I just wanted to put up a post that goes over some important things. I know some people think that once we get a placement that that child is "our". Now, while we will always treat all children in our house as ours, they actually won't be. And, yes - this can take a long time.
Note: I have no idea what things are like in other states, this will be info for my state (NJ).
We will be licenesed for two types of services offered through the state: Adoption and Fost/Adopt.
First definations. Adoption allows us to adopt children that have already had their parental rights terminated. These children are probably living in a foster home with foster parents that for whatever reason do not want to adopt these kids.
Now, before you start thinking "well, they don't want to adopt these kids because they are the "bad" ones" - that is usually NOT the case. There are lots of parents that only want to foster. Parents that only want to prepare kids for a prem family. Parents that are older and really can not make the long term commitment to adopt.
So, there are lots and lots of kids that are readily available. Why don't we just do this you might ask? Well, the majority of these kids are much older than we are looking to place in our home. But, there still may be some situations that fall into our preferances. And yes, we could get younger children - but as I will explain in a moment, because of the timelines, a child will probably be older.
Since rights are already terminated, this process will be quicker than fost/adopt.
Fost/Adopt: With Fost/Adopt you will receive placment into your home of a child that was removed from the birth parents. Children can be removed for several reasons, I won't get into that now though. With Fost/Adopt, you are commiting yourself to adopting the child if the child becomes available. But, just because you say you will adopt, does not always mean that the child will become available.
Once children are removed, the bio parents have 12-15 months to clean up their act and do what the judge orders to get their children back. Again, I won't go into detail about what the parents have to do. But, during that time, the bios can do nothing or everything. Note: the 12-15 months is a total time. So, if kids were removed previously, that time still counts towards the total.
That said, statistics show that if bios do not do what the judge orders in the first 90 days, they probably won't. This is just statistics, not opinion. But, just because they don't do anything in the first 90 days, does not mean that they still don't get the full 12-15 months. This is always a possibility.
During the first 90 days, we will probably be told the opinion of our case worker if they think there is a possibility of termination of rights. And at that time, they will again ask if we would adopt if they children became available.
Even though the bios have 12-15 months, any parent can decide themselves to terminate their rights.
At about the 12-15 month mark, all case workers will meet with the family court judge. They will all have their own documentation on the case. At that time, the judge could change the case plan to termination or rights. Up until that point, reuinification is always the actual plan.
If the plan is changed to termination, it takes about 6-7 months for rights to actually be terminated. Again during that time the bios have a chance to appeal this decision - and again get a chance to do what the judge orders.
After the 6-7 months, the rights are then terminated. At this point, the bios can never get their kids back. Now, for us - these kids would be in our home, but for others children, it is at this point that they become free and clear for adoption and if the foster parents decide not to adopt, we could. At this point, it could be a min of 1.5 years from placement (assuming 1st removal) - 12 months + 6 months.
But, just becasue rights are teminated does not mean that the adoption is final. Nope, more waiting.
After rights are terminated, it can take another 6-7 months for the adoption to be final. Again, during this time the bios can not get their kids back.
Now, remember - the 12-15 months is total of all removals. So, if a child is removed from bios and then after 6 months goes back. But it then these same kids are removed again, they only have a max of 9 months left to do the judges orders. It is possible that we receive placement with a child that is a second time removal, this would speed up our process of course.
There may also be times when rights are terminated in less time than the 12-15 months. Situations like if a bio is in jail for a crime against the child - they will never get their kids back. Also, if a bio is in jail for other offenses and have a long sentence, they may have rights terminated sooner. I am sure there are lots and lots of other situations too.
So, assuming we are the first placement, we could have a child in our home for about 2.5 years before finalization. Here is the math.
Least amount of time:
12 months + 6 months + 6 months = 2 years
Longest amount of time:
15 months + 7 months + 7 months = 29 months = almost 2.5 years.
It could be a very long time. And, there will always be the possibility that these kids will go home. That is something we are not looking forward to at all. But, I will voice my opinion on that another time.
Sorry, this turned out so long. But, I just wanted to put this info out there.