Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Children Don't Have Homes

I've refrained from writing about this for months and months but I'm mad enough now I can't keep from doing it any longer. Not that it matters that I write it. But at least I can vent. And have a record for myself of this ridiculously lengthy timeline to look back on someday when it's all over. Assuming that someday ever comes.

February 7, 2009. I filled out an application to become a foster parent. The application stated that the process can take up to six months to complete.

About a week later. I received a packet of information on the process, as well as signup sheets for mandatory classes to become certified to foster and/or adopt. No problem. I signed up for the soonest class available. After all, I was ready to go. Immediately.

May 2, 2009. I completed the last of five full Saturdays in training. Fingerprints were taken in the first class, the first week of April. Next step -- and last one: Home Study. Someone would contact us to set that up, we were told. I specifically asked if there was anything else I needed to do in the meantime. Anything to fill out. Anyone to call. No. We're done with everything. We just need to wait on this phone call. It may take several months due to them being backed up. Court-appointed home studies must be completed first because they have a deadline. Kinship care comes next, because those children are already in the foster homes and they must hurry to do the home studies to ensure those children are safe. So "resource families" as they called people like me who just want to give a home to a needy child that is not a relative are last on the list. Fine. A few months. I can wait a few months.

August 2009. I begin calling the office to find out if they're going to schedule my home study soon. I call for over a month before I actually get to speak to a human being. Over a month. You can't imagine how many calls that is, or how many messages that is. Nor how frustrating it is to never be able to get ahold of anyone.

September 2009. At last, someone calls me. But not the person I've been trying to reach. Not that person's supervisor. Not anyone from my county at all. But a person from several counties away calls, because their supervisor told them to call me because he was too busy to do it and the person I've been trying to reach is out on maternity leave. At last, I get to speak to a human being, although it's not a human being who can help me. Except that said human being asks if I've submitted my home study information yet. What home study information? Why, a huge packet of information I'm supposed to fill out before they'll call me. Remember I specifically asked if there was anything I needed to do or fill out at that last class and was told no, nothing, just wait for a call? The call was never going to come, because if you don't fill out this packet of information then they assume you are no longer interested and don't call you. THANKS. I had her send me the packet. I filled it out that very day and sent it back in. And waited.

October 2009. I begin calling again. Maternity leave lady was supposed to be back in early September. I want to make sure they know I'm interested. And know I've been waiting. Since February. And trained since May 2. I'm very tired of waiting. Christmas is coming, and I want children in my home for Christmas. Can we please get this taken care of? I finally reach the lady who does the home studies, who tells me I need to come into the office to speak with her and take care of some things. Finally, I think! Progress. I make the appointment. I go in. Fingerprints... the ones taken SIX MONTHS AGO? They came back rejected. Not because I'm a criminal. Because the FBI was apparently unable to read the prints. She fingerprinted me again, then told me that this was her last week at this office so she won't be doing my home study. Someone else will and she'll be sure to let them know I've been waiting a long time and she's quite sure they'll get to me soon.

November 2009. I call the new lady. I ask her if she can give me an estimate of when she's going to be able to schedule my home study. She launches into the spiel I have now heard repeatedly, "We have to do the court-appointed studies first, and then we have to do the kinship care, and folks like you are at the bottom of the list..." I said, "I understand that, ma'am, but it's been 9 months since I got on the list... I was thinking surely my turn must be coming up soon." (Seeing as how the application states the process can take UP TO six months, if you'll recall.) In an annoyed tone, the new home study lady replies, "We never even get through all the kinship studies. You will ALWAYS be at the bottom of the list."

WELL THEN!

They could have told me that in MAY and saved all this hassle! Why even pretend like they're going to eventually come out and do my home study if they know good and well it's never going to happen? and WHY can't it happen?? What on earth are they DOING all day long five days a week 52 weeks a year that they can't come out to my house for an hour and get this done?? And then they complain that they don't have enough foster families, and that there are alllllll these children waiting for adoption that nobody will adopt. Well, gee, I wonder why???

So. I hung up the phone and called a private agency. If the department were doing their job, there would be no need for the private agency. Because the agency does foster care, as well -- they get the kids that the department is unable to find homes for. Why can the agency find homes when the department can't? Hmm, might it be because the agency will actually come out and do home studies!?!!? I called them in late November.

December 2009: The lady from the agency came out and did my initial home study, and two weeks later my follow-up home study. Fingerprints taken again. After the follow-up, I was informed that everything was great and ready to go, as soon as the fingerprints cleared, I was ready to start taking kids. It will take about 6 weeks, I'm told. Terrific! After this lengthy wait, the end is finally near!

January 2010: My fingerprints from the state came back clear, but the fingerprints from the FBI have not yet arrived. Waiting. Waiting.

March 2010: I've heard nothing. I call the agency. "No, those prints aren't back yet, they've been taking a long time. There's nothing we can do about it but just wait."

Notice the agency did their part rapidly. The government dawdled for months upon months and got nothing done and in less than a month, the agency's part was done. Fingerprints? Back to the government. And so we wait.

April 2010: I call again about the fingerprints. They still aren't in. I express great concern. It could not possibly take this long, I say. Please check into this. They check into it. Apparently the FBI has LOST my prints because they don't have them sitting on their desk and apparently have no way to TRACK whether they've done prints or not. Wonderful. I get another set of prints done. This time they have me send in two sets. That way if one set can't be read, surely the other one can. No more delays... no more delays.

July 2010: I call again. It's been three months with no word. "Oh," they say. "Your prints came back last week, but it's not good... they couldn't read them." WHAT? BOTH sets they couldn't read?

At this point, I was beyond furious. And so frustrated I just wanted to scream. I could do this for the rest of my life! Here I've been waiting since CHRISTMAS on absolutely NOTHING but this one stupid set of prints. Stupid especially because my state prints cleared no problem, and I've never lived in another state! Why is this even necessary?? And yet it is. I begin to feel like I could do this the rest of my life and never get anywhere. If you've ever been in a car that's stuck in the mud, so frustrated and desperate to get out that you'll do anything and yet nothing works, your wheels just spin and spin, that's where I'm at. I call them to express my great frustration and my desperation to just get this done. I will drive TO the FBI office, I offer, several hours away to get this DONE. No, I can't do that, it does no good. The only way to get cleared is to send in the prints again, and wait another three months. Maybe my prints I did for the government in October came through okay -- if I could get ahold of them, and if they would send the info.... no, we can't do that.

The only thing that gives me any hope at all is that I am now told that the FBI requires three attempts, and if this third attempt also fails and can't be read, they will do a name search instead. So it WILL eventually be over. But when? Another three months to read these prints -- if they can keep from losing them this time!!! -- and then if they can't read them, another three months to do a name search?

Something has to be done about this. There are children waiting for homes, and ridiculous things like this going on to prevent those homes from being available to them. I have been willing to jump through any hoop they give me, and I do it immediately each time. And here I am a year and a half down the road and still months away from having any hope of getting through those hoops. How does anyone do it?? I've never been so frustrated in my life.

And people wonder why I'm becoming more libertarian (in principle, not in party) every day. The private agency has done its job quickly and successfully in every way. But every step that involves any governmental party has dragged along and been full of hassles and red tape. Something has got to change.

So for now, I wait again. For a third set of prints. And yet another Christmas which will likely come and go with no children in this home.

Did I mention the two beautiful rooms that just sit empty and collect dust month after month after month while hundreds of children in this state sit wishing desperately for a home?

6 comments:

Laura said...

Ohhhh...I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. There is so much more I could say, but I won't. I'm already emotional these days...Just know that I have continued to pray for this for you.
If it's any consolation, from what Jamie has heard they are desparate for foster families here too, but it is recommended not to sign up right now. Huh?

Dawn said...

I can relate to your frustration all too well. In our case we went through the training, had the home study, were licensed, were approved for placement and then nothing for over a year. We ended up with one brief placement. We wanted to adopt from the foster care system. Our license expired and was renewed. We have thought about renewing it again, but in 2 years we were called one time. This is in a county that advertises the need for foster homes. I don't understand the system.

Maria said...

Yet officials complain that not enough people want to become foster parents. This is RIDICULOUS!

Prairie Rose said...

Yes, I neglected to mention the part where I was in a meeting a couple of months ago and this lady shows up all perky with her little brochures -- "I'm here to recruit foster parents!" she announces. "Is anyone here involved in any way with the foster system?" I raised my hand. "Yes!" she calls on me. "What is your involvement?"

"I've been trying to become a foster parent for a really really really long time," I replied.

"Oh," says she, not so perky. "Um. Well. Yes, there are some problems a lot of people have, um, getting through the system and all that, but..." and she suddenly ignores me and returns to her perky act, "HERE are these children, and these children need homes, and I'm here to try to recruit new foster/adoptive families, bla bla bla"

I messed up HER spiel, I suppose. No, she couldn't help me get there any faster.

Lauri said...

That sounds so frustrating! I have a feeling that the people who work for the government are the people who couldn't make it in the real world. If you lose the first set, the second set is put on a special priority.
Maybe the lady giving the presentations could do home checks instead of recruiting people to the bottom of the list?

枝誠侑誠侑竹 said...

may the blessing be always with you!!............................................................