Since I made this blog public a couple of people interested in adoption have asked me about my experiences adopting from foster care. I am a strong supported of foster care adoptions and always enjoy talking about that. I spent some time emailing one person and telling her some of the story but then I realized that it might make sense to put it here. I am going to try and tell those stories over several posts. I start by telling Corazon's story. Edited: This part of the story takes place in January/February 2005.
Corazon is my second oldest child but she was the first one to come home to me. I had been a foster parent off and on for quite a few years before I decided it was time to adopt. I always knew I would adopt but I kept putting it off for a range of reasons. At the time, C. and I were together but not public about our relationship for a range of reasons including that we worked together. So, I went into the adoption thing "on my own." I changed my "status" from foster to adopt in July 2004. My homestudy was updated in a few weeks. My criteria was simple. I strongly preferred a sibling group but since space was limited older kids needed to be able to room with younger kids. No preference on gender, race, etc. I was willing to consider almost all issues except autism and RAD. My reasoning was that I knew that in my area it was unheard of to place more than one child with autism or RAD in homes with other kids and I knew I wanted more than one. I had seen kids separated because of this and I had seen parents assured they would get other children once the first one "settled" in only to be told later that the one kid already placed (with autism or RAD) made it difficult for them to place another. I didn't want that to happen. Someone up there obviously had other ideas!
My social worker and I had discussed a specific sibling pair for a while. We were matched and just prior to our scheduled disclosure meeting a family member came forward to take the girls. It was an appropriate placement so the girls went to him. I was happy for the children that they could be kept in the family. My social worker then broached the idea of taking one particular child, a 4 1/2 year old girl, who she felt was "perfect" for me. I said no. I really wanted to hold out for siblings and parental rights hadn't been terminated although the child had been in and out of foster care since birth. She was persistent and encouraged me to think about it. I felt strongly that if there was a chance her birth family could care for her that was where she belonged. The social worker assured me that TPR would happen before she moved in as it was scheduled to take place in less than a month and they didn't expect any complications. After a couple of weeks I had heard nothing about other kids and decided that I really should give this girl some thought. When I notified the social worker she practically leaped through the phone. She insisted on coming over the next day with the child's worker and by the end of that week we were matched, had arranged a disclosure meeting, scheduled our first visit and had a transition plan in place. Things were moving really quickly which was fine with me. I thought I was sooooo ready for this.
I knew I would take any child really so I didn't need a great deal of convincing. I was warned that the foster mom didn't speak English and might be very negative about the child's behaviors. I was also warned that the foster mom was probably going to have her home closed to any more children so she might be bitter. I was also told that there were many other people who had more positive things to say about the little girl and that she just was "too smart" for the home she was in. All those warning raised some flags for me about their professionalism and this child but I was intrigued. When I called the little girl's foster mom we hit it off right away. She had been this little girl's foster mom for 11 months and she was very balanced in her comments and highlighted good and bad points for the little girl. She told a couple of anecdotes to illustrates some of the child's poor choices and behaviors but also described a loving, engaging, thoughtful, smart and energetic child who really needed a family. We spoke for almost 2 hours and I felt that I had a good sense of the child overall.
I met the little girl the day after that phone conversation and she stole my heart. She was everything that everyone had described and more. I knew at that first moment that she was meant to become my daughter. Two short visits, one overnight, and a so-called "emergency" at the foster home led to Corazon moving in 9 days after our first meeting.
The roller coaster ride was about to begin!