Thursday, October 30, 2008

Imagine my surprise

Well!!! imagine my surprise when the guy I have been having unpleasant and unproductive phone calls and e-mails with turns out to be a really good guy in person. Not only had he read my son's file he complimented me on hanging in there with my kids. He had a plan of action to address the subsidy issue, he escorted me from the 8th floor to the 2nd floor to talk with the people who actually handle the billing, etc. He reassured me that Douglass was still eligible and we reinstated his medicaid this morning.

When I got back to work he had forwarded me an email that he sent over his supervisor's and her supervisor's signatures that okayed the billing people to cut me a check for the back amount and we should get it as early as next Friday. And he is following up down the paper trail to assure that everything is in order so that the checks come monthly like they are supposed to.

As well he gave me the name and number of a direct contact at SSI so that I might be able to get some traction on that fiasco.

All in all a productive morning and here I was all worried and having anxiety flashes.

It is so nice to actually have a real person to deal with and one who obviously knows his job. Why I wasn't getting anywhere on the phone or over e-mail I don't know, but perhaps he did not believe me about the home school and only when he saw my son's file did he get the message. Why he didn't look at the file earlier I don't know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fighting with the adoption subsidy worker

This is the tree upon which I am banging my head bloody, at least metaphorically. My adopted kids had an adoption subsidy, a nice amount of money which paid for some good camps in the summer and tutoring and stuff like that. More importantly the subsidy insured that they were covered by Medicaid. There were a number of years in there when we not have needed the subsidy, it was nice, it gave us flexibility to meet some of their unique needs and wants, but it wasn't the food on the table.

Well, now it is the food on the table for my son, ever since my husband's business tanked along with the economy, we have been scraping by. So now, for the last two months they haven't sent us the subsidy check and my son is no longer on medicaid. The medicine costs alone for his seizure meds are close to $600.00 a month and add in his mood stabilizer and his ADHD meds and we are not able to afford this.

So I have been fighting with the subsidy folks. He is supposed to receive the subsidy until his 19th birthday or his high school graduation whichever comes first. His 19th birthday is not until late next Spring (2009) and he isn't scheduled to graduate until then either. The problem, I am homeschooling him so they don't consider him still in school. Now I have home schooled him since 4th grade and the public school system had no problem recognizing us as a legitimate home school. So I am not sure why the subsidy folks are having so much trouble with this concept.

Tomorrow I get to go have a face to face meeting with our subsidy worker, fun, fun. I will have to go into the big city and sit around in the waiting room with other interesting clients of the social services system until I get called to his domain and we can hash this out. I am not terribly optimistic but i have to fight for his rights. We cannot discontinue the seizure meds because then he will have a seizure and those hospital bills would not be covered, Yikes! not to mention the damage to him that the seizures cause.

I am not a terribly confrontational person and in situations like this I always assume that the problem must be the result of some mistake I have made. This does not make for a good bargaining position. So I am going to try to buck up and be strong. We need the medical card, we need the money.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Catching Up

Of course our pumpkins would be ballet dancers!
Lots of catching up, it has been busy, busy!
First the good stuff, we had a Dancing Baby Girl Weekend and had a good mellow time of it. hoped to meet up with Spidey but he had a strep throat. Couldn't have done the full sibling picture we wanted to anyway as Imiki was home with bacterial pneumonia. Lani can't wait for his heart surgery as she hopes his overall health will improve.
My banner got finished, or at least finished enough to hang in the sanctuary for the baptism on Sunday. I will get a picture of it up here soon. So that is a load of responsibility off my shoulders.
Now for the stressful stuff.
Kendra: She has been feeling very exhausted, looking very pale and complaining of dizziness, so I took her to the peds on Friday and we wound up with an emergency cardiology consult. She is experiencing vasoconstriction to a severe enough degree that they were concerned about seizures!! Anyway they sent her home to bed and started her on some meds to alleviate the vein constriction and collapse. She couldn't dance in her school Dance program's semester dance on Friday night (don't know how she is going to get a grade now) and she couldn't go to the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night.
She spent most of the weekend asleep or lying on the couch but pushed herself to study for a big AP test today and insisted on going to school to take it. The meds do seem to be helping, she no longer looks like a Cullen (vampire for you non-Twilight fans). And she made it through the school day. So I am hopeful. We still have a gazillion specialist appointments to go to. I am glad it wasn't an emergency or anything as the earliest possible appointments with the neurologist and endocrinologist are not until January.
Kendra's biggest fear is that the doctors are going to tell her she can't dance any more. That would be a hard, hard test for her as dancing is her life right now.
Annie: Well the saga continues. the reconsideration letter has been sent to the Medicaid people, a long term waiver has been sought and we are still in limbo. Then tonight Annie calls and she has spoken with her case manager and she is going to go live with this guy that she has talked to a lot on the phone, see he is a really good friend of hers (they have never met face to face), because she has to leave the rehab program because of no funding. Anyway we were pissed that the case manager talked with her about all that and dismayed with the end result that Annie has cooked up. She really didn't follow most of what the case manager was telling her, all she heard is that she has to leave and so she is going to go live with this guy. I swear she is packing her bags as we speak, I know how Annie's mind works.
I am praying that she does not go all impulsive on us and sign herself out of the program. If she can just wait a little bit we think it will all get straightened out and she will be able to move to a post-acute facility here in our city. But Annie is not one for waiting once she has gotten a bee in her bonnet.
DH's work: or lack thereof. The prospects remain dim, he is actively searching for a job, has sent in his resume, etc. but the word is that folks aren't hiring even for previously posted jobs. I saw that happen at my job, one day there were four job postings on the board, the next day they were all gone and an announcement of a hiring freeze was made. It is a scary time. All I want to do is to be able to pay for the house and buy some food. Survival mode is grim but it may not be enough. I try to avoid thinking of the what ifs.
Anyway DH is going out to California this next week and he will have two "interviews" which are not really interviews but at least discussions with those people who might possibly hire him if they are hiring anybody. He has gone back to school and gotten himself certified in two other systems so that he can solicit work on those computer platforms as well. He is trying hard, the economy is just not cooperating.
So now you are caught up. I have to go pick Kendra up from her teaching, ballet of course, I hope she has enough energy left to do her homework or she will get even further behind. On that happy note....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No real changes

Nothing much has changed in our situation. We are working with the state level politicos to try to get some traction on the Medicaid people. But mostly today has been spent with no news, no call backs, no progress.

I am feeling a little better, I made it through work today, got some chores done and even had enough energy to make scalloped potatoes for dinner. So hopefully tonight will be better. I am actually afraid of the 3 AM wake up (involuntary but habitual) but I am hoping I can tamp the anxiety down enough to make it through.

I still feel like we are running around in the maze with no exit and no cheese reward either! But the shock has worn off enough that I am not quaking.

Thank you everyone for your wonderful and sincere responses. One of the only thing that helps is knowing that there are people out there who understand and who are not judging me or my parenting. Thanks for the support, I am sure not getting any from the real live helping professions people who are all about making her mental illness my fault. Even though she came to my home at 19 months, she was already a victim of Shaken Baby (thus the Acquired Brain Injury), a victim of maternal alcohol and drug abuse while in utero, a genetic carrier of bi-polar, ADD and schizophrenia, and one of the most severely abused children the state had seen in a long time. We tried hard, but that damage can not be loved away no matter how hard we tried. And yet my parenting is the only cause of her issues as far as the SWs, psychiatrists, therapists, crisis interventionists, and residential treatment center staff are concerned. They only reinforce Annie's view that none of this is her responsibility and justify her extreme targeted anger at me.

Trapped in Post Traumatic Stress Hell

The very thought of having Annie come home, even for a short time, has triggered all sorts of post traumatic stress issues for me. I spent last night in hell, reliving the last few years that she was in the home, beating myself up for "allowing" all the things to happen that did, second guessing myself, playing the evil "what if" game.

I am exhausted, I have a migraine and I am scared as hell.

There are no services out there for her. Can we really turn our backs and make a homeless shelter her only option? The program she is now in has announced that since Medicaid stopped paying for her on the 8th of October that we are now responsible for the thousands of dollars of her care. Of course the fact that they didn't tell us until the 20th that there was any kind of problem is irrelevant.

My stress levels are through the roof. They have been extremely high before this because the financial bottom dropped out of our lives when the contracts my husband's business was planning on all dried up in the space of a week 2 weeks ago.

All the memories keep haunting me, the fact that the younger children were hurt by her in so many ways and I didn't, couldn't stop it. The number of times we were really convinced that she had turned a corner only to be completely blindsided by another out break of completely harmful and inappropriate behaviors. I cannot go back to that crazy making environment. It has been almost two years and I am only now starting to trust my own judgement and experiences again.

Depression has zoomed back to overwhelm me. All I want to do is curl up and cry. I don't even have the energy to rant and rave about the unfairness of the world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

For Linda B.

So here it is, easy and fun. The girl in pink is her friend who was a rock star, I think. The thing was, i was so busy helping everyone else get ready that Kendra thought up this costume and constructed it without any input from parental units and we were so pleasantly surprised at her creativity.

one of the calls we have been dreading

Well, today is the day, Annie's funding for her placement in the brain injury rehabilitation program has been denied and she needs to go somewhere else. Her case manager helpfully suggested our house. That is not an option at all, those bridges were burned long ago. Now if her behavior had in any way changed while she was in rehab, maybe we might consider it, but she is still doing all the things that we cannot tolerate in our home. The main one being verbally and physically aggressive to peers and staff. We will not put the younger kids at risk again, been there done that, not going there again.

I know some of my readers might not be able to relate to that harsh a stance, but I also know that there are a number of adoptive parents with mentally ill young adults who completely understand the bind we are being put in. Everyone would just like to assume that of course she could come live at home again, but she is 19, she knows she is an adult and in her clouded thinking she knows that she does not have to follow any rules or be responsible or respectful to anyone at all. Some of our young adults have moved home for awhile or stayed a little longer after high school, but always with the agreement that they would follow house rules and we did not have to worry about #1, #2 or #5 being a physical danger to anyone in the house.

So what options are there besides a homeless shelter? I don't know if she would consider Job Corps or even if they would consider her. I don't know of a lower level of care that would also include residential treatment. Basically Medicaid is saying she is capable of living on her own, but she has no job, no skills to find one, no way to manage her money, no sense of how normal people live (by normal I mean the act of paying bills on time, not buying what you can't afford, not trashing the apartment or house you are living in, not letting others come to live with you who are not on the lease, not having continual wild parties to which the police are called, etc, not having days' long highs so that you don't remember to go to work or anything else, not physically assaulting people that you think have dissed you, not verbally threatening anyone who tries to redirect or help you including police officers)

I love my daughter, I especially love my memories of my daughter when she was younger, I worry about her, I try to smooth her path when I am able by researching services, helping her apply for SSI, etc. But right now I really can't stand to be around her because she is either druggged up or boozed out, sober but manipulative as hell, or angrily blaming me for her life to the point of physically assaulting me.

We haven't given up hope, there is a Brain Injury program in our city that might take her. It would mean she was a lot closer to us (not good from the safety side, but good from the point of view of trying to develop some sort of adult relationship with her) but also a lot closer to the places she used to run away to where she knows how to get the drugs and alcohol. Would she stay in the ABI program since it is not a locked facility? your guess is as good as mine. We could try. We just keep on trying, hoping that maybe something or someone will reach Annie and help her find a balance where she can live without endangering herself and others.

Boy has this ratcheted up the all ready tense level of stress in our home.

Church Retreat

A Beautiful Fall weekend for our church retreat. A nip in the air, the leaves turning and falling, lost of frisbee, time at the campfire and general spiritually uplifting activities. This was our meeting room and here the teenage girls were involved in some sort of craft activity.

It was a great weekend, just not long enough. Going "away" to a place separate from your normal routine really helps. We had plenty of time to chat with one another, play board games and outside games, meet in small groups and discuss mission, and hang around the campfire long after the s'mores were history.
I brought a banner activity. I had been stalled out in getting the banner for the new children's wing finished, so I brought it and invited everyone to help make flowers and leaves for the tree. It is splendid, its is fantastical, and it is done. Hooray, we will dedicate it this Sunday. (one more obligation done that was weighing me down)
probably the most enjoyable time was just spent hanging out and chatting. We are very multi generational in our church, the youth and children are comfortable with the adults and vice versa. At meals only the youngest of children are sitting with their parents, all others have found a seat with other adults and youth and are busy chatting away. For some of our newer members they can't get over this aspect of our church. Often newcomers have a hard time figuring out which child goes with which parent as the kids and youth sit with various adults in worship and hang out with many other different folk throughout the church events.
DH and I realized this weekend that we are now"old", we were some of the folks who were the repository of church history and told the tales about the folks who have gone on ahead. It is a weird feeling. I often don't feel my age, and then something will come along to remind me just how many years I have actually traveled on this earth.
So now we are home, I have wash and errands to do that didn't get done over the weekend. And I am still saucing the tomatoes. I have just a few more to harvest, waiting till the last possible minute, but that minute is coming soon, it was only 38* this morning.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I am saucing and pureeing, straining, canning and some freezing. Hurry, hurry, hurry, the hard freeze is coming, they tell us the first one may be Thursday of next week.

Wish I had a whole weekend to put up the produce, but it is church retreat weekend and we are spending our time with our wonderful church friends out at a gorgeous retreat center. Best of all ... I do not have to cook anything all weekend. How I love NMK (not my kitchen) food, actually the part I love is the not cleaning up.

So I have tomatoes, and tomatoes, and then some more tomatoes to cook up. I am cutting up and blanching the pumpkin and the butternut squash. I need to dry some herbs, we have a wild riot of mint, thyme, rosemary and sage, and maybe something else. I am sad to report that the onions did not do what they were supposed to, that is grow. I am confused about how to grow onions I think. My daughter Kendra is very sad as I had specifically planted those onions for her.

I am actually looking forward to putting the garden to bed, digging in some compost that has been fermenting all summer and covering the lot with wood chips, just waiting again for Spring. I have great hopes of basically doubling my garden and being able to plant some potatoes, strawberries, and beans.

Time to get ready forth great retreat. Hope to return on Sunday refreshed, recharged and re-created.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

28 years

This is my friend Diane and one of her grandchildren and one of her foster children. Diane is one of those amazing people who are the backbone of the foster care system. She has been fostering for 28 years. She specializes in medically fragile children but will also take large siblings groups when she has room. She is also the go to person when emergency respite is needed.

The range of behaviors she has dealt with, the children she has touched and helped heal, none of those statistics can adequately describe the incredible person that she is. She has adopted also over the years, and now is grandmother to two fine grandchildren and another on the way.
She is just one of these wonderful people who care so deeply about the welfare of children.
One of her concerns was that when children come into care they often do not have the basics in clothing, toys, school supplies, etc. So she and 2 other foster parents go together and started a foster parent resource room which is stocked with donated supplies to help a child from age infancy to 18.
A tireless worker, one who will always try to say yes to the children's needs, a wonderful foster parent and a great friend. Wish we had more foster parents just like her.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Outreach and connecting

This is one of the members of the second cast "Disco of the Dead", dancing with one of the spectators who is autistic and mentally retarded, but who is the sweetest, gentlest person you ever met. She absolutely loved being asked to come up and dance with the group.
Here Kendra is helping another young spectator make a "potion". They invite some of the small children up at various points in their show to help with things like this.
One of the great things about these performances is that the girls get to do a lot of outreach. They were performing at the local children's shelter house and were a delight interacting with the kids. They also sometimes dance at senior centers (more around the Christmas holidays) and spend time after the show talking with the seniors. I love the outreach part of this performance group. Most of the time they are performing for free at these functions. A wonderful service to the community.
This particular evening was also a chance to connect. We saw several of the families we know who are involved in foster care and spent time with them and the kids. At one point I don't know how it happened but I became responsible for the two hyperactive 6 year old boys of the group and they were literally pulling me in different directions. We finally settled on playing at the bubble truck. Then we had to race over to the inflatables, then race here, then there. In 5 minutes I was a wreck :-)
We got to see Spidey as he was there with his foster family. Can't show you the cute pic I got of Kendra and Spidey though, sorry. First thing Spidey asked me was where was Dancing Baby Girl, he really misses her and the social worker won't let them visit. (DBG was with her mother this past weekend as I had a festival obligation all day Saturday)
Anyway a pleasant evening of connections.

Witchy women?

This is one of the things I spend my life doing, carting Kendra around to her shows and her rehearsals and her lessons and her teaching. Here she is with some of her cast mates right before their Witchcraft show, Kendra is the witch in purple. They do a wonderful song and dance routine that is thoroughly family friendly and very fun.
But they do this routine all over the city during the month of October. Here they were performing at the local children's shelter as part of a larger Halloween extravaganza. They also perform every weekend at the Six Flags amusement park here in town and do miscellaneous festivals and shows. They just got asked this year to perform at the hot night spot downtown, but during the day at the family festival.
Anyway sometimes it just feels like all I do is run her around to things, but for these performances I really don't mind. It is a joy to watch these girls perform, they enjoy their work so much.
I love that Kendra has an incredible confidence, can get up on stage and sing and dance (even in heels!!), and just a wonderful comfort with her body. It is nice to feel like you might have done something right as a parent.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I haven't posted much about our financial problems, there is too much of that depressing news in the papers and on the telly. But we are in big financial doodoo.

I know a lot of people are also here. For us it was not extravagant spending, we don't have fancy cars or expensive nick-knacks, but a series of job losses over a number of years that depleted all our reserves. So now that my DH is facing further job erosion we have nothing left to fall back on.

Survival mode is in full swing, but I am scared it will not be enough. The whole world economy is scary. Just in time for Halloween, only I am afraid it will not go away come Nov. 1!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Funky Day

This is a picture of DBG and her pinata, and me of course. DBG got it into her head to make a pinata after seeing it on a video (Preschool Power). So we did and she did a marvelous job of stepping through all the tasks and staying focused. She even waited for it to get dry before she decorated it.

This picture has nothing to do with this post.

I have had a difficult day, not a bad one and so many others have been far worse, but I am in a grumbling complaining mood so I'll tell you all.

It was all about work. Today is the only day this week that I get to spend at my desk because I only work 25 hours a week. The rest of my time, this week, is filled by 4 hours of training foster/adoptive parents, 4 hours of supervising a volunteer work crew that is helping to set up the new room for our Foster Parent Resource Room, and 11 hours out at a community festival promoting our program through an information booth. I like the diversity of my job and I am not one to enjoy sitting endlessly at my desk. BUT... I cannot do my job and meet performance expectations if I only have 6 hours at my desk and half of that is taken up by staff meetings and supervision.

See I am whiny today. I just feel overwhelmed and like I am falling behind and I hate to play catch up, it really stresses me out. I feel unprepared for training, I haven't gotten back to about 7 information requests and did not have time to follow up with a foster mom who was requesting school uniforms for her new kiddo.

Hopefully next week will be less chaotic and I can get back on top of things again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Some pics of our DBG and Imiki weekend

This was DBG as Snow White at the Halloween Party at the zoo, Imiki by this time had taken off his costume and his shoes but he still wanted to dance.

Can you guess where we went? Yup the pumpkin farm. Imiki had to try to pick up every pumpkin he saw and DBG could not decide at all which one she wanted, so had to try out about 27.

Dancing Baby Girl and her little brother Imiki came to stay for the weekend while their mother, Lani moved out of her place and back home with her father. Papaw has a four bedroom trailer so they will be able to squeeze in but it is a real hurtful pride thing for Lani to have to move home to her old room that she grew up in. She had to sell and give away some of her hard earned possessions because there would be nowhere to store the couch, the coffee table, the big chair, etc.

Meanwhile back at our house we were having a blast. Friday evening, right after dinner we went for a walk and stopped at our favorites neighbor's house because they have a swing set. They invited us to stay for their son's 4 year old birthday celebration. So we spent all evening with them and had cake and ice cream to boot.

On Saturday I planned with my good friend Diane that we would go to the pumpkin farm. She has a placement of three foster brothers, 9 months, 2 years and 6 years, then also had a 10 year old in respite and her severely MR 20 year old daughter. Thank goodness my son Douglas agreed to come along and help us herd the crowd. It was a delightful day, sunny but not too hot. We did the petting zoo and the barnyard fun things, then we went out to the pumpkin patch on the hay trailer. After that we had ice cream and came home. My two were zonked and had an early bed.

After church on Sunday we had a quick nap then went off to the zoo where they have a Halloween Party for kids 11 and under every weekend evening. The kids had a ball. I wish I could show you the pic of DBG all dressed up in her Snow White costume standing next to the "real" Snow White. DBG was so happy to be Snow White and just thrilled that there were several other Snow whites too. We walked around, went through the pumpkin maze, rode the train and the carousel and then came home.

After dinner we had to take the kids back and so we met Lani half way and she showed us the way to Papaw's house and the new daycare. DBG was somewhat reassured to know that we knew where she was now living and going to school but the move has still upset her quite a bit. She was clingy and whiny during the weekend, playing her little power and control games that we hadn't seen in awhile. She had a meltdown when it was time to go and was screaming that she just wanted to come live with us again, but by the time we met Lani she was all excited to see her and gave her a big hug and was happy again.

There are lots of issues, I just hope Lani can keep it together. She seems to be doing all the right things and trying her best. I am supporting her as much as I can by phone since we live two hours away. (Yeah that makes a lot of driving in a weekend) Lani is so scared that CPS will take her kids again. I am hoping that she can calm down a little and really make this new arrangement work. In the meantime there are lots of issues with getting Dad out of the picture at least until he is clean and sober. She needs to have safeguards in place to keep him away from the kids as he gets aggressive and violent while on drugs. She is also starting a new job at McDonalds in hopes of being able to save some money to get back out on her own sometime in the future.

We had a great weekend with the kids, Lani had a productive weekend moving. And now we will see what comes next.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lots of change for Dancing Baby Girl

I have been on the phone almost daily and nightly with DBG's Mom as she goes through quite a trial. I don't know how much I have posted about their situation, but she was a very young mother with no family support who got involved in drugs and had her oldest two children taken into care. We had Spidey and Dancing Baby Girl for awhile, then Spidey had to move because he was such a violent danger to DBG, and we kept DBG for almost 3 years before she was reunited.

To her credit DBG's Mom has been sober ever since they took her kids with a stable job and stable housing. The same could not be said for DBG's Dad, he continued to be in and out of jail on drugs charges, domestic violence and general threatening and aggression. He wound up going straight for about 6 months and the family was together, DBG, her baby brother who I will name Imiki (which is actually his Hawaiian name but not what he goes by), and Mom and Dad (they lost rights to Spidey along the way.

Things seemed to be going well for awhile and with two incomes their little household was making some progress. Unfortunately Dad fell off the straight and narrow and life exploded for Mom and the kids.

Mom is terrified that CPS will take the kids again (their still being an open protection case on DBG) and she is having to face the fact that Dad was actually lying to her and not paying bills, etc. So she is in financial doo doo, is having to leave her home and move back in with DBG's grandpa, Papaw. DBG will have to change daycares and Mom is in danger of losing her job as she has missed so much work and is basically an emotional basket case and not worth much when she does make it to work.

So I have been trying to lead her through the maze of getting more help and the legal issues of protecting the kids from the dad who gets abusive when he is drunk or high. It has not been a good time.