DH and I said we would "start" process #2 at the beginning of 2011. Well, that we did. By start I mean research, read, call/talk, learn, etc.
I was getting frustrated because I wasn't finding the answer I wanted, I was finding the answers I was looking for I just thought they would be different. There are some areas in the great state of California that offer amazing resources such as we had with CSSM. Unfortunately our rural area is not one of those areas, one of those areas is not even close enough to service this area. Private adoption, that's what they call the process we went through for Noah although that's not what we ever referred to it as, is possible in our area but it's far from the process we know.
If we were to do "private adoption" in our area it would consist of working with an attorney and advertising ourselves as prospective adoptive parents. We would have to go through the same steps, home study, medical, criminal check etc. but we would be working with several organizations to get all our ducks in a row. Services of support are not provided/available to the birth families, children or adoptive parents. The wait could be months, years, who really knows. The process is not facilitated by an agency or organization. The process seem informal and risky. We will call this option 1.
Option #2 being fost-adopt. This process consists of becoming foster parents in the traditional or most widely know sense. We would become licensed in CA through an organization, there are a few in the area. When CPS (Child Protective Service) determines birth parents aren't fit to parent, the children are removed from the home, the foster organization is contacted and they determine placement. In most situations reunification is the primary goal of the foster care system. Birth parents have to work with the courts and caseworkers to prove they are suitable parents and earn the right to be parents. In some cases children are removed at birth and parental rights are terminated immediately. Again, service and support and not offered (from what we can tell) to the birth families. This process could be immediate to months or years.
Since our only experience is what we had with Noah we thought (prior to January 2011), we would start the process, take half a year to do the paperwork, spend another 6 months or so waiting, a few months of being matched and then baby. In our minds Noah would be 2+
It seems the process could potentially be quicker than we had anticipated. We are proceeding cautiously with option #2. We are working with RCS (Redwood Children's Services).
The day after our application (more of an informational questionnaire) was received we were invited to an orientation/workshop which was held this past Saturday. We went. It was one of those formality things that must be done to move on in the process, it was informal and quick. While at this meeting we learned RCS has recently had to turn down placements in our area because they do not have families for the children which completely breaks our hearts. We were asked if we could have all our paperwork competed and returned within 2 weeks so we could go before the screening committee to quickly determine if we would be allowed to proceed.
We will get our paperwork done but will still be proceeding with caution. Should we be allowed to proceed we will only do so as we feel ready and comfortable with/for Noah. If you are like me, your only FC experience may be that of what you've seen on TV or heard about - a troubled youth in "the system", often scary stuff. That's not what we're going for and that's not always the case. We can and will state we only want placement of an infant that will be in our home forever. A positive affect on Noah is the only option.
I've spoken with several organization and was surprised to find out how many parents lose their rights to be parents right out of the delivery room. DH and I are troubled by this process, we find it difficult to be comfortable with someone else losing their right without a choice. We also understand there are many parents out there that shouldn't be parents or even have the right to be. My understanding from those that I spoke with, many of the infants that are born whose birth parents lose rights at birth are parents that lost parental rights of prior children. Basically they're not given another chance.
We are struggling with the idea too that LO (little one) #2 and us may not have a relationship with their birth family. I don't know about them, but we feel we have a great relationship with Noah's BF and are so thankful that they will be part of Noah's life. Our new journey very well could turn out idyllic, it is just so different than our one and only experience - if this was our first with nothing to compare to we might be thinking its perfect. Going through this process will open us up/get our duck in a row for "private adoption" - you just never know when someone may know someone who's looking for adoptive parents.
I'm realizing the more I write the more down I'm sounding and the more negative the process is sounding. I don't want to come across that way, that's not at all how it is or how we feel. This is what I've learned in the research part of the process. We are just so surprised how different it is and are a little saddened that there aren't more resources like CSSM. We are thrilled...we're talking about how we're going to arrange the house and names and what I get to buy new :)! Yahoo!
OMG! That was a long post. Sorry. Questions? I'm sure we'll be learning more as we proceed and this information may change.