Birth Certificates and Social Security Numbers

Everything that I read about adopting from foster care recommended that we change social security numbers. Our lawyer for the adoption recommended the same thing. Considering that we don’t know who could have the numbers or on how many documents scattered through old foster homes and the county, it seems an intelligent thing to do. What I did not realize, however, is how long it takes to receive a birth certificate. Our county told us to submit the paperwork for new birth certificates one month after the adoption. I did that. Then I got a call from the PA department in control of vital records, who said that it takes 10 to 12 weeks for them to have the new birth certificates. Well it’s been over 12 weeks now and we still don’t have them. Therefore all of their medical and dental appointments are still under their old last name. I haven’t even made an appointment at the social security office to change their numbers because I don’t have their birth certificates. I guess file this under FYI for all of you adopting!

Meeting with the Principal

Hubby and I met with our kids’ principal for an hour yesterday. It was a good meeting. I felt very much like he was taking my worries, creating an action plan, and would execute it perfectly. Whereas the public school meeting ended with a bunch of tasks for me at home, and the onus was placed directly on my shoulders, he did the opposite. He listened to what hubby and I had to say and created 4 action items that he would perform (or have someone at the school perform) for Anne. Basically, Anne will repeat fourth grade next year. She should have been held back in second grade, or third grade, but no one was responsible or in-charge enough to either a) see that this needed to be done due to her lack of foundational knowledge b) have enough control to get it done. So she was passed along the public school system with poor addition and subtraction skills and now she can’t multiply or divide. Fractions are a challenge. And that’s just her problems with math!

So dear principal will be working with Anne’s teacher and the school’s learning support teacher to come up with some study skills that she can work on both at school and at home. She will receive accommodations for homework and tests so that the work is more manageable and so that she begins to retain some information rather than just memorizing it and then forgetting it. I feel that less pressure and a more realistic amount of time spent doing homework will benefit her greatly.

I hate for her to hate school. She’s in 4th grade for goodness’ sake! She has a long way to go.

I am thankful for a principal that will pray with us for our daughter and her journey. I am thankful for a learning support teacher who celebrates the small successes with our children and shows them that they are great just as they are, made in God’s image.

I am relieved that this burden has been lifted. It is out of my hands and dealt with. I can go on to conquer something else, put my mind to something else!

Brains

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, researching, meeting and talking about brains recently.

We’re still working out with Anne’s school what needs to happen. I have met with her 4th grade teacher and the education support teacher at her school. They have copies of her goals for her behavioral health and her most recent IEP evaluation.

She continues to fail math despite the fact that teacher isn’t even grading the division portions of the tests.

She also continues to fail History and Science, despite studying.

I refuse to continue the path that she is on and graduate her to the next grade when she fails to learn the information in her current grade. It has gone on too long. She needed to be held back in 2nd grade when she was getting 50% on those tests but the teachers and administrators were too caught up in her story to do any background on her foundation of knowledge. Hubby and I are in agreement that she will not start 5th grade if she is not doing better with her grades. I haven’t heard yet if she will have additional testing done since her last IEP request was in Spring of 2013.

I also met with Anne’s behavioral specialist this week regarding her current schedule. She definitely agreed with me that it has been very strenuous and it’s an intensive program to master when you are still working at attachment at home and struggling in school. I will hear tomorrow or Friday whether they can cut back her hours to two days a week. Even then, her program will be prolonged. We know that this is not a sprint to the finish, it is a marathon to mental well being. We just want to make sure that if she is spending these kinds of hours (11 hours a week) that she is getting something out of it.

I have not cut back on Huck’s visits. His counselors have a new case load so they have only been coming once a week. I have also taken the liberty of sending all of the girls upstairs with our mother’s helper so that I have just Huck to focus on. This way we get more of his issues resolved. Not that he talks about anything in depth but the counselors can give feedback that he will at least hear and it isn’t me regurgitating the same lecture over and over again. He is still having issues wetting his pants at school. I spoke with the school nurse who spoke with his teacher and they have him going solo a couple extra times a day. This has not yet helped. Huck’s counselors would like for me to take him into the doctor in case it is a medical problem. We will see when that happens!

Lastly I’ve been thinking about my uncle’s passing. We aren’t 100% sure what happened on December 9th, but in the doctor’s opinions it sounds very close to what happened to me almost a year ago. Something happened with a blood vessel or an artery that caused a bleed and his brain swelled. It could have been an aneurysm or a stroke. I am very aware that his fate could easily have been mine too. I am grateful but also cognizant of every day. It’s hard because I know his body just failed. Some mechanism in his body did not work and he died. We go along every day as if we are invincible, but something that’s the smallest molecule on the planet can kill you in a minute. I’ve had a lot of epiphanies since his death and I’m sure that I will have more. I am trying really hard every day to not sweat the small stuff. I am a controlling person so that is very difficult. But when my uncle died no one cared what car he drove or what job he had. He was loved by his friends and family and an inspiration to so many people. That is what counts. So beyond trying to be a good friend and a good wife and a good sister and a good mother (phew! exhausting), I decided to call the agency and open our home to respite care. I love our kids and even though it’s only been 6 months (6 months since placement, can you believe it??), I think they are ready to help heal other children. They also enjoy socializing with other kids and we certainly have the room for it!

What Would You Do With $18,000?

Right now the total of my medical bills following my stroke, doctor’s appointments, tests, an ambulance ride, 2 ER visits and 2 nights in the neurology wing at Geisinger Medical Center (Hospital) is at $18,000. Granted, some of the tests have been denied by insurance totally and some do not seem to be covered completely when they should, so I am hoping that amount will come down quite a bit. But man, this medical crap is expensive! Especially for something that couldn’t be prevented! Right now my insurance has been billed a total of almost $100,000! And I haven’t even had my surgery yet! Last night when my husband looked up the grand total we started dreaming of what we would do with $18,000, other than paying for medical bills. What would you do with that kind of money? Go on an exotic trip? Take your kids on a cruise, first class style? Buy a new car? I can assure you that I wouldn’t use it for a two night hospital stay!

Tomorrow is our second meeting with the Program Director of the foster agency we like, and our first meeting with the Permanency Specialist. I read over the 100 page Orientation Manual since our last visit, so I have a bunch of questions for them! Hubby is all ready too, so it’s looking like we’ll be able to start training while I go through recovery! We had some good soul-searching over the weekend and we are both ready to go forward with matching an older sibling group. We figured out logistics and even bedroom layouts!

Frustrated

I know I should stay away from adoptuskids.org but on some days when I am really ready to be licensed and on our way to being matched I check out the new faces. It’s always sad, and I’ve written before about how conflicted I feel about photo listings of kids. But today I noticed SO MANY new North Carolina kids, single kids and sibling groups, that we would have loved to welcome into our home. We still would love to welcome into our home. And it just makes me so pissed that there are social workers, permanency specialists, adoption specialists that are standing in the way of really good families for these children. I can only hope that these children are not on the website long, that there are wonderful families waiting for them already… I can also hope to expedite our process through Pennsylvania and work on loving some great PA kids! Our meeting with the permanency specialist and office director is next Tuesday. I can’t wait!

He Didn’t Ask Why

We met with the foster agency director on Tuesday afternoon. I contacted him after I saw one of their flyers last December on one of our house hunting trips. He’s been in contact almost weekly since then. He was very nice, and obviously devoted to his work. His agency has 26 kids in their care in our area, and they’ve processed 6 adoptions over the last year. I’m not sure how many kids total are in care in my area, since it’s a little more split up among agencies than it was in Raleigh. This agency has all of the necessary services and seem very hands-on. They take referrals from the counties along with other affiliated agency offices. So basically, most of Central to Eastern PA. This is different than in NC, as we could only foster kids from our particular county. He’s starting a training class in about 2 weeks, it will be 3 session, 3 hours a piece. Then they expect quarterly training as well. He checked out the house to make sure that we have enough room for a sibling group. He is ready to get us signed up. My husband and I are hesitant. Is it like dating, when you meet the right fit you know? I was just surprised at the things he didn’t ask. We had a meeting scheduled in the middle of my stroke events, and had to postpone. He knew it was because of some emergency medical thing. He never asked what happened. He also never asked why we are fostering. All of these are things that our previous adoption agency focused on, whereas he was much more laid back. I wasn’t sure if he saw us and our home and figured if we clear all the background checks then we’ll be good foster parents? It was strange. We are ready to foster and adopt, but we want to make sure we are comfortable with the agency we choose. He wants us to meet with the permanency specialist in our local office, so maybe that will be a different visit! We’ll see!