Monday, September 19, 2016

Information about becoming foster/adoptive parents in Iowa.

Hello! Here is a little (maybe a lot) more information about the steps to becoming foster and/or adoptive parents and what it's like:

I talked about our decision to do foster care/adoption here, so you can read about it if you missed it. In this post, I wanted to share about the process, because we learned a lot along the way. To become foster/adoptive parents in Iowa, through the state (like not doing a private adoption through an agency), you first have to sign up for an informational meeting. At this meeting, you learn about some basics and get finger printed. This is a one night meeting.

After that, you have to sign up for the PS-MAPP classes (which stands for Partnering for Permanence and Safety: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting), which is a three hour per week class for ten consecutive weeks, with homework and three home visits on top of that. It's intensive.

You will most likely have to have some wait time in between your informational meeting and the PS-MAPP classes, especially depending on where you live. They have a lot of different informational meetings you can select from, but the PS-MAPP classes aren't offered as often. They also are only offered in select places in the state. Since we live in a small town, the closest city ours were offered in was 45 minutes away, so we also had to drive each week. It's a commitment! We did our informational meeting in April, I believe, and had to wait until July for our PS-MAPP classes to start. Your wait time could be shorter or longer, obviously.

We would say the PS-MAPP classes were beneficial and informative. It was long and there were times we got sick of it, but overall it was a good experience and we are glad we did it. We learned a lot and important topics were discussed. A big thing we learned about was forming partnerships with birth families, because there is huge emphasis on reunification with the birth family if at all possible and we, as foster parents, are supposed to support that and help do what we can to achieve that goal. Another big thing we learned about were different behaviors children from hurtful/abused backgrounds might display and how to handle those. (Obviously, we will have tons to learn about that, but it's helpful to talk about it!)

I will also say that if you are thinking about this, do the foster care and adoption paperwork at the same time, even if you aren't thinking about both. If you only do one and decide you want the other later, you will have to do all the work and take the classes again. So definitely do both right away!

For the homework, there were different articles to read each week, along with some worksheets, mainly about strengths and needs. Strengths and needs were talked about a lot, and you have to think/write about your strengths and needs related to the steps for mutual selection of foster/adoptive parents, which were talked about a lot in classes (here is an example of one of them). In the beginning, there are two huge packets of paperwork that you have to fill out also, and they are extensive.

You also have three home studies, where someone comes to your home. These meetings are several hours long, and they ask you lots of personal questions to get to know you/check you out. They also check out your house and recommend safety improvements that you have to fix before you can get licensed. Many of these safety things are common sense, like you obviously can't have saws or knives laying around, but here's mainly what we had to do- buy carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher (which we should have anyways regardless of foster care/adoption), buy more child safety locks and put more things behind locked doors (like put a lock on our medicine cabinet, even though it's up high, and make sure all potential hazards are locked away, and that list is longer than you would originally think yourself), and we had to buy a step ladder for our basement window because it was slightly too small/too high off the ground for their requirements. At your final home study, you have to have all the paperwork completed and everything off your "list" checked off, and then wait until all of that is processed until you are cleared to get your license, which is about two months.

Here are two websites that will give you a lot more information about foster care and/or adoption (for the state of Iowa), if you are interested.

https://www.iowakidsnet.com/
http://www.ifapa.org/

Foster care/adoption is obviously not for everyone, but we felt God calling us in these steps, so we wanted to share the information in case it would help anyone else who was possibly thinking about it!

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