Shortly after I adopted my oldest, he asked me if he could have a little brother, and when I say “shortly after”, I mean I had just adopted him an hour before, literally. Of course, I did not rush out and begin searching for another child. I wanted to give us (My son and me) more time to bond as father and son. Plus, I was only 22 going on 23 at the time so having two children in my care seemed outrageous to me. On top of that, I had no clue where to begin to search or how foster to adoption worked since I didn’t have much experience in “searching” and my newly adopted son had practically fallen into my lap so to speak. I didn’t know that a photolisting even existed.
About a year later, I started to get more serious about growing our family. Still not knowing where to begin, I decided to renew my foster care license. Then one night, I began to do a little research about the process. That’s when I ran across my first photolisting. It was a local Heart Gallery with children in need of adoption from foster care. I was still new to this entire world of fostering from a parent’s perspective, I had grown up in Kinship Care with my grandmother, so my perspective has only been limited to that angle during that time. When I came across this Heart Gallery, I was blown away by how many children were listed! All these children were in my state looking for homes. Some were as young as three years old. My search not only helped me discover children in my state but another site had about a thousand or so children listed from across the country. Again, I’m floored by this new knowledge I’m suddenly gaining. All of these innocent faces I saw were without a permanent home. I began to ask questions (to myself). How can this be possible? Why so many children without permanent homes?
On the sites, there wasn’t much information about the child. You may or may not see a picture of the waiting youth but there is a nice write up about their hopes, dreams, and interests. You will also be able to see if they are looking for a two parent home or if they wish to be an only child. If need be, you could also choose a preferred ethnicity of the child you wish to adopt. After discovering the many options that photolistings had to offer, I decided to start locally. I began to make inquiry after inquiry. Sending my home study to different children caseworkers who could be a potential match for our family.
Initially, I thought using the photolisting would be rather easy. I was under the impression that all I had to do was click and wait for the calls from the workers to roll in. Boy, was I wrong! It turns out I had to do a little more work to get the information I needed about the children. My local Heart Gallery didn’t actually have contact information at the time, the only way I could gain information was by submitting a form. During my first search, I remember stumbling across a site with photolistings. This site has a sort of database where children can be listed from across the country. You need a completed home study to get complete access to the site. Then, the site will call your agency to verify your completed home study. After I gained access to the site, I was able to see even more children in my state who were in need of adoption. One of the features I loved about the site as I was able to access the child’s worker contact information. It provided which county the child was located, and the social worker’s name, email, and office number.
Now that I have access to phone numbers and emails, it was easier for me to follow up with workers on my inquiries. After hearing back from a few workers I wasn’t getting good matches for my family or call backs at all. Before I became discouraged, I decided to broaden my search a little to surrounding states. That’s when things started to look up. Workers began to actually start calling ME first. I would read over a few profiles that were sent over. Unfortunately, there were still no matches. A few months had passed and I began hearing from a particular social worker in Pennsylvania. It was a potential match that had recently entered a group home. The worker would contact my worker about every three months to see if I was available/interested in adopting this particular child. Of course I was, so I proceed to just wait for this child to be well enough to enter a family.
After a few months, the worker was finally ready to conduct an interview with me. We completed the interview through a Skype conference. After a few weeks I got the “OK” to go meet my match. We hit it off. Soon, I was visiting him bi-weekly and building a bond. After a few months of visiting him, I was able to bring him back home for a visit. The whole matching and moving process took about nine months. Guess what? All the hassle, hustle, and bustle was totally worth it. Using the photolisting site, I had to have made about eighty plus inquiries before finally getting matched. It was mentally exhausting. But, if it wasn’t for the photolisting being available, I wouldn’t have been able to grow my family. My heart is full and so is my house.