Since our home study, we’ve been thinking and praying hard about about a few unsettling things we ran into with the adoption agency we chose. We were uncertain about changing agencies since we worked so hard to get to the point of almost being verified and ready to be matched with children, but we weren’t completely comfortable staying either.
In our praying and thinking, we reached out to a Texas DFPS (CPS) adoption agent to ask more about the process of matched adoption, differences in agencies, and the process of switching agencies. Over several weeks of communicating with her, we learned a lot about the adoption process and the different approaches agencies have in meeting the standards set by CPS. We also learned that Texas DFPS has their own department which handles foster care and adoption just as agencies do. She said she could work with us directly to help us become verified and matched with children to adopt. We had truly developed a relationship with her and felt like she would be an excellent advocate for us with her nearly 25 years of experience and obvious passion for helping children find their forever homes. BUT, switching would mean transferring all of our paperwork, completing some new paperwork, and completing another home study.
Our other agency was highly recommended, and we knew they were also quite successful in placing children with families, but for us, the final determining factor on switching or staying was that we felt we had created a closer and more personal relationship with the Texas DFPS agent. She strived to know us personally, and we could tell we just made a connection with her from the beginning. Is there anything wrong with our other agency – no. We just felt a little unsettled in our own hearts and allowed God to lead us where we should be. We had no idea we would ever be led to change agencies, but we trusted God through several weeks of uncertainty.
My advice to anyone who is uncertain about an agency or agent, pray and ask God to lead you. God led us to the perfect agent for us, and we are so excited about working with her – even if it means more waiting, more paperwork, and another home study… Relationships matter to us, especially in something as personal as this. It will be worth it in the end.
We decided to make the switch and had all our paperwork transferred. We also completed a second home study. Our DFPS (Department of Family and Protective Services – AKA: CPS) agent is wonderful and has been great about communicating with us and responding to our crazy questions.
Working directly with DFPS/CPS is different than working with an adoption agency.
Here are some of the things we’ve learned about DFPS’s adoption department in our region –
1. My original view of CPS was wrong. I always thought CPS was overworked and understaffed which would probably lead to a disaster – no communication and difficulty getting in touch with anyone, ever! After all, they are a government agency… Boy was I wrong! I’m sure they may be overworked, but our agent is certainly not the burned out, grumpy lady I expected. Not only is she so pleasant to work with, but she is very quick to email us or call us back with even the silliest questions we have. We shared with her how wrong our opinion of working with CPS was, and she said they are held to “perfection” as far as the standards placed on them. They have to set the standard for other adoption and foster agencies because they are CPS. They are required to return calls or emails within 24 hours and often try to beat that timeline. I’m not sure all CPS agents are as wonderful as ours, but I’m so happy God led us to her. She has such a joy and passion inside for adoption, and we know she is going to be a great advocate for us to find the right children.
2. Our paperwork transferred easily. I had worried that we would have to re-do some of our training and paperwork, but we found that everything transferred easily. Since outside agencies have to follow the DFPS standards, they usually require more to make sure they cover everything. The only thing we had to do was complete a few pages specific to working with DFPS such as a new application. We were able to knock those out quickly. One tip for paperwork – a scanner is your friend! We have printed, scanned, and emailed so many documents during this process, and it saves a lot of time!
3. Wait to inquire on the TARE website (state adoption website). In all of our pre-adoption meetings, everyone says to check out the TARE website – the Texas specific website for foster children waiting to be adopted. We have been on the website several times, and once found a sibling group we would have loved to care for. I went ahead and inquired because we were interested in knowing more, and I wasn’t sure how long that process took. We learned that when you inquire, you should be verified with a completed home study on hand (meaning that you have a 100% completed file and are ready to be placed with children). Agencies representing those children are looking for serious AND ready families. They get frustrated with families who submit interest but don’t have all their paperwork or home study completed…. Because, more times than not, those families don’t finish or, for whatever reason, back out. We submitted interest and were sent back an email within a day or so asking for our home study – which we didn’t have at that time. (And, they don’t want to wait for you… they really want serious and ready inquiries). SO, before you get all excited about cute children on TARE (or any adoption website), make sure you have all your paperwork and home study ready.
4. Ask for home study questions ahead of time. Our DFPS agent suggested she send us a document with most of the home study questions to us to complete ahead of time. She said it would make the home study process faster (especially since our first one took 7 hours to complete!). Let me warn you – the document was LONG… SUPER LONG, like 29 pages of questions long. It took us several days to fill out, but we worked together and made sure we had thorough answers (not just those two word answers that teachers always hated). It felt like forever to complete, BUT – when our home study writer came to our house, she said that our time would be short since we did such a great job on providing thorough answers to the questions ahead of time. She stayed about 15 minutes! I can’t tell you what a relief we felt. Although it was really long to type out all our answers, it was a lot easier to write them out on our own time than to sit through many hours of answering questions all at once. By the way, our home study writer said that many people who get the questions ahead of time don’t bother filling them out or have such short answers which weren’t beneficial anyway… If at all possible, I would highly recommend asking for the home study questions ahead of time and taking the time to complete the questions thoroughly.
5. DFPS is the authority. It is nice working directly with DFPS because they are the authority for foster care adoption in the state. I don’t think they “officially” have insider information on children available, but we are seeing that information does seem to come through more personally and quickly. It is nice having a personal relationship with the direct source of information.