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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Update on Amanda

I realize I have not said much about Amanda lately. She has so much going on and is so busy; she leaves me with little time to sit down.

She has been home almost 6 months (January 10). We had to send in her very first post placement report, she was adopted June 25, and so the report was due Christmas day, it was a little late because of that.

I thought the questions were difficult to answer because they assume the child can talk and let you know who they love and how they feel about things. Obviously, Amanda cannot tell us this verbally. So we discussed her behavior towards us, how she reacts to certain situations, what foods she likes, and we made a supposition about various things.

Amanda adores two people, mommy and daddy, she tolerates others, but if she has a choice, she will sit with mommy or daddy, and though she is curious about other people, she does not look comfortable interacting with them. Do we think it means our sweet girl has bonded with us, yes and no. I do think she is beginning to trust us and is comforted by us when she is sad or hurt; but the bonding process is continual with her (and Kara). I have read two blogs today by other adoptive parents and they say much of the same thing. I suppose the term “Work in progress” would apply.

She does not like to be left alone indoors; she will seek us out and stand next to us asking non-verbally to be picked up. Her giggle or sigh of delight when we raise her into our laps is priceless, I have to try to capture her coos and giggles for the blog. If she is outside, she will sit in the sun and just bask in it. I don’t suppose she was able to do a lot of that in Estonia. I have to remove her from it because she will sit and sit, non-moving, just watching the dog run back and forth, giggling at Kara and Meghan, and trying to catch the cats tails as they dash about. She continues to drop her head periodically, she will breath deeply if she is stressed or tired, but she does not avert her eyes as often as she used to.

She continues to scoot on her bottom or skirt crawls (one foot, one knee) to get around. We have to dress her in jeans most of the time because she ruins her clothing if we do not. We need a smoother surface outside; our cement is rough. She is learning to climb up on things, and this is a new thing, we sit still and let her crawl into our laps, she used to try and give up and we would help her, but now, we sit on the floor and wait for her to make her own way. Just this afternoon she sat on her stool all by herself!

I think she seems older than she did when we met her in June, more like a toddler and less like a infant. She is finally trying to drink liquids, just a few sips at a time, but it is a remarkable improvement, she sucked some juice up in a straw two days ago. I think it surprised her too. We squeeze the box so the juice moves up without any suction from Amanda.

She is not interested in self-feeding, cannot chew anything YET, we do not give up easily, but she definitely has an aversion with anything harder than overcooked pasta. We have done hand over hand spoon-feeding with her, it confuses her, she gets alarmed, and pushes to spoon away, she grabbed the spoon once and threw it away from her. She is not ready for this yet.

VENT: Our insurance denied our claim for Amanda to see a feeding specialist, they also said she did not need a developmental pediatrician, and suggested that her regular pediatrician could handle all of her special needs. We expected this and ALTCCS (Arizona long-term care) will hopefully cover this now, with AZ budget cuts, that is not a certainty either. Both doctors’ offices were closed until this week, so I am making calls tomorrow for appointments. I am very disappointed with AETNA; they cover so much less than our previous insurer United HealthCare. We pay so much for this insurance too, nearly $1,600 a month, so you would think they would cover more. It is so frustrating to me. WHY do they cost so much? You know the denial letter actually said they needed to make sure their stockholders got good returns; honestly, I do not think people should make money off denied claims; it is disgusting to me. I am hoping something positive will occur where this insurance-HMO mess is concerned. We are so lucky we can afford insurance, but it makes it hard for us to have any extra left for savings. OK, I am done venting.

As the picture shows, Amanda loves to push the glider; she will do that for 20 minutes if we do not redirect her. She will also go into the playhouse and shut the door. When she is in there she will go through her litany of self-stim behaviors. She hides in there to do them because we redirect her when she does them in our presence. Are we doing the right thing? I suppose some will say no, but Amanda’s self-stim are very loud vocalizations and it is hard for anyone to do anything when this occurs. She is now saving them to tell us she is hungry or tired, and we are working on helping her tell us this via sign language. So far, she seems uninterested in sign, she has done more a few times, so it is going to be a battle with her, or maybe she is not ready for this yet.

She loves to grab the collars of our tops and rip them, some stretch and she thinks it is hilarious when mama shows the world her bras, ugh. She likes to pull hair and attacks Kara especially, but Kara usually starts it. Amanda is learning to fight back, somehow I think she always knew this, but was too afraid at first to do it. She has learned a high-pitched scream and practices often...she does not allow us to do much as she is very demanding when it comes to attention paid to her. She takes off her shoes as fast as we can put them on, she does not like to be naked and screeches until her clothes are on. She gets cold easily and we have to put thick tights under all of her clothes. She loves to wipe her boogery face on our clothing and usually does this right after we change to go somewhere. LOL

This is not to say that she isn’t the most adorable little girl ever…she has the cutest little voice and when she hugs us, she sounds like she is in heaven! Her giggles are also so sweet and full of life. She does not think beyond her needs being met. It does seem like she is self-centered, I would expect that out of her right now. She needs to be to survive; all of us do to an extent.

Overall, I feel she is making good progress, the fact that she prefers sitting in our laps to doing anything else means she wants to interact with us, and that is a huge change for her. I do think she did act lovingly towards her nanny in Estonia and it was her fear of us as new people in her life, in being in a new home and hearing a language she did not understand, which made her withdraw into herself. I do believe she was left in her crib too often and confined to that small space too much, her behavior shows this clearly. It is not unusual in an institutional setting.

Neither Tom nor I will say that no, she does not have an autism spectrum, the changes in her behavior are subtle, and people who do not see her regularly do not see all of the positive changes as clearly as we do. When someone new enters our home, she clams up and they do not see her true self, so it leads me to believe that we did not at first either, BUT she does tend to prefer her own company to ours 50% of the time.

Only more time will give us a fuller understanding of who Amanda truly is. Just like Amanda, we are adjusting to our new lives with her in it. Last night I watched her sleeping in her crib and felt my love of her course through me. There is no doubt that we love her, and I think she knows it!

She just stood up to tell me it is time to leave the computer. I hope this is coherent, Manda was singing her unique song the entire time I was writing it and I lost my train of through often. LOL


GoldenAngelsWorks said...

This sounded fine. I am happy to hear of her progress and how she now has two very special people in her life that she seems to love and trust.
I hope something can be done for her to get the help she needs.

Beth said...

Call your state board that regulates insurance companies in AZ. Keep the denial letter to show them. AETNA is famous for this! They can't deny claims just so their stockholders can get paid a dividend! There IS an appeals process within your state!

And you're right about them costing more and doing less. That was my experience, too. I will never use them again.



Jennifer said...

What a great little girl! Imagine surviving all that she has gone through! She is making amazing progress:)

Alice said...

It sounds like Amanda is making great progress. Do you think she is understanding English now? It makes me smile to think of her hiding so you won't redirect her. That is sophisticated thinking. She sure looks happier and healthier!

Shea said...

Isuarnace companies frustrate me to no end!! I am sorry you have to fight with them and sorry your premiums are so high. Maybe all of that will change in this new year. It does sound though like Amanda is making really good progress. She is such a lovely gilr and it must wamr your heart to see her discovering the world around her.

carol said...

Amanda sure is changing in looks and actions. I am so glad that she knows she is loved. Every child deserve to be loved. I can only imagine what her life was like before she came to your family. I bet she will learns to enjoy Meghan and Kara. What a lucky little girl to get such a patient loving family. God Bless you Kris amd Tom. You are doing an amazing job with all of the girls.
carol n

Jessica said...

You need to write a book. Honestly, you write beautifully and you capture both the practical knowledge and the emotional nuances so well. Think about it... because obviously you need a project to keep you busy:)

And Amanda is coming along just great. Precious girl. Whatever you are doing, keep it up- its working. And appeal any insurance denial. PITA, but it often works.

My three little girls

My three little girls
Finally got all three to smile at once