, but that they would not likely be able to find him and if they did that he would most likely be a drug addict like the mother.
She continued to inform me that the baby was born drug addicted, but that the doctors thought that she would be okay and normal. She also informed me that there was a woman at the hospital that had wanted to adopt the baby, but that she could not pass a basic criminal background check, so she would not be able to.
The baby was somewhat of a legal risk, but they thought that she was adoptable. The counselor informed me that I needed to answer now, if I wanted the baby. The hospital was releasing the baby right then and that if I wanted her that I would need to come immediately to get her.
My heart raced. I could hardly believe that I was receiving the phone call that I had waited for, for so many years. I answered yes to the baby and asked when I needed to come. She stated, "now."
I informed her that I needed to change clothes and stop to buy a car seat and some of the things that I would need for the baby, since I had nothing, as well as call my husband. I informed her that I could be there in an hour due to the time it would take me to drive to the hospital and stop to purchase a car seat.
She asked me to hold a moment and was discussing the matter with someone. She came back to the phone and asked me if I could be at the agency in two-hours and that they would bring the baby to the office from the hospital.
I told her that I could and that I would call my husband and meet them there. I will never forget telling my husband that we were getting a newborn baby girl and all of the details infusing the excitement in both of us at the joy of the blessing. Because of the hour long drive that was required of me from our home to the agency and the time that I needed to shower and dress, my husband decided that he would go shopping for the needed items and meet me there.
Shopping for Baby Items
We both arrived on time and waited. The wait was prolonged and we worried that something had happened and that they were not bringing the baby. As we waited I looked at all of the items that my husband had so hurriedly purchased for the baby. I was impressed at his efforts. He had bought a cradle, car seat, bottles, blankets, outfits, washrags, diapers, sheets, stroller, bath gift pack and other items needed in that short period of time.
I talked with the agency's employees. One of which I learned would be our foster counselor. She was very friendly and sweet and I liked her very much. I was shown the papers that we needed to sign to become the baby's foster parents and we all discussed how excited we were that we were going to be able to adopt this baby.
My husband was as excited as a child opening Christmas presents and became restless waiting for the baby to arrive and began walking up and down the sidewalk outside of the building watching for the arrival. Finally, one and a half hours later and after learning from a phone call that there had been great difficulty in obtaining the baby's meds; in walked two women looking rather tired along with my husband carrying a dirty old blue toddler car seat with a tiny baby in it.
At first, I could not see the baby very well because my husband was blocking my view taking her out of the seat. I didn't know exactly what to do. I did not know if I was allowed to touch the baby or not.
The baby was crying and was handed to me. I looked at her and my heart melted instantly. She was beautiful. She looked very fragile and weak. She was dressed in a dirty hospital t-shirt, wet diaper, and dirty receiving blanket. My first words to her were; "Oh, baby girl, it's okay, momma's got you now."
I will never forget the amount of love that I felt for her in those moments. It was no different than I had felt the first time that I had looked into my birth children's faces. She was my daughter.
I quickly began to change her diaper and change her into clothes that we had bought for her. I was glad that my husband had purchased so much because all that the case workers brought with her was two packs of six four ounce filled bottles, one half pack of diapers, meds, a diaper bag and a hospital bag filled with some nipples, pacifiers, lotion, papers and some kind of homemade doll clothes.
Getting the Medication Right
As soon as I had changed the baby's clothes, the workers stated that she was two-hours late in taking her meds and handed me the bottles, along with syringes, and a hand written paper stating the dose and time of the meds. They told me to give it to her now.
To say that I was shocked is an understatement. My previous training in nursing has made me very aware of the dangers of giving a newborn an incorrect dosage of medication. I read the meager instructions and questioned the large dosage of one of the meds that I had previously been familiar with, knowing that an overdose of this med could be fatal to a newborn. I nervously drew up the med, had the caseworker check the dosage and gave it to the baby. Praying that the dose was correct and at the same time questioning the dosage because something did not sound correct to me.
We again stated that we wanted to adopt the baby to the caseworkers and asked if we should call our attorney. The caseworker stated to wait until tomorrow because they had a hearing scheduled in court at nine the next morning and that at that time they were going to move to take away the mothers rights for severe abuse and abandonment and that they would call me then. Everyone that was present congratulated my husband and I and wished us luck with the baby. We signed the foster parent paper and were off to take our new baby home.
We arrived home after stopping to buy formula for the new life in our home. Our neighbor was sitting on our patio waiting to welcome home our new baby after being called by my husband in route. We went inside and just looked at her with amazement and love. My husband quickly came to put together her cradle so that she had a bed to sleep in as it was getting late.
I did not sleep at all that night, being nervous with the new baby and worried about her well being on the medications. The next day I received a phone call telling me that the mother had not shown up for court and that a warrant had been issued by the judge for her arrest.
Within the papers from the hospital was an appointment for the baby to see a regular pediatrician in two-days. I could hardly wait for the appointment because I was concerned about the baby's genitals being so swollen, the medication dosage. I also wanted to ask questions about what to expect out of the norm with a drug-addicted infant.
The counselor meet me at the doctor's office and we waited to see the doctor while answering peoples questions about the baby in the waiting area and filling out the required paperwork. We did not get to see the doctor that visit, but the nurse practitioner instead, who displayed the least medical professionalism that I had ever encountered. She behaved as if I was the person who had addicted the baby to drugs. She cursed at us, informed us that to care for a drug addicted infant was beyond her scope of knowledge and was extremely rough in handling the baby due to her irritability with the situation.
She did correct the dosage of the medication that I was concerned about and sent us on our way. Both the counselor and I were shocked at her behavior, to the point that I called the office to formally complain the following day.
Later that day I received a joint conference call from our agency informing me that there were two petitioners for the baby. One being the woman from the hospital and the other being a person that had custody of one of the siblings of the baby and that a meeting had been set up the following Monday for a permanency plan.