I have been reading a couple of studies on children adopted from foster care, and some interesting facts have come to light. A majority of adoptive parents report needing services for their kids that they do not know how to obtain. The second is like it– although agencies are required to follow up with families who adopt in most states, few follow up with more than a phone call.
On reading these facts, I realized that we ourselves have received very little in the way of follow-up from our agencies. If our older two had needed as much intervention as the second group did, we would have been lost. I do not think it would have ever occurred to me to call the agency and say, “We need support.”
The difference for me with the three younger kids was two-fold: First, we are still fostering, so that means we are still taking trainings, seeing our worker, etc. We have more social contacts in this world than previously, so we are more likely to ask advice from other parents and the agency.
The second difference was the little kids’ CPS worker. I know CPS gets a bad rep, but I am here to say our worker was fantastic. She really has the kids’ best interest at heart, and as we were in the adoption process, she was making recommendations about services and support they may need down the line. This was above and beyond the call of duty for her as we had already been transferred to the adoption unit and another worker.
The real challenge for parents is this: How do we get kids what they need? The challenge for states is connected: How do we disseminate information and support so kids get what they need?
Our situation points to a partial solution: States need to use every available means to educate adoptive parents about the support that is available. That means the adoption unit should talk about it, the child placing agencies, the regular caseworkers, CASA; the information needs to come from all corners so parents are able to take it in. And it is not enough to throw information at parents at one point in the process; it needs to be repeated throughout. The state needs to know that agencies are following up with families as they are required to do in most states.
In the end, though, it is up to parents. We cannot settle for less than enough support for our kids. We have to keep asking for what they need and be persistent in making sure they get it!