The Hoffman Family: A Q&A with Dad, Jason
Q: How did you get interested in adopting, and what was the process like?
A: I started this process about 15 years ago. I was working with another agency that really did not want to place a child with me. It was difficult to have people who are supposed to be there to help and support you in your quest, and continuously work against you for the betterment of the agency image and not myself and a child who was looking for a family. After about 2 years of working with foster care, I decided to host foreign exchange students. After working with 16- and 17-year-olds for six continuous years, it helped me understand today's teenager and their modern challenges. After my last student, I received a post card from CAP for the Heart Gallery event at the Strong Museum of Play. I went, and began to have that desire to be a parent again, and began the process.
Q: How did you come to the decision to adopt Lee?
A: I have always looked for older children. Ages 8-18 was my age range, simply because of my activity, travel and career. I saw Lee (Josh when he was at the Heart Gallery event), one of the three children on the panel, and he and I had a few things in common. He was a child I could consider adopting. After a few months of completing the training, I began to do my search. He was not originally on my list, but I ended up in a phone conversation with his case worker in late February. I took the information, reviewed it, and began the process and discussion with CAP. After several meetings where he was placed, we began the process of permanent placement. We had an option to adopt directly from residential which we took. It was not a very easy decision to make, not because of Lee, but because of concerns of direct adopting without a placement and adjustment.
Q: How did CAP/Corbett help you through the process?
A: The folks at CAP really understood the what and how of my desire to become a single parent. We had our bumps in the road, but we moved forward through the process and everyone let me make my own decisions on how the process went. No one held things back, they put everything that they had regarding information out there, provided me with training, and were available to just sit and talk. Everyone answered the questions that I asked, and were very upfront and honest. I am sure that everyone in the CAP office now knows when you ask me to do something, I do not waste time in getting things done.
Q: What would be helpful for other parents to know who may be considering adoption from foster care?
A: The major thing that I learned about this whole process is to just sit down, talk and get things out in the open. Either with family members or CAP. Then you need to get your list of 50-60 kids (and yes, I had at least 50 on the list for about four months), ask questions and re-ask the same questions. Don't limit yourself to only one to five kids when searching. Sometimes, it can take weeks or even a month for a caseworker to get back to you about a child in care. Listen to the suggestions from CAP. They know what questions to ask other agencies to get to the bottom of issues. Remember, agencies are in the business to promote their kids, and some of the behaviors are toned down in the narratives. Work for yourself and when you get matched, advocate for that child as if they were already your own. Understand what you have in your hometown/area for supporting the needs of everyone in your family. Make sure you understand every little detail about your "adoptive" child. It's the little things that slide through which cause the issues.
Q: What have you learned about yourself through the process of becoming Lee's dad?
A: The biggest thing that I learned about myself is that I can not raise him the same way my parents raised me. It's not the same world. His challenges, habits and history from the last 15 years combined with the technology piece is very challenging. But the one thing that I learned that has not changed from my parents and grandparents, is that you have to love this child, no matter what and even if. He came from a system that was supposed to help guide him and direct him, and unfortunately some of those adults who were put in place to set some boundaries failed him as well while he was in care. I have to make sure that he has consistency and learns what it means to have a forever family, and have the respect and dedication to be part of that family. I am a problem solver. I do not get upset very often. He understands that part. We have a completely open door policy for talking. No matter the time, day or issue, he knows he can talk to me about it. My biggest challenge is that I only have 2 more years until he is an adult and could theoretically be on his own. I have a lot of work to do to prepare him for the rest of his life, to make sure he is a contributor to society and not a statistic.