Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mama Bear

Yesterday we had an IEP meeting for our daughter Polly who has Down syndrome. She turns three in April and for the last few months has been going through evaluations from Chicago Public Schools in order to come up with her very own Individual Eduction Plan.

Sixteen people meet around a large square table for two hours to determine the best school setting for her come April.

The experience was postivie, generally. My husband and I were pleased with the goals set for Polly and it seems like she will be alloted enough time in school for physical, occupational and speech therapy.

There was one area of Polly's IEP where I did not agree with the proposed goals. I voiced my concerns and went back and forth with the therapist. I talked, she talked. I talked again. She ripped up the paper sitting in front of her. I offered her a brownie (I made brownies for the meeting. Great tip by the way). We agreed on tweaking the goals a bit and added one more goal per my request, against her perfessional opinion.

I felt the mama bear in me awaken. She started to shift and bend slowly, ready to stand and roar if need be. I fought the feeling, stayed civil and polite, yet firm.

Last night my whole body ached from built-up stress and the disagreement during the meeting. It felt like I had been in a fist fight.

Advocacy is hard work. Sometimes you have to push and pull to get what you know in your gut is right for your child. It takes nerve.

And sometimes I don't think I have enough nerve which scares me when I think about bringing Evangeline home. Last night as I lay down to sleep I very quietly asked God just what he thought he was doing.

This morning the Reece's Rainbow community received devastating news. Two girls from the site, who were over four years old, already institutionalized, without families, passed away due to a recent flu epidemic in their country.

There are so many children who need loving families to care for and advocate for them. Reece's Rainbow has helped place over 140 children with special needs in two and a half years! We thank God for the families who have welcomed children into their homes. And pray that others will step forward.

I am reminded this morning that adopting Evangeline means life, for all of us. It is worth it. God will give me the nerve I need when I need it to be a good mother to her and to ensure that she is always loved, protected, treated with dignity and respect, and receives ample opportunity to reach her God-given potential.

And so I am gonna make nice with the mama bear in me and allow her to stay, for the sake of my children.

Please go to Reece's Rainbow's site, look at the children, pray for them and tell others about them.

They all are in desperate need of a mama bear.