I haven’t posted in awhile – a few months, to be exact. At first, I tried to tell myself that I was busy. This evolved into what I defined as “procrastination”. It was not until recently that I could be honest enough with myself to acknowledge what was really going on.
I am angry.
Not just upset, or frustrated. I am raw. I am raging, furious, and seething. I want to scream, run, and empty out all of the anger I feel inside. And I can’t.
Anger is not an emotion I am at all comfortable with. I have always approached obstacles with a stubborn resolve to figure it out, come hell or high water. So I’ve kept much of this inside because I really don’t know what to do with it.
Yesterday I was on twitter browsing my adoption feed. It’s Foster Awareness Month in the US, so there were loads of tweets encouraging foster parenting and adoption. Of course, this is a good thing. There are thousands of children needing homes. But my anger bubbled up to the surface and if I could go beyond the 140 characters in a tweet, this is what I would’ve replied:
“Congratulations on making the decision to foster/adopt! You’re ready to open your hearts and home to a child. Here are just the highlights of your next 18 months. Let’s start with the paper-work, which will not only take you months to collect, but will have to all be verified, notarized, apostilled (you can look that one up), and cost you thousands. That’s done. Okay, now you will spend hours with a social worker over the next nine to twelve months to whom you will have to divulge every detail of your life, personality, heartaches, and secrets (we were lucky to have a great social worker, but other couples, not so much). Your home will be inspected, your medical history examined (good luck if you are taking any sort of medication), and financial/tax records placed under a microscope. Phew! After a year you’ve hopefully made it to the submission phase – this is when the Home Study completed by your social worker is sent to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Then you wait. In our case, our Home Study was sent back with the following (paraphrased) – Since Lori is vegetarian, we are concerned whether she will be able to adequately provide proper nutrition to a child. We responded with a lengthy declaration on every possible way we would feed a child and all of the resources we would consult on nutrition and the multitude of methods that we would use to nurture our new toddler. Home Study now approved, that’s Phase 1 complete”.
Yup. Phase 1.
Pause for a moment. All of these procedures are done to ensure the safety of the child. But, having gone through it, one does ask the question of whether it is all too much? Likewise, we did our Home Study privately, so we were Adopt Ready in just under a year. This comes with a large cost. If you go via CAS, the timeline is much longer, due to few resources and funding, but it does not have a fee.
I can name three couples who have all given up on fostering/adoption because of the process. And these are good, strong, people. The UK now has a programme to push potential adoptive parents through the process in under six months. They are not cutting corners on the Home Study, rather, they are streamlining the process to get waiting children into available homes because they know that the longer a child is in care, the higher the risk long-term.
So back to the anger (the black slurry in the space behind my temples that keeps me awake at night and churns my stomach).
Six months ago, I was on a website for adoptable children in Eastern Europe. I came across a profile that completely blew my mind. I was so drawn to this little girl. I showed the profile to Martin and wrote an email requesting more information. Instant reply: she could only be adopted by Evangelical Christians living in the U.S.A.. Denied. I’ll write more someday about my thoughts on Christianity movements in adoption, but the moral of this story? That little girl is STILL on that website looking for a home.
At a holiday party, we had a fantastic conversation with a social worker from Hamilton. We explained our situation and she said that there has been a recent influx of children in her region, particularly newborns (although we are approved up to five years of age and aren’t set on newborn). Exciting news! Not really. We are in GTA and not eligible. Their goal is to keep children near to families. Hamilton is 40KMs away. We have the wrong postal code.
Our adoption practitioner gave us the call we had been waiting for – there was a profile of a child that had been selected for us. To say our hearts swelled would be an understatement. For privacy, I cannot share details, but I can say we fell in love. We wrote our letter of intent to Lithuania and allowed ourselves the dangerous emotion of hope. For the very first time, we dipped our toes into the possibility of parenthood. I bought the first books to start their library, and an elephant stuffed animal to put on the shelf – even though I knew it was too soon.
And it likely was too soon. We have since been told by our practitioner that this profile has also been shared with other potential parents, so it is a selection process. It’s been six weeks since we have heard anything. Six weeks of being tethered to email. Six weeks of looking at the same four pictures. No reply. We’ve been told to keep hoping. Me, I’ve put the books and elephant away on a back room shelf. I can’t look.
So yes, I’m angry. Irrational? I don’t think so. My point in all of this is that enough isn’t being done to shorten the time from foster to forever home. Yes, the child’s interest should be at the centre, but I sometimes wonder if we haven’t swung the pendulum too far and we have gone way off-centre from practical.
I know I have so many supportive friends, family, and readers – if you do want to help, write to your leaders, your MPs, and well, maybe not our Mayor Rob Ford.
For more information on the UK process, there are several new documentaries airing: