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Welcome back to our West Virginia recruiter chats. Um today we have another special guest with us.
Welcome back to our West Virginia recruiter chats. Um today we have another special guest with us. We have Kristen Van Horn and she is the adoption specialist and team lead um at our cross lanes office and she's here with us today to chat about um cyats adoption process the foster to adopt process um and if you don't mind Kristen would you mind to tell us a little bit about your role um as an adoption specialist wwv so.
My job essentially is to help cgats and children establish presidency, which is you know finding their forever wv chats. Um ideally, as we always say reunification is always the goal. Unfortunately, that doesn't always get to happen and so chars job then is when rights are terminated is to find and establish a permanent home for that child and to facilitate that adoption. So that's from beginning to.
Attacking cuats case and getting the file to going into the courtroom and um finalizing the adoption and getting the adoption order. Well, we thank you so much for coming on with us today. I'm excited to get to do this um so can you just tell us a little bit? How like the process works and you wv chats if there's any like how long you have to foster before you can adopt sure. Um, however, we do have cases and I've had cases in the past where has been in the home. You know for three or 4 months that the family assured.
Child is sure we can go ahead and start the paperwork um and start the adoption process. The adoption just can't be finalized until that's six final months so um the process to kind of shorten it into a condensed version. A CC and they cover several counties and although my job is to take over from the department um the department still has legal guardianship and will until adoption is finalized. So that's what the CC or the child welfare consultant is the one that I work with to complete and finalize and get everything ready for that adoption.
So whenever I stop the case, it's essentially like Chate said getting with the CC and the department worker getting. Information about the case making sure we have all wg our orders. We have birth av.
We have socials. That's like I said.
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Reunification is always the goal, but sometimes that doesn't get to happen and so our next wv chats is what about family and unfortunately that is not always the. Cuats and so um you know we stop the case so those are the things that we look for and so then after that staffing is completed, I get either a chts small state or file or pretty large, depending on the case and how long the child's been in here um in that state file is essentially everything with that kid since they've been in here and then it's my job to kinda go from there on out.
Kinda still keep the same consistency as if they were in foster care knowing that we're reaching a finalized pre goal right. So just to clarify you have to become a foster parent before you can foster to adopt Yes, so and I don't want that to be confused because you can adopt you know like in anywhere in the state or the country or whatever. However, if you're with the Echo and your specific intentions are to adopt you do have to be certified.
Um a foster parent through Echo or whatever agency you with um but specifically with us and that means having a certified home study, making sure that the background checks are completed, the Aps and CPS clearance. All of that really goes into finalizing a an wc for a family. Thank you. We get that question a lot. So just to clarify you know you have to become a certified foster. Before you can adopt Yeah and I'm glad you brought that up because we've had a lot of families who have come to us in the almost 5 years that I've been with Echo.
I cannot tell you how many times I've heard we just want to adopt and I empathize with that. That is wv chats that I've always been empathetic towards um because knowing the.
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Families for several different reasons that can't have their own biological children and so obviously you know you wanna help that dream come chate for them um but wv chats had families who have come to us and they've said you know Wv chats just wanna adopt. I don't wanna foster. I don't think I can do it and fhats fostered well out of their age range teenagers or they fostered six or seven kids before they had their adoption or they've fostered an older child and that an older child's mom has another baby and then that.
Comes into care and unfortunately they can't be reunified, then that foster family is a viable source and option for pre adoption. So I've had that happen so many times that whenever I have families that are like well. I just wanna adopt.
I'm like, okay. We have worked with amazing foster parents who play a huge role in that having a relationship with the bio wv chats and really helping that transition because it's really important. However those children. Older so we're looking at the seven to twelve year-old range and even a lot of teenagers that do come in adoptable or children that do come in adoptable are teenagers. Yeah, and unfortunately, that's not the preference for a lot of families and there's some intimidation that I empathize with.
But when we have kids that come into care who are adoptable um and we can't immediately find an adoptable home. Grandparents, whatever um patience is a key, especially when you're dealing with the child with ificant trauma and you have got to really take the time to understand that child's history understanding that child's trauma and understanding what your role is and needing those needs because adoption is not always as easy as you know coming into care and going through the paperwork wv chats going through the process and it's all warm and fuzzy and it's all said and done right.
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Sometimes there's some needs that have to be met in between and so it's really wb that myself chatw a. An adoption specialist and that's an agency that we get all the information that we can for a family that's wanting to adopt so that way they have a full understanding of that. So with that I complete what's called summary. Every adopt a family will get summary on that child, and wv chats every piece of information that I have been able to gather with that child since they've been born.
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So even with the bio parent aspect, we get a lot of history. At times with bio parents, medical history, grandparents history things that are important. You know your grandma have diabetes or did grandpa have a wv chats disease. Those things are really important for anybody to know they continue to get older, but with that child summary um it has information that can be really viable for any adoptive family to really be able to meet those needs of that child as much as possible and I typically for me takes me depending on.
How much information I have two to 3 days to do one child summary and that's dedicating at least five to 6 hours solely on that summary, and the reason that it takes so long is because I will sift through every single court order every single med record every single education record because there's so much information that I can condense to a finalized version for that adoptive family.
Behaviors and then when they were in second grade, they had an I and that's the thing too a lot of times wv chats comes in to care adoptable things like that get missed or forgotten or lost in the system. And so we may have never known that this child had an I in second grade and they're in sixth grade struggling and it's like Oh wow.
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They definitely need an I so um it's definitely important for wv chats order for an adoptable family to be patient. They need that child summary or and it's a requirement and. But I really try to put chast much time and effort into those summaries, not just for the foster family or the adopt a family, but for the child as well.
I think about what are questions that child's gonna ask when dhats get older, such wv chats what color the mom's eyes or how tall was my mom or what color was my dad's skin. You know simple things that we don't really think about or we take for granted that's information that I really try to chags sure that I can get.
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And I have gone to great lengths at times. I will Facebook stock. I will contact you know viable family members that are known but you w, maybe just for able or willing to adopt for whatever reason just so I can get as much histories so that way there are at least amount of unanswered questions as possible. Yeah, that's awesome. Xhats and uh I think wv chats the most part they are.
Hey, I'm still working on this um and that. Unfortunately been my issue, especially here lately. I don't always get through them as quickly as I would like to wv chats so I think it's a frustrating for me because I want just as much you know that finalization that presidency closing that chapter and moving on just as much as that family and so that can be a frustrating aspects. But it is one of the most appreciated aspects because there are so many things that get lost and information that doesn't get transferred and so it's just really really helpful for everybody involved.
Thank you um what about the cost like how much does it cost to foster to adopt so, especially with Echo but foster to adopt families in West Virginia. It cost you nothing but time effort and patience and love um that is the question that I get a lot as well um and that's the thing too. So I have had I've met people. Throughout all of the country who have adopted and especially here in West Virginia and they have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars um and once again, you know that kinda goes back to my original statement, you know I don't know what it's like to have that passion of having my own children, but I can only imagine that I would go through whatever great links that I had to make that happen, but I wish that people really understood that there are so many resources that are available to you as a foster to adopt a.
That won't necessarily be as readily available if you were to just straighten out adopt from another agency or adoption agency um, but whenever we complete what are called subsidy agreement and the application for the subsidy, every adoptive family will receive that subsidy. And and have that court order um all of that's paid for and so essentially the only thing that really comes out of your pocket or things that you pay for yourself. I know a lot of our families have this cute little t shirts so they'll make um families have parties, which is my favorite part cuz there's always good food um but I would say you know the bulk of the cost is gonna come from what you want to purchase for the adoption, but when it comes to legal fees and the adoption and and all of that, there's no cost.
The home study is already completed by Echo, so we've already completed the home study, which is a major part of an adoption that has to be completed um and then the all of the legal fees and everything else is already paid for as well. Uh what about uh is there any financial assistance to help meet the children's needs after they are adopted, Yes, so wv chats that adopt through foster to adopt they will receive a subsidy every single month up until that child is eighteen or twenty-one.
I've had families in the past who have said well, I don't need that medical card. I have a good job and I have great health insurance. However, I always combat that with we would all love to believe that we're gonna be in our careers up until we retire and that this is where we're gonna be in our life is set and we're good to go of our life. As we know it's due to.
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av I mean we haven't even been in real world since March so life as we know very unpredictable and so I always try to counteract that statement with it's. Always good to have that extra assistance cchats the unpredictability of life and so to know that child is essentially taking care of and they're receiving the subsidy um in this medical card until that child is eighteen or That is a huge relief to a lot of families and the chxts that clarify or qualify children to continue to have those wg until they're They have to be in school vhats or wvv kind of vocational aspect living with the family working.
I think at minimum, I think it was to 60 hours a month. Um wv chats some aspects showing that the family is still caring for that child now, obviously, at no point will the subsidy or medical card exceed chhats the age of twenty-one. But like I said, it's a huge relief knowing that the family doesn't have to have that stress or burden or worry about medical care and the subsidy does take um care of a lot of needs such as daycare needs um because that is one thing that after you adopt the family is solely responsible to cover daycare costs.
If you guys, I'm not sure if you've had this discussion in the past, but foster parents um are eligible for connect or other county child care assistance programs, and that's the same through adoptive families until that child is adopted. So once that child's adopted those daycare fees are left to the family, which is the subsidy does help cover those daycare cost.
And so once again, you're left in a really good place where you're supported financially and given a lot of resources wv chats meet that child's needs, both physically medically. And of course, emotionally awesome well Kristen Thank you so much. Um you know we get a lot of people that you know. We want to adopt you know we get that quite a bit and um but once we do explain the process and once we do explain the resources behind that and.