A few months ago, I shared part one of our adoption journey. Our story continues below:
I didn’t know it at the time, but November 2016 was basically the start of a whole new foster care journey…one that we did not feel at all prepared for.
In the months after K came back to us, it became more evident that birth mom’s parental rights were likely to be terminated. As is apparently the norm, DHS decided that the three siblings should be placed together. By this point, the older two had been in their foster home for about a year and a half, while our daughter had been with us for about a year. Also, the oldest child had Reactive Attachment Disorder, which meant sending her to a new home would be especially traumatic. K didn’t know the older two at all, except for the two weeks they all lived with birth mom.
Four therapists, the girls’ attorney, the FSRP worker (who does transportation for visits and stays to supervise/help with parenting skills), the Foster Care Review Board, the bonding specialist, both foster families, and birth mom all believed that the girls should stay in their current foster homes due to bonds with their foster families and lack of bonds with each other.
However, the DHS Supervisor was adamant that they be placed together. They began sending the girls with new FSRP workers on 6-hour visits to potential families (who they hadn’t met). This caused a lot of regression and distress in the girls. It was at that point we decided to hire an attorney.
Our top goal in doing foster care is to protect the best interest of the kiddos. We didn’t believe that was being carried out, so we took it into our own hands.
The other foster family had heard of an attorney that dealt with a lot of cases like this, so we hired her. It was one of the best choices we’ve ever made. She was able to put an end to the six-hour visits until after court, scheduled for June 20, 2017. We were filled with anxiety those couple of months, which felt like an eternity.
Court day came and I was as nervous as could be.
When the state of Iowa called their first witness, the FSRP worker testified in our favor. There were a bunch of testimonies that day, but only the DHS worker’s testimony was in opposition to our goal. When it was time for closing remarks, the state’s attorney closed by saying that based on the evidence presented he could no longer side with the state, but rather was in support of the girls staying with their current foster families. The judge ruled very quickly and clearly in our favor. That day we became K’s legal guardians instead of the State of Iowa.
Two months later, on August 21, 2017, K was adopted into our forever family.
We received her new birth certificate on my birthday. It was the best birthday gift I’ve ever received. We went through a lot to get our daughter and I would do it all again if needed. There is still a lot that we sort through because of the trauma she faced in those early months. We also work through hard issues like health history and visitations with her birth family. (We continue to do monthly visits with K’s birth sisters and will let them determine their relationship as they get older.)
But let me say, it’s been two years and my heart still melts every time my daughter calls me “Mom” or tells me she loves me.
Even on days when I’m at the end of my rope, trying to figure out how to deal with hard behaviors, I’m thankful I get to be the one learning. My daughter is worth every second of the work, every penny spent, every tear cried, and every prayer I’ve prayed.
So if you should ever ask me (although I hope you don’t), “Which ones are actually yours?” I’ll always answer, “They’re all mine!”
Her story is different from my other children, but my love for her is just as great.
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