Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Friday, May 20, 2011

The long awaited update

So this is the post about the visit we had from the school psychologist and the school social worker.  I will preface this by saying that since this is my blog, these are my feelings and not necessarily the way things actually are, but the way I perceive them to be.  My opinions are not intended to offend anyone, but to describe my feelings, frustrations, and accomplishments so that others can sympathize, offer advice, or learn from me.

As I had mentioned before, the psychologist was scheduled to come out to our house at 9am on a Tuesday morning to meet with Mariah.  Wes doesn't have preschool that day so I had all 3 kids by myself.  That was fine.  Then the social worker called Phillip at work to schedule an appointment "To determine if our home environment was the source of Mariah's delays."  Phillip is pretty cool headed but that really hit him the wrong way.  He asked her if she had read any of Mariah's info.  She was like, "Oh should I know something?"  Um yeah... so anyways after he enlightened her, he told her to call me and schedule the appointment.  Well, when she did call me, she first wanted to come the same day as the eval at school with the speech/development teachers, then she wanted to come the same day as the psychologist at the same time to talk to me.  I explained that the psychologist would be here as well and I would have all 3 children by myself and need to stay with Mariah.  Well she said that was fine, she could come at the same time because she didn't need to talk to Mariah, she needed to talk to me.  ??  Ok... we're running out of time, she didn't give me another option for a different day so I said ok.

Then I got nervous. 

What if she finds something wrong?  What if the kids act horrible and I am helpless to do anything about them because I have TWO adults here evaluating TWO things at the same time.  I was freaking out.  What are they looking for?  You hear those social worker horror stories and I was starting to wonder if this was one of them.  Maybe my immagination takes off with me... but I was stressing out. 

I was upset so my hubby decided to take off that day.  He's only been at his new job for 6 months so he had only 2 days to take off and he took 1 for this.  He gets the good husband award!

So Tuesday morning right at 9am the psychologist shows up.  And she brought a translator.  I was like, oh crud.  I asked them not to do that.  I told them they didn't need one, but they did it anyways.  We had noticed that Mariah acts weird around the translators.  She looks upset.  She won't talk in Russian but obviously understands.  Then she will look at us and say things like "I love you mama." One translator at the hospital told us that kids who are adopted and get used to America where everything is in English and start feeling safe and adjusted will get very upset to hear Russian again.  Its like a tease that they might go back.  It reminds them of everything that was and pokes a hole in the "I'm staying here" idea.

Sooo.... they brought a translator and I decided to make the best of it but Mariah yelled "Hello!  Hi!  I'm Mariah Katarina!" in English and I was like haha yeah she needs a translator.

So the psycholgist starts the evaluations with the same block patterns that Mariah has been tested on at least 4 times now.  The same 1, 2, 3, and 4 year old block patterns.  I think by now she must be tired of them lol  Then they ask some questions.  Like showing a picture of three different kinds of dogs and asking which one is the largest.  Mariah says "Dog!"  So they get the translator to ask her in Russian.  She looks at the lady and kind of smiles her scared monkey in a cage smile and nods her head.  "Sabaka" 

Its not that she doesn't understand big and small.  Its that she doesn't understand what they want her to do.  Its not something anyone ever asked before. 

So on to more questions.  Mariah here is a triangle, a square, and a circle.  What comes next to complete the pattern?  Again, she doesn't understand what is being asked of her.  Then three toys.  A dog, a parrot, and a duck.  Which one is the parrot?  Umm.. hello a parrot?  That wasn't on our list of "to do's" when we brought her home.  I feel helpless.  She isn't stupid but she has no idea what a parrot is and its from lack of exposure.  So stuff like that.  I don't know ... I thought a psychologist visit would analyze her psychologically??  Mariah also has strabismus and her opthomologist says she can't see stuff up close very clearly so to have her looking at small cards and toys and pictures doesn't seem fair.  When I mentioned this, NO ONE had read the info I had included in the initial letter requesting the evaluations.  No one knew.

Some of things Mariah was asked that I was just like "Whatttt???"  Were:
Mariah, if I was to finish this letter (half of a "K") what would it look like? (given choices of 3 other letters off to the side)
Mariah, tell me about a dress.
Mariah, where is your wrist?

Umm... letters?  Mariah MAY have know cryllic but English letters?  She's been home 4 months, can't see up close well and can't write.  She surprised the stuffing out of me when she picked the right one two or three times though... so who knows?

Seriously?  Tell me about?  What is it you want?    About 4-6 words... tell me about...once again.  maybe its my ignorance and this reveals some psychological awareness that I am not aware of but I thought it was pointless.

Wrist?  This is like parrot.  She has no clue.  She even argued that no, its not "wrist," its "hand." We have been working on "Head, feet, hands, mouth" not wrist.  But you can be sure she knows it now lol!

After doing these questions for a while and the translator being involved some to "help" her understand better, Mariah got clearly upset.  She finally got up out of her chair and came over to me so I could hold her.  She had asked the translator at one point, "Where's friends?"  I wasn't sure what she meant...  The psychologist asked me if Mariah was going to be enrolled in Kindergarten no matter what.  I said no.  She won't turn 5 till Sept. 7 and we are still working on bonding.  She can't go all day yet, she's just not ready.  Oh?  Well how is bonding going?  That was what I thought the first question would be... but anyways I said its ok.  We're still working on having her feel comfortable and she is still grieving her friends and attaching to us.  We went over how she is still working on toileting and how it is the one way she really can act out behavorially BUT its much better now that we have a new potty chair she can use herself.  Mariah keeps clinging to me just holding me this whole time since she got into my lap.  She NEVER EVER does this.  She likes a snuggle but she was clinging to me very obviously upset.  The psychologist was done aways so she said bye and left.  She was a nice lady.  Really, she was a very nice lady, but I felt like she was CLUELESS about Mariah.  She even asked me if I thought she bonded with a special nurse while she was in the hospital for her 4 months after being born.  The translator answered for me by saying "Oh no!  It is not the culture!  They would change them and feed them maybe... if they're lucky."  She knew!!  The translator was a nice lady too.  It was not her fault that her presence made Mariah so upset.  She really was trying to help but Mariah speaks English now...

Meanwhile, 20 minutes into the psychologist being here, the social worker arrives.  Phillip met her at the door as he was handling this interview instead of me.  The lady wanted to know if I was going to come in and participate in answering the questions she had and Phillip told her no.  I needed to stay with Mariah because she needed me close by.  She once again stated that the purpose of her visit was to determine if our home was causing Mariah's delays.

She wants to know why Mariah was referred for evaluations?  We requested it. Multiple times.
So she asked if Mariah was born via cesarian or vaginally.  Umm. Don't know.
Does Mariah know about "stranger danger."  Hah
How long was she in the hospital after she was born.  We think 4 months.  Its what we were told?
Does Mariah use her fist or her fingers to hold her utensils.  Fist.
Is she on medications.  Yes, for TB.
Does she play ok with her brothers? Yep
How old are they? 2 & 5 at the time.
Why isn't Wesley in school if he's 5?  He just turned 5.
When the doctors discovered Mariah had cerebral palsy, was she given early intervention or therapy or extra medical attention?  No, her parents revoked their rights and she was sent to an orphanage when they discovered she had cerebral palsy.  ( I do not fault her birth parents for this.  They did what they had to do, but this was not the woman to discuss this with.  I personally feel sorry for any parent having to make this choice)

She asked questions like this for about 30 minutes while sitting at our dining room table.  She never said hello to me.  She never looked at Mariah.  She never looked at our house other than the door she walked in and the table she sat at.  I was rather baffled.  She left before the psychologist did so I never even said a word to her.  Not sure how that was supposed to work if Phillip hadn't been here.

I thought she would want to look at Mariah's room, her potty chair with steps, her AFOs and her walker.  You know, maybe watch the kid walk so she could understand why she has development delays?

Anyways... after everyone left Phillip and I (still holding a clingy Mariah) were just standing outside.  We tried talking to her and it finally came out that she thought the translator knew her friends in her grouppa.  We have been calling them her friends and explaining family relationships vs friends and even though she calls Susanna her sestra (sister) I think she knew what WE call them so she asked "Where's friends?"  She told Phillip that the "teacher" was from grouppa (what she refers to as all things orphanage) and talked to Susanna and Olya and Sasha.  Oh geez. What do you even say?  We knew she got upset when we had translators  but now we know why.  Poor kid.  She's 4.  The only people who ever spoke Russian to her were from the orphanage.  Russian language = orphanage and grouppa to her.  She was so sad!  We snuggled for a while and reassured her that we love her and she's staying here with us.  After a while she decided to play but she wasn't a happy kid.

We used the rest of the day off to go purchase an unfinished dining room table and chairs so we could stain it ourselves and finally have a functioning table for the 5 of us.  Mariah was just grumpy the entire day.  She fussed and fussed and had to pee and pee and pee even though she refused to drink... craziness.  We knew why.  No more translators!  Russian dvds will have to be IT.  I am not bringing another Russian speaking person around my child until she is old enough to understand things better.  I feel like a bad mama for not recognizing how traumatic it was for her.  But I know now, and it won't happen again. 

So the determination meeting (meaning they will meet to discuss the results of the evaluations and decide if Mariah qualifies for services) will be on May 27 at 2pm.  I can't go to the school in person at that time and requested a different date but there are none so I will have to participate via phone.  I don't know what to expect.  If Mariah doesn't qualify for special ed, then she can't be evaluated for therapy.  If she does qualify then we have to try to get her into Pre-K instead of Kindergarten and I only want her to go partial days.  One of the teachers we met with was the Pre-K teacher and she was great.  She was so nice and she seemed to "get" Mariah.  Mariah did really well with her testing ( I thought) with this lady and was very comfortable and happy the whole time (no translator).  I don't even know when she could be evaluated for therapy now?  Probably next school year sometime and therapy was the only reason I wanted her to go to school.  She doesn't NEED school yet.  She could wait a year and be so much more ready... but we'll see.  I know what the Dr. at Kluges said about her development and that's that she is at a 30 month level.  Has she improved?  Did the school test differently?  I want to see before I decide anything.  In some ways she is where she should be an above (always washes hands, always throws trash away, notifies me of someone else breaking rules) but is some ways she is behind (can't write a straight line much less a letter.)  THIS skill however is much better.  She loves to scribble on the easle we have and has been drawing so much more than she used to.  Her POTENTIAL is there.  I hope everyone sees that.  Some people just ask a question one way and if she doesn't do it, they assume she can't.  Most of the time she has never seen what they are asking her to do or describe.

I know this sounds like a rant.  Its not meant to be.  Its just me frustrated because I feel like no one understands how to evaluate an adopted child.  Most meant well, but Mariah is capable of more than what she can do now.  I hope that got across.  She has come so far in 4 months.

After the visits I decided to write Mariah's bio and send it to the school asking for everyone who has been involved in her evaluations to have a copy and read it.  I wish I had done this from the start but I didn't want her being prejudged because of her background and medical conditions... Hindsight is 20/20 but I haven't even gotten to where I wish I knew what I had done yet!

I feel like I'm being judgemental and critical.  This is what we asked for.  We asked for Mariah to be evaluated.  So why does it feel like WE are?  Why does it feel like no one understands?  I thought they were the experts and would know what she needs?  Instead we have people asking if we are doing something wrong.  I am so frustrated and confused... I actually found out that some people in this county carpool with other adoptive families and take their kids another county over to go to school because this county has not been supportive enough or helpful enough with their adopted children.  Yikes.

So there you have it.  That's what's been running around in my brain.  Like it or not.  Right or wrong.  That's what's in there.  I am hopeful that we'll come through this process more knowledgable and with the desired result for Mariah.  Like Phillip said, we're doing it for her, not to make friends.



Mom2Four said...

Welcome to the world of the public school system! (NOT!) Some people "get" our kids - most do not. This is why so many families with adopted kids end up homeschooling them. Because the truth is, the only "expert" for your child is you!

Winnie said...

Don't let it bother you that the testing is things she has no concept of because she hasn't been exposed. That is what they are looking for, to see if she knows things that a typical home-grown 4 y.o. would know, it doesn't really reflect her ability to learn those things.

It's very apparent your dealing with a school system that has no experience with IA kids and that's a shame. Like Mom2Four said your the expert and you have to teach the teachers in this case, you can do it though!

Healy Family said...

we are facing some of the same things, and this one daughter of ours will be 13 this summer! they have a mold and all children are forced to fit into it. it makes me sad because, just like mariah, no one is looking at our daughter, just the form she should be taking. the ELL program seems designed for immigrant families, not children adopted into american families and the acclimation into english from adoption is way faster. it is frustrating to say the least! while our nearly 14 year old adopted daughter is doing exceptionally well, our other daughter is nearly 13 going on 6. she has some significant emotional development delays. i don't know why and i'm not sure what to do about it either...
hand in there!

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson