Sunday, March 27, 2011


This month was less crazy (and depressing) than February (thankfully!). We are six weeks post cleft-palate surgery now. Tate has one stitch left. The transition to solids has been tougher than we anticipated-- he's gotten lazy with all his bottle-drinking. But we've managed to move mostly to a sippy cup (he uses a Nuk or Nuby top so he can bite the liquid out-- he can't suck, so keeping the stopper in a regular sippy is out of the question, and traveling with a regular sippy stopper-less is also out of this question; the Nuk is a great compromise). He's mainly focused on soft foods, though we are letting him have foods that get soft easily and very small bites of chewier foods, like meats. Once the last stitch is dissoved we'll start letting him have crackers with corners again, probably. Tate continues to be the busiest toddler in our bunch. He has officially figured out how to open toilet seat lids so he can play in the water. So it looks like we may be buying some toilet locks (or keeping the doors closed, or some other alternative). His hair is getting long. Check him out: Marcie has really gotten into softball and been enjoying being part of the team. She also really likes Daisy scouts. I'm glad-- I think it's important to learn to be a part of something bigger. One great thing about t-ball is that they really focus on learning the game, so all the girls experience all the positions, and everyone bats each inning. A couple games ago, Marcie hit a home run!

And Casey has been trying out lacrosse this year. (He keeps calling it LAY cross.) We were a little worried it would be too much with baseball, but it's been fine. Baseball has been less encouraging because he got bumped up a level. And even though there's no Little League world series on the line or anything, they sure do take the game more seriously at this age. So it's nice to have lacrosse, where all the kids (in first and second grade, anyway) are still learning the game. Today he actually attempted to score a couple goals.

It should tell a lot that I know what my kids are up to. The trial I've been preparing for has been continued to the end of April. There's still work to be done, but the pace is less frantic (for me, anyway) than when you're getting the documents prepped for the pretrial hearing. It's meant that I could volunteer in Casey's class this week and take Marcie to her Daisy scout event. It meant watching Casey play lacrosse and finishing our adoption paperwork. It's been nice.

And speaking of adoptions, we filed our paperwork with the State court Friday and have Tate's readoption hearing set.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ching Chong (Asians in the Library)

On NPR today I heard the story of the video blogger of UCLA student who recently ranted about students talking on their cell phones in the library, a source of irritation to her.

Explained like that, it doesn't sound so bad-- but she didn't just vent about people on their cell phones. She vented about Asians on their cell phones. And she "quoted" them: "Ching Chong. Ling Long. Ting Tong."

She later apologized publicly. And NPR reported she actually left UCLA.

I get it-- I mean I get that it can be disconcerting to be concentrating and interrupted by high-volume conversations in an unfamiliar, foreign-to-you language. There must be other languages that are equally foreign-sounding, right? Why single out the Asians? (And for that matter, with the number of Asian races and languages, I suppose we can't say calling out an entire continent is really singling them out, can we?)

NPR also covered this great song (called, as the title of this blog post is, "Ching Chong (Asians in the Library" and it's over on You Tube-- with more than 2 million hits to date) and the creator of the song, Jimmy Wong. He pokes some serious fun at the UCLA student (even calling her by name), and her stereotyping.

Lots of people are slinging names at the UCLA student. But I think Jimmy Wong has the right attitude. He has already forgiven her.

I hope my own kids will be so gracious when they are older.
Strike that. I hope my kids won't have a reason to be . . .

In the mean time, head over to You Tube and check out his song.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The kids' elementary school is raising money for the disaster relief efforts in Japan. It was instigated by some of the kids at the school (through their "Big Idea" program). There are places for the kids to donate money all over the place.

We (Jason and I) have opted to donate through my employer because my employer very generously will match employee contributions. But I thought it might be nice if Casey and Marcie donated some of their money to the efforts at their school. I have never really asked them to use their money for anything. They mostly get money by finding it around the house. Sometimes when they get money as a gift, it goes into their stash instead of the college account or through us. Casey has kind of a lot of money. Marcie has less.

On the way home from school today, I invited Casey to share his money with the kids in Japan who lost their houses and their stuff, who need food and clothes and a place to live.

"No thanks, Mom," he said. "I think I'll just save my money."

While normally I'd applaud this thinking, I pushed. "Are you sure, Casey? I mean those kids in Japan sure could use the help-- you could just give a little."

"No. I think I'll just save it up for video games and toys and stuff."

I tried a different tact: "Maybe you could just think about it. Dad and I are donating money, and I thought it would be good if you could, too. Just think about it."

Maybe thirty seconds passed, and I heard from the backseat: "I thought about it, Mom. And I think I'll just save my money."

Of course, I haven't given up . . .

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Surgery Expenses

When we were contemplating a special needs adoption, one thing we thought about was the cost of addressing the special needs. In this case, cleft lip and cleft palate. Here in California, a month before we were matched with Tate, our state legislature passed a law that requires medical insurance to cover the expenses associated with treating cleft lip and cleft palate. It was one of the things that made me feel a little better about taking the leap--

As it turns out, in California there is also a program that covers the expenses not already covered by your private insurance- if your child is born with a congenital condition like cleft palate and has the condition when you adopt him. So long as you use a state-approved provider. For us, that was Children's Hospital, which is also our in-network provider for our private insurance.

Now, don't get me wrong, we pay a lot for private insurance. We don't have a fancy schmancy policy or anything super high end. We just have regular insurance, with set co-pays and deductibles. But we still pay what seems to me like a lot in premiums each month. I pay more than double what we were paying when I was a teacher-- and more than double what we have paid for any insurance from any private employer for whom Jason has worked. I don't mean this as a complaint-- it is what it is.

Honestly, I have not paid much attention to the health care debate because to date, we have been lucky enough to have decent health insurance. But when I got our hospital bills for Tate's surgery, I must admit I was pretty shocked. I mean, I expected the bills to be what they were (in the neighborhood of $25,000 if you include both surgeons, the medications, the recovery room, the overnight hospital stay, the anesthesiologist, etc., etc., etc.). I put this out there so that others who may be searching for information about the cost of cleft palate surgery can find out what it really costs. And, mind you, we only stayed one night in the hospital, and Tate's surgery lasted-- including both the ENT and the plastic surgeon, only about an hour and a half.

What surprised me was the price negotiated by our insurance. For some of the items, our insurance company had pre-negotiated with the hospital a 98% discount. That's a huge discount. Of course, the insurance company still pays most of the bill after our deductible/co-pay. But this got me to thinking about the people who are not insured. I mean, the reason they are uninsured is because the insurance premiums are too high. So how is it that they are also stuck with a bill 98% higher than the bill I would have to pay? That somehow seems backwards to me. I mean, I get that there are volume discounts and such. And I admit that I have no idea how the insurance companies negotiate the payments with the providers. No idea at all. But it seems odd to me that someone who can afford health insurance pays, oh let's say $3,000 (I don't have the bill in front of me, so I don't remember the actual price tag) for a surgery and someone who cannot afford the premiums, for the same surgery, might be asked to pay $25,000.

Does anyone else think this is backwards?

Of course, I'm grateful for the "discount," and I feel so, so fortunate that the price of a surgery to correct such a correctable special need did not keep us from finding our way to Tate-- he really is perfect for us. This talk of money might seem crude-- but it's not something to ignore when making such a big and important decision. And yet I feel so lucky that this particular expense is not something that we have had to worry about . . .

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Sixmonthiversary!

We met Tate six months ago yesterday. And were named his legal parents six months ago today.

Tate and I "celebrated" by spending the afternoon at the cleft palate clinic with our local Children's Hospital craniofacial team. They schedule all 25-or-so children for the same time slot and then shuffle you back and forth to various rooms as the different specialists have time to see you.

Tate and I saw seven providers today. We saw the social worker, a nurse (for general health), an ENT, an audiologist, a dentist and orthodontist, a plastic surgeon, and a speech therapist. In between our visits, Tate ran me ragged in the waiting room, which started out packed. But as the 23rd child to check in -- and one of the very few who had to see all seven providers-- we were the last to depart. The most challenging part was keeping Tate from eating crumbs off the floor. (I know-- eww.)

He did great with each doctor. His ear tubes are working. His mouth is healing just as it should. He is adjusting to life in our family well. He will need a whole lotta dental and orthodontal work. And he needs speech therapy because he is terribly far behind. Not in communicating, mind you. Oh, no. Tate communicates just fine. He knows the signs for "more," "all done," and "water," and he manages to get everything else he wants by grunting and pointing. And he certainly has no difficulty expressing his complete joy or his irritation. All in all, exactly as we had expected.

Except for my pants. Which I just had dry-cleaned. And are now covered in Tate much from my mid-thigh down. (I think it'd be from my knee down if I were taller.)

I've been gone an awful lot lately for work-- but Tate didn't seem to mind that I had this afternoon free to join him at the clinic. And I was glad to be in the loop.

Our trip to China seems like forever ago on the one hand. On the other hand, the time has passed in the blink of an eye. And I already can't really remember what life was like before Tate. And I don't want to anyway.