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

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Looking for a reason in the middle of a mess

I saw a friend of mine post an update on Face.book the other day.  They just got home a few weeks ago with their newly adopted son from Ukraine.  She said, "I got a call from the ELL teacher and my son has been completely assessed in the first week of school.  They are placing him in Algebra II!"

I'm happy for her, but my heart sinks when I read posts like that because it should have been us.  It could have been that easy.  My kids should have been assessed when I enrolled them to see what their level of instruction needed to be too.  I asked for it, and I was denied.  I asked for a lot of things, trying to get my kids the help they needed...  The ESL teacher here never contacted me.  Evaluations weren't done despite my repeated requests.  There was no misunderstanding.  I have 100s of pages of emails in which I expressed my concerns repeatedly, asking over and over when something could be done to address the problems my children were having.

So, here we are.  In November my boys will have been home for a year.  I had to file a formal complaint with the DOJ and the Dept. of Education regarding my children's civil rights being violated.  I've met with our social workers from both adoptions.  I spent hours and hours and hours in meetings last year with the school administration that resulted in a whole lot of nothing for my children.  I've talked to advocates, lawyers, and the State Board of Education.  I had to keep D home when school started this year because I was told "We shouldn't expect much out of him due to his low cognitive ability."  Yet, no help was offered to my 12 year old who can barely read basic English words.  He was stuck sitting in a 4th grade room last year, kept at a massively frustrating level of instruction that he couldn't gain anything from.

Finally, after almost a year of research, phone calls, tears, and late nights, I am starting to see the light at the end of a very long and exhausting tunnel.  My kids started this year at a different (read better) school in our county.  We are in the process of moving into that district.  The school district is agreeing to a settlement with the Dept. of Education regarding ESL and SPED services.  My children will be receiving services as deemed adequate by the Federal Government.  They will receive compensatory services to make up for the lack of services last year.  The teachers my kids have this year were handpicked for their qualifications and are all FABULOUS.

Three of my children will be having Independent Educational Evaluations done by Dr. Federici because I did not at all agree with the results of the school's evaluations and I said so.  Its important for parents to know that they can say so, and more importantly to check the "dissenting opinion box" and say so in writing at the meeting.  Then parents can request an IEE which the school is obligated to pay for.  Parents should know this.  I didn't know this three years ago, and its why we ended up paying for private school for 1 1/2 years.

I am sharing all of this because its not at all how I envisioned our first year home.  After a year of fundraising and completing adoption paperwork, topped off by a 6 1/2 week long trip to Ukraine all I wanted to do was come home and be able to breathe a little!  Instead I found myself in the middle of the biggest mess I've ever had to deal with.

Yesterday when I was talking to our adoption agency director, she asked how things were going with our school situation.  I told her.  She said, "WOW!!  You go girl!  I am sending people to you from now on who have these problems!"  Apparently it happens a lot, but usually to parents who have one child and don't know where to turn for help.  Most adoptive parents are like us.  They come home flat broke or in debt from spending all they have to bring their kids home.  The last thing they want to do is drop $200/hour on an advocate or lawyer.  I realize that I DO know how to advocate now.  I can tell people how to get their children what they are entitled to from their school.

If I had to live this nightmare situation at least maybe the good that comes out of it is that I can help others avoid the extent of negligence that my children experienced.  I hope I can help others avoid the nights of shaking in anger at the injustice of it all.  I know the law now.  I know what to say in IEP meetings.  I know how Special Education law works now.  I know ESL law.  I know lawyers.  I know advocates and social workers.  I know how to fix it.

All parents want is the best for their kids.  When our children come from backgrounds of gross neglect and abuse, all we want to do is fix it.  We want to make up for it.

I'd fight it all over again for my kids because they deserve a mom who would do that for them.

But what an exhausting battle it was.    


Blessed said...

I am not an adoptive parent, but I follow your blog because I always enjoy hearing the "after" when we have helped kids get into their forever homes. I am so sorry it has been such a hard struggle, but I am sure you are right, that it will ultimately be for Good Reason, and God will use you and your hard-earned knowledge to bless other adoptive families. : )

SammE said...

I'm so happy that you've been able to get help for your boys, and that things are looking up. Advocating for them has had great results. I'm proud of you for persevering! May this year be easier for everyone. :)

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