Pace yourself here. It's long. I know. I don't intend for you to read it all at once. I'm posting again tomorrow and again on Thursday, I don't blame you if you wait to comment. It's a lot. You might not even finish all of it this week. No hard feelings. It's a lot of info, but I'm trying to catch you up.
|Harry learning how to use tape to make|
cool designs with chalk - he's playing
with a neighbor across the
street who is in his class.
So very sorry I didn't share with you as we've gone through the process, but it didn't seem fitting at the time. Too hopeful and jinx-ish, if you get me.
* August 20th the boys had physicals at our pediatrician's office. I'd called in advance to let them know some of the boys' history. They reached out to the boys' social work office in Indiana and asked for medical records. I asked for a medical file. Jo, the boys' worker, told me that she couldn't share it because it had info about their biological parents.
Me: who the hell cares? You think I have time to flip through that huge file to see what those people were like?
At the appointment, I had no file and the doctor's office NEVER received it. The doc was frustrated. As was I. THEY WOULD BE WITH US FOR ABOUT 8 WEEKS BEFORE I FINALLY GOT A COPY OF THEIR MEDICAL FILE. THIS HAPPENED AFTER I SENT AN EMAIL TO JO AND JO'S BOSS DEMANDING A COPY OF IT. I LET THEM KNOW HOW COMPLETLEY UNACCEPTABLE IT WAS THAT I DIDN'T HAVE ONE.
I told the pediatrician what meds they took and I asked her if they could refill them. She said she couldn't. I'd have to take them to a psychiatrist.
First time I'd heard this. I had a top notch therapist, whose waiting list we'd just gotten off of. The pediatrician gave me a list of psychiatrists to call. The therapist made some recommendations.
Riddle me this: how did Indiana send us the boys and not let me know in advance that they'd need a psychiatrist? (um, that word sucks to type).
|This is a few of their pill,|
but not all of them. It looks
like we are running a pharmacy.
* I had yet to find a psychiatrist. And that was taking up so much of my time. I heard things like WE HAVE OPENINGS IN DECEMBER. or NO LONGER TAKING NEW PATIENTS. or WE ONLY SEE PATIENTS OVER THE AGE OF 13. I could NOT believe how long it took people to respond to me, or how many times I never got a call back at all.
I accidentally called a psychologist one day. She was very nice. I needed a doc who could prescribe meds, this wasn't going to work. I told her how that it was our hope that one day they wouldn't need this much medication. The doc told me that most likely some of the medications were overkill. The system does that to be sure that a kid has enough meds to keep him chill so that his behavior doesn't ramp up and cause him to lose his foster placement. She gave me another number to try. No go.
* All you can eat. The boys' appetites were sometimes larger than Coach's. It was a sight to see. Most likely a result of their background. It was pure disfunction. I'd give them a healthy portion of a meal and they'd woof it down and ask for more before I'd even sat down. I started asking them to wait until we'd all eaten our first helping. They did. Then they wanted more, and more, and sometimes more. After a few weeks of this, I finally cut them off after two helpings. I offered applesauce or more salad or bread and butter. They were eating more than they needed, trust me. I wasn't starving anyone, but good grief we could've sat there and watched them eat until they vomited.
As with so much of this, unscripted. Winging it. Hoping for the best.
* Adding the boys to our insurance was another headache. Coach's company said we could add them, but getting the insurance peeps to figure it out was another thing. They kept emailing Coach saying they needed a copy of an adoption certificate. Um, that won't be available for about 6 months. This confused them. I finally told Coach to send me the email. It was time for Big Mama to step up to the plate. Watch out insurance-run-around people, I'm not here to play. I told guy #1 to grab his supervisor and I'd give him the 411 on the deal. That guy was like WELL, WE NEED A CERTIFICATE. I told Coach to reach back out to the owner.
The same woman that left Coach a voicemail in a nasty-ass, tired-of-you, not-about-to-help you tone, called him back. Mr. Owner had gotten through to her loud and clear. Figure it the hell out. When she called back she was nothing but sweetness and how-can-we-help. In reality, Mr. Owner wasn't pulling any extra strings. Coach's work covers what we were doing. They just needed nudging. So wrong.
Why was everything so hard? Remember earlier in the summer, I'd already gone round and round about the school about their grade. I'd said THESE BOYS ARE NO WAY GOING TO BE READY FOR 4TH AND 5TH - THEY JUST FINISHED 1ST AND 2ND. PUT THEM IN 3RD AND 4TH AS WE AGREED. I DON'T CARE WHAT STATE LAWS SAY. THEY ARE THE EXCEPTION, NOT THE NORM. NOT ONLY WERE THEY ILL-PREPARED ACADEMICALLY, THEY WERE STUNTED EMOTIONALLY AND SOCIALLY.
Funny aside: When I was on the phone with the vice principal, Harry came running inside to say a lady on the driveway wanted to talk to me. I grimaced. I peeked outside and saw that it was Jane, the neighbor that hasn't spoken to me since Tank was about 10. The one who yelled at me, claiming I'd told everyone that her kid had issues or something. That never happened. Turned out she was really upset that Tank had been invited to a friend's lake house and her kid hadn't. It set off a shit storm.
The woman standing on my driveway was Jane. She hasn't been friendly to me in probably about 9 years. I cringed, thinking the boys had ridden their bikes on her lawn (something we kept explaining was not really done in polite society - use the dang sidewalk). I was ready to get an earful. I asked the vice principal to please hold. Then I waved to Jane and sort of motioned to the phone at my ear like - I HAVE TO TAKE THIS CALL, Jane waved and said: I HAVE A COUPLE OF BAGS FULL OF CLOTHES THAT A FRIEND GAVE ME. WONDERING IF THE BOYS CAN USE IT.
You could've dressed me up in little boy clothes and dipped me in shit and I would've been less surprised as I was by this. For real. It was a moment. I managed to say, SURE, THAT WOULD BE VERY APPRECIATED. She marched down to her house in the culdesac and came back with said bags of high end clothing.
* I finally bit the bullet and got the boys appointments with a psychiatrist who my friend who also adopted recommended. This woman, Dr. Bernie, was on the list from the pediatrician. I didn't want to use her because she charged $400 for the first 2 hour appointment. Each kid would need a 2 hour appointment. She also didn't mess with insurance. I could submit receipts, but I wouldn't be getting an insurance discount. I just chalked it up to another expense with this whole ordeal. They probably wouldn't need to be seen often - not like the therapist, which is every week.
Once I zoomed with the psychiatrist, I loved her. Sweet, caring, patient woman, Dr. B. I joked with my friend that I'd pay $400 for this doc to chat with me for 2 hours on the regular. Totally worth it. Have I mentioned that I'm a chatty Kathy? I also joked with this friend, that I felt I owed her LOTS of backpay for all the 2 hour 'sessions' when I'd unloaded on her and she hadn't billed me. She assured me that as an introvert, she'd rather listen than speak.
Am I alone or is talking soothing to anyone else, like she wasn't even my therapist, she was just asking me about how the boys ended up with us, etc. - especially talking to sweet older women with a wrinkled forehead out of concern and total interest and focus and a delightful accent, I think she's from the Philippines.
I am completely enthralled with this whole saga. I get angry when I hear of the bullshit (ie insurance company, getting meds etc) that you have to deal with. I get teary when I read about the kindness of your entire family and Jane and coach's boss). I laughed out loud with the "dressed me in little boys clothes and dipped me in shit" sentence. You go Big Mama!
Pat - I spent some time this weekend making notes of the parts I still need to share. Some of it happened so long ago. The Jane moment almost knocked me over. For real. I don't even know how she knew. Other neighbors filled her in I suppose.
The fact that some of it was SO VERY CHALLENGING was incredibly frustrating because the boys themselves weren't easy and it was hard to get all the 'work' done and deal with their challenging behavior along the way.
One question for Indiana, WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU THAT WORK IN THE FOSTER CARE/ADOPTION OFFICE?
I like to read so I didn't find this post too long.
I had been wondering if the plans were to bump the boys up to grades closer to their age groups since you had mentioned reading practice and hiring a tutor.
The Insurance and Medical Woes! I'm shaking my head, it is so unbelievable (and seemingly unnecessarily) complicated!
Jenny - I wrote this in a sort of stream of consciousness mode and almost posted all of it at once, but I decided to split it up into two long posts.
Our school was shocked that the boys were THAT far behind in school. They initially said, back in the spring when I told them about the boys, that they'd bump them closer to their grade level. When they arrived, they start talking about putting Harry in 5th grade. Because his bday is Aug 23rd he was still going to be technically 2 years behind if he was in 4th grade. I was like NO WAY CAN HE GO FROM 2ND GRADE TO 5TH GRADE.
Yep, the care of the boys was enough. Trust me. I haven't really described any of that yet, but they aren't mainstream. Issues abound. So, my spare time went to tracking down a psychiatrist and begging for insurance and desperately trying to get meds refilled. When Coach drove Ed back to school, he stopped to get the rest of the boys stuff from Debbie. Fortunately she found another pill bottle for one of the RX that we were struggling to refill. Bullet dodged, temporarily.
Why is getting these boys out of the system and into a loving home SO HARD??? Why does everything associated with this whole process have to be so hard for you guys? Clearly, the whole entire system needs to be reformed!
I am so thankful that these two boys have ended up with you and Coach and the rest of your family. You are definitely the people to get these boys exactly what they need.
Beth - That very system that is so broken fouled up more than just the behind the scenes things like neglecting to tell us we needed a psychiatrist. There's lots more to the story.
This was not too long, and was very informative. This is the real book you need to write. An unflinching look at the foster system.
The closest we've come to being involved with the foster care system, is when we were being considered as guardians for extended family situation(ultimately, the system moved forward with someone in state).
Kara - I wrote an article about our experience with Lad when things were so challenging during the start of the pandemic. It was focused on the difficulty in living with a child who refused to get help and who could potentially be dealing with mental illness. The magazine CHICAGO PARENT MAGAZINE wanted to print it but couldn't do it without Lad's permission even though I changed his name in the piece. Her 'rejection' was touching. She emailed me that she would not soon forget my story, telling me that it was well written and eye opening. I've often thought about approaching Lad to see if he might be ready to give me his permission to get it printed. I reread it recently. No way is he ready to read it. Sigh.
Well, I am wondering if she would be interested in an article about our experience with all of this. I'd have to write it first and that in and of itself feels impossible in the moment. So much to tell. Just like these posts, I imagine it would be too challenging to write. Maybe someday.
I read through and am amazed, but not entirely surprised, by the messiness involved in adopting these boys. I'm glad you found a psychiatrist who connects with you. I think it'll be easier to trust her assessments and recommendations.
Interesting about the overeating. We had a cat who did that. The vet said it was opportunistic eating, a behavior learned as self-preservation when she lived on the streets. Not to sound dismissive, kind of the same dynamic with these boys. Sounds like you have it under control.
Ally - It is amazing that the people behind the scenes don't do more, considering that it is their job to make it work and the families lined up to offer their homes is not exactly lengthy and they can become easily taxed. Families, like ours, has enough to do managing the kids' behaviors, so to me it makes sense that there would be more support from the office/behind the scenes people, guidance, assistance, etc.
Yes, the cat sounds like she suffered from a similar background as the boys.
Having it under control, well momentarily anyway.
I completely understand why you waited to share. And I am hoping that NOW things are smoothing out for you and the boys. So many hurdles to overcome. They are so, so fortunate to have ended up with you. <3
Suzanne- Yes, it seemed to make sense to share. I wish things would smooth out too. There's a honeymoon phase, which we initially didn't really think we experienced. Then we saw what it meant to no longer be in the honeymoon phase. While things started out with some bumps, what happened as they got comfortable and expectations increased, ie: school, schedule, rules, well I wouldn't use the word smooth for any of it.
Jesus, at this point it would be surprising if anything actually went right. For a system that should want adoptions to happen, it's weird how they seem to be trying their best to NOT let them happen. And the running out of meds without refills thing is terrifying.
Ali - So true. When I think of how ALONE we have felt it is unreal. Like, walk with us people so this can become a reality. So much at stake. At one point, I asked the social worker for the boys a question about their meds and she told me to ask the former foster mom.
I straight up told her THIS IS YOUR JOB. NOT HERS.
Don't get me started. Running out of meds was terrifying, especially because we were never informed of exactly what each med did for them, so if they missed one WHAT DO WE EXPECT? If they took it a little late? Hello, information, please.
Thanks for this: "You could've dressed me up in little boy clothes and dipped me in shit and I would've been less surprised as I was by this"
I'm not a chatty Patty like you. I'm a great listener though!
The insurance. The NOT getting their medical records. The wait for a psychiatrist. The NO REFILLS. SO MUCH CRAP.
Do you think they were limited on food before? That's what it seems from my perspective.
Suz - So glad you enjoyed me 'dress me in boy clothes' line - it was fun to write.
he world, particularly the parts of the world that I travel through, needs great listeners. Note: in a moment of weakness don't ever give me your cell number.
Yes, the crap was aggravating. Understatement. Hey, let's make a tough situation harder.
They definitely were not fed regular meals at regular times and probably couldn't always predict when they'd get decent food or have a full belly again when they were living with their drug addict parents in the drug den. Really sad. On the other hand, they could've been asking for so many helpings here just because food is a comfort, so they were full but they asked for more to feel good. From experience, I'm going say that's not a stretch. Food = happy
Glad you finally got ahold of a good psychologist. I can’t even imagine keeping track of so many meds, especially like you mentioned, that you don’t really know what they’re for. Hopeful for you that some of them can be weeded out without too much detriment on the boys. I am also pretty chatty, I have to work hard to not interrupt people when I’m supposed to be listening.
AM - Yes, the search for a psychiatrist was a lengthy and annoying process. Who knew? Well, Indiana apparently knew I needed to secure one but they failed to mention. I was all about LET'S DO A MEDWASH. Like, how could they be on this much stuff. Heavy hitters, no less.
Coach will ask me after I have lunch with a friend or when I bump into someone, SO HOW ARE THEY DOING? Like he knows that I probably talked the whole time. My good friend told me to tell him that it is her preference to listen to me. I've told Coach to go jump, too -as in get off my case. I gots stuff to say, damn it.
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