Hello, my name is Kari Hall, and I am a certified foster parent. It has always been my dream to foster to adopt. Being gay, I've always known children would be a long, hard road for me--but my dreams came true on July 24th, 2013 when a beautiful, newborn baby boy was brought to my home as a foster. I made it clear before my social worker even walked through the door, that my intent was to foster-to-adopt any child who would not be reunited with his or her parents. She asked if I would have help from anyone (as I lived alone) and told her my girlfriend would be helping me, and again reiterated how excited I was and confirmed that, as the foster parent, I would be the first choice as an adoptive parent (if he was unable to be reunited with his bioligical parents). At this point, the social worker looked me up and down, and stated that they would have to determine the best home for the child, in a way such as to suggest that my situation was inadequate. Despite her obvious dislike for me, I was over the moon with my new foster baby boy. Myself and my girlfriend, Robyn, held and rocked our little baby through the nights. We took him to his doctor appointments, put him on the best formula we could find, bought him the baby swing, stroller, Boppy pillow, sang to him, took him to Disneyland every Sunday as a family trip, and slowly began to fill our hearts with hope that we would get to adopt him. It was looking good, especially since I had been told that I would have first choice as an adoptive parent, as the foster--since it is always in the child's best interest to move them as little as possible.
And then, 5 weeks later, I got a call that he was matched with an adoptive family and that they would be taking him from us tomorrow morning, August 30th, 2013.
Despite the fact that the training I did as a foster parent with my agency was supposed to make me eligible as an adoptive parent as well, and despite the fact that there are other families in my agency who have and are currently adopting from said agency, SUDDENLY with my case, for no apparent reason, the rules have changed, and I am being told that my training does not qualify me as an adoptive home--only as a foster parent.
We have done some research and discovered that per the Riverside County DPSS website, when a foster child is placed and adoption becomes a possibility, (this includes a concurrent plan in which they begin planning adoption from the beginning in case reunification with the biological parents is not possible), the social worker is supposed to ask the foster parent if they are interested in adoption. If they are, they will then begin the process of adoptive home study, etc. with an adoptions worker. Per their website, this does NOT have to happen BEFORE placement, and in fact happens AFTER placement and upon learning that the foster parent is interested in adopting the child. This is something that I made our social worker aware of on day 1, yet for some unknown reason, our request was ignored and we have been told that the reason he has been placed in another home is that we had to have been PRE-approved, which we have now found to be untrue.
I respectfully ask that I be re-placed with the baby in my care, and given the equal opportunity as everyone else, to go through the adoptive home study and any other requirements needed that Riverside DPSS usually puts their potential adoptive families through. I do not feel like i was given equal opportunity to adopt this baby. I was not asked if I was interested in adoption, even though I made clear to my social worker that I was. I was not given the opportunity to undergo an adoptive home study. It is unfair for the rules to be changed for one person, and without warning. I have bonded with this baby, and him with me. It makes me wonder what makes me different from the other famlies who are given the opportunity to adopt after placement. Was it a personal preference that the social worker held against me? Discrimination of my sexual orientation?
This entire situation is heartbreaking not only to us, but most importantly, to the baby. He has been with me since he was less than 24 hours old, take straight from the hospital, to my arms. He knows my and Robyn's voices, and scents. We dote on him night and day. We know what sounds he likes, what time of the night and day he wakes up, how to put him back to sleep. We know how to soothe him, we have a routine with him. We know what bottles, nipples and pacifiers he likes, and doesn't like. We were already planning on moving into a bigger house, and how to decorate his room. Tell me, how is it fair to move him from the only home he has ever known, to another, when the home he is in now would do ANYTHING to adopt him? Isn't Social Services supposed to be about HELPING children? Shouldn't they be thrilled that this baby was placed in a family that has unconditional love for him, that would do anything to adopt him? We love him, and we want to adopt him, and love him, no matter what. WHY are they trying to take him from us?
We will do anything it takes to help get him back. We've retained a lawyer and have gotten interest from CBS and CNN on our story.
If anyone would like to further help as far as legal advice, donations, media coverage, etc. you can contact us at:
Thank you all for your time, consideration and support.
Any donations will go towards helping us with legal fees: http://www.gofundme.com/44pj0k