A few of you picked up the term “pre-adoptive” in my last post. I kinda tucked in there all stealth like and rolled right on by, as I dealt with first-day sleep problems and enrolling for daycare. But now let me unpack that for you.
A pre-adoptive foster home is one where the parents are both willing and licensed to adopt the foster kids in their home if they become eligible for adoption. For any of you who have dealt with the foster care system you know that this takes years. And in most states (including New York) the first and unending plan is reunification with the bio family now matter how much work that takes. Usually they don’t even begin to talk about adoption until a child has been in care for for 15-24 months. Then even after they start talking about adoption as a possible plan, it may still take countless years for the child to actually be freed for adoption. (Case in point: check out Blitzen’s story over at FosterWee.wordpress.com. If I have my dates right, she’s been with a foster family who is willing to adopt her, waiting to be legally freed for adoption for 6 years now.)
But my Little Man is only 2 years old and has only been in care for two months. So why were they looking for a pre-adoptive home? Well, apparently mom has “many” other children–half siblings to Little Man, and they are ALL already legally freed for adoption. And she seems to have no interest in changing her patterns now. In fact, there isn’t even visitation set up because she refuses to communicate with the caseworker. So, based on previous patterns of her behavior, when they went to remove him from the last foster home, they were expecting his next foster placement (aka me), to quite likely be his forever home.
Let that just sit with you for a moment. I mean, I’m still trying to let it sink in with me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love this little guy, and it would be so good for him to not have to move from home-to-home-to-home throughout his life. It would be so good for him to achieve permanency without a lot of the trauma that usually accompanies growing up in care. It would be so good for him to have the consistency of care that would help him grow and move beyond his early delays. It’s just SO unexpected. It is SO not how foster care normally works. And it’s SO not what I thought I was signing up for.
And what’s ironic is that in my foster class every other parent was looking at fostering as a path to adoption. They wanted to expand their family (or in some cases adopt a family member). And almost all of them would really prefer a baby or adorable toddler. Just like my little man. I was the sole person in class who said although I was open for adoption, it wasn’t my end goal. I was the one crazy person who said, “give me your kids and I’ll love on them, and then give them back when you ask me to, and let my heart be broken into a million pieces.” And that is how foster care often works. You have kids, you fall in love, you have to give them back to their parents or family members. And you try to trust that going back and reuniting with their family will be the best thing for them. So how is it the one person in class who said “you can use me as a revolving door and I’ll just absorb the pain for that” ended up getting the crazy exceptional case of an adorable toddler who is being pronounced pre-adoptive after only 2 months in care?
Lord only knows. But the bottom line is that I am a pre-adoptive foster home. Because I know one thing for certain. I fall in love with every kid I work with, and I would do anything in my power to make their lives better. And Little Man is no exception. And I have been given this humbling power to make his life better. And so I will do everything I can to make his life the best possible. To fill him up with as much love and laughter and grace and peace and kindness and wisdom and joy as possible. And that is true whether I become his forever home or just another stop on his journey.