Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Phone Call

Thursday afternoon I got a call from our caseworker from LDS Family Services. She had two questions for me:

1) Would my husband and I be interested in speaking on a panel at an upcoming meeting/ fireside for our local chapter of Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) about our experiences with foster care? I told her I'd get back to her after I consulted with Jared.

2) Would we be interested in meeting with some birth grandparents who are in the process of placing their two year old grandson for adoption? They had been looking at profiles and wanted to meet with four other couples besides us.

Two things immediately stood out to me as a bit unusual about her last question: First, rather than a birthmother or birthfather wanting to meet us it was some birth grandparents. Our caseworker went on to explain that this couple's daughter had passed away almost a year ago and that the birthfather had relinquished his parental rights. They had been raising their grandson but wanted him to be raised by a young family (rather than by them).

Our caseworker paused and asked me if I had heard about this case a couple of months ago. "No", I answered. But the part about a little boy who was being placed for adoption through LDS Family Services after his mother had passed away did sound familiar to me- I'll get to that later.

She continued . . . "We didn't show your profile to this couple initially because the little boy is Madison's age and we know you aren't interested in adopting a child older than she is . . . but for some reason your profile got into their hands- I don't know if it's the Lord's hand or what".

That's the second thing that I thought was unusual about this case- she was asking us about a two-year old but on our Preference Checklist [the list that adoptive couples fill out about what kind of child they would consider adopting in regards to age, gender, race, medical history, etc.] we had indicated that we would prefer to adopt a one year old at the oldest.

Now here's the part that I found particularly unusual: She explained that this little boy had already been placed with a family and that they were working on making the transistion from his grandparent's care to the prosepective adoptive family's care. He had been living with this prospective adoptive family for over a month, but after praying about it and going with their gut feelings, this particular family just didn't feel right about adopting this little boy- they didn't feel like he "belonged" to their family, so they informed the agency before any legal papers were signed.

When I heard my caseworker say that this family didn't feel like the little boy belonged to them it gave me a bit of a chill (in a good way, of course.) But the cynical part of me thought, "Something's got to be drastically wrong with this little boy- why would a couple who is longing for a child not want him- what information is the agency withholding from me?" So I basically asked my caseworker that question. She honestly didn't know too much about the situation since she was not the birthparent worker (or in this case, birth grandparent worker), but she gave me as much information as she could. She did mention that this boy was born premature (just like Maddie) and had a slight speech delay, but that didn't seem like a big concern to me. She told me she would get more information and call me back.

In the meantime I called Jared to tell him the news. Then I called my mom and somewhere in between calls our caseworker called back with as much information as she could get from the other caseworker. I also made one other call to somebody who I was hoping could give me some more information.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- When our caseworker mentioned that this little boy's mother had died last year and that he had been placed with a family I remembered a couple of months ago when I was getting my temple recommend renewed: The member of our Stake Presidency who interviewed me happens to be our former bishop. I can't remember if it was before or after the actual interview, but he was asking how our family was and the topic of adoption came up. I reminded him that we were going through the adoption process again and he mentioned that a relative of his who had been waiting to adopt was finally going to be able to adopt a little boy. I know our former bishop's wife from our ward and I even went walking with her and a couple of other ladies in our neighborhood a couple of winters ago. I specifically remember one morning when we were mall-walking and Kelly (a pseudonym), our former bishop's wife, asked me how our adoption and foster care efforts were coming. This was shortly after our home study had been approved over a year ago. She then mentioned that she had a close family member who adopted a little boy five or six years ago and who was eager to adopt again through the Church and had been waiting to be picked by a birthmother.

So back to the temple recommend interview: When the counselor in our Stake Presidency/former bishop mentioned that his relative was finally going to be able to adopt again I thought, "That's neat- he must be talking about the same family Kelly told me about." And then he mentioned that the little boy's mother had died I asked him, "Oh, is it through foster care?" (thinking that it might have been an emergency situation or something) but he said, "No it's through the Church [LDS Family Services]".

So . . . after I got off the phone with my caseworker I took a wild chance and picked up the phone and called Kelly. I told her, "This is going to sound really weird . . . but did your family member (I couldn't remember if it was her sister or sister-in-law) by chance almost adopt a little boy named ________?"

"Yes", she answered, sounding a bit surprised- it turns out it was her SISTER's family! I went on to explain the call I had gotten from our caseworker and as diplomatically but directly as possible I asked if she could tell me if she was aware of any problems that her sister's family had with the little boy or if there was anything "wrong" with him. Kelly said, "That's so funny that you called right now because my sister and I were recently talking about him." She confirmed to me exactly what our caseworker had said: that her sister's family was in the process of adopting this little boy but they just didn't feel right about it. She told me she would call her sister for more information and get back to me and I told her that I GREATLY appreciated it.

Over the next hour my caseworker called back with more information which I passed on to Jared, and Kelly called back. She told me that her sister's family had actually gotten very attached to this little boy and that he was a cute kid and there were no problems with him, but they just felt like he was not "theirs". Chills. She went on to say that they had even counseled with their bishop and gone to the temple about it.

"Mary", she continued, "Did you know that he was placed with another family before he was placed with my sister's family?"

"No . . ." I answered- I hadn't heard anything about that.

"Yeah- and that family said the same thing about him, too- that they didn't feel like he was theirs." More chills.

Kelly did mention that although there was nothing wrong with the little boy the only issue her sister had was that his grandparents obviously wanted to have a very open adoption with their grandson (which is understandable seeing as how they have been his primary caregivers) but there was a little problem with "boundaries" since the grandparent's definition of what an "open" adoption was turned out to be a little more "open" than what the prospective adoptive family was comfortable with.

That was a good heads up for me. I told Kelly we weren't yet sure if we had decided to meet with the grandparents but that I'd keep her posted and once again I thanked her for all of the information she shared.
Less than six hours after receiving the initial phone call from my caseworker, and after much thought, discussion, and prayer, we called her back to tell her that we would be interested in meeting with the birth grand parents. We have an "interview" set up for Monday afternoon.

Saturday morning Jared and I went to the temple. We both feel peaceful about things. Of course just because we feel peace does not necessarily mean that we know what the end result will be! We are trusting that this little boy's future is in the Lord's hands. Whether he is placed with us or with another family, it will be wonderful for him to find his forever family.

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