Certified Letter

Has anyone ever received a certified letter from Human Services? My mailman brought the slip to pick up the letter at the post office but we were home. So now it’s Sunday and I’m left wondering until tomorrow. I’m thinking it’s regarding their adoption stipend,  since it’s been a year since adoption maybe the county makes sure of identifying information? I have no clue. Has anyone  ever gotten a certified letter?

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Subsidy Agreement

Today I had several crazy roller coaster phone calls regarding our adoption finalization next Friday. Our county case worker called early this morning to tell me that she wasn’t sure the paperwork will be done on time because the courts and the county are closed next Tuesday because of election day. While our petition will be filed in time, we are at the mercy of the orphan courts and their workers to get the rest of the paperwork completed.

Then the paralegal for the county who is working on our case called and said that it should be done on time. Sigh. So we’re still up in the air. Our adoption petition was filed today and we meet with the attorney on our case Monday to sign all of the papers. We had to give the paralegal information that wasn’t in our profile like the location of our wedding. We also had to give the paralegal the kids’ new names! We hadn’t finalized any of them so I had to do it quickly this afternoon so that the paralegal could get the petition in quickly. Most of the children had decided but I wanted to verify because they have been apt to change them on a whim. It was our family decision to let the children chose new middle names if they desired. While they were told at their previous pre-adoptive home (which didn’t work out after two weeks) that they could change their first names and they had those names picked out, we were concerned that those names were too trendy and based on their likes right now, not good for long term. They all have good first names, most are biblical names, so they work for children or adults. They will all take our last name.

All three children chose to change their middle names. Huck is taking Hubby’s middle (his choice). Anne is taking the name of Madeline’s best friend (I guess she hears it a lot and likes it). Scarlett is taking the name of her birth month, which also happens to rhyme with Anne’s new middle name and which happens to be an old family name. So those have all been submitted and are ready to go!

The paralegal also let us know that our subsidy agreement was approved. Because there is little to find on the Pennsylvania subsidy online, I want to make sure I am clear about what we could ask for. If you foster or adopt from foster care I hope you ask for the most money/insurance/services as we do, even if that is not what you are granted. While we can support all of our children on our own, with two jobs and our savings account, it is our understanding that we will advocate for these children however we can. This includes making sure the kids are taken care of. And if we have money that we can save for cars, weddings or college, even private school for a short period of time or tutors, then we will negotiate whatever we can for these kids. After five years in and out of the foster system, after years of neglect and abuse from their biological family, these kids deserve whatever we can negotiate for them. This includes health insurance, vision and dental insurance, and behavioral health insurance until they are 18 or we renegotiate their insurance until they are 21 depending on their student status.

With our agency currently, we receive $23 per day per child. The county that we foster in and will adopt from allows a max of $21 per day per child in the current age range (until the age of 18). This subsidy is renegotiable as the children age as long as there are extenuating circumstances. The age ranges that apply to our child are 6-11, 12-14, and 15 or older. So for each of these steps, we can renegotiate our subsidy with the state as long as we have cause to ask for more. The paralegal explained that sending a kid to the school dance is not a cause for renegotiating your subsidy agreement but something like new behavioral health services or new allergies and treatment would apply. At 12 the subsidy goes to $28 per day and at 15 the subsidy goes to $31.

As I said, I am writing about money because it is important. I have luckily never met anyone that fosters children for the money. I hope I never do. I’m sure there are ways around the system but $21 a day per child feeds and clothes them. They get one extracurricular activity. That’s about the end of the money. I hope you find this information helpful!

Private Adoption Attorney

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it but we’ve decided to consult with a private adoption attorney. I will be going tomorrow afternoon to meet with an attorney that came highly recommended from one of our foster mom friends. The county is rushing to have our adoption completed on November 7th, which is when they celebrate National Adoption Day. We are all for doing the adoption sooner rather than later for a bunch of reasons, the most important of which is the fact that our kids will not believe they are in a permanent home until this adoption goes through. We need the court date and the ritual to show them that we are serious. We aren’t going anywhere.

Along these lines, however, we do not want to rush it. We want to make sure the kids are healthy and have the counseling they need. Our minds will not change, but the assistance that we are given from the county could possibly change. And while we are fine monetarily, part of the way that we advocate for our children is to make sure they are getting whatever they deserve. We are supporting these children forever. There will be weddings and college and cars and summer trips. We want to make sure that, after being in care for almost five years, these kids are properly taken care of in the long term.

Our permanency specialist explained all of the post-permanency services that we will be eligible for, including respite care and case management. We will keep the kids’ health/dental/mental health insurance. We will have monthly assistance until they are 18. Even then we can petition to keep their health insurance until they are 21 if they are enrolled in school or there is a reason that they are not in school.

Being that this is our first placement, we do not know what Pennsylvanian counties can offer in terms of monetary assistance. There is nothing available on the internet regarding adoption assistance in PA other than it cannot exceed the amount that children were receiving in care. I know it is renegotiable if something major were to happen. However, in North Carolina the assistance is graduated based on the child’s age. I don’t know if this occurs in Pennsylvania. This is one of the reasons we are consulting a private adoption attorney. We would like an unbiased view of the adoption of these children.

With the county, once our adoption home study/profile is complete, my husband and I will have to meet with the county attorney to go over forms and sign the petition to the court for the adoption. This would have been the first and only time we would meet with an attorney that helps us with the adoption. And I’m not sure how much time we would have with that attorney or how unbiased they are. So off I go! If you have questions that I should ask I would be glad to have advice!

This has been the week from hell. Monday our county case worker visited for her “monthly” visit (more like every month and a half). Tuesday Little Man had his psych evaluation so his in-home counseling can start. Wednesday our oldest daughter had a dentist appointment. Today Little One had gymnastics. Tomorrow is Little One’s trike-a-thon fundraiser for her preschool and then rushing to the attorney before the kids get home from school. I am so glad that next week is clearer!

Moving On…

So this is a distant concern but I’d like to know the answer prior to adoption day… how does the foster care stipend and health insurance work/change when you move out of state? At some point for Hubby’s job we will be moving out of state. Could be in a year or two, or could be in a decade. We don’t know. We know from the county social worker that with the sibling group it will not be a fight to continue our stipends and health insurance for them through the age of 18. Does anyone have some expertise on moving out of state with these in tact? I have asked our agency case manager and she’s trying to get answers. Any help would be greatly appreciated!