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From Foster to Forever :: An interview on the adoption process

The number one goal in foster care is reunification with the birth parents or a family member; however, there are some cases when this doesn’t happen. Some kids come into care, and it’s already known they will need a pre-adoptive home. All efforts have been made to keep them with family, but sadly it didn’t work out for whatever reason. Honestly, for me it was bittersweet. Bitter, because I do have to acknowledge the fact that my daughter would not reunify with her biological family. Sweet, because I was getting a daughter, who I loved from the first day I laid eyes on her.

Meet Sabrina. Currently a bio mom to her oldest son Brendan, foster mom to a set of cute patooties, and finally adoptive mom to daughter Jasmine. (3 types of a moms!) While it's not unusual for families to adopt from foster care, it is a different process altogether, and often the "overlooked" adoption option for those trying to build a family. We sat down with Sabrina and asked her to walk us through the process of adopting her sweet daughter Jasmine from the foster care system. 

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First, what led you to being a foster mom to begin with?

Being a single mom to Brendan, I knew I was called to be a mom to more than just him. Obviously I was't going the pregnant route, so I pursued fostering. I honestly didn't know I would enter the process with adoption on my mind. I was 100% on board with reunification.

What changed your mind?

I was sitting in a PATH class. It was June, 2014. I was about to become a foster parent, but was I ready to actually adopt? Where had this thought even come from? I hadn’t met her yet but just hearing about her case tugged on me instantly. I needed to inquire more about her. I couldn’t get it out of my head: the thought of meeting her.

Wait, back up. What's a PATH class?

PATH stands for "Parents as Tender Healers."

You are required by law to attend these classes. They teach you about the foster process, the home requirements, about the cases you might encounter. Basically a "foster care 101." It also helps people decide if fostering is really for them. After you complete the PATH classes and complete your home study, you are considered "certified" to foster officially through the state.

Then what happens after the PATH classes? You just get a kid? 

I met her on July 17, 2014.  Jasmine was already in foster care with another family. I found out her family at the time lived less than 5 minutes from me! About 6 months after meeting Jas and spending time with her on a regular basis, things got real. I had to do interviews with DCS workers, be on phone calls with her birth mother, and finally I was approved for Jas to move in. I was to officially become her foster mom.

You mentioned she was with a previous foster family. How old was she when you became her foster mom? How did she react to another change in her life?

Jas moved in with us on January 9, 2015. She was 4 yrs old. I was so nervous at first; so many thoughts ran through my head: Will she like her room? How will her transition go? What will the first night look like? But I shouldn't have worried. She was then -- and still is -- the strongest little lady I’ve ever met in my life! She instantly made herself at home. I almost didn't know how to take it. I was relieved that it was so smooth but couldn’t help wondering in the back of my mind when the real emotions of the transition would come out. But honestly? It was like she knew, “Ok, this is my family now.”

Ok. So now you're officially her foster mom. When did you start the process to officially adopt Jasmin?

Now, the real waiting period began. For adoption to take place, Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) has to be done, and the child must live in your house for 6 months before you can adopt. A lot happens in 6 months. Most importantly, a lot of fears creep in. Will a birth family member come out of nowhere and swoop her up? Am I really ready for this? Does she really like it here?  Then these weird #boymom thoughts would pop in my head: she’s a girl, what was I thinking; I grew up with all boys; I have a boy! Or, she doesn’t like mac and cheese, but it’s one of our favorite dishes! How will this ever work?

But in the 6 months of living together, Jasmine learned us and we learned her. I’d heard so many stories of failed adoptions or the process being prolonged for so many different reasons. I’m eternally grateful that wasn’t the case for us.

When did Jasmine become yours?

About 8 months later. We became a forever family on August 17, 2015. As I looked out into the courtroom from the witness stand, I could see all the support that I had: friends, family, and church family that God had blessed us with. We could do this! We are doing this.  

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Today, I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe I have a daughter. I can’t believe the blessing that can come from foster care. So far, I’ve had 7 foster kiddos (2 currently!) come through my home. Even if my home didn’t become their forever home, what is forever is the love I have for them. I pray they take that with them wherever they end up. Jasmine was certainly a blessing that ended up forever. 

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