I have wanted to adopt from foster care, or just be a foster parent, since I was twelve. The Hub and I agree that biological babies can wait, since right now there are thousands of kids who are already here who are going to get older whether someone adopts them or not.
Our aim is not only to hug and kiss and love up, but to give them a better chance at normality, whether that is though the "day to day" things like getting tucked in at night, or through the big things, like learning how to have a non-scary, healthy sexual relationship with an appropriate partner (for example). We do know that there are kids out there we couldn't help -- we just aren't equipped -- but we believe that we'll be able to make a difference in at least a few lives.
The Hub and I went into research phase about a year ago. Initially, I was thinking of a single teenager. The Hub blew me away by suggesting adopting a sibling group of teenagers -- I figured I was dropping a big enough bomb with the idea of one.
So we'd been talking about this, back and forth, for about 10 months when I went to our state's listing of waiting children for about the fortieth time, and all of a sudden I knew it was time to get into the system. The time for talking had just come to an end. Yes, I had a strong emotional reaction to three photographs and seven paragraphs. I'm a sucker. My guts twisted up because I couldn't drive three hours north and scoop these boys up in my arms that night, then immediatley take them to an attachment therapy Summer camp, or some such.
This might sound strange, but when the light turned on in our heads, we did everything we could to turn it off. Turns out we sucked at talking ourselves out of foster-adopt. Even though we read everything we could to dissuade us and tried to make our friends and family say "YOU. Are. INSANE.," we kept going forward, and even though we are sometimes scared out of our minds, there is a certain calm.
As it stands now, my husband and I are about ten days away from certification through the state for foster-adoption. We are working with a non-profit agency, and since our focus is a waiting sibling group of 2 boys, one a teen, the other elementary age, they have fasttracked us.
Since we can't know privacy-related items about the boys until we're certified, the information we have is limited. What we do know: they've been in state care a "very short time," according to the SW. They have two sisters who "belong to someone else" (not clear if that means they're with a birthparent, relative, or adopted through the state) and they have to have an adoptive family who is willing to keep up contact between all four of them. (No idea if the sisters are 4 months old or 17 years old, we're kinda thinking they're between the boys' ages.) The caseworker LOOOOOOVES the older boy, and says that "he's been a super trooper through all this." No, no clue what "all this" entails, just that they have suffered "a lot of loss in the last year." The SW tells us that they very much want to be adopted, that their need level is "very basic," and that the only hurdle they have is the ten year age gap. They love dogs and take very good care of pets. They both get straight A's right now, and the older boy is taking honors classes. They both make and keep friends.
Since talking to their social worker a week and a half ago, the Hub and I have allowed ourselves to relax a little bit. There is none of the "these children should be the only kids in the home" or "he will need extra time and understanding to bond with his new family" wording in their profile, as there is with so many kids in our state's profiles.
We do know that we have to be careful, ask the right questions, not let emotion take control. I promise, we won't be blinded by puppydog eyes.
The Hub and I have introduced ourselves to The Boys' social worker (we emailed, she called) so she knows we're coming up through the system at breakneck pace. I've read Adopting the Hurt Child, Parenting the Hurt Child, Adopting the Older Child, Attaching in Adoption, Love and Logic, Helping Children Cope with Seperation and Loss, and It's a Boy! I've passed these books onto my mother, so my family can be familiar with some of the issues we will be working with. I comb through forums and blogs on adoption. I've had conversations with attachment therapists in my area. The house is 5-year-old-proofed. I've got a list of questions to ask The Boys' social worker, another for their current foster parents, another for last year's teachers. I've got a list of talking points for teacher meetings should they come live with us. I have a list of family policies (things like, "We do not yell at each other. We never hit. Thursday is family date night.) There are other things, but I'm running out of steam. This post turned out to be really long.
Tell me what else to do to prepare for (possibly) bringing these boys home. Are we insane? What advice do you have? Cmon, ladies, disillusonment time! I'm good for it!