Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The evaluation for my deaf daughter went well.  She was fearful at first, no matter how I explained to her that it wasn't a test, no pass or fail, it was just to figure out where to start teaching her. All in all she had a great time.  She went to the cafeteria while I spoke with the the evaluator.  All the kids gathered around her, and started asking questions. At first she was very shy, but then became comfortable and started teaching them Chinese Sign Language. What happens next is in about a week the report is forwarded to the Director of Sp. Ed. and I ask for an immediate PPT.  That meeting is the crucial one, as it will decide where she will go to school.

I didn't get much else done today because it was such a long drive up and back.  And it was quite an early morning frenzy. I got up at 6:00 and woke everyone up because....my two older daughters were going on a field trip and had to be at school at 7:20, and my twins had to be at school at 7:15, and I had to leave early with my deaf daughter for the long drive to the evaluation.  So I will take myself to the sheets early to prepare for a catching up day tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I am so angry.

The conversation with the Assistant Superintendent of the Schools....

“My daughter, (the new one), has been evaluated at a first grade level in reading and her vocabulary for English.  Her teacher said since there is only 3 months of school left she might be able to get her up to beginner 3rd grade.  I need summer school for her to at least get her up to a 6th grade level in order for her to enter 9th grade in high school in Sept.” 
Assist. Super., “She’s a smart girls she’ll catch on quickly.” 
“That isn’t the point.  There is no way she will be able to get anything from her classes on a 2nd grade level of English.”
“We are not required to provide summer school.”
“It is a proven fact that children lose the retention of information. So  how is she possibly ready for 9th grade?”
“I’ve taught many years ELL kids, and learn very fast.  I see they just soak it up.”
“But you aren’t giving her ELL, you just have a reading teacher working with her who isn’t trained in teaching English as a second language.”
“We are not required to teach her ELL because she is the only student that needs it.  Look how well your other daughter has done.  her English is near perfect.”
“Do not for a minute give credit to your school system for my older daughter’s success. I had a Chinese woman who was certified in teaching ESL, tutor her 2-3 times a week for 4 months.  I worked with her everyday. Then I had you bring in a Chinese interpreter to sit with her in class for several months and I was able to make a case for special needs so you had to have her tutored over the summer.  She did not get where she is today going through the ‘normal’ channels.”
“This daughter does not qualify for special needs. She just has another language to learn. I’ve seen many kids who came in not knowing English and they learned quickly just being with other kids.”
“First of all you can not compare those children with my daughter. They came from families, mine came from an orphanage, they are two totally different situations.”
“All kids are a bit nervous and scared when they first start school not knowing the language.”
“My child is from an orphanage, and she comes with orphanage issues that impair her learning abilities that are different from ‘the kids’ you’re talking about. And there is no way I am putting her in the environment of the high school kids and the drugs and the one upsmanships, and not wearing designer something.  The social behaviors in America are different than China.  She is going to be traumatized .  She is very shy for one.  But the issue of having only 2nd grade English, she won’t be able to make any meaningful relationships and will not understand any teacher in any of her courses.  She can’t even understand her math or history teacher now!”
“Well the high school has a writers lab and two other help classes.”
Unless, it is one on one, it will not help her because those kids in there are already on a 9th grade level or better.”
“Well, I can’t guarantee there would be one on one.”
“If she is not on at least a 6th grade level of English by September, I will not put her in high school.  I will home school her.”
“That won’t be very good, kids learn from other kids. That’s where she will be getting a lot of her English.”
“If she only knows minimal English, she will not even try to reach out, and I am NOT putting her into a high school situation where she would be chewed up and spit out by the kids.  It is not going to happen.  I will home school her.”
“You’re not being very fair to the high school.”
“What? You talk to the Police Dept. they are up there almost every day because of drugs, and so are the EMT’s.  And the bullying isn’t taken seriously. The whole situation is out of hand.”
“You’re not being very fair to the high school.”
“And you in the school system are turning a blind eye to the situation, just to preserve your “standing” the ratings of good schools.”
“You should hire a tutor.”
I can’t afford to. We spent all our money on two adoptions.”
“Well, if I think of something, I’ll let you know.”


I called the State, again, and she said, “The school is not responsible for what happens in the summer. But what I can do is speak with the Director of Special Education and make ‘suggestions’ of materials for the teacher to use with your daughter for the rest of the school year. But you have to tell him to call me. Tell him I have some ideas.”

Yeah right, this guy just loves me.  He won’t call her.

And then there are the twins going into 5th grade and which has no Gifted classes.  This after their 4th grade teachers said they were on a 6th grade level for language arts and math... and were in Gifted Classes.   Yet another door to kick down.

Tomorrow is my deaf daughter’s evaluation

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I am back.  While I was away believe it or not, the the USCIS called, the one from my state, and said that they were going to track down the documents.  They were filed away somewhere (?), and they  should be found in about  a week.  Still not clear on if the paperwork they don't have, that I have, needs to be resubmitted.  I am confused.  I will call tomorrow and straighten it out,  By the way this USCIS office was the 4th place that I called out of the eight I contacted.  And THEY said it wasn't their problem...  Guess my Senator did his stuff to get the ball rolling.

Well, I had a few things to write to you all, but I was called out on an EMT call and I just got back.  It's 11:30 and I really need to get to bed. I'm sorry, I will start earlier tomorrow to get everything in.

Thank you Cara and Susilou (?) for your comments.  It was a relief to know that the 'throw-outs' aren't just my daughter's problems. That helps me look for the information that got her there and replace it with new information.

I would like to hear from more of you. I know a lot of you keep tuning in to find out what happens next. So many of you are from all over the US, I would be fascinated to learn more about where you are from, because even though you might be thousands of miles apart, adoption seems to pull us all together into one family.  People from Canada, Iceland and Australia are very far from us yet I would like to hear from them also as part of this adoption connection.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I have not heard from the Senator's office yet. I hope they can figure out what department handles this. If they can't, I'm in big trouble. I heard from my agency and they are baffled by the whole thing. This has never happened before. Of course, I have , all my life always been the 'first' in any problem or situation. i always plow the road for the next person that coms along. I'm glad to help the next person, but does it always have to be me? I would love to have smooth sailing sometime. We were called today and given next Tuesday as the evaluation day for my deaf daughter. Yipeee, I thought that we'd have to wait two weeks.

 Tonight I will just throw a few thoughts out because I need to get up at 5:00 tomorrow morning - I know Deb, you do it every morning. But I tend to go to bed rather late. Anyway, I won't be home till Sat. night, so my next update will probably be Sunday.

 My deaf daughter has so many 'things' to learn. For instance, she was given several bottle of lotion that have very lovely smells, she threw them all out. I gave her Burt's bees for her lips which are always dry, she thought it was lipstick, she threw it out. My older daughter decorated a small grapevine wreath for her room, she thought all the flowers were dead, she threw it out. She saw food was left over in the pan on the stove, she threw it out. Get the picture? I don't even know where to start, because there's no category for all this...

 I can't count how many times I had to say 'no', 'no', NO!" to her today. Sh does things quickly without thinking, or knowing how to judge a situation. And then, when I told her it was time for bed she signs, "well why isn't the sister going too?" I signed, "because she is 2 years older than you and she is doing homework." The she makes a face like, it's not fair. She does this almost every night. I sign, go, bed, now. She slowly turns and goes. As I'm trying to arrange massive amount of details before I go, I hear a rustling of paper. I think, I need to find out what that is, I'm sure it's not the bunnies. But I am too busy to do that right away. I finally get all the arrangements down. I get up go around the corner and who is sitting there??? Yup, you guessed it. And this is 25 minutes after I told her to go to bed. I tell her when I say bed you go now.. She gives me a face like, "Aren't I just too cute to be mad at...?" I sign "go now". She smiles that smile and slowly walks upstairs. A few minutes later I go into her room and she definitely is not in a hurry. I sign, "When Mommy say sleep time, you go now, no wait." She gives me a look that says, "Who me, did I do something wrong?" I just shook my head and walked out of the room.  On that note I head for bed and hope to get a few hours.

Oh, one thing I will share, because I was very touched and surprised. When I came down after my shower, there was a note from my new daughter, and this is what it said..."Good night mama. I go upstairs and sleep. Hope you have a good time. see you saturday. I will miss you". Wow, guess I'm doing something right.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


OK. so this is the trail...
I called my adoption agency,NBC, NVC, the local USCIS, the Boston, USCIS, US Customs & Border Control, the airport Port Authority, the airport Immigration office.  Finally the right place to speak to someone that can help me - or so I thought.  Ever have some one talk AT you, and not listen to what you're saying?  You know the know-it-all type that thinks they have all the answers even though you're not asking those questions?  Yup, you guessed it, that's exactly what I got.  This one sided conversation lasted 10 minutes, and each minute I was getting more and more fed up, I was ready to jump through the phone and shake this guy.  Finally he heard what I was saying.  I said, "The immigration officer opened two packets from the Consulate. In them were two copies of each girl's papers & medical reports. He gave back to me two copies of the same daughter. SO now I have two copies of one daughter and immigration has two copies with one daughter. The problem is: I don't have the vaccination records for one daughter so I can register her in school, next problem: immigration does not have documentation for one of my daughters, so how can she get a green card or have it known that she's in the country legally?"
He said, "The Immigration Officer was wrong, he should not have given you anything from the packet. You only get that back when they send you the green card."    "But", I said, "I need the medical information for her school."  "You will get it when you get your green card."  "But you just continuously told me that it could take up to 11 months, I really need it now."  Again he said, for the 3rd time, "The Officer was wrong to give you anything. You will have to come here if you want to sort it out. We don't do anything over the phone."  "I am 2 hours away from you." "Well, that is the only way to do it, now you did ask for my help didn't you?"  (I am SO ready to kill him at this point.) "Yes", I said holding my temper and patience, "But it is very difficult for me to get to you, it would take about 5 hours to do something like that."  "I told you what you can do, but you tell me that you don't want to do it."  "I didn't say I didn't WANT to, I said that it would be difficult."  Then he goes into his spiel again about how a green card will get to me...  I suggested, "Perhaps, a Supervisor could find out more information, is that possible?"  "I am a Supervisor and I told you.......etc"  "Could I give you my USCIS Sim numbers?" "How can that help?  You have to call your local USCIS for that."  "I did call them and they have nothing to do with it."  " I told you the process to get their Green cards, and if you don't want to wait you have to come here."  OK, I give up, going further would get me now where.  This account is much shorter than what really happened, I didn't want to subject you all with the stupidity of it.  I called my adoption agency, and said, "Alright, I have gone as far as I can go, you need to do something.  He said that the Officer was not to give me any paperwork from the envelopes."  "That's not true." she said. "So what do I do now?" I asked.  She said that she would speak with the head of the adoption department and get back to me.  So I wait...  My only next step is to call my US Senator and ask for help.  I hate bureaucracy!

I am taking a break now.  I'll be adding more a little later today.
And yes Phyllis, I am thinking about summer and hoping you are coming here, because we can't afford to go anywhere for the next 10 years.

UPDATE: Didn't wait for my agency to call back. I called my Senator's office and sent them the information and they said that they would handle it. We shall see. I will be in daily touch with them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A day..

A day full of a little bit of everything.  My alarm woke me up, I got up, dressed, put my watch on.  I glanced at my watch and it was much later than I thought.  I looked at my alarm clock and it was a half hour slow.  I quickly wake up the twins, entreat them to get out of their beds, then start making lunches. I glance at the calender, YIKES!.   They're supposed to be at band at 7:15, and it's 7:15 now!  My dh wanders down in his p.j.s and I attack him with "Quick, get in the car and drive the girls to school. Girls, get your backs packs, lunch, instruments and coats, and out the door."  dh just stood there like deer in headlights.  I look at him, "Go!"  He starts toward the door.  I want my coffeeeeee.

I start to make my coffee.  Again glancing at the calender, oh no.  The girls have an after school activity and I didn't write their notes.  Now I need to write them and drop them off.  Phooey.

I have a meeting at the Middle School about my older daughter.  I got there a few minutes early so as to 'catch' some people to discuss changes for my new daughter.  I grab a word with the principal, (she doesn't quite 'get it'), with the Guidance Counselor (somewhat tuned in), and the reading specialist  (who was quite open to listening about my daughter's concerns).  Now let's see what happens. For the meeting they decided not to continue the 504, and see if she still needs it in a few months. I'm disappointed.

In between all this I'm trying to solve an Immigration problem.  Going through the airport's immigration, the Officer took a document he shouldn't have, and gave me the one he should have kept.   Let me see, I called, my adoption agency, NBC, NVC,the local USCIS, the Boston USCIS, CPB.  No one seems to know who's jurisdiction this lies in. Total frustration, I will keep trying tomorrow.

My new daughter comes home and I explain to her who I spoke with today. I proceed to pry out more information from her.  I shared with her that the Principal didn’t believe me when I told her you were sad and frustrated.  Her comment was, I always see her smile and giving a giggle.  I explained that it was a cover up, that you were taught not to complain.  The principal disagreed with me no matter how many times I said she has been coming home with a very dark face on, and crying.  Her response was, ”Just this morning I saw her come in with a big smile.”  Yes, that is because she hadn’t started the day yet.  She was oblivious to what I was saying.  I was very annoyed.

As I was speaking with my daughter my deaf daughter kept coming up with her little pieces of paper with Chinese characters on it, (I don’t know how many times I have told her, I don’t read Chinese!), then she walks away.  I’m just about to get good info from my daughter when she comes up again, with a picture she drew.  I couldn’t quite make out what it was.  So we played charades with drawings, the dictionary and Bable Fish for about 10 minutes.  Grass, she wanted to know how to spell ‘grass’.  This scene played out several times, with ‘hay’, 'egg', etc.  Then we got to 'pig', and she made the smelly sign, and held her nose and shook her head. The she wrote down the word, in English, ‘lovely’.  I looked at her to see if she understood the sarcasm in that word related to a smelly pig, and she had a huge smile on her face.  She never ceases to amaze me.

My other daughter and I finished going over her schoolwork.  Now I understand what she is working on.

Then after her shower, my deaf daughter comes down in a loose cotton dress.  I signed, “You’re not wearing that to bed?”  “Yes, it’s hot.”  “But you don’t wear a dress to bed.”  “Yes, it’s hot when I sleep.”  I took her upstairs and looked for her other p.j.s, and asked her, where are all your pajamas?
She pointed to the laundry. Now we haven’t been home THAT long that she would have run out of pajamas, and I’ve already done her wash recently.  I asked, “How many times to you wear p.j.s before you put them into the laundry?”  “One”, she replied. “ONE!”  OK, we need to have a little chat...

Drat, I just realized I’m on night duty tonight, sigh.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why is it that I always start so late on writing my blog?  I really need to get to bed earlier.  With that wishful thinking in mind I will just hit on a few important events.
My new daughter came home with that dark look again, so I figured, it was school.  I had her and my deaf daughter make dinner using an old recipe of my Mother’s.  It’s meat loaf but with ground turkey, shredded sweet potato, brown sugar, soy sauce, Wostershire sauce, paprika, cinnamon, and several other spices, molded into a loaf and put a large bottle of my favorite spaghetti sauce over it (roasted garlic).  If you want the recipe, give me your email and I’ll send it to you.  There are never any leftovers and I used 2 pounds of ground turkey.

Anyway, after we put it into the oven, I knew I needed to find out exactly what was bothering her about school.  I tried talking with her, but her English is limited. I went on Bable Fish and wrote down all the things I thought might be bothering her, and numbered them. I then had it translated into Chinese.  I told her to pick the numbers that represented what was bothering her.  She picked two, and the tears started to slide gently down her face.  I went to her to try to find out the exact reason for her tears.  She just kept shaking her head. I explained that’s what I’m here for, to listen and help, but she still just shook her head.  Finally after about 20 minutes of coaching she finally said, and I’ll paraphrase here, she wasn’t learning that much English, and when kids come up to talk to her she doesn’t understand them, and when she does, she doesn’t have the words to reply.  So she just nods her head.  She feels like she comes off looking very dumb and she wishes she were on an island where non-one would talk to her.

I told her I understand completely, and I agree with her that she’s not getting enough English and first thing tomorrow I will take care of it.  She also wants a translator to be with her.  Which I had asked for, but was turned down.  OK I did it their way for a week, it hasn’t worked, now they’re going to do it MY way. I explained that I will take care of everything, but she needs to be patient because there are steps we have to go through.

She then went upstairs and closed the door to the bathroom. I sent my older daughter to speak to her in Chinese and to give her reassurance and find out any more information. I am really proud of my older daughter, she told her to write down her feelings and thoughts and if she wanted to show Mama she could or she didn’t have to.  Well she wrote a very concise explanation of her feelings and fears.  My older daughter translated it for me.  I asked her did she tell her about me when I say something will get down, especially for one of my children, NO ONE gets in my way?  She replied, “Oh yes. I told her you were very strong.”
So tomorrow morning I have a list of people to contact.  Stand by for the results.

It’s 11:00 at night, I was aiming for earlier but was distracted when our chimney started leaking into the fireplace.  There is a heavy rain out there and this is the first time this has ever happened. So we had clear away the ash ,find a bucket, put down newspapers and sheets to soak any over flow.  Can’t wait to see what I’ll wake up tomorrow and find...

First a few pictures as promised.  Here is my daughter with her crown that she wore all day. 

Here she is teaching her Papa sign language.

Here are some pictures of the girls enjoying the day’s activities at the deaf school.

Yesterday was wonderful for everyone.  After the first week of school my daughter was not looking happy.  her usual bright cheery face was dark.  So I chose my time, I had her alone in the car, and started asking her questions. School?, teachers?, the work?, the kids?.  The only slight positive reaction that I had was the kids.  I think she is seeing them as being a bit immature and wild.  Well, welcome to America.  In China, the schools are very rigid. They are not tuned to individuality. Everyone must fit into the same box.  The boundaries are well defined and consequences are harsh.  I think she is quite uncomfortable with the freedom, the ‘looseness’ and lack of discipline in the classrooms.

I wasn’t sure what my next step should be with her.  This weekend at the deaf school was such a great experience for everyone in many ways. As we arrived early Saturday and checked in, the Director of Admissions said, “Wait a minute.”  She came back with an Asian woman  and pointed to my deaf daughter.  The Asian woman started signing to her.  My daughter just starred at her and all of a sudden she realized the woman was signing in Chinese Sign Language!  She got the biggest smile on her face.  I asked who is this person?   The Director said she only met her today when she registered to come to the weekend.  I went to the woman and started talking to her.  It turns out she is here for one year to teach Chinese.  She knows sign language because she works in a deaf school in China.  She also only lives about 30 minutes from us.  I almost felt like crying, I just couldn’t believe we met her.  She has offered to help my daughter in anyway that she can!  This is SO amazing.  I am thrilled.

6:00 was when our children were returned.  My older daughter came to me really smiling. And on the way home in the car she talked more than she ever has before. She had such a great time.  Tomorrow is school, so I will see how she comes home from school. She said kids have given their names to her but they are hard to remember. So I gave her a small pad and pen to carry with her so she can ask fort them to write their name and phone number.  This way I can arrange for her to get together with kids that she likes, Which I believe will help in the adjustment.  I keep trying to find out from her what she likes to do. I haven’t found anything yet.  I know there should be several things, but they are hidden at the moment.

My daughter who is deaf said she has already found two friends from doing the activities this weekend.  Now she has a light at the end of the tunnel. She has been to the school and seen the campus and found friends.  So if it takes a while for me to be able to get her in there, at least she knows where he will be going. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bed early tonite (before midnight) for me!

I will regale you tomorrow with today's events and pictures of my deaf daughter with her crown.

Today I got up at 6:00 am, made cheese omelets for 6 people, and yogurt, and raison bagels with cream cheese by 6:30 woke everyone up, picked out outfits for the twins and our deaf daughter and was out the door by 7:45.  We got back at 8:30 pm.  We would have been home 45 minutes sooner but we ran into a massive traffic jam on the Interstate.

So, I am treating myself, and going to bed early (10:30) and will pick up this narrative tomorrow day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I will be brief, as I have to get everyone up tomorrow at 6:30 am!  We're going to Family Day at the deaf school, and my deaf daughter will be able to be with two Chinese deaf kids that she can sign with! Yeah!!!

I'll tell you more tomorrow.  Here are a few things that happened today...
My dh was trimming bushes & cutting off branches.  My deaf daughter proceeded to pick them all up, and planted them all over the yard!  Then she came down today very proud about how she dressed,,,

...a cute top that was melon color, purple sweat pants with bunny socks, and a Princess crown on her head, which she wore all day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

OK, I will short hand the update.

You know, after I wrote that last post it was about 5:50 in the afternoon, I went upstairs and laid down and did not get up until 6:00 the next morning.  And I only got up then to get the twins off to school.  I guess with all the energy I have been putting out since October has finally caught up with me.  Call it a delayed reaction...  Susilou made a comment that was very empathetic for what happened last time I posted.  It made me feel good – Thanx.

Here is a summary of much:
PPT – Although ignorance did raise it’s ugly head, I did win the first battle.  I will have my daughter evaluated at the deaf school.  The other battle I won was I wanted 6 areas to be evaluated, got that too!  Yeah for me.

They were to send the referral Tuesday.  I called today the school, they did not. I called the Guidance Counselor and said I wanted it faxed TODAY.  “Well, the person who was at your PPT isn’t in today and only the Head of the Dept. can do that.”  Guess what?  She was at the PPT as well.  “OK”.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t follow up and light a fire under them because  I had to substitute teach today for a half day in the next town, and then visit my Mom in the nursing home.  I also saw her yesterday.  She isn’t doing well.  You know it’s hard to ‘lose’ the person you once knew so well.  Her body is there but her mind has gone elsewhere.  With all this happening I had practically no time to see her for months.  I would like her back, for just a few moments, so she can meet her new grandchildren.  That would mean a lot to me.  I don’t think it will happen...  That makes me very sad.

Yesterday my deaf daughter woke up and her usual sparkly cheery face was dark and sad. I gave her some breakfast and asked her to change out of her p.j.’s.  It was a wile so I went up to her room and she was sitting on the floor in tears.  I sat down next to her, and asked her what was wrong, she just shook her head.  She doesn’t have the American signs, she doesn’t have English and I don’t think that she knows how to express her emotions. I asked does she miss her friends, China, her school, she continued to shake her head.  I got out the dictionary and looked up ‘lonely’ in Chinese.  I pointed t out, she nodded “Yes”, and her tears started really flowing.  She tried to hold back, I told her it was alright for her to cry, she shook her head “No”.  I told her , that it was my job as her Mommy to take care of her and it was OK.  Still shook her head “No”.  I decided to deal with the loneliness problem first, it was more important.  Now with my other daughter in school (and doing fine) she is home alone.  Even with all the girls home, the twins tend to play & talk together as does my older daughter and the new daughter. She is isolated.  So I cancelled my plans for the day, took her to meet my Mom..., then took her to Starbucks for a smoothie and scone, which she loved, and then to 3 towns over to have a ‘play date’ with one of my friend’s children.  She had met this friend when we had dinner with them one night, and they hit it off instantly.  And no her friend didn’t know sign, they were the same age and they just ”communicated”  So we got them together shortly after that.  She really needed to be with a kid her own age.  So I tried to make the day busy & meaningful for her.

Later, I sat my girls down and gave them a strong awareness lecture.  You girls cannot talk amongst yourselves and leave your sister out. I know you don’t know sign yet but you can give her an idea of what’s going on. She is your sister, we are family, we help each other. I understand this is a new concept for you all, but I do NOT want to see you leaving her out of the loop anymore. Play cards with her, learn sign with her from the book, draw with her, but don’t go into your rooms and close the door leaving her alone, that is unacceptable.  At the dinner table, you act as if she isn’t there.  How would you feel if you were treated that way?  Be aware, and include her.
I know I will have to keep reminding them until it becomes a habit.

My older daughter has settled in school.  After her first day I wrote to two teachers and left a message for her Guidance Counselor.  I wanted them to know that I was watching, AND I needed them to do tings a bit differently.

Did I mention that two of the bunnies were adopted?  The last two, the shelter will take on the 28th, because they are old enough to be fixed.

I met with a wonderful woman tonight about teaching my family sign.  She is deaf. Her fee is incredibly reasonable. The only problem is it would be times 7. So that won’t work.  I thought about it, because it has to start ASAP, so the family can communicate with their deaf sister/daughter.  I decided if I start with 3, my dh, and the two older girls, that would be the way to go.  Now I just need to get that money to start the lessons.  I explained the situation to her and said I would tell her when we could start as soon as we got the finances to do so.  She was very understanding.  Just a side note, when we talked on the phone, (through an interpreter) she said how will I recognize you?  I explained on occasion I am told I look like Meryl Streep.  And she said, oh, I’ve been told I look like Sally Fields.  And I said, great, we both can give out autographs. You know what?  She DID look like Sally Fields!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm sorry everyone, I can't do it again.  I just spent  two hours sharing lots of details, information  and situations and it disappeared all of a sudden.  I can't do it again.  I just don't have it in me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It Saturday and I skipped Friday.  It's not always easy to write or find time to do so. I'm not sure what I did Friday...  I know I did errands with my new daughters, then came home to get ready for some old high school friends  who were coming over.  Yes, that's where I'll start - me.  I had 4 friends over that I grew up with that, some I haven't seen in 10 years. There is something very comforting to have friends that you spent so many of your early years with.  It so much like extended family, there's a feeling of safeness.  I know that sounds strange, but for me, being with people I knew for so long from an early age creates a connection that is solid.

We talked and laughed for almost 4 hours. There was a lot of "Do you remember..."  Those sort of conversations trigger so many memories. It helped me to remember there were special times in my life that helped to form me. It is also very interesting to hear how people viewed you.  Because almost always it isn't how you saw yourself. I admit it, I need to know that people liked me, had positive memories about me.  And maybe saw something special in me that I never saw.  We all need that now and then.

Three minutes after my last friend left, (midnight) as I was cleaning up, my pager goes off saying there is an MVA roll over with wires down. Within seconds I pulled my jeans off, on with my EMT pants, called in as I headed out the door.  Went to the firehouse, into the ambulance, and we were on our way. Since it was on the town line, two towns of fire engines showed up. We arrive, and there is a car on it's roof, all the windows are blown out and the telephone pole has been compromised. The patient apparently had gotten out of his vehicle and had been taken into a neighbor's house. The neighbor had no electricity because the wires were down.  So I held my flashlight under my chin, held c-spine and the other EMTs did their evaluation. I continued using my chin (not very comfortable I might add) to hold the flashlight as I prepared the patient for transfer. So the long and the short of this is, I didn't get into bed until 3:00 this morning.  I was SO tired I fell asleep in the back of the ambulance on the way home. This morning I had to get the twins up for Girl Scouts.  Then I went back to bed for a short while. But there were other things to do this day.

A new talent has been discovered from our deaf daughter. She has what my dh describes as photographic artistic talent.  Which means, she can look at a picture and reproduce it beautifully.  She did this one picture from a book cover with a girl on it who had this emotional look on her face, body language and in her eyes.  Well, by golly my daughter captured it perfectly.  OK then, (a favorite expression of one of my friends who has 14 children), so we have discovered this talent of hers.  We will absolutely nurture it because she loves to draw.  I can't wait to find out more about this little person.  Obtaining more language will certainly help that!

We are on an incredible journey of discovery with these two daughters.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I woke up before my alarm went off at 6:00 am.  I heard a noise and I knew, just knew... I come down stairs and yup, just as I thought.  It wasn't one bunny that escaped, it was all FOUR!  As they are hopping around in different directions, my bunny is going crazy in her cage because they keep coming up to her.

Of course all four of them have pooped everywhere marking new territory. So here I am in my p.j. s tiptoeing around the poop trying to catch these bunnies as they hop around saying "Freedom". "Whoopee", "YEAH!"   Or at least that's what their body language was saying.   I gave up on the tip toeing and just went after them. I grimaced every time a poop smashed under my bare foot or got caught between my toes.  This is NOT what I wanted to do before my coffee.

I finally got all the babies into their cage, and cleaned up all the poop. Then I started to boil the water for my coffee.  What a way to start the day.

I had just enough time to get the twins off to school before I went to THE meeting with the Assistant Superintendent of School and the Director of Special Ed.  And wouldn't you know it, the secretary had told me the meeting was at the Middle school. So I sit there and wait, finally I ask the front office where were they?  She placed a few calls and found out they were at the Elementary School waiting for me. I hopped back into my car and flew off to the Elementary  School, which was 12 minutes away.  I walked into the office somewhat out of breath and certainly not the cool calm appearance I had planned on.

The meeting was interesting.  I was on my guard the whole time. I decided some of the things that I did not agree with, I would wait and fight the bigger battles first. His ideas that my deaf daughter should be mainstreamed  if she could talk because she would have a better success in life by being in that environment instead of being around deaf kids all the time...  I know what you are thinking.  Then he went on to say if she can only do sign language then she should be at the deaf school, because she is past the age of 7 (when the brain builds connections) and hasn't had much if any audio stimulation.   I'm thinking, I really hate when they put all students in the same box because it fits their text book learning.  I decided not to say anything, I just nodded my head.  Because I knew her evaluation would get her into deaf school and I would be fighting a useless battle.  She does have expressive words in Chinese that are correct and I'm not sure how she got that.  But you better believe that I won't be getting her the hearing aids before the evaluation is completed.

Three years ago when I dealt with him, if he had 30 days to do something, he would wait until the 30th day.  But he surprised me this time.  He said that we need a PPT with everyone in attendance, I agreed, knowing that he had 30 days to call one and my daughter needed to be in school now!  Well darn if he didn't tell his secretary to call a PPT for this Monday.  Well, I was in shock. Not everyone could meet Monday so it will be Tuesday.  He also said he would be meeting with the high school Special Ed person. I asked why when you have the three letters from experts saying that she is 11.5 years old? I said the court date is in a week or so don't you think it would be a waste of time to do that?  He said she is still legally 14 which puts her in high school.  Another smaller battle not to touch. Yet while he's wasting his time, he is wasting mine. Tuesday will decide where she will be evaluated...

After the evaluation I want them to pay for her to be bussed to the school, and pay the school's tuition.
That will satisfy me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stand by..

Yes, I finally have a meeting with the powers that be for schooling for my two daughters. Tomorrow morning is the first of what will be many meetings.  At least it has started.  But as you might have guessed by now, it didn't happen on it's own.  I called today and made a strong emotional plea, which got me the meeting for tomorrow.

I'm afraid the emotional plea was based on a real incident today. My deaf daughter came down this morning and said that she was hungry and I opened the fridge and pointed to the dwindling supply of yogurts. Meanwhile I'm on the phone trying to organize a variety of situations.  She eats and goes upstairs.  I finally get off the phone.  We plan to have our two new daughters garden with us this summer, and since it will be pretty hard work they will need gloves. Ironically my hand is smaller than my 13 year old and the same size as my 11.5 year old so I knew what size I could order.  I found great gloves for only $4.50 and in a variety of colors. I went upstairs to ask my daughter who is deaf, what color she wanted, and found her crying on her bed under her covers.

I asked what was wrong, and she shook her head.  I asked her a few more questions but she wouldn't answer.  I called in my dh and he tried also, even giving her a big cuddle, still nothing.  In comes my other daughter and she tries...  I ask does she miss her friends, China, is she scared, etc.   She shakes her head as tears poor down her face.   She is looking so very sad. I get a piece of paper and pencil and have her write in Chinese. My other daughter tries to translate.  It takes several tries before she can give me a  coherent translation.  It was because there wasn't anyone to play cards with.  I asked her why she didn't ask her sister and she said she was reading a book.  And she looked at me and signed very strongly, "Why didn't we have lunch yesterday!?"  

And then I understood.  She was lonely, feeling isolated and forgotten.  I had my daughter write in Chinese telling her that, even if someone looks busy, she should always come up and ask.  Even if I am doing many things, she can stop me and ask.  At any time she may reach out to any of us.  And I explained about lunch, that everyone had a late breakfast so I wasn't sure when anyone would be hungry. I was waiting for someone to say that they were in need of food.  I told her that whenever she was hungry or needed something she is to ask, it is OK to do that.  She smiled and signed that she understood.

So that's when I called for the appointment and made the emotional plea to get her into school and around peers as soon as possible. I mean if you think about it, since she's been with us she hasn't been able to to say more than two sentences a t time because of the communication barrier.  How frustrating and isolating is that?

 I don't expect much from tomorrow's meeting, only to get the ball rolling.

I want to thank the few of you that gave me suggestions about saving money and a few recipes. That was great.  I do enjoy getting feedback with the the people who follow our saga.
Here are the newest members of our clan, although temporary.  We will foster them for adoption. I socialize and potty train them.

My husband had my daughter who is deaf,  put various things into the shredder today.  She really enjoyed doing it. She had no idea what was happening though, because when my dh lifted up the cover, she had the most incredulous look on her face.  She could not understand where everything went. She picked up the tiny pieces of paper and looked at them in amazement as if magic had just occurred.

I always knew boys ate massive amounts of food, but girls? As an example, we went through 5 pounds of fingerling potatoes, and 5 pounds of broccoli tonight.  Leftovers? HA!  Never!  My deaf daughter, who is very tiny, usually doesn't eat less than 4 helpings.  We bought a box of 35 yogurts on Monday.  Today is Wednesday and I just looked into the refrigerator and there are only 13 left!  Food seems to evaporate the moment it is brought into the house. Three quart bottles of mango juice disappear in a day, as do the other juices. I'm getting quite creative in saving costs on food.  The other day we didn't have anything for lunch, so I cut up some sweet red peppers, laid out some flat bread, put cream cheese on it, placed the peppers on the flat bread, and rolled it up.  Everyone loved it.  So now I'm thinking of other possibilities to put in the roll up sandwiches.  This could be fun.

I am really proud of my girls. They are really working together to problem solve issues when they come up and to step forward when necessary.  Now, if I could just get my new girls in school, I would be very happy.  I'm still waiting for a call as to when my meeting is this week to start the prolonged battle for services for both daughters.

I enjoy reading comments left by many of my readers.  It gives me a feeling that I actually am sharing with people and not just cyberspace. So for those who have not done so yet, and those of you who are tuning in internationally like Holland, New Zealand, Iceland, Canada and all, write something!  Anything will be of interest to me. Ask me questions. I will try to answer them honestly unless of course it is too sensitive in the emotional area of the family.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A some what typical day.

My deaf daughter is incredibly industrious.  I have a Sign Language book, and she is going through it page by page, and there is at least 12 signs per page, and she types in the English word on the computer and gets the Chinese translation.  She then writes the Chinese next to the English word.  How incredible is that?  Wow, she never ceases to amaze me.

We all went for an hour hike on Sunday.  It must have been quite a sight, the seven of us traipsing along in the woods.

So, just to make life a little more interesting, when things slow down...  Let me set the scene for you.   My two new daughters and twins are home with me, my dh had just left to take my older daughter to piano lessons.  Suddenly my pager goes off and I hear of a motor vehicle accident right near the intersection of my road and main road. One vehicle has rolled and is on it's roof and needs extrication.  And the page goes out for police EMTs from two fire houses, and fire trucks for extrication.  The air waves are busy.  I realize that it is right where dh was traveling.  I quickly call his cell phone, it rings and rings and rings, one more ring. Just as I was about to throw everyone in the car to go down to the accident, he answers.  I ask him, "Where are you?"  He says "I'm almost down at the bottom of the hill."

When I knew he was OK, I said come back I need to go to the accident, and I hung up.  You see I couldn't leave the twins home they are only 9, and I couldn't leave my two new daughters home alone because of the limited English and knowledge of what to do in an emergency. My twins are outside on their bikes I yell for them to come inside and wait.

I had one of the twins call the piano teacher to say my daughter would be late.  So in the middle of the kitchen I drop my blue jeans, pull on my EMT pants, grab my wallet, cell phone and keys.  As I go out the door, I call the dispatcher and sign on that I am going to the scene.  I pull out of the driveway, down the road, and pass my dh on the way in, we wave.

I go right at the bottom of the hill and about 500 yards down I come to the scene.  While driving I hear another call go out for more people.  I arrive park, and walk up. I see a car off the road, with the front end smashed in, and people standing on the side of the road.  I look into the car and  no one is there.  I look at the people and ask, "Where you in this car?"  They reply "Yes."  I look at them, and say, "You should get back in the car and sit down until one of us can check you out."  I go to the next vehicle which is a brand new red pick up truck upside down on it's roof, completely destroyed.  I go around to the drivers side and look, no one is there!  I turn around and see a woman, and ask, "Were you the driver?"  She says "Yes"  I told her to stand still, I went around behind her and held C-spine.  I look around...I'm the first one there, no one else has arrived!  Not even police to direct traffic.  I couldn't move from my patient.  She could have severe neck or spine injuries and not even know it.  I asked her where she was hurting, and she said her head because it bounced against the ceiling of the truck when she rolled.  Yup, I'm not letting go of this C-spine.  Other responders started showing up.  We soon realized that we needed two ambulances for three patients.  Fire trucks arrived, several police cars, lots of traffic...the usual.  Without going into a lot of detail, we board and collared three patients and went to the hospital.  We did our 7 page EMS charts,and drove home.  I had left my car at the scene with the keys in it. Which is what you do, and someone drives it to the firehouse for you.  Back to the firehouse, to do more charts, and by now it's 6:40, and call had gone out at 4:15.  I run back home, grab a bite, give kisses all around, and then back to the firehouse for training, which we do every Monday night.

I got home at 9:45 and grabbed a bite, caught up on my emails, and started writing my blog.  Since it is now almost 12:30, I think that it's time to finish for tonight.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hello All, I will be quick as it is past one in the morning.  I wasn't able to get to the blog before this because I was doing research from the various sources at Gallaudet University for my fight with the school to have my deaf daughter sent to the deaf school instead of mainstreaming here in a system where there are zero resources, so they would have to bring every single one in.

So here is a quickie update.  I decided to have quality time with each of my new daughters.  First was my deaf daughter.  She came with me to drop the twins off at sewing lessons.  I also introduced her to the teacher and explained the machines to her.  Because the morning session is for little girls and the afternoon session is for the older kids and she would be in that one.

After that I took her out to breakfast and we sat and talked for a while, as she ate her egg sandwich that she just discovered she liked.  On the way home I was distracted .  Out of the corner of my eye I saw her moving her hands around. Thinking that she was talking to me I glanced over at her.  I then realized what she was doing...she was talking to herself! And she continued to do so most of the ride home. Far be from me to interrupt her.

My other daughter's quality time was to go to several towns over to my sister's book signing at Borders Books.  On the way I asked questions of her, to get to know more about what interest her.  She likes to play badminton and she wants to continue to play violin. And of course we listened to Rock 'n Roll the whole way.  We got there and stayed for a while. I brought her to a book section that was for her age.  I suggested several books to her, and she finally chose one, which is very exciting because it's really her first English book.  The plan is that as she reads she will write down words that she doesn't know or can't pronounce.  It will give her a leg up on learning English.  We left and as I was driving I pulled into a ice cream place.  I asked her if she wanted ice cream and her face lit up. I introduced her to soft cream that could be rolled in any topping. I personally got vanilla covered in chocolate - Yum.  When we got to the car she was just giggling. The more I enjoyed my ice cream with sounds of yummm, or this is SO good, she giggled even more.  She just seemed very delighted that her Mom was getting so much pleasure from the ice cream.  And right up to the end she had the biggest smile on her face as if she were totally amazed at my spontaneity and silliness.  I think a new door opened up between us.

I'm off to bed now.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Long live Rock 'n Roll

So,one of my new daughter's found out that she has a rock 'n roll Mama.  I had an oldies station on and I was moving and singing as I was cooking dinner, and she was really surprised.  She looked at me, then got a huge grin on her face.  I wasn't sure if she would like that kind of music, but occasionally I would peak over at her and she was moving to the beat.  Then, "My Boy Lollipop" came on, and I sang it right to her doing the 'pop' and all, and she was in hysterics.  Later I said, "You didn't know that you had a rock 'n roll Mama, did you?"  She laughed and shook her head.

In preparing for my first meeting/IEP, I printed out a 122 page IEP written specifically for deaf and hard of hearing students.  It was written for parents  when confronted with school system that was refusing adequate support and resources for their child.  I am so loaded down with notes and research, that I need to organize it all this weekend so I am fully armed with all the knowledge of the system that is supposed to support the child, but doesn't.  And I have to get all the paperwork together to get a birth certificate for one daughter, and officially change the age of the other and get her birth certificate.  Three years ago it was against the law to change the age on a birth certificate in my state.  So I had to have a law written, I went to the capital and spoke to the Assembly, Senate and Congress, and the Governor signed it.  Talk about work and research...  I had to change my older daughter's age because I went to adopt a 10 year old and met a fully developed almost 13 year old. Now that took a lot of getting used to.   So I have experienced both ends...  I adopted a daughter who was aged down and a daughter who was aged up.

I'm starting to realize that my deaf daughter is starved for nurturing.  'Of course' you say, but wait.  My older daughter would not let me touch her at all.  I finally said, when you want a hug, please ask.  It took her about two years to ask for a hug.  I was so surprised and a bit overwhelmed when it first came.  And slowly over time she has asked for more.  But kissing is still out, that's disgusting to her.  Even at almost 16, when she sees a couple kissing on TV, she goes, "Eeeeewwwwwww."  So it was a pleasure when I first hugged my deaf daughter she didn't pull away in disgust. Slowly she has become more relaxed as I hug her.  Tonight while cooking, she came over and put her head on my shoulder - twice!  I put my arm around her and she just relaxed into it. Wow, I thought, this is nice.

I'm a bit tired tonight, I was on an 8 hour shift for the hospital ambulance yesterday.  And it was one of those days where the calls were non-stop.  Each time we pulled into the hospital to bring a patient in, the pager would go off again.  And then home to do homework, make dinner, do a wash, more research for funding hearing aids and IEP stuff then to bed, to get up today at 6:00 am. And start again.

I shall return tomorrow with more news from the front.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm back!

I apologize for the long pause in communication.

To catch you up a bit...
I caught my deaf daughter wearing pajamas UNDER her clothes again
For some unknown reason she decided turn all he hangers around so the hook part was facing out front.
She had a stuffed toy that when you squeezed it it would talk.  All she knew is when she squeezed it she felt a box in it. So wondering what the box was she took scissors and cut off the top of the head and dug through the stuffing to pull it out!
The other night I heard someone laughing, a really cute laugh and I don't recognize it.  So I start walking around the house to trace it.  And lo and behold it was my deaf daughter watching her favorite Chinese TV show that had sub titles in Chinese.  It was so funny.

My other new daughter prefers to stay home. I need to drag her out to go places. I think she also may be a bit enamored by her big sister, because I found her folding her sister's laundry while her sister sat there doing homework. (I wouldn't put it past my older daughter to have 'suggested' her doing just that). I told her "No, no, don't fold her laundry, she can do it herself. Thank you any way."  I walked away and a few minutes later my deaf daughter comes into the room to say that she's folding the laundry again.  I had her come to me and I said. "Did you finish folding the laundry?"  She said, "No".  I said, "Don't go back into the room for one hour".  She groaned, "Awwww".

Next week I will have my first meeting the the powers that be, at the school, to try and get the services that I want for my girls.  Here's how it breaks down:

One daughter was in 9th grade and on target grade wise.  I want to put her in the last half of 8th grade for several reasons. One is for her to get used to American kids, culture, school system, courses. Second, I want her to have an interpreter in class. Third I want at least two periods a day spent on learning English.  And fourth, her older sister goes to that school.  In Sept. she can then enter 9th grade and the High School scene.

For my deaf daughter it is quite complicated.  Because, as I said before, the Director of Special Needs is a pompous fool,  I will have to jump through so many hoops, go to many meetings, prepare masses of paperwork, hire a legal advocate, and tear some of my hair out. He will balk at spending any kind of money form his budget.  And the cost for bussing and the tuition of the deaf school is rather large.  He will try to prove that he can bring in people to educate her...l  Which is interesting because there are no deaf children in the school, there are no ESL classes and there is no one that knows Chinese Sign Language.  And if she did go there who would she socialize with?  No one knows sign language.  The list goes on.  I will update on a regular basis as time goes on.

I'm going to end now.  I got up at 5:30 this morning to work an 8 hour ambulance shift at our local hospital.  It was a busy day with a lot of calls.  I will be back tomorrow...