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Pre Adoptive Foster Care

January 2nd, 2012 at 02:04 pm

DW and I became licensed foster care providers in Feb. 2010. We received our first placement in March 2010. We picked the three week old infant up at the NICU. He never spent a night with his bio parents. His bio dad is a convicted child abuser and a sexual deviant. It turns out that he beat the hell out of bio mom late in the pregnancy - thus the need for the stay in the NICU and the subsequent Cerebral Palsy diagnosis.

One year later - after twice weekly visits with bio mom - both bio parents signed off on their parental rights. You see, bio dad was facing fresh criminal sexual conduct charges, and he felt it was in his best interest to sign off. He convinced mom to do the same. The CSC charges were against her children from a previous relationship.

In April 2011 we had a 2 1/2 year old placed with us. His parents are drug dealers. He was found in the van with them when they were busted selling drugs. He was also criminally neglected. This is the child we just adopted.

We receive an approximate $1,200 stipend each month from the state of Michigan to care for these children. We receive more for the (now) three year old because his needs are greater. In addition we receive WIC benefits to purchase food. The value of those benefits are about $60 per month. Cost for diapers, clothing, car seats, visits with bio parents, etc. come from the $1,200 payment.

DW has been generating about $10K per year in freelance income since the birth of our first child. She no longer has time for that.

Payments for children are based on the complexity of their level of care. Level 1 children are your run of the mill children in the foster system. Our youngest child is currently a Level 1. Level 2 children require enough counseling or other types of specialists appointments and specialized care in the home to increase payments by $5 per day. Level 3 children may have explosive behaviors, or require increased counseling to receive yet another $5 per day. Our three year old is classified as a Level 3. The final classification is "Medically Fragile". These children require constant or near constant medical attention. I've heard that payments for these children can be around $50 per day.

We (mainly DW) are working to get our 21 month old re-classified as a Level 2. Level 2, 3, and Medically Fragile adopted children retain payments until they are 18. Level 1 children retain no payments post-adoption. We feel the CP diagnosis is enough. The State of Michigan disagrees. Fortunately the Judge agrees with us, and he is being re-evaluated. Hopefully adoption around his second birthday.

The final financial benefit is the $13,000 per child refundable tax credit.

I understand that not everyone is cut out for foster care. But there is a tremendous need. Heck, we're not cut out for fostering adolescents, at least not right now. We've heard horror stories about foster parents having their car stolen, or being threatened with knives, or darn near having their house burnt down. The bottom line for us is the safety of our young children, so we won't be fostering teens for a good many years.

We've fostered three other children during the past two years - each of them short-term placements.

If you have any interest at all in learning more about foster care, feel free to reach me at my personal email address - bob@stuever.us.

3 Responses to “Pre Adoptive Foster Care”

  1. gamecock43 Says:

    Thank you for the explanation. If a bio pregnancy is not in my cards then I think this would be my next step. BB wants to wait several more years before seriously considering it. I will continue to read your posts though to get a better idea of the way the system is set up.

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    @Gamecock - You'd really have to talk to your city/county/state foster-to-adopt program to find out more. The experiences I have seen in California are very different than Bobs. I'd imagine most of the kids in the foster-to-adopt system in California are of a category for the "stipend to age 18." The second child my cousin-in-law adopted has virtually no issues. Their stipend could be solely based on her ethnicity, which I had seen some point was a category for payment, but I can't find the resources/categories I found before. Which is maybe for the best since it is apparently different in every state or county. Not that any of that info would be useful to you.

    Anyway, in their case, the mom was in jail, drug addicted, and had 10+ kids in the system. They received their baby boy the day he was born (no NICU). They eventually adopted his biological sister when she was born. Odds are they will be able to adopt another sibling, eventually, if they choose.

    As I mentioned, the boy has certainly not been an easy case, but on a scale of 1 - 10 as far as medical, emotional, mental issues, these kids are pretty low on the scale with problems.

    Like Bob said - there is a lot of red tape and time to get approved for the system, but once you are approved, the placements are immediate. I was awed how fast cousin-in-law got her baby. IT was very good for them in a very long "unable to have children." After years and years of waiting and miscarriages and medical issues, to receive a newborn in just a few days was quite a blessing. On the flip side, if they had taken the baby back, would have been really hard. But they had of course already checked that they couldn't place him with any other siblings, etc., and the parents who had already given up 10 kids clearly weren't going to be taking him. So I think they knew their odds were good to adopt him, from Day 1.

  3. Bob B. Says:

    Everything MM says is true. This is a state by state thing, and, yes even some differences county to county. We've fostered children in 2 counties.

    Everything I talk about pertains to only Michigan, although there are bound to be similarities between states.

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