I once made a comment about how I might not have to go through nine months of pregnancy and the delivery and all that, but that I had my own frustrations with the adoption process. A sympathetic friend of mine said something like, “yes, but at least when you birth a baby you know it’s yours.” And let me just say, that is one of the wonderful benefits of physically birthing a child. The image in this post is a document we had to sign the day we took D home (Sorry it’s a bad copy—I’ve transcribed it at the bottom of this post if you can’t read it—D’s birth name is blotted out for privacy purposes). We sat across the table from our wonderful social worker, Ann, filled with excitement at the prospect of picking up our little baby from the transition center that day. I have to say, signing this document put a slight damper on the event! First, let me explain a little about D’s placement. He was what is called “concurrent planning”. That means that when a child is removed from his parent(s), and there is significant reason to believe he won’t be able to be reunified, then he is placed via concurrent planning into an adoptive home, bypassing traditional foster care. Now, in California, a child has to be in your home for a minimum of six months before finalization can occur, no matter what the situation, so everyone who adopts is also licensed for foster care, because technically you are foster parents during that time. However, there is a difference between people who go into it as foster parents, and those of us who are strictly in it to adopt. I don’t take foster kids right now. The only placement I will get is one we intend to adopt. But, as a concurrent planning placement, it is a little riskier because you go into it knowing the parents haven’t relinquished rights, but because of past experiences (either they have lost other children to adoption because they wouldn’t complete the requirements to reunify, or they have a bad drug problem, or have not shown signs of complying, etc.). I was told more than 80% of concurrent planning adoptions are adopted. It is a little riskier, but it is also about the best chance of winding up with an infant. My point is that we knew the risk, but we also went into this absolutely as an adoption—he was ours in my mind the moment I got the phone call. The county saw us as his prospective adoptive parents. However, when we had to sit down at the table and sign this document, my heart started pounding and a little of that fear I felt in losing our first placement, Isaac, began to inch up my throat. John and I were required to read this out loud to Ann, like a couple of school children being disciplined for some crime we’d committed. I know that it is just the state policy, but that’s how it felt. If you want a little exercise in how it feels to not know what’s going to happen, read this document out loud and put your name and your child’s name(s) in the spaces and think about what that would mean—to know there is a chance (a one in five chance) you would have to give them back. After we finished, we just sat there for a minute in the quiet, reminded that this process was far from over. It would be 14 months before we could breathe a sigh of relief. Raising kids is hard enough, no matter how much you want it. Sometimes it’s hard to set aside the anxiety of not knowing what’s going to happen, and focus 100% on bonding with your child. But when you pick that baby up and take him home, it becomes impossible to not throw caution to the wind and just go for it.
(Click here to read about our previous failed adoption)
Concurrent Planning Agreement
I/We Martin John Scharpf and Susan Scharpf understand that (D—not his birth name) a dependent child of the Juvenile Court, has not been freed for adoption and is being placed in my/our home as a foster child.
At this time, I understand that I am a foster parent first and foremost. I/we will cooperate fully and foremost with the reunification process. Including facilitating visits with the birth parent(s). Failure to facilitate reunification may result in removal of the child from my/our home.
If the Juvenile Court orders the child to be returned to the birth parents, I/we will assist in transitioning the child to the birth parent(s).
Based on the available information provided to me/us regarding this child’s health/social history, it is my/our intent to adopt this child if the child is freed for adoption through relinquishment by the birth parent(s) or termination of parental rights through the Juvenile Court,
Concurrent planning has been explained to me by San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and I/we accept the conditions listed above.