I have very mixed feelings about CPS. Very.
Official CPS approval is a very big part of having a complete (and successful) home study. And it is after the (licensed) agency has done a thorough and extensive background check, documenting residency history, job history, financial background, criminal background, health history (including mental health), our children, our pets, and some of our friends. I’m sure I am leaving a few things out. Not only did we have to provide legal and/or certified documentation for numerous details, we had to answer a lengthy application questionnaire, and all of us (yes, even our son, who was 7 at the time) had to be interviewed.
But even after all of that is done, we still had to get CPS approval, after which it was presented to a judge for final certification that we were, in fact, eligible to adopt a child.
That is not the end of CPS involvement. 30 days after baby came home, at our first post-placement visit, we were told that we could at that point contact the court and request the application to finalize our adoption. We did, and submitted it, which triggered the court to start requesting our information from the agency. At this point, our agency sent us a sheaf of paperwork to fill out, including another application on which we were to note any changes (there were none). We had to update financial paperwork. We had to submit (again) a certified copy of our marriage license and birth certificates. And then…our entire file had to be submitted to CPS again for approval, without which we couldn’t go to court and finalize our adoption.
Why this had to be done twice within an 18–month period baffles me. What on earth do they believe will change within 18 months that will change us from suitable to unsuitable parents? It’s not as if we were not in regular contact with our agency. We were. It’s not as if we hadn’t been regularly signing and submitting paperwork as required. We had. It’s not as if we weren’t making regular payments. We were. It’s not as if our social worker had not been talking with us regularly. She had, and the post placement visit had been done as well. What on earth are we going to do, deliberately or otherwise, to disqualify ourselves after we have gone to this much trouble and this much expense?
Well, CPS had to make sure…twice. And here’s the thing…it was a rubber stamp on a file they saw 18 months before that had not changed, but it could have taken weeks. It usually does, our agency said, so don’t really count on it being done in time. It could have derailed our court date and forced a continuance, if not for the ANGEL of a paralegal in the adoption department of our local court, who rattled cages at CPS to make sure the approval got moved to the top of the pile and pushed through in time.
There is no alternative. A licensed adoption agency is not “official” in the eyes of the government, even though it does the heavy lifting. CPS is the official representative of the government, and in order to even be considered, they must approve us. At least this is an area where, if the adoption agency has done its job (ours did), then CPS can’t really do any harm…unless being slow as molasses in January qualifies as harm (not really).
But these were not our only dealings with CPS…and what follows could have derailed the entire adoption, and made us start from scratch, but this time adopting from the state. All because our beautiful, perfect son was born exposed to methamphetamine. Not addicted, but exposed.
Any time a child is born exposed to drugs or alcohol, it triggers a call from the hospital to CPS…which triggers a visit and an “official” report. The agent came, and (thankfully) spoke to me first. She then spoke to the birth mom, and apparently flexed enough muscle that our birth mom stopped talking to her, and would only talk to her agency social worker. Thank God for that. CPS did not need to even come to the hospital in this case. What they needed to do was verify that an adoption plan was securely in place, and that would have negated any need for further contact. They did not…they chose instead to rear their head, because they could. They chose to give our birth mom a hard time, because they could.
This is the point I became all too aware, once again, that CPS does not really exist to do what is in the best interest of the child. If they did, then they would have consulted the reams of paperwork on our birth mom and us before they decided to get involved. They might have made some discreet phone calls to the social workers attached to our case before coming to the hospital. They might have even been kinder to our birth mom, because they already knew that she had made an adoption plan, and that she was not seeking to parent this child. There was no need to treat her like a second class citizen because of the meth use, especially since she was not keeping this baby, but they did. I believe here, just as with every other part of this adoption, that God was continually intervening on behalf of our precious child.
StilI, I have mixed feelings. Very mixed, because though I understand the necessity of having an agency that protects children, the colossal inefficiency, and utter failure in some cases, of CPS to actually protect children, gives me no confidence that they can do what they exist to do.