Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Three Months and One Day

This is how long it took me to get to Jie Jie once I had her file locked. This is also the amount of time she has been my daughter! It's astounding how quickly life can change in such a short span of time!

Monday, June 27, 2011


We are still hanging in here. This Kaiser thing has really hit me hard. It's taking a huge toll on me. I did get Jie Jie a physical, not much more than she got in Guangzhou, but it was enough to meet the requirements that Kaiser laid out in their letter to me and the doctor did write a wonderful report.

Two Sundays ago, Jie Jie was a flower girl in a wedding and did beautifully! I was so proud of her. The bride knew from the start that Jie Jie could change her mind at any time, and do whatever she felt, but Jie Jie took her role seriously and was the most poised and pretty flower girl there ever was. She didn't even fidget for the 12 minute ceremony and it was pretty darn hot out. She also ended up with the ring bearer's pillow when the ring bearer fled and the back-up gave up. I'll get pictures up when I can. I can tell you this... My eyes teared up, not at the bride, who was beautiful, but as my heart melted at the sight of my little girl all dressed up, so brave and poised walking down that isle. I got to see more of what she's made of and it humbled and awed me.

Tonight Jie Jie went swimming for the first time - I think. She's been exposed to swimming somehow, but I think it was her very first time in a pool. She was fearless! She even jumped off the diving board without reservation. I'll post the video and detailed story later, but she was definitely a super star.

In the midst of all of this, the medical stuff did bring up our first serious bonding relapse. I may or may not go into this more later. A lot is happening very fast and I can't record it quickly enough before we're on to another phase. Fortunately tonight, we've had a positive breakthrough. I think that being in the pool tonight helped. Being in water, skin to skin, can bring up primal memories of womb life. For those reading who are well-trained in adoption psychology, you know that regression is encouraged. Jie Jie was looking at her SWI pictures the other night and it brought something up that was easy to follow and it's been a great tool in strengthening our bond and healing what happened last week after the medical stuff. I wish I could type it all out logically, but it's not really logical since it's coming out of a very little girl. I can see it when it's happening and I can deal with it very well, but it's hard to explain in this format. It's also private so trying to share it without crossing the line of my daughter's privacy is also difficult. At this moment, I am a great mother because I met my daughter's deepest needs tonight, when she turned to ME, after three days of distancing herself, lunging into the circle of my arms, in that moment between being awake and falling asleep when terror gripped her as a deep memory surfaced. The journey through the memory explained some new things and something that came up two weeks ago that still lingered, and then Jie Jie was able to come away from this gently and fall peacefully asleep.

I am learning to put into practice the things I learned at all the classes my agency provided. It's not hard, necessarily, but it's so personal, that it's unique, so there isn't a one-size-fits-all fix. I am taking the tools I was given and am leaning how to utilize them to help my daughter and myself as we navigate this delicate and precious time of our lives. This was the first time in our bonding that I've had to push the reset button and go back to Bonding 101 tactics enforce. I am so happy, that after only three days, we've been able to regain our closeness.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Filed a Formal Complaint

Today I filed a formal complaint with Kaiser Member Services. I am thankful that the woman I spoke to was very kind and professional and wholeheartedly agreed that Kaiser had been negligent (her words). She is expediting the complaint. She varified all the information she gave me to avoid any further passing along of wrong information. I have formally asked that the medical review be cancelled and that my daughter's coverage begin as I was told, on July 1, and for the rate I was quoted.

Please pray that this turns out in my favor.

Logged In 50 Months

As of yesterday, I've been logged in for 50 months, waiting for Apple. I wonder who she's going to be, how old she'll be, where she'll be. I still think I'm close to my referral estimate of Dec. 2012. A couple weeks ago, I started noticing the small baby clothes again, no more buying; I've got plenty, and I'm glad.

It feels nice to let a part of my brain start imagining two, though I'll be honest and say I easy imagine three, a teen, then Jie Jie, then Apple, but this whole insurance thing has been a shock and I don't know if I can afford three. Over the next year+ I'll pray diligently on this and see where I'm led.

I'm off to make dinner. Hey, Gong Gong, we're having hekka, I'm trying to copy TuTu's recipe. Wish you were here!

Bottom Line - They Want More Money

Thank you all for your support and suggestions. I'm so grateful to have all of you in my corner.

This is the bottom line: Kaiser wants to know how much to charge me for my plan by finding out how much my daughter is going to cost them in healthcare. The man actually said, "This is a profit - cost ratio business." They can't deny my daughter healthcare, but they can make it prohibitively expensive. I just tried Blue Shield and their very rough estimate is over $700 a month for a policy until my daughter is no longer under a doctor's care for at least 6 months. They also want past medical records. But, the woman was more honest and up front, I hope, and didn't hesitate to tell me that I'm going to be paying a lot.

Health care is NOT a business, it's a necessity. Why have we tolerated this? Why did so many fight President Obama when he tried to help us?

Had the Kaiser personel I spoke with before going to China, and some after returning, known their job like a true professional, and had given me accurate information, this could have all been avoided!

Oh, and there is a 20% surcharge on the policy through Blue Shield that goes to good old Uncle Sam... Is this to pay for all the immigrants, legal or not, who get healthcare for free? How about the drunks or druggies who have no where to go but emergency rooms. I'm feeling really ugly here right now. I work until I'm about to drop and instead of getting ahead or even breaking even, I'm drowning due to the stupidity and negligence of those is charge.

More Insurance Woes

Kaiser lied to me AGAIN. Today I hate this country. I hate that the administrators have taken over every single system and corrupted it. I hate that everything from the level and standard of education to healthcare to respecting the constitution and it's processes are in a rapid state of decline. I hate that politicians have the morals of sewer sludge. I hate that our postpartum maternal death rates are rising alarminly while in third world countries and all developed countries around the world they are declining. I hate that we have the highest number of incarcerated people per capita yet our laws are being cancelled out by more laws that are being cancelled out by even more laws and lawsuits. I hate that in California, illegal immigrants can apply for and get government financial aid to attend college and other non-citizen people residing here can get free healthcare but I can't even get healthcare coverage for my own child when I can pay for it, and I was born and raised here and pay taxes through the nose. I hate that as a self-employed person, I cannot get into a decent healthcare program, or retirement program. I can't even get an LLC or incorporate as a licensed childcare operator; the State doesn't allow that. I am truly alarmed at the state of this country. This isn't the America I was born to, but a rapidy morphing beast that is being unleashed the destroy the infrastructure of all this country was founded upon.

Last I spoke to Kaiser when I gave them my daughter's SSN, I specifically asked, "Is there anything else you need in order for my daughter to be covered." The woman on the phone replied, "No, her coverage will begin July 1." Today I received a letter in the mail stating:

"In order to continue processing your application, we need a statement from your current physician regarding congenital condition and require a current physical examination within the last 12 months. If you have not seen a health care provider within the past 12 months, we require that you obtain a physical examination and provide a physician's statement on your current health status. The statement should include a full listing of all of your diagnoses, any medications you are taking, current lab results, any unresolved health issues and any anticipated treatment(s) or surgeries needed."

What am I supposed to do? Go to the nearest neighborhood pediatrician's office and ask if they take debit cards like going to Walmart? What current physician do they think my daughter has seen? Oh, yes, she did see one in China at the Medical Exam Office to apply for her visa. Does the eye check count? How about having her blood pressure taken? Gosh darn, I wasn't allowed to open the Brown Envelope so I don't even have a copy of that much! Wait, will they accept the PPD test result? Do you think I can pay for all the necessary diagnostic tests to know the "full listing of all the diagnoses?" This is a catch. I've seen Sick Around America. If they find something, anything, not disclosed, then they cancel the insurance and bill you for all the previous care, take your house, your car, your life. How can I possibly fully know what she's got when I can't get freaking insurance so that I can take her to the doctor and have diagnostics run?

How am I supposed to sleep tonight? How can I look my daughter in the eye tomorrow? What in world do I do if she gets sick or injured while I sort all this out? How dare Kaiser do this to us!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jie Jie's Progress

I have a truly brave and resilient little girl. She is doing wonderfully well. I am, too. The more I get to know her, the better mother I am to her.

One of the most important things I've learned is that when she starts whining or wimpering during our lessons, she is not tired of the lesson, but overwhelmed. For example, today I started putting the letters she's learned into words she knows, such as EAT and HAT. Then I asked her to write them. She couldn't do it. The old me would have said, "Of course you can! Come on!" The new me wrote the letter E and had her write it, then I wrote A, then she did, and lastly the T. After we did that, I wrote the first two letters and then the last, having her do the same right after I did. Then, I wrote all three letters and she was able to do it. She is a VERY visual learner. Not only did breaking it down help her in concentrating on one letter at a time, but as I wrote fluidly, connecting the letters into words, she paid very close attention and learned finer details such as how closely the bottom left side of the A came to the H, in HAT.

This then developed into a game where she asked me to spell the words she knows, like ice cream and the names of the cats. I then took it a step further and wrote the letters she hasn't yet learned and had her write the ones she has learned. I think that today's lesson was our most fun and successful so far.

Bedtime is a breeze. She's always been a good sleeper, and went down quite easily, but now she goes down like a dream. I used to lay with her for awhile, usually until she was asleep, but she began turning that time into play time, prolonging bedtime for up to two hours, sometimes resulting in a meltdown. This was fine when I knew she was grieving, but then it evolved into tired child tantrums. After the third or fourth night, I put her down, said I was going to feed the cats, and walked out. My room, where she sleeps, is off the kitchen, so she could easily hear me right on the other side of the door. For the first two or three nights, she stayed awake, but was quiet, for an hour or so then needed a drink then fell asleep, now she falls readily asleep. Her sleep is less active, too, with less talking.

It's been at least three weeks or more since we've had any meltdowns or crying related to grieving. She doesn't look at her China pictures any more before bedtime, but they are always easily accessible. We still talk about the people in her life in China regularly in a good way. She talks a lot about swimming with them. I don't know that she's ever been swimming, but she may have.

We've gone over a week without a single tummy cramp. I've finally got the hang of her meals. No asparagus, even though she likes it a lot, because she can't digest it, and a LOT of FRESH fruit. I also got the amounts of things just right.

Her feet are improving, and I'll devote a post entirely to her feet soon.

Her English is coming along very, very well. She says entire simple sentences in English with few Chinese words, like, "I like ice cream. I bu (don't) like cake." We communicate very, very, very well for two people who don't know the other's language.

She's got a great throwing arm. At a church carnaval this weekend, she consistantly got 2 out of 4 bean bags into a game that no one else got any in and 3 out of 4 in one that others got only about 1 or 2 in.

Jie Jie is very brave, intelligent, funny, happy, and very industrious. She'd rather help me weed the garden then jump on the trampoline while I weed myself. She has a great sense of humor and takes advantage of spontaneous moments to play charming little jokes on me.

I am so proud of this little girl and all she is! There is just too much to write about her.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We're Freezing!

I keep reading blog after blog and hearing about how hot it is and how wonderful summer is and I see all the kids wearing shorts and here we sit, in California, layering up like crazy for a picnic in the park. Please send a little of your warmth and sunshine our way.

No joke, by the end of today's picnic, Jie Jie had on thick tights, socks, pants, undershirt, shirt, sweater, fleece-lined jacket and a hat. I just kept running back to the car for more and more layers as we shivered our way through the day. I'll post pictures later.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

First Sewing Project

I started sewing matching outfits for Jie Jie and her doll today and while I was sewing, I did what my mom did with me, and gave her a scrap of fabric to cut. She snipped for awhile and then indicated that she wanted to do more so I threaded a needle for her and showed her how to stitch. She called it Bao Bao's washcloth and wanted to make a bigger one for herself and here it is...

Here, she is goofing off and when she saw the resulting picture, she roared with laughter and kept chanting, "Big Eyes! Big Eyes!," so I took another one of her trying to smile with big eyes. She has a great sense of humor!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ice Cream Sunday

These were taken last Sunday after church and at the baptism we attended where Jie Jie had her first ice cream cone since we became a family. She really likes ice cream, and now I know she especially loves it on a cone.

First Fencing Jacket

She doesn't look thrilled, and she wasn't, at first. Once I explained that I could fix the way-too-long sleeves, she liked it.

No, she's not going to be fencing, at least not in a class. My instructor only takes children who are 9 years old, except by special circumstance. But, he did give this to Jie Jie as a gift so that I can play with her and teach her and he's going to make a foil for her that will be just the right size for her hand.

Random Cuteness

My Very Happy Girl

I made a "skut" bike by removing the pedals of a free 12" bike.
Jie Jie can coast at least 20-30 feet now.

I came upstairs after my last daycare child left and this is what I found... Jie Jie was playing with her dolls, but not just randomly. She was helping her doll, Bao Bao, play dolls with the fairies. She put the little dolls into the baby doll's hands and "helped" her play. She really loves her baby doll!

First Hair Cut

Two weeks ago, it was time for Jie Jie's first trim. She needed it from the start, but I didn't want to rush her to do something so drastic as cutting something off, so I waited until now. We talked about it for awhile first, probably a few weeks, off and on, just to get her used to the idea. On the day it was time, she launched into a huge speech featuring her caregiver, the pictures I sent and mama's long hair. It would seem that having her hair long to match mine was something of importance, or at least greatly discussed, in China, at her orphanage.

Two days later, my friend came over and gave me the same kind of trim and Jie Jie stopped us right as the scissors were about to make the first snip and she ran to find her pretent camera to take a picture of me like I did for her trim.

Great Comment!

Jie Jie and I went out for ice cream and I noticed another mom glance at us as we headed toward our table. I didn't think anything of it since I was so into my daughter eating her ice cream cone and I even took some pictures.

Once the ice cream was finished, I glanced around a bit and notice the back of the head of the mom who'd glanced at us, then I noticed her little Chinese daughter. The minute I caught her eye, she smiled hugely and was just bursting to talk. She and her husband had adopted their son (5.5 yrs.) from Taiwan and their daughter (4.5 yrs.) from China.

We all eventually wandered outside and let the kids run crazy while we gabbed. Soon, Jie Jie grew tired and I picked her up. After resting, she got back down and started running again, then it repeated - when tired, I held her.

The mom was holding her 4.5 yr. old the same way and said to me, "It's so great that you hold her that way!"

YAY! It was so great to get a nice comment like that, especially after the one last Sunday.

I feel great about the job I'm doing as a mother, but it sure is nice to get a compliment now and again on it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today's New Experience

We attended the baptism of a little girl who turned 8 years old today. In my religion, children are not baptized until their 8th birthday. I was so happy to have this opportunity to celebrate with the family and to expose my daughter to this event. Then I began to wonder what it would look like to her, a big man pushing a little girl under the water. I decided to go up to the Visitor's Center at the temple nearby and ask a Mandarin-speaking missionary to explain baptism to my daughter and show us a video of it.

They didn't have any good videos at all, but a man being baptized by another man in a river and after my daughter saw this, I had them explain how the little girl would hold her nose to keep the water out. Suddenly, my daughter stepped back, said, "No," and got a frightened look on her face. I immediately knew she was scared and thinking she was going to have to go through this herself. I quickly reassurred her that this was not happening to her, that she's much too small, but that it's a wonderful thing, and we high-tailed it out of there. Sometimes it's hard to know what needs a lot of preparation and what is simply beyond explanation and just needs to be experienced.

She really enjoyed watching the baptism and had fun running around afterward with other children. When we got home and she was in the bathtub, she held her nose shut and stuck her face in the water for the first time and practiced swimming.

We are going to our first swimming party at the end of this month and she'll finally get to swim, something she's talked about since seeing her swimsuit for the first time and learning what it was.

One great advantage of the day, was that the little girl who was baptized, was also confirmed and given the gift of the holy ghost through a special prayer by her dad, who has priesthood authority, and is done with the child sitting in a chair, her dad's hand on her head along with those of her grandfather and the bishop. This is also the way my daughter will receive her blessing, which is like a baby dedication, but a little more. I was able to talk to Jie Jie about this blessing today, for the first time, and she said that she would like do it. The conditions I presented to her is that it could be at home or at church and she can sit on my lap. She asked me to put my hands on her head, too, but I explained that only the men will do that.

Pertaining to this, the subject of an English name came up. I couldn't understand her Chinese very well, but it seems that she might have been told she'd be given a new name when adopted and she wasn't happy about this. I asked if she wanted a new name or to add a name to her Chinese name and she was very adament that she did not want a name change. This is fine with me. I call her what she calls herself. I had been introducing her to people using the Mandarin pronounciation of her nickname, but now I give her proper name and save the nicknames for me or those close to her. Her proper name is easier for English speakers to pronounce correctly anyway.

The First Truly Annoying Comment

I've fielded adoption-related comments well, I practiced long before motherhood was a reality. You know, the standard ones, where words like real parents, lucky, was it expensive are said. Today I got one that came from a surprising source, someone I thought knew better having had a lot of exposure from me and her own brother, who also adopted a child from Asia. It also wasn't a comment made to me, but to my daughter, and you bet I quickly replied and did some educating.

"You're too big to be held like that."

What? Yep, that's what this woman said to my daughter.

I said, "No, she's not. I'm lucky she likes to be held like this. Even if I'd adopted a 13 year-old, I'd hold her, if she'd allow it...."

We were at church and my daughter was ready to leave, having sat through only about 15 minutes of singing time and the closing prayer, so I picked her up, her legs around my hips and her arms around my neck, dress properly down, and then this comment was made.

Honestly, sometimes I wish I could stand on the rooftops and tell the entire world my daughter's history. All about her birth and relinquishment story, her health history and current condition, and all about how she's suffered and still suffers due to her medical condition, and all about adoption psychology.

I really love church. I do miss attending all the services, but not enough to put my daughter through it before she's ready. She is doing so very well and I know it's because of the choices I've made in caring for her. Each and every day, especially on the weekends, I think hard about what we'll do and I go through a mental list:

Will we do something new to her?
Will we go somewhere new?
Will we be in a crowd?
Will there be a lot of waiting?
What will her meals and snacks be?
What will be her exercise for the day?
Should the exercise be for stamina, strength, or feet therapy?
Should we have a day of staying at home alone, having friends in or going out?
How much fun will she have?
What will I do if she does .....?
How well do I need to prepare her ahead of time?

Ugh, this post is morphing, I need to stop here and break the rest down into a few other posts.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Insurance - Finally!

Yesterday I got the call that my daughter's insurance will be approved! I can't tell you how relieved I am about this. I will tell you why it's taken so long in the hope that no one else goes through what I did...

Back in Sept. 2010 when I was investigating the feasibility of affording two children, I called my insurance group, Kaiser of Northern California, and asked about it. I was told that my child would "ride" on my plan for the first 30 days starting from the day of adoption and then I could get her a policy.

Days before leaving for China, a self-employed daycare mom told me that this wasn't true and she was charged for her sons birth and expenses. I quickly called Kaiser and they said, "Oh, you have an individual plan, not a family plan. You must buy her your plan for the first 30 days."

I was floored! My plan is the bare minimum and doesn't even exist any more. I'm "grandfathered" in now. So I decided to apply for a different plan when I got back from China. After our first week home, I looked at the application and nearly fainted. It wanted taxes and/or profit and loss statements since I'm self-employed. A few weeks later, when I finally had time to fill out such a long form, I attached my 2009 taxes and phoned them to tell them I was sending it in. Next snag - sorry, you have to send in the 2010 taxes. Sorry, my foot, the US government isn't even getting those until near Oct. when the extension is due. My adoption meant I put a lot of book keeping on hold. Of course, then they wanted three months worth profit and loss statements and proof. I told them that if I had this much book keeping done, I'd have it all done and the taxes done and I got off the phone and flipped out. I decided that I'd rather pay the $2500 yearly deductable for a different plan than take time away from my daughter right now and go through all the book keeping, etc...

After more issues, I finally got the application and it as 24 pages long! I did it, because I didn't have a choice, my 63 days from adoption, which is called a "qualifying event" was just about up and if it was up, I'd not be able to apply until next Feb. which is my child's birth month. No way on earth can I go that long without healthcare for my special girl, not to mention the threat of accidents and illness and trips to the ER.

I got the paperwork ready; it came to 29 pages with the adoption proof, and went to the local office store to fax it. It's over a dollar a page to send a fax!!! I had no idea and wasn't about to spend $50 just to send in this application. I realized I had friends with home offices and one kindly faxed it for me.

Over a week later, I get a call...
Your application is denied because you didn't include the child's SSN. What? Yep. It's required by Kaiser. I did plan to get her a SSN, but I was waiting until after the readoption so I could put her final name on it. I broke down. I cried. I spoke to managers, etc... and they wouldn't budge. Oh, cost of readoption: $900! Not happening until the end of the year when I get ready to do 2011 taxes.

I had no choice. I called the insurance person back and asked her to hold the file and I was on my way to the SSN office then and there to get this number, along with my daughter and three daycare children so I could leave the rest with my assistant in ratio. Insert here that had Kaiser said, in the beginning when I first enquired as to what I'd need, and/or if it'd been on any of the instructions/waivers/info garbage they send, I would have automatically applied for it at the time of the adoption at the Consulate in Guangzhou.

Get the SSN office, explain to the very nice, professional woman, what is going on and she breaks it to me - they don't issue the number, the government does, and it takes about 2 weeks to receive the card. Honestly, because she was kind, I didn't lose it. Then she said I can return to the office in a week and see if it's been processed and they can tell me what it is, but it won't be given out over the phone.

I went back, kids in tow, and they did have it and I got it and the insurance lady accepted it and my daughter will get coverage, but it won't kick in until July 1!

There is one blessing in all of this: I got extra time with my daughter before doing medical stuff, to talk about going to the doctor, practice, and build trust. She is truly terrified. Any time we go to a strange building, even the SSN office, she asks if she's getting an injection by pointing to the backs of her hands, where she had her IVs during her last surgery, and wimpering. When we practice and get to the injection part, we practic with her being brave, my way, then her way, being scared. The first time she wanted to do this, I didn't know what she'd do, but she imitated exactly what she did at the Medical Office in China when she got the TB test, by clutching her arms to her chest, arching, kicking and crying (imitating crying). Whatever happens, I've got no problem advocating for her, so if it's more than she can tolerate, I'll ask for options and demand some I already know I can get for her.

Tummy Aches, Snacks and Meals

My little peanut has had a bumby week with tummy issues. It's part of her special need, but she gets horrendous cramps sometimes and I made an unknowing mistake and she suffered for two days. I let her eat raw veggies from a veggie and dip platter and I think it was just too much for her intestines and she fell crying to the ground the next day, doubled up in agony. We had one sleepless, painful night, and finally things moved through and she's better, for the most part, but I think I need to keep a list of what veggies I give her and how she reacts and no raw ones unless they've gone through the Vitamix blender.

She's feeling much better now, but she spent her first 5 1/2 years in this kind of pain on a regular basis. She is so strong and brave!

I've also started shopping differently and give her substantial snacks and smaller meals. She notices the amount of food on our plates. She wants the same size serving I have, but when I tell her that I'm big and she's small, she's okay with it. Last night, it was the reverse since I'm trying to lose the 12 pounds I've gained this last year, and she was grinning from ear to ear that she had the bigger portion.

Her snacks are small amounts, in fun bento boxes, of a variety of the following:

fresh fruit: cherries (4-5), apricots (1/2), pineapple, apples
shelled sunflower seeds (1 tbs)
sesame stix
dried blueberries (1 tbs)
dried seaweed
organic animal crackers
potato straws (just a few)
Cows milk and Soy milk, alternated
Whole wheat toast

She doesn't like yogurt or cheese yet. I think she'd like the sweet, thinner yogurts, but I'm really watching her dairy intake. She's not lactose intolerant, but dairy is hard on the gut, so I'm careful. I make up for protein at mealtimes.

She's a great eater, but she's new to most solid food since she only began having it two years, or less, ago. I give her pretty plates that are different from the daycare kids and if she eats what they do, I always add something more, today it was fresh pineapple. The daycare kids don't mind because they know she's older and mine, but my daughter feels special and loved, which is supremely important to me, of course, and it gives her more calories.

It's a challenge trying to give her tons of calories and eat fewer myself, but portion control and no snacking for me should help me get back on track.

I'd love to hear what snack and meal ideas my readers have.