​I’m an adoptive parent. S​tate budget cuts put my family at risk.

Shelley Cadamy

Shelley Cadamy is a native Oklahoman. She has worked in economic development in Oklahoma since 1994 and is a foster/adoptive parent.

Nine years ago, I fostered and then then adopted my three kids. They’re biological siblings, now 12, 15, and 18 years old, and they’re fabulous. I can’t imagine my life without them. However, like most kids in the foster care system, my kids have significant mental health needs due to neglect, trauma and abuse. When I adopted them, the State of Oklahoma offered limited resources to help support my kids, including a monthly subsidy and SoonerCare coverage until adulthood. Even with my income, which is above average, that support was what made adopting them possible for me. However, due to years of budget cuts, that support is at risk.

P​romises to increase Oklahoma’s adoption subsid​ies​ have been ​broken

Adoption subsidies help adoptive families meet their kids’ basic needs. Oklahoma’s adoptive subsidy is one of the lowest in the country. It’s so low that one of the requirements of the state’s court-ordered child welfare settlement was to incrementally increase it, and for a few years, it did. But in 2016, planned increases were put on hold – and then cancelled altogether. Foster/adoptive parents were assured it was a tough budget year and that the planned increases would resume in 2017.

They didn’t. In fact, in 2017 the subsidies were actually cut by 5 percent. At the same time, DHS cut the Difficulty of Care payments that many families, including mine, receive for kids with significant medical needs. In my home, that worked out to $100 per month we don’t get anymore. And that number doesn’t take into account the loss of the funds we would have received if the promised subsidy increases in 2016 and 2017 had taken place.

​The state’s budget problems threaten more cuts to essential mental health care

My kids get their health care through SoonerCare. It has great mental health coverage and has paid for multiple inpatient psychiatric stays and weekly therapy. My kids have made significant progress because of that mental health care, and the state put that care at risk this fall. When the cigarette fee was thrown out this summer, Legislative inaction nearly forced Oklahoma’s primary health care agencies to cut life-saving care and services for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, including my family.

It looks as if the most damaging cuts are now off the table – for now. If the the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services had gone through with eliminating nearly all outpatient services, my 15 year-old’s very necessary weekly therapy with her trusted, longtime therapist would have no longer been covered. Even if I were able to come up with $400 per month to pay the therapist myself, there’s no guarantee she would have been able to keep her doors open, as not nearly enough parents are able to pay those costs. A few weeks ago, my eldest, who had hit a rough patch a few years ago the way a lot of traumatized people do, said she was ready to begin family therapy again – just in time for that care to fall on the chopping block. 

There’s a lot of trauma in my family. Without consistent, quality mental health care, we would have a tough time functioning as anything close to a healthy unit. And many families stood to lose much more than mine.

​Does my family count?

Nine years ago, I stepped up and took a large financial burden off the state by adopting three older, traumatized children. In turn, the State agreed to provide certain resources that were minimal to begin with and have eroded over time. More cuts will come down the road if we don’t fix our systemic budget issues very soon. It looks as though lawmakers will probably be able to stave off cataclysmic cuts for now. But short-term measures like raiding the Rainy Day fund instead of making courageous decisions are what got us into this situation in the first place. Unless lawmakers sustainably raise revenues – as voters overwhelmingly want – these near-calamities will continue, and families like mine will bear the cost. 

I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and I love my life here. I’ve heard my whole life how family-friendly we are as a state. But judging by how we’ve been treated for years, I guess my family doesn’t count.

The opinions stated above are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. This blog is a venue to help promote the discussion of ideas from various points of view and we invite your comments and contributions. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

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The opinions stated in guest articles are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

5 thoughts on “​I’m an adoptive parent. S​tate budget cuts put my family at risk.

  1. I know no one more qualified to be a mom to children who were traumatized before they entered her world; who’s fought like a mother lion to ensure they have a chance to be happy adults and absolutely personifies what doing the right thing ( stepping up to be the parent they needed to survive) means. A hand up now will save thousands as the children become adults. It’s the right thing to do

  2. What this state is doing by cutting funding for the disabled,sick and needy is horrific.There is nothing Christian about it.

  3. My wife and I just recently jumped into the foster system. We have been blessed with 2 little boys. We have had them for 2 months. My wife and I have said that unless the system is fixed we will no longer be able to help after these boys are returned home, because of the uncertainties. Both being foster parents and high school teachers we have both had enough of this state “budget” crisis. I am tired of all of the talking (and no action) in OKC.

  4. you look pretty well dressed to me , and your a adoptive parent , yet you cant supply the needs of these ? without being on public assistance and my tax dollars ? yes then their is something definitely wrong with our system . and Ryan , sounds to me , its a lack of love and pushing for the money factor and the give me . the feds own none of you anything . oklahoma contributes nothing to these programs their run soul-y off the backs of the feds , these are subsidies from federal government , that oklahoma exploited. while they were to busy spending tax dollars on waist and trickle down economics. Trump said he would cut these and he did. it was not Oklahomas money to begin with . the department is corrupt and misappropriated and possibly much more . sorry for all your owes , but its time to down size and re-aline this department and get rid of fraud waist and abuse . 30 years ! get it done !

  5. Alma,

    Your tax dollars? It’s everyone’s tax dollars. I don’t want to support YOUR welfare either. You’re a nasty, greedy, selfish person and our state would be better off if you’d move out of it.

    Jesus is so proud of your selfish ways. My money, MY tax dollars, the give me, all of those words you used are projection. You complain about it in almost any article that gives you the chance to say it.

    I’m sure you would not even lift a finger to help children in need. Again, Jesus said “what you do to the least of these you do to me”.

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