Home Study: Part 2

We completed our second Home Study Saturday! It was the same case worker who did the first one. This time, she talked to us both as a couple and we went over things like

  • How we met and when we started dating
  • What we like about each other and what our strengths as a family are
  • Parenting – discipline methods, what our hopes for Oliver are, how we would manage two kids
  • How we planned to apply some of the things we learned in our classes – trauma informed care, preventing sexual assault, etc
  • Family Rules (we don’t have a lot of hard rules, but we did talk about teaching him to listen and not hit)
  • Religion
    • Even though we aren’t religious, they do ask if we are open to including religion in the child’s life if it’s important for them. This really is more for older children, but we did talk about it.
  • How we feel about ourselves as parents

We also went over what we’re open to in terms of a child but also as a licensed foster home. So this included what age, race, and abilities/disabilities we would be open to. Since we’re open to any race, we also talked about how we would make sure a child of another race might feel in our family. I’m glad they ask these questions, it is important to think about. The full list of what topics are included in a Home Study in Texas is on the DFPS website here.

We also have the crib and some other things set up in the nursery, so we were able to show that. It might not look like the most Pinterest- worthy nursery just yet, but it has a crib and a rocking chair and even some decorations on the walls.

From here, our Home Study will get typed up and reviewed by a committee. This could take 2-3 weeks, but once the committee approves us we should be licensed in a couple of days. Shortly after that, we will meet with the placement specialist at Depelchin to go over what would be a good match.

 

ALEX (4)

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Home Study Recap: Part 1

We had our first Home Study this past Saturday. We will go through at least 2 Home Studies, and should only need another one if we need to clarify anything from those. Our second one is actually set for this coming Saturday, so we don’t have to wait for too long. This one was already almost a month after we were actually approved to go to Home Study.

This time around we each talked to the Case Worker separately, and then took her on a “tour” of the house and backyard. While Gabe and I each ended talking about more or less topics here’s what was covered:

  • Our entire life story. Basically, you start at childhood and talk about how you got to today.
  • Any childhood traumas. For me, this included a lot of questions about my parents divorce, what that was like, and how it was handled.
  • The names/location/occupation/personalities of each member of your immediate family.
  • Where we went to High School, College, etc.
  • All of the jobs we’ve held and how we feel about our current job.
  • Our physical/mental/emotional health (this actually was literally just the question “how is your emotional health?” so was easier than it sounds).
  • How our families handled talking about sex and how that impacts our parenting.
  • How close we are to our immediate family (how often do we see/talk to them).

While it was really in-depth, our Case Worker was very nice and so this felt a lot more like a conversation than an interrogation which was good. I’ve been really worried about this – since I’m estranged from my mother, I was worried this would be a red flag that I would struggle to explain but it turned out okay.

I actually found a guidelines for what the Home Study covers here. We went over some of it the night before, and it was helpful to have some idea of what to expect.

Next weeks Home Study will include interviewing us both together, and going over our budget. We also will take another look at the new baby’s room since we didn’t totally have the bed set up last time.

After that, our Home Study notes will all get typed up (this could take up to two weeks, it is our entire life story after all) and then sent to committee. The committee meets every Tuesday, and will either clear us for placement or come back with any questions.

Since we’re moving in to the final stretch (of the process to be placed, anyway) here’s a picture of Oliver and his Big Brother shirt.

Oliver Announcement

Training Updates

We only have two more training classes to go! What felt pretty daunting at the beginning of this journey has actually not been so bad. Although some of the training topics have been heavy, I was really worried about all the running around and getting childcare but it’s all worked out so far.

Some of the topics we’ve covered have included grief & loss, sexual abuse prevention, cultural diversity, and discipline/giving your child choices. So, tough topics, but really things any parent could learn about. We’ve also learned a lot about the process and how Foster Care works, along with how thing have changed over the years.

While my awareness of the need for foster parents is part of what brought us down this route, it’s still shocking and sad to hear stories like this in the news. Texas had 65 children in foster care that were sleeping in someone’s office in March because they didn’t have enough beds. I’ve discovered this process will move so much quicker than I thought – originally I thought it might take months to get a placement, and now it seems like it could be weeks once we wrap up the home study because they have a such a big need for homes.

What’s next:

  • Two more classes! We have one that will mostly consist of CPR and First Aid, and then a class about Policies and Procedures to tell us the next steps going forward.
  • Any other paperwork, etc – I know we still need to get TB tests, and take photos of things like our medical lock boxes, and get anything else needed for the Home Study in order
  • Home Study – these are typically completed in 30 days once they open the case, and then we can move to placement. I will share more about what this looks like once we know!

Training & Fire Inspection

We’ve got a few more updates on our progress! Here’s where we’re at now:

Fire Inspection – We passed! Turns out scheduling a Fire Inspection is way harder than the actual inspection. The Fire Marshall was really nice and the whole thing only took a few minutes.

Training – We have two in-person training/classes under our belt! They’ve actually been really interesting. We’re learning a lot about process, the foster care system, and how to empathize with the children in the system.

We’ve learned some numbers that are just really eye opening – there are over 28,000 kids in foster care in Texas and over 5,000 just in the Houston area.

One thing I’ve liked about the classes that I didn’t expect is that it’s made this feel really “real” and more exciting. Up until now it’s been a lot of paperwork and process stuff, and the classes have started to bring it to life.

We’ve also been really lucky to have friends and family help out with Oliver while we are in class during the week.

What’s next:

Well, we’ve got the classes through the end of April. We also have a couple little things to take care of before we jump into a home study – we have to take pictures of the inside and outside of the house and get a TB test.

ALEX (2)

Foster To Adopt Process (in Texas)

I want to start this by saying not only and I not an expert, I’m currently in the process so my understanding of things might change. But I noticed the process FAQs I was seeing were really high level, so I thought I would break it down more, for anyone who is interested in knowing what the process entails.

Orientation – It’s a required first step whether you go through an agency or DFPS. It’s a 2 hour session that goes into what goes into it, the steps, etc. You’ll get the application after this.

Application – the application is long and requires quite a few supporting materials, so expect this to take some time. You’ll need to include:
-Copies of your Driver’s License and Social Security Card
-Floor plan with dimensions of rooms
-Photos of every room inside the house and front/back yard (if you have it)
-Copies of your Auto insurance
-Driving record results
-Pay stubs and bank statements for the last 60 days
The application itself includes a Background Agreement, Health Status Form, and a request for 4 references per parent

Reference and Background Check – we’ve been told this can take up to a couple of weeks, depending on how quickly your references get back and in general how things move. They do email the references, who then fill out a fairly simple form about your ability to parent. The background check includes having to go get finger prints taken and running a formal background check.

Training – this is a big time commitment, so they obviously want to make sure you are a good candidate first. The total training time will be 40 hours, and is a mix of in person classes, homework and online components.

Home Study – I’m so interested to see everything that goes into this, and I’m sure I’ll have a lot of updates. What I know so far: everything above gets wrapped up and then you start the Home Study.

  • We do have a list of additional documents that need to be submitted before the Home Study and includes: copy of birth certificates for everyone in the household, copies of marriage licenses or any divorce decrees, statement from a physician saying you are in good health, copies of pet vaccinations and copies of FBI fingerprint receipt. The good thing about knowing all of this is that you can start getting everything ready – for example, you might need to go get a check up in order to get that letter.
  • A fire and health inspection have to be submitted before the home study

Home Study Committee – Once all requirements are met, all documents received, and your home study is completed your file will go to home study committee for the approval or denial decision

We’ve been told that this entire process from the point our application was received could take anywhere from 90-120 days.

Additional resources:

Adoption FAQs from Depelchin

FAQs from Texas Adoption Resource Exchange

Adopting From Foster Carefta-timeline