Friday, August 29, 2008

ER and Veggies

My son had a play date with his 17 month old cousin whom he adores--and she adores him right back. I had forgotten what a work out it is with a 17 month old! When my son was that age, he was totally into everything and we had to take turns eating whenever my husband and I went out to a restaurant! I always imagined girls were more laid back and could quietly sit for hours entertaining themselves with books. But, oh no--she keeps up with the best of them!

The kids had a wonderful time and when it was time for my niece to leave, my son in all his excitement ran like he was preparing for the 100m in the olympics and fall head long into the leg of a chair. He immediately got a huge bump and an ice pack was not doing the trick. We took him to the ER and the doctor was a doctor after my own heart. After checking out my son, she reassured us that God (now this is California where eveyone is afraid to mention God) made the forehead one of the hardest bones because He knew little boys would always fall on their foreheads and drunk adults too! She sent us off with another icepack and instructed my son to eat his veggies so that his ouchie could go away! My son is "allergic" veggies, but is now eating and asking for veggies so that his bump can go away! We left minus our deductible to do just what we had been doing (icepack), but with peace of mind and something else that was priceless--a veggie eating 4 year old!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Does it ever get better?

When we had our first meeting in early June with the social worker from the Child Welfare Agency, we got Live Scan fingerprinting for the FBI and Child Abuse Registry clearance. However, when our first home-study visit was interrupted, the social worker requested the Fingerprint clerk to cancel the fingerprinting request since we were going to be working with a different county and our local Child Welfare Agency no longer had a right to know. In August, when we got bounced back to our local Child Welfare Agency, the social worker advised us that the clerk never removed the FBI and Child Abuse Registry clearance requests, and the social worker had received our clearance reports. She advised she would request copies and we did not need to be fingerprinted again. Well, today, she called me and even she had to laugh when informing me that the Fingerprint Clerk forgot to sign off on the FBI clearance. So, we will have to make another appointment to get finger-printed again!!! They do the live scan fingerprinting at the Child Welfare Agency and we could have avoided the inconvenience by getting fingerprinted the last time we met our social worker (August 14, 2008). Sweet!!!

The upside to our experience so far with the foster care agency is that God is giving me patience and grace—I did not even get annoyed after she told me we would have to come in and get re-fingerprinted. One of my biggest pet peeves is government ineptitude. I firmly believe that as public servants who are paid with tax dollars, we have a moral obligation to serve our customers with professionalism, efficiency and a true heart for public service. I am still amazed that both the social worker and I were heartily laughing after the call!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Status of our Adoption plans

So what is the progress on our adoption? We are definitely going with International Adoption. So far, we have sold 7 pairs of sandals, and as soon as we have $500, we will send in our application. We had been set to send in our application and then our heater broke down on us. It was a 20-year old heater, so it had served its usefulness! We thought we could rough it, but after a week of heating water on the stove so that we could have a few inches of warm water in the tub for a bath, there went our resolve and with it, the money we had saved for the Adoption Agency application! So how are we coming up with the other funds for the homestudy? By relying on faith! We are doing a lot of praying and brainstorming for other fundraising ideas, praying some more and letting people know our plans, and then praying some more! We hope to be able to borrow $3,000 for our homestudy and once that is completed, we can apply for adoption loans and grants. Hopefully, we can soon come up with the $830 fee for the Citizen and Immigration Service application, so that we can start that process.

Our game plan is to move forward with the International Adoption and continue the process with the Child Welfare Agency as well. From the look of things, it may take two to three years to get a referral from the foster care system. So our second child will be an international adoption and our third from the foster care system. That is our plan, but we are laying all our plans at God's feet and will just be obedient to His leading.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

People Fest.

I met someone at the Park today from Uganda and he is a strong advocate of children in the foster care system. He knows the dismal outcomes of children aging out of the foster care system in California and rightly feels that the church does not reach out to the youth in group homes. His vision is to sensitize churches of this need and hope that the church would respond by coordinating with the group homes and picking up the children for youth night and/or sunday worship. Most of the children have never been to church and are only exposed to humanistic teaching in our public schools. He is organizing a "People Fest" at the park and so far 39 churches have shown interest. He is really challenging the local church to have compassion for the children in their neighborhoods. Last year, he led a mission group with 29 Americans to Uganda and his challenge is for people to have the same compassion for the local mission field.

Ironically, he plans to have the Child Welfare Agency have a booth at the "People Fest" to try and recruit foster and adoptive parents. From his interactions with social workers in the foster care system, he had the same misconception that I had that people are not willing to step up to the plate to adopt or foster children from the Child Welfare System. I think this is the line that the Child Welfare Agency keeps feeding people, but they sure put a lot of barries once people express an interest. In my office alone (and it is not a large office), 2 people are interested in adoption from the foster care system and 1 is interested in fostering. All of us started the process about six months ago, and none of us have a homestudy yet (not for lack of trying on our part)! Anyway, I plan on going to the "People Fest" and I pray for courage to talk to people about adoption. I am normally pretty shy, but I am asking God for blodness to be able to speak to pastors about the need to support christians who are adopting.

Friday, August 22, 2008

From the mouth of babes!

Most nights, as soon as I put my four year old to bed, he suddenly remembers all the things he really must do or have before he can sleep. It will range from needing some water, saying his bedtime prayers again because he forgot to pray for someone or something (mostly his toy trains), or because he needs to use the bathroom for the 10th time! I normally rub his back and head when he says his prayers, and tonight after I had put him down to sleep, he called me back to his room requesting that I pet him! It was too cute I did not have the heart to correct him!


If only 7% of Christians chose to adopt there would be no more orphans! Not everyone has been called to adopt, but all can help bring home the orphans to those who have been called to adopt. When was the last time you prayed for orphans to be adopted? When was the last time you supported a family that was adopting? It is very easy for christians to send money to "sponsor" an orphan but a very different matter to get that same christian to commit to help a prospective adoptive parent adopt the "sponsored" child. Please prayerfully open your heart to the voiceless orphans--and pray that the Lord may stretch you to consider adoption or to help a family that has been called to adopt, but whose main obstacle is finances.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kiddo, we will get you home!

We have kids', men's and women's leather hand-made sandals for sale. All proceeds go towards our International Adoption fund. Kids' sandals are $15, Women's $22 and men's $25. Of course, you are welcome to pay more which will to go towards our adoption expenses! Please consider getting a pair--not only will you have unique and good looking sandals, but you will also have the satisfaction of supporting the small business of the African vendors who sold me the sandals as well as helping an African orphan get home to America to their forever hamily!

Kiss the mailman?

I received a parcel today and I am really excited. It means I can now start fundraising for the International Adoption. The Lord knows I needed some good news on the adoption front. I had ordered some sandals from Africa and they were mailed 2 1/2 weeks ago and I has not yet received them. With all that has not been going well lately, I was beginning to get worried that they got lost in the mail. I was just beaming at the mailman and he must have thought I had a few loose marbles--he came when I was taking a nap, and he was greeted by a barefoot lady with dishevled hair and who could not stop smiling! I must have been a sight to behold! I was so excited to receive the package, I almost hugged the mailman.

16 Kids Anyone?

I had a wonderful morning today at my son's preschool. I enjoy spending a few hours in his class when I have a chance and it just makes me miss teaching! The kids are so joyful and still full of wonder. The kids just hang onto me because I let them chase me around the playground during outside play! They also love having me read them their favorite books and I normally have a line of kids waiting their turn so we can read the book they have chosen! My son just loves having me in his class and you should just see the spring in his step as he proudly announces to his classmates that his mom is in the house! Parents, if you can make some time to spend time in your child's class, the rewards are innumerable. Even half an hour makes a difference. It communicates to your child that you really care about the place they spend most of their waking hours, the teachers who shape them and the friends who are so important to their little growing selves.

Last night, dh said we would go ahead and move to a bigger place so that we can still have the opportunity to invite a daughter into our lives if that is God's plan. I am the more pragmatic one, but last night I just had to bite my tongue and start exercising the faith we will need to go through our adoption journey! God will make it clear if we need to move right now, or in 10 months time like we had planned.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's a Boy!

Okay, so today we had our first meeting for the homestudy with the Child Welfare Agency social worker (actually 4th attempt--first one interupted by social worker due to conflict of interest concerns, next 2 cancelled by social worker--guess 4th time was the charm). All seemed to be going well despite our rocky start--but as you probably have come to expect with our foster care adoption attempt, there was just one little issue. We were discussing the gender of the child and said we were open to both sexes, but it would be nice to get a daughter to balance our family. The social worker then asked if we would be open to a sibling group and we advised her of the space limitations—we currenlty own a two bedroom condominium. At this point, the social worker said that she could only license us to adopt a boy because we already have a son. Now the state regulations state that you can place two opposite sex children under the age of five in the same bedroom. We were even advised of this regulation during our orientation and when I pointed this out to the social worker, she said that it is a county policy to license adoptive parents based on their current situation--i.e our two bedroom condo. She advised that the state regulations re: opposite sex children under five in the same room only cover foster parenting and not adoption! We had indicated our openness to either sex but it still upset me to think that we don’t even have this choice! The agency has had our application for almost five months and could have saved me from daydreaming of a girl by letting us know that we would not be eligible to adopt a girl. We had planned on renting out our place and moving to a larger place once the adoption was finalized. The social worker did suggest that if we moved now, she could license us to adopt both sexes! With the glacial pace this foster care agency has been moving, I am not ready to move and then still be in limbo three years from now waiting for a referral!

I requested clarification and she got someone “higher up”. The "higher up" advised us that they would not make an exception unless it was for criminal issues. WHAT!!! They won’t follow the State regulations on space, but will make exceptions for criminals? Am I missing something? The lady “higher up” in the chain then shook our hands and thanked us for wanting to serve our community and said if we decided that we did not want to go forward with the adoption plans, she hoped the Child Welfare Agency could be of assistance to us!!!!! Outside of adoption, the Child Welfare Agency can not be of assistance to us since we are not planning on abusing or neglecting our child/ren and we are not adopting so that we can serve our community! Arghhhhh!

That did throw a kink to a meeting that had been going surprisingly well. Anyway the social worker felt that she had been the bearer of bad news for the last two months and wanted to verify if we would be more comfortable working with a different social worker. Most of the bureaucracy has not been our social worker’s fault so we cannot hold this against her! Additionally, we would have to re-schedule and I have already taken time off four times already trying to get our home study started! So no, we will work with what we have. The rest of the two hour meeting went extremely well and it seems the social worker at least has some empathy for all the obstacles that have been thrown our way by the Child Welfare Agency. International Adoption is looking so appealing right about now. I turn in our application next week to the placement agency and I think I have decided on a homestudy agency. Please pray for us for patience and grace as we wait for our child.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Boy or Girl?

Last night, hubby and I were discussing if our baby has been born yet and if born, what the baby might be doing at this time. It was interesting that I was envisioning an infant or toddler, while my husband said he always envisions a four year old! I am not sure if that is because we already have a four year old, or because we are requesting for a 0-24 month old child and with the way things have been going, he feels we are not likely to get what we asked for? I don’t know. But anyway, we prayed for our baby. It is delicious to just wonder whether it will be a boy or a girl. I have a son and when I was pregnant, I did not care about the sex, but now that I have my son, I cannot imagine life my life without a son in it. My son is very playful and full of energy and at the same time so loving. If I am sick, he will come and lie down with me and just gently rub my face and kiss me and tell my ouchie to go away! It would be nice for him to have a brother to wrestle with and share his love of trains and planes with. However, it would be just as nice for him to have a sister to protect and just love on! He has a 16-month old niece and he is just incredibly gentle, protective and loving with her. He is also really good around his boy cousins and friends in pre-school and loves to just play chase for hours! We have not yet talked to him yet about the adoption—it would be good to have his input, but the process is so long, it is hard to explain to a four year old why his sister or brother is not coming home tomorrow or next week!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Here Goes Nothing!

I was on vacation for a week and today when I came back to the office, I found a voicemail message that the supervisor from my local child welfare agency left on 7/31/08. She advised that she had rescinded the referral to the other child welfare agency and that my local agency would be doing the home-study and placement. This is the same person who was not returning my previous calls. This explains why the social worker from the other agency did not come over to start our home-study yesterday. I am a bit upset that the supervisor did not let the social worker who I spoke to yesterday know that the application to the other agency had been rescinded. The social worker told me I had the option of working with my local child welfare agency or the one I was referred to. So, five months later, we are back to square one! No homestudy, no classes, nothing--we even toss the tons of paperwork that we had completed earlier on, since our local agency had advised that we would be transferred to a different child welfare agency! Who was it again that said there are so many children waiting for adoptive parents in the foster care system and no parents willing to adopt them?

I called the social worker from my local child welfare agency to schedule our first home-study meeting and she told me she was expecting my call. She said she found out after our conversation yesterday that I had to work with my local child welfare agency and it was not up to us which agency to work with after all. I wish she had had the courtesy to call me and let me know that yesterday. She is the one who led me to believe that we had a choice re: which agency to use and we would not have been waiting yesterday for the social worker from the other agency to come yesterday to commence our home-study! Our social worker just kept saying how happy we will be working with our local child welfare agency!!! No kidding!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another low for the Foster Care System

We had rescheduled our first homestudy meeting with the Child Welfare Agency for today after our social worker cancelled the last meeting. It is now three hours after our scheduled meeting time, but he has not yet showed up or even had the decency to call us! With the dismal outcomes for children who emancipate from foster care in California, is anybody trying to get a permanent placement with loving parents for these children?

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation (Psalms 68:5)

Another Monkey Wrench

So, last week while we were on vacation, the original social worker from our county child welfare agency called us and left us a message that she would do our homestudy after all! She requested that we call her back for more details. I called her today and she said that someone higher up in the agency had decided that since I had access to a statewide system, it made no difference being referred to another county! I had already told them this two months ago--I am not sure why it did not make a difference then, and why they revisited the issue! It may have to do with the fact that my co-worker is also trying to get licensed to be a foster parent and raised the same issue. Anyway, we are scheduled to begin our homestudy tonight with the other child welfare agency we were referred to. I hate to cancel it and then next week my county advises that they won't be able to do the placement after all!!! The social worker suggested I contact her immediate supervisor to verify that we can indeed get licensed to adopt friom my county. However, this was the same person I had been calling for weeks and she was not returning my calls. She has not inspired my confidence in her--she still has not responded to my inquires from almost 2 months ago.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Foster care, Domestic or International Adoption.

A lot of Prospective Adoptive Parents go through a lot of soul searching when trying to figure out whether to do a private domestic adoption, adopt from the foster system or adopt internationally. All have their pros and cons and everyone has to make the decision that is best for their family. We are still struggling with the decision of where to adopt from and are praying that God would make it clear to us the direction in which to go. Please join us in our journey as God reveals where our child is!

We had initially committed to adopting through California's Child Welfare System, but I am not sure if my State's foster care system is committed to placing children with adoptive parents! We are still early in the process--4 months with nothing tangible to show for it except bureaucracy and many calls that are not returned. A few friends who have tried adopting through the foster care system have had to wait 2-5 years for a child. In the interim, they have had foster children placed in their homes only to go through heartbreak when children they thought they were going to adopt were placed with biological relatives. In their opinion, prospective adoptive parents in the foster care system in California have no voice.

Foster care adoptions involve alot or risk and we are struggling with just how much risk we are wiling to take. We understand that families hoping to adopt through foster-adoption should prepare themselves mentally before taking the plunge--and our experience so far with the foster care system makes one ready to give up! Adoption is really not for the faint hearted!

The primary goal of the foster care program is reunification with the birth family. In California, they do what is called concurrent placement, which means that you first get a foster child who you hope you will be able to adopt. While the foster/adoptive parent is raising the child, there are parenting specialists, crisis workers, case managers, social workers, rehab specialists and the like, all working with the birth family with the goal of putting Humpty Dumpty together again. Ideally, this is how it should be. But foster parents are often at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to weighing permanency placement options; social workers, the birth family, and even the courts often prefer kinship care if reunification isn’t possible. Families hoping to adopt from the foster care system have to steel themselves for the ups and downs and frequent heartbreaks when children they thought they were going to adopt are suddenly taken away to be placed back with either the birth family that abused them in the first place or with relatives. We have to take into consideration the best interests of our four year old child in the home-- how do we explain to him why a child he has viewed as his brother or sister for 2-3 years is suddenly not in the home because the foster system has decided to place the back with the birth family or other relatives? Children in foster care invariably come from less than ideal backgrounds. Some children have been voluntarily relinquished, but most have been removed from their birthparent’s care because of abuse or neglect. Some have been exposed to drug and alcohol in their mother’s womb and these children have special challenges. Others have been sexually abused and others have had food withheld from them and suffer from malnutrition (yes, even in the world’s richest country), and 65% of all mothers whose children are either placed for adoption or taken by the foster care system smoked during pregnancy . Often children have been in multiple foster placements, increasing the chances that they will exhibit some degree of difficulty attaching to others. It requires a lot of mental preparation and prayers!

We had also looked at private domestic adoption, but the price is prohibitive. Private domestic adoptions primary involve infants and can cost up to $40,000 depending on the race of the child. Yes, as despicable as that sounds, children of certain races command higher fees and prospective adoptive parents go to extraordinary lengths so that the birthparent/s can choose them to adopt their child. Some prospective adoptive parents pay consultants thousands of dollars to prepare their profile--this is their life story and tells the birth mother why she should place the child with that particular family. There are approximately 40 prospective parents for each infant in private domestic adoptions--we do not feel that this is where God is leading us.

In California, the birth family has 6 months to change their mind about placing the child for adoption and both domestic and foster care adoptions carry this additional risk.

The other option is International adoption. We are drawn to Africa and it costs approximately $25,000 to adopt a child from Africa. Financially for us, it will require a tremendous amount of faith--right now we are not sure how to pay the $250-$500 application fee to the adoption agency let alone coming up with the remaining $24,500! We are sure that God has called us to adopt a child and if international adoption is where the Lord is leading us, and then we will just have to trust him to make a way!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rock City!

This week, we were in Georgia for my husband's family reunion and we had an amazing time with family. My husband's maternal grandmother had 9 children and so there were lots and lots of cousins from around the country. We were also able to spend sometime with a friend who re-located from California to Georgia. He has a lovely wife, a four year old son (whom we had not seen since he was seven months old) and a soon to be one year old daughter(whom we had not yet met). It was amazing how the boys took to each other and played like they had known each other all their lives. My son is normally shy and needs a few minutes to warm up to people he is not familiar with. However, he jumped right into playing with my friend's son and they had a blast. They both had fun playing with our cameras and took some really goofy pictures. The next day, we picked up my friend's son and took the boys to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum for a train ride! Is it a universal thing that boys just love trains? My son loves all things trains and will watch train documentaries endlessly (he is a good teacher and I am learning some train terminology! His new buddy also loves trains and they had a blast on the train ride and we also got to step off the train to watch a real train turning on a turntable.

We also went to Rock City and which is located atop Lookout Mountain in Lookout Mountain, GA (6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, TN). You can see seven states from the top and one is awed at the magnificence and beauty of God's creation! I had forgotten that I was afraid of heights until I was halfway across a rickety bridge taking me from one giant rock boulder to the next! It was so cute having 2 four year olds encouraging me from the other end of the bridge not to be afraid! They kept saying," it's okay, don't be afraid, just one foot at a time". As I was making slow progress keeping my eyes heavenward, they kept asking if they could come back and hold my hands! Please see the link below for some awesome sights.