Your Next Steps...
Step One: DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED
The first thing to do is to commit to NOT BEING DISCOURAGED by "one door closing". If I only had the time to tell you how many doors were closed...no...slamed in my face throughout this process. And there are many exaggerations about the time needed to complete the licensing process from the state in order to be able to adopt from foster care. I was quoted that it would take anywhere from a minimum of six month to a year to become licensed and take the training classes. In actuality it only took TWO months from start to finish (from October till November 2009). The PRIDE classes that my husband and I were require to take were given over two Saturdays. We only had three visits from the women who wrote up our "home study" and one final visit from a state inspector (don't worry about this part like I did...I really wasted my time believing that it would be difficult and they would be going over my house with a fine-toothed comb- they didn't!) When everything was said and done it was only six months (July to December of 2009) from the time I first started the process of getting children placed with my family to actually having them arrive. Don't ever let anyone from the state tell you it's not possible so fast- IT IS!!! You just have to make sure you follow step two!
Step Two: BE PROACTIVE
The second thing to do is commit to being PROACTIVE...because trust me, you are going to need to be when dealing withsocial workers. Foster care organization are severely underfunded. This lack of funding leads to lower paying jobs which makes it less likely to recruit and sustain social workers who are, shall we say, highly motivated. There are always exceptions, but I have found that if you want something done in a timely manor when dealing with your child or children's social worker, then make sure you develop a good rapport with their supervisor (and their supervisor's supervisor). This will provide accountability and motivation to help resolve your issues. The third thing to do is PICK UP THE PHONE! Every state has a hotline that you can call and get information on adoption through foster care. Some of these hotlines have people available to take your application for adoption right over the phone. PLEASE NOTE: this may be your first step but you should by no means count on anything coming from this. I filed an application by phone with the state of New Mexico and New Jersey and I never heard back from either- However, my applications were later referenced as the date that my process began once I had found the children I wanted to adopt. I am sure you would eventually be contacted about your application if you give it by phone, but three or four months down the line is probably more than you want to wait, right? Depending on the state, you may get valuable information from your initial inquiry call, but that just was not my experience.
Onward to the next steps!
Steps Three and Four: GET LICENSED/ FIND YOUR CHILD
I include both of these steps together because they can be done together (however most states would say first you have to get licensed and then THEY find you a child within the state). I found my children first before I was licensed and I found them in state 2000 miles away. The best thing you can do is start putting the word out to friends, relatives, and the foster care branches in your state or beyond that you are looking to adopt and ask if they know of children that are currently available. Again, this is not the way the state does things and it violates their "procedure" but if you try to look on state adoption websites for kids that are available for placement you will only find a small handful of kids when in reality their are THOUSANDS of children waiting for placement in most states. So get the word out that you are looking! Chances are you will speak to someone along the way who will give you your big break and point you in the right direction towards children who have been waiting for you to come along. This is what happed to me.
So there you have it! Three simple and easy steps to adopting from foster care! Well, okay...not really. I'll be honest and tell you that there is actually NOTHING simple and easy in this process. But you know what? It's worth it.