It has been a busy week! We had our third MAPP class on Saturday, visited DCF to get fingerprinted on Monday evening, and attended the one evening MAPP class (a panel presentation) on Wednesday. We are looking forward to finishing our training this coming Saturday and moving on to the next phase of the process.
Last week’s MAPP class covered the adoption and fostering of children of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, among other topics. During the class discussion participants shared their expectations of race/backgrounds/etc. and whether they’ve shared these expectations with their friends and family. One couple in the class, the two gay men we’ve decided to befriend, shared their story with the class: While discussing the subject with one of their mothers, she said (and we’re paraphrasing here), “You plan on adopting a healthy white child, right?”
This of course, is not the most likely outcome. This couple appears to be pretty much on the same page as us and have pretty similar expectations to ours.
Now, we’re guessing that you’re probably wondering what those expectations are, because we’ve realized we haven’t touched on who we’re hoping to adopt…
As you’ve perhaps already deduced we’re not necessarily looking to adopt a white child, in fact we have no requirements or desires in regards to race or ethnicity. With that being said, since we live in a city where we’re in the minority as whites and the vast majority of the city’s population is Hispanic, we have imagined (correctly or not) that we will likely be placed with a Hispanic child or children.
Did you catch that – children? It was a hint towards another one of our adoption requirements, or really lack thereof. We are open to adopting a sibling group. We both have two siblings and can’t ever imagine being separated – even as much as we may have bickered as children – so we want to do as much as we can to help keep siblings together. We live in a 4 bedroom home (that’s including our master bedroom) so we have the room plus we want more than one child, so there wasn’t a need for much debate. The only unanswered question is how many children we will open ourselves to; three appears to be the current cap.
We do admit that we’re not completely restriction free. We do have an age range that we’re shooting for; we prefer to foster a child/children aged four or under but we have some wiggle room. Additionally, we understand that the majority of children in the foster care system will have some type of health/emotional problem which could range from being born addicted to drugs, to learning disabilities, to post traumatic stress disorder, and beyond. As a result, we’re trying to prepare ourselves for a child with mild to moderate needs.
We want to be as open as possible to different situations to help increase our likelihood of being placed with a child or sibling group, but at the same time we want to be realistic regarding what we can handle as a couple and as parents. The further we go down the path towards fostering to adopt the more we’re able to evaluate what we think we can handle.
Last night we attended a panel as part of our MAPP class with a DCF attorney, social workers and adoptive parents. This was an experience that provided us with a lot to learn – it was almost overwhelming the amount of information we got at times.
However, what we heard was thought provoking and it helped us to further reflect on ourselves and what we’re ready to take on.
One of the more fascinating discussions of the panel was the “matching process.” It was jokingly compared to online dating and shopping – and from what we understand these are fairly accurate comparisons. Generally speaking, when a child is identified that needs an adoptive family, the child’s social worker distributes information about the child to other social workers in the state. Potential adoptive parents also have social workers, who follow up by contacting them, sharing information about the child, and following up if the child seems like a good fit. A group including the child’s social worker then sits down to review the candidates and select the family that would be the most appropriate.
Adoptive families also have opportunities to attend ‘adoption parties.’ An adoption party is where adoptive parents can get to know social workers and learn more about children who are available for adoption, typically older children, around five and up. We’re told that adoptive parents barely even see the children during these parties as they’re running around playing with the other children while the adults mingle and chat.
All in all it was a great night. We especially enjoyed hearing from the adoption supervisor for the Boston area as she has nearly 20 years of experience and was full of stories and helpful information. Equally interesting were the accounts from the two adoptive mothers. It sounded as though they had ideal experiences and we can only hope for things to go as smoothly and end up with as happy of a family picture as they painted last night.
It is hard to believe but after last night we only have one more Saturday class and we’ll be done with our MAPP classes and moving on to the next step in this process. Thankfully none of the scary situations and thought provoking questions that have arisen in class have caused us to second guess any of this and we’re excited to move onto the next step of the process after the completion of the class which will be a “home study.” We are hard at work finishing as many of our home improvement projects as possible before then!