Well, here's the new twist: I wrote to Kidsave and said, "This isn't what we were told when we joined Kidsave and we carefully checked that we would not be required to have a full foster license, because we didn't want to bond with a kid only to go back to square one. So is there no avenue for recourse?" Five days went by, before the executive director finally replied in a very formally worded email stating that she's "sorry we feel we were misled" and stating that we must have a full foster license before T. can even spend one night in our house - in other words, until we can do a full weekend visit. That is much worse than the situation I was writing to object to in the first place! My complaint had been that permanent placement is delayed - now she's saying we can't even do an overnight with him. She even attached a document I have never seen before, which is a mirror image of a document in our orientation packet, EXCEPT that it has a clause that we have never seen or heard of saying "overnight visits require a full state foster license." I swear I wonder if she wrote it this week to cover herself because of some breakdown in Kidsave's relationship with DCFS.
So T. is on his way today for his first overnight, and we're upset and confused and angry. At precisely the time when the DCFS and Kidsave should be supporting us in bonding with him, they have pulled the rug out from under us and left us unsure what we're able to promise him, frightened that his weekend visits can be cancelled at any moment, and very angry that we've all been misled.
In terms of strategy, we've decided to ignore the email from Kidsave - to reply in detail, talk about our weekend plans, or argue the point seems at this point only to further threaten the delicate arrangement we have for weekend visits via DCFS. We just wrote back and said "There seems to have been some confusion. At this point we're working directly with DCFS." Unfortunately we have to continue to be involved with the agency because we go to their events so T. can see his brother. Had we not done the Kidsave program, we wouldn't have met T. - but we're utterly confounded to find that beyond facilitating introductions, it seems there is nothing they provide in the way of moving forward towards permanency with a child with whom you're matched. You're more or less on your own, to begin the DCFS licensing process from scratch at that point.
Our social worker at DCFS is the one we place our trust in, and I am just really hoping with every cell in my body that she has the power to withstand whatever changes in policy and bureaucratic policy are going on there. I just have to believe that ultimately, they cannot stand in the way of a situation where a kid who has been in foster care for 15 years has found two stable adults who want to adopt him.
For anyone who ever asks me about how to adopt an older kid out of foster care, I now know that the answer is that you must get a full foster license and go through the full and lengthy process of licensing and training. And I would advise someone not to seek out a child until they have that license, to avoid painful delays. We're now going that soulless route just as fast as we can. I cried hard for the first time in this entire process while writing this blog entry. I'm going to pick T. up now for the weekend, and I hope I've worked it out and that he never knows that any of this is even going on. We're taking him to a scrimmage at UCLA and telling him that we're going to enroll him in driver's ed. So I think for him it should be a pretty good day.