Tuesday, April 04, 2006

New Possibility

Our PATH social worker ran a new referral by us that's very interesting to us. It's a little black girl who has some very serious problems...most or all of which could have been prevented with even the most basic of parenting.

She's three years old...but looks six or seven due to massive obesity. Our information is sketchy so far, so it's unclear if that obesity is natural, a result of neglect or abuse, a result of the suspected prenatal drug use of the mother or a result of a car accident she was in two years ago (probably without a car seat, for all we know).

She's "developmentally delayed". I'm familiar enough with this business now to know that that phrase probably has a very specific meaning, but I'm not good enough yet to know precisely what it means, and people seem reluctant to tell me, which can't be good, right? Anybody who has a good idea of a specific meaning of that phrase as it applies to official psychological diagnoses of children, please share in comments...I'd like a definition from someone knowledgeable about this. Is it a code phrase for "retarded", for "not bright", or simply what it really seems to mean, which is her development just lags a year or however much behind her peers?

Anyway, there was no followup after the accident, so they're busy trying to make any appropriate diagnoses right now. From her current foster home. Where she's one of seven foster kids. Holy crap.

She's got vision problems, problems walking, a speech impediment and God knows what else.

The mother was incarcerated and shows no interest in her daughter. No father is known. Parental rights are being terminated, probably to the relief of all involved except the little girl.

So. Mom was understandably guarded about us taking this one, fearing that it could bankrupt us if we softheadedly fall in love with her--as we almost certainly would--and ended up adopting her. To tell the truth, I'm neutral on this one until we get more information. It may be over our head.

But of course you realize better than I do as a reader of this blog that we'll probably take her. You have the perspective we lack except in rare moments of clarity like I'm experiencing right now as I write this. We're people who knowingly go through the most gawdawful frustrations, things that would make "normal" people beg for mercy, and then after a quick smile and a hug from the source of the trouble, turn around and beg for more. Maybe we're "developmentally delayed". Or as Bill Cosby would put it, "brain damaged people".

In short, we're foster parents. This is what we do, and while we might not do it as well as some, we're willing to beat our heads against the wall some more. We're the best for this job by virtue of the fact that our insticts for self-preservation are insufficently vigorous.

What ya got for us, "Vicki"?

Bring. It. On.


At 7:16 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I asked my husband the special education teacher. He said, "It means that in at least one area they are two standard deviations behind the mean, or one-half standard deviations in two areas."

The "areas" are: motor skills, language development and adaptive behavior (self care).

Helpful, huh?

The next question is what is the cause. A child can be developmentally delayed because of Down's Syndrome, other "cognitive impairments", hearing or visual impairments, malnutrition, inadedquate stimulation, the list goes on.

I recommend that you ask in what specific ways and to what degree is she delayed and then also ask if they have any idea as to the cause.

Good luck!

At 9:06 PM , Blogger Mary said...

Beth stole my answer! Moving on, she has an excellent suggestion of asking the specific ways and to what degree the delays are occurring. That will help give you a clearer picture of her functioning level and what issues may arise from that. I know you'll keep us posted.

At 9:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, beth just beat everyone to the punch. She's got everything already suggested. Good luck and keep us posted.

At 9:53 AM , Anonymous Ali said...

No judgements here or anything dear but I highly recommend you stop using the term 'retarded'. It's not just about 'PC'...it's an antiquated term comparable to calling black people the 'N' word or calling homosexuals the awful 'F' word. It's extremely derogatory and offensive. Most especially when referring to a child.
No judgements..just giving my tidbit of education!


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