Hello faithful readers!
We are in the process of creating what is categorized as a non-traditional family. That is, we aren’t creating our family through the typical means (i.e. biological pregnancy). I’m here to tell you today that while I might not experience actual labor pains upon adopting my foster children, this creation process, symbolically, is just as painful.
But the rewards are so great.
Recently, Brett and I had what was supposed to be our last meeting with the county before they file for adoption. That is still happening (the adoption filing), but not without its hiccups. It takes one person, specifically, to derail an adoption process. That’s the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL, pronounced G-A-L). The GAL is the lawyer for the kids. Every child in the foster system has his or her own GAL (sibling sets have the same lawyer).
Everyone involved with the case can be on board with the adoption, be totally impressed with your parenting skills that improve daily, and be so happy with the progress the kids have made. Unless one kid cries in front of the GAL. Then you might have problems.
So your GAL disagrees with everyone else. What next?
First, don’t get discouraged. Yes, courts give A LOT of weight to the GAL, but this isn’t the end of the world. It’s the GAL’s job to be concerned about her clients and make rational, levelheaded choices for them. Of course, even GALs are human and can make mistakes. It’s not the GAL’s job, for instance, to make diagnoses of their client’s mental or physical health, so if that has happened, that should throw up red flags to everyone involved. And despite this, children in foster care will have potential mental and physical health issues. As long as the pre-adoptive parents are committed to supporting the child through his healing, then there is slim chance of a failed adoption or disrupted placement. If there’s truly no reason for concern and everyone else on the case is in agreement on this, let the agency/ county fight for you for a while.
Second, take a step back. Still reeling from that last permanency meeting and can’t make heads or tails as to why the GAL hates you so? Do this right now: inhale. Now exhale. It’s going to be okay.
Think through (calmly) everything that happened at the meeting and decide what your arguments are going to be. Talk to people you trust who are authorities in your life in one way or another. If you know one or two lawyers, talk to them about it as well because they can give you their opinion on the matter from their legal-training standpoint. They might be able to see something in the case that you simply can’t because you’re not a lawyer.
It certainly is baffling — when foster-adoptive parents are in such high demand — that anyone would want to put up roadblocks to the successful creation of adoptive families. If there truly is no reason for the hold up, speak with your caseworker, the kid(s)’ caseworker, therapists, teachers, and anyone else who knows the child(ren) well. They undoubtedly will be able to see things differently from you and might be able to provide much needed defense of your case, or at the very least, insight.
Third, remember this: family is good and exists to provide a network of support for everyone inside its protective walls. If you are committed to supporting your children through the good, bad, and really ugly, you already have what it takes to be a successful parent. Stand firm and keeping fighting the good fight.