Our family has changed a lot over the past 5 years. I've personally gone from a single woman to a single foster mama to a coupled up adoptive mama living in sin :) My partner has transformed from a bachelor to a cute super involved boyfriend to FutureDad (a title bestowed on him courtesy of our teenager). We are very close to being licensed to foster and adopt as a couple, and are nearing the end of the 6-month waiting period they have here in our state (where you have to wait a minimum of 6 months after adoption to foster or adopt another child).
Here's the problem: We've come to a fork in the road, and we aren't sure which direction to go in.
This is a first for me because up until now, I've always been the only adult making decisions about bringing new kiddos into the family. Now that we are making decisions as a team, shit's gotten a whole lot more complicated. Here's the menu of options that we're working with:
Adopt another waiting child through foster care with disabilities similar to those of our younger son. I love this option. Our youngest fits great into our family and I think another little boy with similar needs would also. Our teenager does really well being the oldest and the only typically developing kid in the house. There are SO MANY adorable little faces even just here in our state who fit that description, some of them who are stuck in hospitals and even nursing homes, and my mommy heart just wants to scoop one of them up into our family so badly. I hate to think of little boys similar to my sweet little boy living a life of uncertainty and not having parents to look out for them. My partner is down for this option, but also really wants the opportunity to experience supporting first families; he has a huge heart for reunification and wants the chance to be a part of that. Which would have to wait if we pursue another adoption first.
Sign up to take emergency placements through our current foster agency. I LOVE our current foster agency. It's pretty small, with a really great adoptions department. They are super helpful with keeping our license up to date, and our family social worker is the sweetest and my favorite person to work with. I like the idea of continuing to work with them and of helping families get their kids back. However, with the way our city's foster care system works, the smaller agencies don't get as many calls for placements. Our agency also doesn't have 24 hour staffing for placement calls. I feel like if we went on their call list, we would rarely get calls for kiddos that our family would be a good fit for. My heart is also a little hesitant to jump back into an active foster care case because THAT SHIT IS EMOTIONAL. My partner likes this option because he has less experience with emergency foster care, and hasn't lived through the painful sides of it. To him, this sounds like a great option to get his feet wet as a foster parent.
Switch to an agency that specializes in disabled children, and take emergency placements with that agency. This option breaks my heart a little bit because like I said, I do love our agency! However, there is another agency in our area that receives most, if not all, of the kiddos coming into care who have developmental and/or physical disabilities. I think our family would be a great fit for those types of kids, and I would love to help other parents in the disability community to heal and regain custody of their children. The idea of switching is daunting though (switching agencies can be a bit of a paperwork nightmare) and again, I'm a little scared to jump back into the world of emergency foster care. So many unknowns.
Ultimately, I know we have a lot of love, resources, and expertise to give. I know that
our family is not done helping children and families. I even think we could end up taking all three of these paths at different times in our lives! I just don't know what the right NEXT path is to take.
If you're reading this and you have an opinion, feel free to chime in. Fuck it, maybe we'll just flip a coin!