Friday, July 13, 2012

Adoption Thoughts on a Broke System (LONG)

This morning I put our adoption case worker on the hot seat.  I shared thoughts that are going round and round in my head.  Thoughts that I know I am not alone in feelings I expressed to her.   I decided to share them on here and ask first that if you feel led pray for the kids in foster care, but also for those families that so want to adopt.  Not just cute little babies, but older kids, kids with issues, kids that the world says no one wants.  I wanted to share in part what I wrote.  I also found some more information I will share. 

Here is the just of the email I sent her:
I find it sad that in the past year we have inquired on over 30 kids through the TARE site, over 30 kids on the AdoptUS site and several broadcast or state sites yet we are still looking. On most of the 70 plus kids I have inquired on I never even received a response of we weren’t selected because..... Just nothing. Some are removed from the TARE site, some on our dashboard say no longer available and the link is removed, many are still listed, still needing homes. Of those some that we inquired on as far back as 8 months ago show to have never been looked at or our status moved from Submitted into Review, others show In Review, for months.

I know of several other families both on a local, state and even national level that wanted to adopt, but either gave up or went overseas because they couldn’t get anywhere. These are families with approved home studies. What can we do as individuals or as groups to change this so kids really do get to grow up in forever homes instead of waiting and waiting, just as families are waiting and waiting and ALL lose hope? There are so many families that want to adopt, many with home studies yet, they can't get the time of day. At the same time the state is spend how much money stressing the need for adoptive families.

I am by no means losing hope; I am just looking at how to be a more effective advocate not only for us but for other adoptive families. I see the kids, at least the kids in NM where they have lots of matching parties, (any family with an approved homestudy on file can attend,) help make the kids real. I fall in love. I see the kids on the TARE site that stay and stay. I am glad to see that the TARE pictures are updated more often, but often pictures are updated and information doesn’t change.

How do you feel is the best way to get this process streamlined? What as adoptive parents can we do that will get kids out of the system faster? What approach will work best to have parents and children matched and out of the system faster in your region, in your office?

I am looking fwd to your answers to my questions.

Some more facts I found as I looked around today.  Some of this is national some state.  Different years data also: 
There are over 6,000 children legally free in the State of Texas and in need of committed forever families. Many families willing to commit and already home studied and approved to adopt children....NOT just babies but OLDER children, children from basic to specialized

More than 650,000 abused and neglected children spend time in U.S. foster care each year.

Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people "age out" of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations:

127,000 (25%) are waiting to be adopted
Average time foster care children have been waiting to be adopted: 39.4 months, or 3.4 years.
Today there are an estimated 423,773 children in foster care in the United States, and 114,556 of these children are legally and permanently separated from their birth family and waiting to be adopted.

Of the 114,556 children waiting for adoption, 30 percent are Black Non-Hispanic, 38 percent are White Non-Hispanic, 22 percent are Hispanic, 2 percent are American Indian/Alaskan Native, 6 percent two or more Races Non-Hispanic and 2 percent unable to determine. 53% are male and 47% female.

Although children waiting to be adopted from foster care range in age from birth to 18 years old, the average age of children waiting for an adoptive family is 8.

On average, these children have been in foster care more than three years, and wait another 14 months after parental rights are terminated to be adopted.

Last year, 69,947 children in foster care were legally freed for adoption; 57,466 were adopted.

Last year, 29,471 children turned age 18 and left the foster care system without an adoptive family.

Of all youth aging out of the foster care system, national statistics indicate:
56% are unemployed and face poverty within two to four years
They represent 70% of all homeless youth,
They constitute 88% of incarcerated youth and young adults,
40% receive welfare within two to four years,
40% do not graduate from high school, and
60% of teenage girls will have a baby within two years.
-Adopt America Network

So sad, and something that effects all of us is that these children that never have a forever home or wait years for that home are more likely to end up in prison, or on the streets, as women/girls the % that become unwed mothers is huge. Then there is the generational abuse that happens. These children grow up to abuse and their children become wards of the state, or at least abused and neglected and the cycle continues. All of this affects the pocket book of everyone that pays taxes.

What’s the answer?  I wish I knew!   In Texas and I think nationwide there is a huge push on to adopt, but when case workers don’t return phone calls or emails, when you can’t get information on kids, what is the answer?   The publicity and the facts don’t match!   The need is there, yet families walk away from trying because they give up. 

I question the new way of processing kids out to different agencies.  If these agencies get paid by the number of kids and the level of care for said kids then where is the incentive to help adopt them out?  There is no monetary reward for getting kids adopted that I know of.  Since our society seems to be a monetary driven society without a carrot nothing more than token work will be done.   Many do just enough to look busy.  Not all, there are some very hard working dedicated workers out there that are swimming upstream in a broke system.   How do we help them?  How do we encourage those that care and want to see kids adopted, when the whole flawed system is against them?

While we are also on the topic of level of care, our children are hurt.  They come into the system more hurt from being longer in abusive situations, being sent back into that situation man times, but also from the wide range of cheap and easy to get drugs that they have been given, many since conception.   The easy of making your own drugs is just a few key clicks away.  The damage done is hard to reverse.   Many of our kids are on many meds while in the system.   Some of these kids need meds, or some meds or meds for a while.  Some foster parents want to receive more money so they have doctors that will prescribe the right combo to take a child with issues and make those issues look more intense because of the drugs they are given.  If you think of a sliding scale that the higher the classification the more money the foster parents receive you see how it works.    Sad to say you can’t easily figure out who is doping a kid and what kids really have that serious an issue.   Many kids do have issues that most people would never believe were possible in a child.  These same kids have experienced things that most people would never believe.   Even though there are reasons for these issues it makes it tough to adopt them or even find foster homes that are therapeutic and will really help them heal. 

So here I sit, if you read through this long post you know my heart is hurting for the children.   My frustration level at the system is high.  I so want to adopt again. I am so tired of looking at kids and wondering if they are the ones.  I inquire on them I pray for them, and that is the end of it.  I never hear anything.   I don’t usually even know if our homestudy was received.  Sometimes I do get a “thank you for inquiring” form email back.   I have started being very pro-active.  The three I posted the link to I have done everything I can to be noticed.  I’m not sure I have been, at least by the right people.   I don’t know what line is the right to take to be taken seriously.  I don’t know when squeaking becomes to much and they block your emails or have a special trash file for them.  I just know that I have to cry out.   I struggle with is this God putting up road blocks or CPS.  If I was alone in not having emails returned, not having workers call me back then I would see it as God, but the truth is that everyone I talk to has the same problem.  People in Texas, people in New Mexico, people in other states.  

The average wait, AVERAGE is over 3 years to be adopted.   The older the child the harder to place, and the more serious a lot of the issues are.  These same children that can’t be placed will at 18 be left to sink or swim.  I guess my question is what are you and your family doing to find a home for these children?   I do know that not everyone can adopt, not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone has a voice and if enough voices cry out, if enough people help those that are trying then your voice will change the life of a child or a nation, one child at a time.  

Over the years I have done lots of Bible searching for how God sees our children that no one wants, that are hurting and ugly and unlovable.   I challenge you to do your own searching on adoption and on taking care of orphans.  I don’t want to tell anyone what to believe, or think or do, but I do ask that you think, that you believe and as the Lord leads act!  

There I have shared my heart!  Be gentle if you disagree with my thinking or my thoughts.  I would love to hear commits even if you don’t agree with my thoughts.   I would love ideas on how our system needs to be overhauled.  I don’t think pouring more money in is the answer there needs to be some basic design changes to make it work.  


kathy said...

Nola- You have such a big heart. if you could provide a home for all the unwanted you would.

I believe they only look at how many children you are presently helping. They dont understand that u run a secure ship. The children are secure in the love you show.

They cannot imagine having so many kids so they can't imagine you wanting more.

Keep praying and doing what u do.

LYH said...
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LYH said...

I couldn't agree more ...on all counts. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and that's what everyone needs to do...chime in and make some noise about what's happening. Write letters, make phone calls. Don't stop with one. Thats how we finally got our adoption done through California. It was at a dead stand still while the bóys were giving up. Make the right calls and follow up with letters. I believe that if enough people do this, we can make things happen and eventually, hopefully, changees in the system.
You have my support and my prayers always.