Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Shhh it's a secret!

No, I have no good secrets to tell, only my opinion of keeping certain secrets. Some secrets, when kept, cause more damage until the secret keeper can't contain themselves another minute. By that time, a lot of damage has already been done.

Lets say you hire an accountant to manage the finances of your business. You use this accountant for several years, only to find out they've been stealing money from you all along. What do you do about it? Do you keep it a secret, feeling guilty that your speaking up would put that person out of business? Or do you report the problems to the necessary authorities so others don't get screwed the same way?

Last fall, the very first day of school, we ran into problems with Angela's case manager at her school. These were SERIOUS problems with the case manager's inability to stay in compliance with Angela's IEP. The case manager was so grossly negligent in that area, it was impossible to believe she could be compliant with ANY IEP she was responsible for. Do you know what? I didn't feel like "fighting the fight". I was tired. I'd just had issues with Axel's school the spring before and I didn't feel like doing it again. The district was aware of the problem, surely I could trust they would eventually deal with it. In the meantime I begged Dean to move. I didn't want to deal with the problem now, only to have the same problem in a couple years when Axel goes to the same school. I wanted to run away from it; let someone else fight it. This is called "Burying your head in the sand." or "Turning tail".

Then a friend called me, "Leah, someone who walked this path before you cleared the way so that Angela could get what she needed in school. Now it's your turn. You have the ability to fight this. Please fight it for my kid who will be in the same school soon."

And so we stayed. I continued to press the district, and the case manager, to fix the problem. I did everything I could as a parent. Finally, in December while I was in Serbia for Asher's adoption, I received an email stating the case manager had been removed. A new teacher was hired, and everything was awesome again! And do you know what? I felt so much better about myself as a parent and an advocate for my kids. I didn't back down just because it was hard. And do you know what? The parents who's kids will come behind mine thanked me. The parents of kids who were in Axel's school the year before also thanked me for bringing to light things they had no idea were going on in their kids' classrooms.

Now lets talk about adoption agencies and related organizations. If you work with an adoption agency, only to find they have lied to you and cheated you out of money, would you continue to work with them? Would you report the problems to the necessary authorities?

During my adoption of Axel from Serbia, there were some major problems which were brought out of the darkness and into the light. I fully participated in the investigation in Serbia, even though my name in the adoption circles here was drug through the mud. Emails were forwarded to me (with headers intact) which were written by heads of organizations saying everything I'd said was false, that I was a pathological liar, and people should stay away from me. People were told Serbian adoptions had stopped because of me, and the fact those children were going to die without families would be on my shoulders, and "How do you feel NOW?" They were mean, nasty, and flat out slanderous. Still, I didn't back down. I spoke up PUBLICLY. Why? Because there are families coming behind us and I didn't want them taken advantage of the same way we were. The monetary damage (to the tune of $5,000) was already done. That didn't mean the families behind me should have to suffer the same damage. Funny, Serbian adoptions never stopped. Children have still come home (Asher included) and life in the world of Serbian adoptions has continued regardless of all the awful things that were said about me.

So what about you and your situation? Do you say nothing because you worry that if you speak up, kids won't' find homes?  Do you realize those who came BEFORE you are the reason you're having problems now? If they had spoken up PUBLICLY, you would have found their words while doing your own research. But they didn't, so you didn't, and now hear you sit, angry and upset because you've been wronged by some organization or agency. Well, what are YOU doing to do about it so those coming BEHIND you don't suffer the same fate? Will you speak up PUBLICLY? Or will you hide in the shadows like those who came before you?


Carissa said...

I am adopting soon and have been researching adoption for a while now. I have just started seeing the "dark side" of the organizations, through the brave people who do speak up. The children will still be saved, those who want to adopt will still do it. But those who speak up are saving families from heart ache, from financial strain and from having an experience that will discourage others around them who are unsure of adoption from ever doing it.

Thank you for being a squeaky wheel :). I think it shows you care for the orphans AND their families.

Anonymous said...

You did the right thing - absolutely!!

And I'm guessing you've likely heard the latest regarding a corrupt, blatantly dishonest Ukrainian facilitator: