Foster care licensor Kate Leigh works with US Kids, a WACAP program helping families across the U.S. adopt children from state foster care. Here, Kate offers a unique look into what’s on the other side of the paperwork and process …
In adoption, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. In such a complex process of paperwork, signatures, trainings, and policies, one can feel frustrated and overwhelmed. And that’s all just to get through the first couple of steps!
As the foster care licensor at WACAP, I work with families throughout what sometimes becomes the most challenging part of the adoption process for those adopting a child from state foster care — obtaining a foster care license.
When a family is adopting a child from state foster care, one of those important steps is becoming foster care licensed in their home state. A foster home license is necessary because often, children are in need of a foster home while courts and state social workers determine an adoption plan for the child. To keep children from having to endure too many upheavals, it’s best when this foster home can be provided by the family who plans to adopt the child.
For families who live in Washington state, my job is to act as a liaison between the family and the state to complete the paperwork for the homestudy, and then a foster home license.
One of my favorite aspects of my work is meeting all the families when they are just starting the adoption process with WACAP. Oftentimes this is not the true beginning of their adoption journey and each family has a unique story, but it is always refreshing to hear how they arrived at this point and where they hope to be. Although our families vary in so many ways, the consistent trait that continues to amaze me is their profound compassion. Foster care adoption is not for the faint-hearted; there are unpredictable ups and downs and some truly challenging situations. So to see these families coming into this process with such positive energy and zeal is beyond noteworthy.
Fast forward from that point to the hard parts that sometimes occur — delays in background checks, updates to a homestudy when a family’s circumstance has changed, waiting to be matched with a child or waiting for the courts to approve the adoption. One family comes to mind who, after their paperwork was completed, hit one roadblock right after another. Some initial delays in state processing and requests for documents to be resubmitted, along with some additional complications, added several months onto this family’s process. There were times where they were very close to giving up, feeling like there would never be any progress. With patience and persistence we got through the paperwork and obtained the license. After the months and months of frustration, they were matched with a 7-year-old boy, and I think we all have already forgotten how tedious the process had been.
There are parts of the process, in addition to the licensing, that can seem overwhelmingly difficult or frustrating, but I urge anyone who is somewhere throughout the adoption process (whether that is having gone through it or thinking about starting), to come back to the compassion.
Fast forward once again to the incredible joy of developing a family in such a uniquely intentional way, and the packets of paperwork won’t seem so burdensome. I’d like to say an enormous thank you to all the families that contribute in one way or another to this community and provide safe, loving homes for children who need them.