Foster parents, especially those who hope or plan to adopt, need to know and cultivate the major players. Rather than waiting around for their wishes to come true, they can quietly do a lot to enhance their chances. Here are some important contacts.
Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents is an invaluable interactive Facebook group with over 9000 members. A great place to share your concerns with the true experts, other Indiana foster and adoptive parents who have faced and dealt with similar problems. If you are already a member, simply post your problem and/or your success, and wait for others to respond.
Not yet a member and would like to be? It’s easy. All you need to do to apply is to provide your name, be recommended by a current member, and be on Facebook.
There are three, possibly four people who will have a role in making decisions important to your foster child and to you. Most important is the Judge. He or she has the last word about what happens. Indiana courts have different styles of formality but most judges are willing to hear what you have to say.
When you go to court, be prepared. Bring a copy with you of the Indiana statute that gives you the right to be heard. Then realize that your time may be short. Don’t whine. Be brief and specific about what you want and why. You might write it out ahead of time and practice your statement in front of a friend.
The next important player is your child’s Caseworker. Try to stay in contact. Emailing is better than phoning. Be courteous, be focused about what you want and need, and be brief. Don’t be a complainer. When she or he comes to visit your child, treat your caseworker as a guest and a friend.
Next in importance is your CASA, the Court-Appointed Special Advocate As soon as you know what you want, invite your CASA for a home visit. Treat her as you would a friend, sharing your love for your foster child and your wishes. Again, you must be courteous. Stay positive and don’t complain about the birth parent or your caseworker. If there is disagreement, you want the CASA to be supportive of your position.
Finally, there will be a GAL, your child’s Guardian-ad-Litem, usually an attorney. You are unlikely to see this person but the judge will probably ask for the GAL’s concurrence. If you do happen to meet your child’s GAL ahead of time, don’t criticize the birth parents or the caseworker. Instead, stay positive, and be specific about what you believe is best and give reasons for your position.