Monday, August 24, 2009

Us vs. The Impossible

Oh shoot me. Tonight we went to the requisite foster/adopt orientation necessary to become licensed foster care providers. Our Kidsave training appears to have been a complete waste of time, except that it let us meet T. - we're starting at square one in terms of our permission to adopt him.

The orientation was helpful in clarifying this fact: in Los Angeles (and only in Los Angeles) in order to have a foster kid in your home you need to work with two agencies, one state (California Care Licensing) and one county (DCFS). The first is all about scrutinizing your physical place of residence; the second is all about scrutinizing you. It is a WONDER that anyone ever adopts an older child. You could get lost in the maze of requirements just trying and never come out the other side.

As far as we can tell, the state licensing agency is a nightmare of senseless regulations. Maybe they make sense if, for example, you are setting up a nursing home or a group home as a business. But if you are adopting an individual child, the requirements are akin to preparing for a white water rafting vacation by getting coast guard certification to steer an oil tanker, or planning a birthday party by setting up your own balloon manufacturing plant.

To make matters worse, they have slightly different requirements than DCFS. So, for example, we already did what's called Live Scan - basically a fingerprint and criminal background check. But that was for DCFS - the county bureaucracy. The state licensing agency requires their own Live Scan - it's EXACTLY. THE. SAME. PROCESS. except that you have to go do it in one of THEIR offices, instead of the county office where you go for the DCFS fingerprinting. And you have to pay them $55 and wait several weeks for the privilege.

We also have to retake CPR. We took adult CPR, to satisfy the DCFS requirement. Since we're adopting a 6' 1" teenage boy, we elected ADULT CPR. But the state licensing agency requires that we be certified in INFANT CPR and First Aid, regardless of the age of the child we're adopting. So back we go, to practice resuscitating rubbber babies, so that we can have T. for the weekend, so that we can teach him to drive. If you think too much about it, you laugh or cry.

Then we have to fill out a 35 page application, get our elderly cat vaccinated (I'm not kidding), get a physical for ourselves, take six weeks of parenting classes, and then wait for the doorbell to ring, whereupon a state inspector will poke through our house to make sure all our knives are in a lock box, any prescription medicines are under lock and key, our garage isn't messy, and we are otherwise "in compliance."

Travion's story this weekend, titled Travion vs. The Impossible, set a properly absurdist tone for the road ahead.

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