Thursday, May 27, 2010


Here, perhaps, is the strangest part of the entire foster-adoption process:

As we come near the end of what has thus-far been a 27 month road, I have been asked to place a price tag on the needs of my son.

Not the day-to-day stuff. When the name "Blandings" officially appears on Oliver's birth certificate, our family will assume all spiritual, physical, emotional, legal, and financial responsibilities for raising him. New clothes, a bike at Christmas time, that kind of thing ... that's all ours.

But the state acknowledges that a large number of the children adopted through their system present unique and challenging situations to the families that they join. Taking that into account, they offer a small support package to assist folks as they endeavor to give the best to these beautiful little people whose lives have been marked with loss and tragedy and hurt and transition.

In Oliver's case, the "extenuating needs," when written out on paper, read like a daunting list of diagnoses that leave my mouth dry. Dear Lord, part of me says, Is there really so much to tackle?

In my darkest moments, when the enemy whispers in my ear, I acknowledge that an uphill battle is ahead of us in pouring into Oliver. Then, of course, I hear that sinister voice remind me that these things, this laundry list of deficiencies and missed milestones? This is just the known. What stretches beyond that, he is happy to purr, is a vast void that could bring more acronyms and hard work to the table.

When that voice starts to take over, I pull up a message I received some time ago from a dear e-maginary friend who is also parenting an adopted, special-needs kiddo. In it, she invoked the Biblical phrase, "restoring what the locusts have eaten." Her staunch commitment to God's promise of provision and His faithfulness in healing His children takes me back to the good place. The place where I can take my eyes off of what the world sees and look again at the beauty and simplicity that is Oli. I can, in other words, see him as God intended--my son, nothing more.

Still, the question of money must be addressed. For me, this is a sticky wicket. How to put a price tag on meeting a little boy's needs? How to discern between what is our responsibility and what can fall to the state? How to ask someone to step in and provide for the child of your heart? Where does one even begin?

In Oli's case, we have decided to ask for funding for the "above and beyond" services that otherwise we could not provide. Even with our own private insurance and supplemental, DSHS coverage continuing, there are so, so many things we would like to access but cannot. A Christian Neurodevelopmentalist whose fees are decidedly out of pocket. A parent/child group for hard-of-hearing kids that costs a small fortune and is located too far from us to justify without help. A special, pricey, controlled diet that might just help heal Oli's tortured little gut. Specialized swim instruction for children with cognitive issues.

I struggle with the asking. I've never been one to take more than my share, to ask for special treatment, or to expect a handout. And truly, in my heart, I believe that even without those things, Oliver is in the care of the Great Physician, whose services have already been bought at a precious price. Not only that, but the loving Father has placed this special little boy in the arms of a forever family who has blundered and loved their way through meeting his needs and watering him with the kind of atmosphere that only a mommy, daddy, and adoring siblings can give.

So what, then, is money?

It is, I suppose, a necessary evil. For some, it is a barometer of something unseen. For others, it is a way to assuage fears. For more, it is protection against a painful future.

For me, it is an irony.

See ... our family would have gladly paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to make legal what was already written in out hearts. We look at the fees and whatnot of adoption and we shrug, thinking, "What a small thing-- this financial cost--when such a large thing is to be gained." We hear of people paying $20,000 to bring home a child and we rejoice that God has met a need. We pray for the adoption funds of friends and wait, expectantly, as God tugs on hearts and makes clear the way for yet another child to join his or her family.

But here we have someone actually wanting to pay us for the privilege of adopting Oliver. In many ways, I am speechless. Money? You are offering me money to give my son our last name? To finally stand with him on the stage at church and dedicate him to the Lord? To say, "his mother," to a doctor, and not have to qualify it with "foster"?

So what is a little boy like Oliver worth to the state? What price are they willing to pay to have him off their rolls? And how, exactly, does one decide?

The answer is, I don't know. All I can say is that to me, to his daddy, to his sisters and brothers, Oliver is truly priceless. His pseudo-Cantonese babble. His gorgeous hair. His long, hard hugs that hang on until you are gasping for air. His obvious protective oversight of Mani. His love for all things "Wiggles." There is no check large enough to equal the amount of love we have for Oli, nor the pain we have felt watching the state grind through the legal process that is finally setting him free.

Maybe I should just fill in the form with that, then--the simple truth? How much compensation is Oliver worth? Nothing and everything. After all, my son is priceless.


Janet said...

Absolutely amazing!

Yahweh is the God of second chances and of total miracles.

He WILL do more than what we can ask or imagine!



Beth said...

Adoption subsidies is a funny thing. I was totally unaware of the fact that we could be paid a monthly check upon adopting even a slightly "special needs" baby from foster care. I know all states are different.

Two weeks before our adoption went through with our foster to adopt son, our state changed the law, and our son no longer qualified for subsidy (he was born with drugs in his system which, before, had automatically qualified a child for subsidy, even if they had no delays).

I was somewhat relieved as I felt a twinge of guilt taking the state's money when I had a 100% healthy child. What if my son someday questioned our true desire to adopt him? And God knew we would not be disciplined enough to give the money away. It would have been a huge chunk of change in our hands every month. What a temptation.

HOWEVER, we have good friends who do have an adopted child that has lots of needs. Without the extra financial help, her needs would simply not be met. Such a blessing that our government is willing/able to help special needs children who have been adopted through foster care!

Congratulations on nearing the finish line! And what a blessing that you will have extra help to meet Oli's needs!

Tara said...

It's a whole new world and it's fascinating to me. I know it seems awkward to you, but to me, as a mom of a child with special needs who hopes to one day pay $20,000 to adopt another child with special needs from far away, I think this is a true gift! Think big, woman, think big! :) Don't forget hippotherapy, sensory integration therapies, nutritionist consults, etc.

Sarah said...

Oli is worth much more than they will give you. I don't know if you are talking thousands or millions or monthly or a lump sum. It is clear the Lord wants to provide for His Oli. Congrats on nearing the end. I can't wait for him to wear that shirt.

Anonymous said...

It is a strange and odd spot to be in isn't it. With our first adoption through DFCS it was hard to ask for the funds... the 2nd time easier because our dd's needs were so much greater.

It's still odd though - was odd every time. It just feels so unnatural. Yet the reality is we have needed it, we do need it. God has certainly used the funds we receive to open doors for our family. I realize now I can't go to work with our kids needs. It's just not doable. We'd find a way to make if the funds were gone but I'm so thankful for this time at least God is providing in this way.

No doubt of course, God would still provide if the funds were to be taken away.

Julie said...

Our case worker used the fact that we were adopting sibling groups to get our subsidy. I always had a dream of putting it away for them and just letting them have it when they got married. The Lord though has used the subsidy money to provide for us through some dry seasons. During this season of unemployment it has paid our mortgage and let me sign kids up for classes and programs.
I would have taken these children for nothing, but we do look at the subsidy as a provision from God not the state. :)