Foster Parenting

#AdoptionTalk: Our Adoption Story – The Sequel

Sooo… as promised, here is the long-awaited Rest. of the Story.

I’m going to rewind a little and give you some of the back-story, in case you’re a newer reader, or just don’t remember everything you’ve ever, ever read.

So, basically, I’ve wanted to be a foster parent since I was 8 years old (if you’d like, you can read about why here).

Also, even aside from that, I’m adopted, so I always felt like I would want to check into adoption someday.

Strangely enough, these two pieces of information didn’t manage to intertwine in my head and heart until I discovered that I’m infertile and that SuperDad and I have essentially *zero* chance of conceiving without advanced assisted-reproductive technology.

So, that’s how we got started on this road. SuperDad and I both envisioned little girls, but…. Thank God He had other plans.

matched setAt any rate, we ended up with with a matched set. And two weeks ago I promised you the second half of our adoption story.

Well, get comfy. Because when I say second half, it’s only in the sense that Squirm is the second half of the set. The road to his adoption was very bumpy and definitely more than half of the journey. (more…)

#AdoptionTalk: Taxes Revisited

Welcome to our second #AdoptionTalk Link Up!note to self

First things first, on the first Link Up, I promised to tell you Squirm’s adoption story this week. Well… you’ll have to come back next week for that.
(If you’d like, you can subscribe here to receive email updates whenever I publish a new post.)

This week, I want to revisit one of my most popular posts of all time – 

Can I Claim My Foster Child on My Tax Return?

You can find the original post at the link above. Some questions have come up several times since the post was published, so I thought I’d take a moment to address those. 

Full disclosure: Yes, I am a practicing CPA. Yes, I would be happy to do your taxes; our firm’s minimum fee is $450. No, I won’t do it for free. No, I won’t double-check the mistakes made by H&R Blech. And no, I won’t help your cousin Danny figure out to claim his cats. My goal is to help you understand the law, not how to get around it, but as with all internet advice, YMMV, please consult your tax preparer. 

(more…)

#AdoptionTalk: Are they twins?

Our Twins
Did you know that there’s a term for “artificial twins” created by adoption?

Twiblings

There are lots of interpretations of the term, but in adoption circles, it typically refers to two (or more) siblings who are less than a year apart in age.

I belong to a Twiblings group on Facebook, but we don’t call our boys Twiblings.  They’re twins – just not biological. Seriously. The blonde is less than 7 hours older than the brunette. And they were born in the same hospital. And we get to keep both of them forever.

These two boys were meant to be brothers. Spend 5 minutes with them, and you’ll know it, too. If you need more proof, you can read the sequence of far-too-many-to-be-coincidence events that aligned and blessed us with two happy, boisterous, affectionate, spirited, funny, exasperating beautiful boys here and here.

When I wrote those posts, in November 2013, I was pretty confident that we would be finalizing their adoptions very soon.

But, foster care. (more…)

Reunification is the GOAL

Reunification is the GOALIn case you or someone you know needs to be reminded, I’ll say it again: Reunification is the GOAL.

I know it’s a foreign concept to people outside “the system.” And sometimes it’s easy for a foster parent to forget.

When you foster a child, the plan is to give them back.

And not because of parents’ rights, and not because the system is broken, and not because people are lazy or don’t do their jobs or don’t care about the kids.

Reunification is the goal, because study after study, statistic after statistic, have shown that children who remain with their birth parents fare better than those who don’t.

That’s why, regardless of who can provide better opportunities, or who has a better job or lives in a better neighborhood, or who has made more sacrifices or attended more doctor appointments, whenever it can be done safely, reunification is the goal.

Because when it can be done safely, reunification IS what’s best for the child.

It’s easy to forget because we really do love these children like our own.

(more…)

Transforming Foster Care: Quality Parenting Initiative

In June, I attended the National Foster Parent Association Conference and walked away from it with a new focus – advocating for and educating foster parents. I wrote a post about the importance of recruiting and retaining quality foster parents. And I promised to come back and share some things that our local agency is doing right – and that every foster parent should be asking their agency or county to implement.
I certainly didn’t plan to wait this long to revisit the issue, but such is my life.

First, a brief reminder:

Child welfare in Florida is privatized. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) subcontracts with a statewide network of Community-Based Care agencies (CBCs). My CBC, Community Partnership for Children (CPC), covers Volusia, Flagler, and Putnam counties in East Central Florida.

(if you’d like a more detailed explanation, you can find that here or here

Community Partnership for Children follows the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) model. We’ll go over specifics over the next few weeks and months. For now I want to give you a high-level overview and some general examples.

QPI is about ensuring that excellent out-of-home care is provided to children in the child welfare system by recruiting, educating, supporting and retaining quality foster families and kinship caregivers who are committed to providing the highest level of love, nurturing, advocacy and support to the children in their care.

QPI places some non-traditional requirements on foster and kinship families, but also provides for a higher level of support for and partnership with these families. Possibly the very best thing you can do to improve how foster families are viewed and treated in your area is to check into the Quality Parenting Initiative.

Under the QPI model, I am considered to be truly part of the team. I am not only entitled to notice of all hearings and staffings, I am expected to attend and I am encouraged to speak up and offer my insights.

Now, I am still the foster parent, so my thoughts don’t always carry the weight that I think they should, but I am ENTITLED to a seat at the table. I am considered to be a partner in ensuring the best outcomes for the children in my care. I am expected to be their advocate, and my opinion matters.

I am expected to treat any child in my home as though they were my own forever child. It is my responsibility to arrange medical and therapeutic treatment – and to transport my kids to their appointments and participate in treatment in whatever manner I would if the child were legally mine.

Some may view this as a double-edged sword. When we saw that Lil Bit was struggling with feeding, I asked my CM for a referral. She provided the referral and I scheduled and attended the evaluation. While some may find this inconvenient, it only makes sense – SuperDad and I are the ones parenting this child – who else would be able to provide the appropriate information to the evaluaters?? What would be the point of sending a non-verbal child to be evaluated for ANYTHING and not include input from the person or people who provide the majority of his care?

When we felt that he needed a speech therapy evaluation, I notified the CM that I was asking the doctor for a referral, scheduled and attended the evaluation and notified the CM of the results. When visitation was scheduled that would interfere with his therapy, I talked the CM about it and she and I are working together to resolve the conflict! 

Because I am viewed as a PARENT, rather than a babysitter, I am trusted to identify a need and arrange for it to be met.

On the other hand, when daycare called last week because Lil Bit had a rash that appeared to be spreading and needed to be picked up, it was my responsibility to leave work, pick him up and take him to the doctor. It was my responsibility to make arrangements for SuperDad to take off the next day in case Lil Bit couldn’t go back to daycare right away.

Because I am viewed as a PARENT, rather than a babysitter, it is my responsibility to make arrangements when daycare is closed for the holidays.

Full disclosure: Even under QPI, I have encountered case managers who don’t buy into foster parents being part of the team. I have spoken with foster parents who don’t feel that certain inconveniences should be their problem. However, it has been my experience that the more I am willing to accept the responsibilities of parenting, the more I am allowed the authority to parent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hint:
It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.