February 2017 Column Winner

Time disappears when he smiles
Jennifer Pitts, Tri-County Herald

In the blink of an eye, somehow, it’s been six months already.
I’m still struggling to wrap my head around how, but a half a year has indeed gone by since my first day on the job as a tiny human attendant.
Since welcoming Little Man into our home, on what was initially said to be a temporary basis, it’s becoming increasingly harder to imagine my life without him in it.
For example, it’s simply impossible not to be in a good mood around him. He is the silliest and happiest little munchkin in all the land.
Every day my life is blessed a million times over just because of his smiling face. And every day I get to see his personality coming through more and more as he continues growing up right before my eyes.
Thus comes the hardest part of being a foster parent.
Since he was a week old, I’ve continued to be asked if I would be adopting him.
Even his pediatrician told me at his second visit that she dreamed I had.
Initially, some friends and family members tried to caution me that adopting would be very expensive and some also mentioned my age (40 isn’t exactly the ideal age to begin raising a child). But since then, I’ve learned that adopting through DHS is basically free. The only real out-of-pocket expense is the cost of a physical screening from the doctor.
That’s it. The state even covers the cost of the adoption attorney.
And as much as it scares the daylights out of me to think about such a lifelong commitment, I would adopt Little Man in a heartbeat.
But it’s not up to me.
And, furthermore, that’s not the primary goal of fostering. The ultimate goal, of course, is reunification with the parents.
When children enter foster care, the parents then have a choice to make. Do they do the work necessary to get their children back or do their parental rights eventually get terminated?
If a family member is willing to foster or adopt the children then that is obviously the next best outcome.
In the case of a Native American child, some tribes will push for ICWA compliance in foster placement and potential adoption, meaning the child must reside in a tribal approved home.
If no family members come forward and a judge terminates the parents rights, then the child becomes
Adoptable.
Then, and only then, could potential adoption become a reality.
So for now, we wait.
No one yet knows with who Little Man’s forever home will be, but what I do know is that for right now, in this moment, his home is with me and that tomorrow I get to wake up to his smiling face for at least another day.
Thankfulness doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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