I was supposed to adopt my foster daughter next week. I was told a few months ago that the date, October 30th, was tentative but I was given a time, place, and judge’s name. That’s as certain as it gets in family court. Last week I put in my request to take the day off work — as did several of my friends. However, on Monday, 10 days before Clementine’s adoption, I received an email that we were being postponed until November 20th for … you’ll never guess … National Adoption Day.
“Because nothing celebrates National Adoption Day like delaying an adoption.” — comment from Katriel posted on my blog, Fosterhood.
Participating in National Adoption Day is something I want to get excited about but the irony of my daughter’s permanency being delayed yet again, for purely gratuitous reasons, really puts me off. “Permanency” is the most meaningless (and yet the most used word) in foster care. Foster children always have a permanency goal that everyone involved is working towards. Either the permanency goal is to return the child permanently to their parents or to find a new permanent home through adoption. In 1997, President Clinton signed the national Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) which requires that any children who is in the system for 15 out of the past 22 months be given a permanent home and freed from foster care. In other words, a decision needs to be made as to whether or not they can go back to their parents or be freed for adoption. However, this rarely ever happens. In fact, there’s a petition being distributed right now that calls on the White House to enforce ASFA. I encourage you to sign it.
Perhaps what annoys me the most about Clementine’s adoption being delayed is that it was a decision made by far away people who were not, in any way, thinking about Clementine’s best interest. As I write this, Clementine is a “legal orphan” — a term used in foster care for children who don’t have any legal parents (Clementine’s parents surrendered their rights 17 months ago under the condition that I adopt her). Technically, the State of New York is Clementine’s mom right now and I have to get her permission for all medical, educational, and travel decisions.
So you can (hopefully) understand why I’m feeling slightly bitter over the idea of sharing Clementine’s adoption day with a bunch of strangers. I imagine it’s like being told “Surprise! Your wedding is being postponed until next month so that you can get married with 50 other couples to celebrate love, isn’t that awesome?!”
I was originally told that Clementine’s adoption would be very brief, probably only 5-10 minutes. I had envisioned an intimate celebration that focused on my daughter Clementine and her wonderful birth family who gave me the gift of motherhood. So forgive me if I don’t get excited about political speeches, photo-op’s, and prize raffles come November 20th.More On