Monday, January 30, 2012

The Adoption Tango

The first questions people have for us when we tell them about the adoption thing are about the whole procedure. So here's generally how it goes. Your mileage may vary.
  1. Find an agency that only deals with adoptions from the foster system. There are 2 in NYC. COAC and AdoptUs, if you're interested. Regular foster agencies deal with fostering and only have a few kids a year free for adoption, so they're not the right place to go unless you want to foster first. Regular adoption agencies might be able to help, but there may be a cost involved.
  2. Take a parenting class that is mostly there to scare you off by letting you know what you're getting into. There's also some talk about how raising a kid from the system is different. The class was 2 nights a week for 4 weeks in our case. I have a friend in Florida whose class was 1 day.
  3. Fill out forms and gather papers (tax return, paid bills, etc.) and submit to agency.
  4. Have your 4 references send reference letters directly to the agency.
  5. Get fingerprinted.
  6. Have home study, in which a social worker visits the apartment, interviews the prospective parents and takes notes about the home.
  7. Wait 2 months for the social worker to write up the home study/profile.
  8. Wait for busy workers at agency to review and edit home study. This took months for us--budget cuts = staff cuts = big workloads. This is what small government looks like. Call your congressperson.
  9. Review and comment on home study.
  10. Repeat previous 2 steps to finalize home study.
  11. Start looking at kid's online profiles.
  12. Ask agency to submit home study for every kid that seems like a match.
  13. Wait while the individual agency handling each kid's case reviews the home studies of all the interested potential parents.
  14. Full Disclosure meeting with the kid's agency. This only happens if they want to consider you further. This is when they tell you all the details of the kid's background. You ask questions and they ask questions--it's like online dating with a matchmaking committee. We've heard back about one kid so far and we we went a detailed history of the kid before scheduling this meeting. No idea if this is typical.
  15. Meet the kid. This may happen after you're matched, or when they've narrowed it down to a few potential parents.
  16. If it's a match, you have several supervised visits with the kid. After a while, you can take them out without supervision for a few hours.
  17. Then the kid can come stay for a weekend visit, 2 weekends in a row. If you're adopting from another state, this may be different. They may be less visits, the weekend visits happen at a hotel in the kid's state so they never see your house until the next step, etc.
  18. If all goes well, the kid moves in with you.
  19. It takes 6-12 months to finalize the adoption, during which the kid is still in the foster system, so a social worker stops by once a week (or once a month--I've heard both) to check up on things.
You can back out any time prior to the finalization, but obviously, the later you wait, the more traumatic it is for the kid. But no one expects you to keep a little psychopath, which was the main concern of the parents in our parenting class. You can also ask for help before and after the adoption is finalized--no one is dropping a troubled child in your lap and running away.

Any questions? I'll answer them in the comments.

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