Saturday, November 03, 2012

Glad it's the Weekend!!

Yesterday was stressful for me. My morning started with a voice message left for me from Melissa at our home study agency.

Let me backtrack for a second. Last Tuesday (the 23rd) we had our home study visit. Then on Saturday (the 27th) while we were out exploring the area, I got NUMEROUS calls from Melissa asking me various questions about our paperwork. I made sure to put everything IN ORDER as shown on the checklist that they provided on their website. First the 911 Call History was missing... then she found that but couldn't find the one for Wake County (she had Holly Springs). I had to explain that Wake County is the county that Holly Springs is in... it's not a city. Then she called about not being able to find Steve's drug-screen results (his doctor listed on the paperwork).

It was literally, one call after another. She obviously had not looked through everything very carefully, because everything that she was "missing" was in fact there (of course it was... I double/triple/quadruple checked EVERYTHING to make sure nothing was missing!!).

Then she called to say that our financial form was done incorrectly, so Steve had to sit down and do that.

The last thing she said was that they were still waiting on our GBI clearance. Let me explain what the GBI clearance is and how the system works (it's rather complicated if you ask me). GBI stands for Georgia Bureau of Investigation. I had to preregister us into the GBI system a day before going to get our prints taken. I paid online and added all required information into the system. All we had to do was show up at a location that has the COGENT system and we'd be all set. When I put our info into the system, I had to provide a reason for needing the prints (adoption) and a code for the organization requesting the prints (our home study agency). The code was provided to me by our agency, so I just had to follow the very clear instructions from their website.

After the person(s) has their prints scanned (it's called a livescan), the prints go through COGENT and are sent to GBI to run the prints and do the criminal background check. Then GBI sends the prints back through COGENT and they notify the agency (based on the code) that the background check is ready for pick-up (electronically).

Because there are so many different reasons why someone would need a GBI check, and it's for the entire state of Georgia, once the individual has their livescan done, the organization requiring the scan has 30 days to retrieve the information.

We had our prints (and all our required home study stuff) done on September 7th. On our way home from getting our livescan, I called Melissa and told her that we had just finished our scans and that they were free to pick up the info. I was given a receipt from the lady at the livescan location that had a confirmation number and proof that our prints were in the system. I included a copy of this receipt (and a note showing the date and time that I called Melissa to inform her that our prints were taken and ready to be retrieved) in our home study paperwork.

Okay... so on the 27th when she said they still didn't have the prints from COGENT... I wasn't sure how it was possible. I immediately said to myself, "I bet they never went into COGENT to get the results and the 30 days passed."

Okay, so my voice mail left for me by Melissa basically said that our home study report was done, but they don't have the GBI results, so we may need to go and get them done again.


I was livid. So I called her back and she was frustrated and kept telling me that they called on the 30th and 31st and that they were getting nowhere with trying to get our prints. She had called a Cheryl Peyton at GBI to find out what the problem was, and Cheryl said that she could see our scan and that she'd send the results back through COGENT. This happened twice (apparently) and Melissa was mad that nothing was coming through. Cheryl told her to call COGENT and find out what the issue was.

So her basic statement to me was that I needed to call Cheryl because she wasn't getting anywhere with her, and maybe since they're my prints, I could get her to fax the prints to Melissa. WHAT???? Good Lord... anyone who knows me well, KNOWS how much I HATE talking on the phone. Especially to deal with crap like this.

She said if we couldn't get the prints, we'd have to go get them done again. Which pissed me off because it was $70 and we followed the protocol. How was this OUR problem??? But her view was that it clearly wasn't HER problem and she threw it off on me to deal with. She didn't care when I said that Steve can't take a day off work to go get prints, and he's traveling with work and it's Summit season-- his BUSY time of the year. She didn't care.

Okay, so I called Cheryl at GBI. As soon as I said who I was and started to explain our situation, she cut me off and laid into me with how she'd already told Melissa that she's sent the results through. TWICE. I said that Melissa had told me that and thought by having me call, maybe there'd be some progress made. This pissed Cheryl off more than anything. She point-blank told me that GBI DOES NOT deal with the public. No individual should EVER call them. They only deal with businesses and organizations and it's for a reason.

I apologized and told her I didn't know what else to do. Thankfully, she softened up and said she wasn't mad at me, but it was a shit-move by Melissa to try and use me as a power-play. She said she'd call COGENT and find out the problem. I said that Melissa had told me that she called and was not helped. Cheryl said that Melissa should have called her and told her that, and she could have called COGENT on their behalf... but Melissa should NEVER have given me her number and told me to call. Yes, she was pissed.

She got my name and number and said that since she never got a number from Melissa, she'd call me back and let me know what she finds out. GREAT!

Like ten minutes later, I got a call from Melissa saying that she got a call from COGENT saying that they'd be running our print results at 3pm. She said they wouldn't be at work, but she'd call me in the morning (today) to let me know the results. Her last statement was, "Don't call Cheryl yet..." I said that I had already called...

DUH!! Why the eff do you think COGENT called you???? Just randomly?? NO! It's because Cheryl called COGENT because I CALLED CHERYL!

Anyway... like two hours later, I got a call from Cheryl and she said that everything looked good with COGENT but she found out some information. She said that our prints were taken on September 7th. This means that Melissa had 30 days to get our prints (October 6th). The prints were not retreived in the 30 days (AH HA!!! I KNEW IT!!!) and the first attempt to get them was on OCTOBER 30th (which is WELL over a month). The second attempt to retreieve was OCTOBER 31st!!

So she wanted me to know that WE did nothing wrong. All the blame is on Melissa and so she said because she felt bad for me, she wanted to help me out so she went ahead and pulled out our info from the system and sent it through COGENT. She asked if she could get Melissa's number from me because she wanted to personally tell her that SHE screwed up (not me). She wanted to make it VERY clear that she is to NEVER again give their number to a client, and they are to check the system before the 30 days, and there will NOT be a second chance again. YIKES.

I ended up getting a call from Melissa at 2pm letting me know that the prints came through and we're all set. The home study report would be finished and sent to us early next week. THANK GOD.

So that stressed me out (as you can tell). I finally got a call today from Babies Can't Wait about making Gus's first appointment for therapy. I found out that LaTasha and Rebecca (2/3 of the people who evaluated Gus) will be on our team! LaTasha is our BCW coordinator and Rebecca will be our Speech Therapist (which is AWESOME because she has an OT background as well)! Hopefully she'll be able to help with the speech delays and the SPD at the same time!

I'm feeling REALLY eager for Christmas to arrive... so I've been getting my Christmas music gathered from iTunes. I'm ready to make a playlist and sync it to my phone, so I can listen in the car. I love the holidays!!!

We have no plans this weekend and I'm so glad to be able to just relax and not do anything. We're supposed to go to a craft fair with Lesley and Jason tomorrow and meet them for breakfast before. It should be a fun morning!!


Friday, November 02, 2012

November is Adoption Awareness Month

If you're reading this, chances are, you know someone (hello!) touched by adoption. It's becoming more and more common and definitely something that's more accepted by society as a whole. I'd like to say there's been progress made in the way adoptions are handled, but in a lot of ways, it's just as taboo as it was in the past.

I think people still have a lot of misconceptions about adoption. I blame the media for this. It's too easy to jump on the band-wagon and report about negative stories. People who don't know someone touched by adoption, don't always have the correct information, and either use negative stereotypes, inappropriate language, or offensive language when discussing adoption.

Just as each individual is unique, each adoption is unique. There are many things that create the adoption that each family has, and choices are made by everyone involved, that ultimately create the adoption life being lived.

Since it's National Adoption Month, I'd like to start by giving some basic information that many people may might/might not know/understand.

1) A pregnant woman who is considering adoption is NOT a birth mother. She's an expectant mother just like any other pregnant woman you may see. She may have a desire to PLACE her child for adoption, but until she signs TPR (termination of parental rights), she is an expectant mother and should only be called an expectant mother. Calling her a birth mother before she has signed TPR is offensive and highly inaccurate.

2) Saying someone "gave up" their baby is also terminology that's not used in the adoption world. Women place their children for adoption... they don't "give them up." By saying someone "gave up" their child, makes it sound like a willy-nilly, carefree, easy decision and they just stumbled into adoption and moved on. Like "giving up" chocolate for Lent. 

3) It's offensive to ask someone who has adopted/is adopting the following questions:
- How much did they/he/she cost?
- Was the birth mother on drugs?
- Why is she giving up her baby if she has other kids?
- Aren't you worried that they'll (the child) grow up and want to be with their real parents?
- Are you going to have a relationship with their real parents?

4) There are three types of adoption. Open, Semi-Open, and Closed. I'll give a brief description of each:

Closed- No identifying information is ever exchanged between the birth parents and adoptive parents. There is no relationship between the two parties once the child is both. No pictures/videos/gifts/contact between the child and the birth family. Usually, all records are sealed/closed and the child cannot access information about their biological roots. 

Semi-Open- Usually an agency or attorney act as a middle-person between the birth family and adoptive family. All contact goes between the agency/attorney and not done directly with the adoptive and birth family. Pictures/videos/letters/gifts can be shared, but usually through a middle person. Last names are almost never shared and there's no identifying information shared (location/last name/jobs/etc). Health info is shared and once the child is 18 (maybe 21) contact between the child and biological family can happen if agreed upon. There's usually a contract with parameters for contact.

Open- Can look like semi-open but the two parties involved may change their minds about using a middle person and just contact each other at some point. Open adoption is different for everyone and has different parts for each situation. The biggest difference being that everyone involved enters into the adoption with the notion of keeping everything open. The child knows they're adopted, maybe sees/talks to their birth parent, face-to-face visits happen, videos, phone calls, and identifying information may be shared.

Most agencies will only do open adoptions, but there are some that still do semi-open and closed. There are circumstances where both are appropriate for the benefit of everyone involved. My own personal opinion is that open adoption is the only way to ensure that a child grows up knowing who they are. 

5) There are several ways to adopt a child. International adoption (a child born outside the US), Domestic adoption (children born in the US), Foster Care adoption (children in the foster care system), Family adoption (adopting a child born to a family member), Agency adoption (using a licensed agency to adopt a child), and Private/Independent adoption (using an attorney to adopt and usually the family finds their own expectant mother).

6) When an expectant mother finds a family that she would like to place her baby with, the adoptive family can decide to pass on the situation, or if they accept, they're matched. This means that the baby inside the expectant mother, when born, will be placed with the family.

7) Once a family is matched, with an agency, they're usually not shown to other expectant mothers. The match isn't legally binding, but the two have an agreement that they will only work with each other. There ARE cases where expectant mothers match with more than one agency... this is fraud. Please don't think that it's a common occurrence. It does happen, but it's not something to assume is going to happen to everyone who matches.

8) When an expectant mother has her baby, she has a period of time before she can sign TPR (every state has a different time requirement). Once she signs TPR, depending on the state, the baby is placed with the adoptive family and they enter what's called the risk period. Each state has a different time for the risk period (with Gus being adopted in MI, the risk period was 30 days).

It's called the risk period because even though the birth mother has signed TPR, she has a set number of days to change her mind and decide to parent. Each state's risk period (revocation period) is different. The state of Florida doesn't have one. When a mother signs TPR, that's it.

In most cases, the risk period is the ONLY time a birth parent can decide to change their mind.  

9) If an expectant mother decides to parent her child BEFORE signing TPR but while matched, it becomes known as a failed match. This means that the family hoping the adopt the baby is left without a child.

A failed match is one of the greatest fears that anyone adopting a child faces. It's scary to put yourself out there and hope and dream, and then to have it all removed. Many families become really close to their expectant mothers, they may give financial support, emotional support, and they open up their lives to a virtual stranger, with the thought that once the baby comes, they'll be connected forever.

A failed match is like a death of a child. I've heard that for some, it's worse because the child isn't dead. They're alive, but the adoptive family who got so close to being the baby's parents, are left with nothing. It's a horrible, terrible thing and something I pray I never have to experience.

Failed matches happen. It's a reality that the mother can and may change her mind. When adopting through an agency, usually when the adoptive family is ready, they can be added back to the waiting family list and their profile can be shown to expectant mothers again. With an independent/private adoption, if there's a failed match, that's it. End of story. The adoptive family has to start over (in most cases).

10) If a woman has her baby, signs TPR and the baby goes with the adoptive family, and then during the risk period she changes her mind, it's called a failed adoption.

Personally, I think failed adoptions are worse than failed matches because the baby was taken into the family's custody and they became the caretakers of the baby. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to have a failed adoption. 

When there's a failed adoption through an agency, usually there's a multi-month wait before the family can be added back to the waiting family list... mainly so they have time to heal.

11) Once the risk period is over, the adoption paperwork can be filed. This means that the court will check over everything and make sure that all steps have been followed for the adoption to finalize. Depending on the state, it may take several weeks, to months before the adoption can be finalized by the court. Post-placement visits may be required by a social worker to make sure that the baby is doing well in the new home and the adoptive parents are doing well with having the baby.

You see movies and tv shows that make it sound like a birth mother can just come back and get their baby at any time. Maybe in the past that was more likely, but there are laws and procedures in place today, to make sure that these things cannot happen. In almost every situation, once the adoption has been finalized by a judge, it's final. PERIOD. 

Keep in mind this is all coming from my experience and perspective. These are my opinions and what I know to be true. I'm sure there are exceptions to many of the things I just wrote about, but I'm being somewhat generic in what I'm writing.

This month, I'm going to try to post something about adoption every day. Hopefully, you've learned something new from reading this post. Even if it's that you know not to say someone "gave up" their baby, or that a pregnant woman is just an expectant mom until she signs TPR... and only then is she a birth mother.

That is all for tonight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Little Dab Will Do Ya!

Dracula Gus and his many daubers

This afternoon, just after having lunch, I decided to check online and see what dauber sheets I could find for Gus. While at the Dollar Tree yesterday, I picked up all the colored daubers that they had (they only had five different colors) for this specific purpose.

Gus was super excited to come to the table and create some pictures with the daubers. We started with an apple picture and he was very careful when using the dauber.

He really enjoyed the daubers and so we decided to work on another picture. This one was a pumpkin.

After the pumpkin, we decided to do some counting. This took longer than I had anticipated, because Gus couldn't decide on which colors he wanted to use for his different number pictures, and he didn't want to go in number order.

The last picture that we did was of a tree. Gus had started yawning while we were working on this one (WHOO HOO!!!) and so I knew he was due for a nap soon. He did a great job with the tree picture and then was very excited when I hung his pictures on the pantry door for display.

All done and ready for a nap!

I realized four things during and after this activity.

1) The bingo daubers are great, but there are specific ones made for this kind of activity. It's worth the money to get some (so I did). We'll have ten different colors, they won't bleed as much, and should dry faster.

2) I need to set up an area to display Gus's art work. He's getting an easel for Christmas and we'll have more and more items to be shown. I need to talk to Steve about some ideas/options for this.

3) I need to start doing more of these structured activities with Gus. He's almost 2.5 and that's when I said I'd start doing more. I'm planning on actually planning out daily things for us to work on (things like what we did today). I'm glad I've got a ton of things pinned on Pinterest for me to look back upon and start getting prepared!

4) Time has passed too quickly. I was looking through some older pictures and I just can't remember Gus being so tiny. Seriously. I'm not just saying that I can't remember, I really cannot remember what it was like to have a tiny baby, a boy who was not walking, running, and climbing, and a toddler with his own opinions and the love for expressing them. 

I'm vowing that when there's a second baby in this house, I will be 10000% present and I will cherish each moment with them. I feel like with Gus, I was so excited for him to reach milestones and to keep getting older... and now I want to freeze time. I would love to go back in time and tell myself to savor each minute because they pass too quickly.


I used the following websites for their free printables!
3 Dinosaurs- Fall Pack  
Teaching Heart

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

Mummy Gus

Anyone who knows me well, knows my thoughts of pacifiers being used with children over the age of one. I'm all for parents doing what they feel is best and necessary for their kids, but I don't want to see it. I especially don't want to see a four year old hanging out at a store sucking on a paci. It's just gross to me. I honestly don't know where my intolerance for pacis has come from, but trust me, nothing sets me off quicker than seeing a paci in a child's mouth (I have no issues when the child is less than one). 

Anyway... it's related to what I'm about to share (trust me). Last week when we found out about the SPD- SS diagnosis, I made it a point to do as much research and reading as possible on the topic. I talked to my friend Melanie (an OT) and asked about some suggestions and whatnot for Gus. One of the things that he does excessively is chewing on/sucking on his shirts. He has the collar portion of his shirts in his mouth at all times. 

I told Melanie about this and that we have to tell him to stop chewing on his shirts. She said that a lot of the time, it's an instant way for him to regulate his sensory system. Her explanation made total sense, and  I asked her for some suggestions. She gave me the link to a few therapy sites and I was able to get some different things to try with Gus (not just for the chewing).

One thing that I found on Amazon, in the "chewelry" department is this elephant necklace. The idea is that the child wears the necklace and then chews on the trunk of the elephant. It's supposed to be like chewing on a shirt and the elephant and necklace is made of shirt material. I figured I'd give it a shot.

Well... today Gus chose not to nap (AGAIN-- grrrrrr) and decided that he wanted to hang out with me all afternoon. I had some things to do on the computer, so he brought his chair and iPad into the office and sat and played while I worked on some things (like ordering our tickets for Disney eeeekkk!!!).

Enjoying some popcorn for a snack

Then the mailman came and I went to get the mail. He delivered a package from Amazon. I knew immediately that one of Gus's Christmas gifts was inside, but so was the elephant chewelry. I carefully pulled out the necklace and showed it to him. He was hesitant to put it on, but once I explained that he can chew/suck on it, he was so happy!
Checking out the elephant

Into his mouth it went and we began popping the packing bags that came with the box

So happy with his elephant

He (obviously) loves the necklace. It's better for him to chew/suck on that and let us throw it into the wash, than to constantly be nagging him to stop chewing on his shirts. However, Steve made a comment about it looking like a paci and I have to admit, that it DOES. It's NOT a paci and not being used with the same purpose as a paci, but it does irk me a little. I guess it's a matter of me getting over my issues and just being elated that we've provided him with something that can help regulate him.

I don't plan on taking the elephant out in public, but it'll be used around the house for sure. We have one other piece of chewelry coming for him to try and if he likes that one, we'll use it in public as needed.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkins and Getting Boo-ed!!

This afternoon, I decided that we'd carve the big pumpkin that we got at the pumpkin patch yesterday. I asked Gus if he was ready to help me carve, and he eagerly ran into the kitchen. We took his shirt off, and then sat him at the table. I started to cut the back of the pumpkin and then I opened it to show him the inside.

He wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with it. We brought him to the table a few different times, and each time he looked and decided he wasn't interested. Steve asked him if he wanted to take a nap instead, and he ran to the stairs, and was eager to head up to bed.


So while Steve put Gus to bed, I carved the pumpkin by myself. It wasn't as enjoyable as I'd hoped. It was fun to carve the pumpkin last year and watch Gus enjoy the gooey texture of the inside of the pumpkin. Last year I carved THREE... this year, we did one.

I decided to just go with a simple Jack O' Lantern face and stick a candle inside. Here's what I created:

Not too shabby. :-)

Later tonight (I believe it was 7:45ish), Gus and I were in the livingroom cleaning up and Steve was downstairs scooping the litterbox. Our doorbell rang. I instantly freaked out a bit (it's my first instinct) and I called down to Steve that someone just rang our doorbell. He said, "Well... answer the door!!" I explained that it could be a killer at our door (like they'd ring the doorbell, right???). He came up to help me investigate.

When I opened the door, there was no one there, but a bucket was there.

I immediately knew that we had been BOO-ed! I took everything out and was just so touched that someone in our neighborhood (on our street I presume) thought to BOO us!  Here's what was inside our bucket:
The instructions and an explanation.  I cut out the ghost and put it outside just above our doorbell. This way, everyone will know that we've already been BOO-ed.  Somehow, I'll need to see which neighbors were already BOO-ed and try to get items for the ones that weren't, and hope that no one else plans on BOOing the ones that I buy for.

Gus will LOVE this!!

Glow items!! So fun!!

Batman candy-- they must have known that we have a boy!!

Not a fan of guns of any kind, so he won't be getting this one, but we could re-gift it!

Candy, a straw, spider rings, and a skeleton!

I'm so touched that we were picked. There are a lot of houses on our street, and whomever BOO-ed us could have picked anyone else. I'm so glad they choose us and I'm going to head to the Dollar Tree tomorrow to pick out some items to fill a bucket and go BOO two neighbors! I hope they are as excited to get their bucket as we were tonight!!