Glitch in the adoption process

Of course, things can never be smooth for us. We are complication magnets.

The week before Christmas we had a family team meeting with all of the caseworkers involved in our fostering/adoption of little man. We had been preparing our subsidy and paperwork to send off to the Department of Health and Human Services for his adoption. The subsidy and continued Medicaid would help us to continue providing therapy for little man, would cover any meds he might need in the future, and would financially cover any future trips to psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc. He has experienced quite a lot in his five years that will take professional help to address. He has also developed some extreme behavior tendencies that often prevent him from achieving success and could possibly interfere with academics later on in his life if help is not provided early. Because he's still a foster kid, all of his current treatments are covered by Medicaid. While we filled out our paperwork for the subsidy and Medicaid, we were assured there would be no problems; he would receive both a subsidy and Medicaid. So at this family team meeting, we found out that DHHS denied him for Medicaid. DENIED. Paperwork was re-submitted, phone calls were made, emails sent, and still he was denied.

Tonight we met with a representative from an agency who is handling little man's permanency plan who was able to explain this denial more fully. Apparently this agency, which deals with all of the foster and foster to adopt cases in eastern Nebraska, was notified the day before a new policy change with Medicaid that would essentially deny kids Medicaid on certain grounds that are incredibly gray rather than black and white. It sounds like little man's paperwork was the first to be processed with this new law. Currently we have two options: accept only the subsidy (a monthly stipend) and move on with the adoption process or take DHHS to court and drag out the adoption an undefined amount of time (but I can only imagine this would take months). There is a local advocacy agency who has agreed to provide us legal representation because this new policy change happened so quickly and doesn't appear to have followed the standard protocol for changing policy (essentially this is a revision to a law, so it's filled with heavy legal stuff that I don't even pretend to understand); ultimately this agency is suspicious of this recent policy change. What none of us can figure out is how our little man can be eligible to receive Medicaid now to cover treatment for his extreme behavior issues, but when he is adopted, he will no longer be eligible for help with no explanation as to why he will not receive help. It's as if these people think his adoption would magically cure him of any issue he would ever have...despite being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders from licensed medical professionals. The documentation we've provided in support of little man receiving Medicaid is undeniable: he needs help and will continue to need help. With our teaching salaries, there is no way we could afford to provide him the help he needs without assistance from Medicaid. If this new Medicaid policy goes left unchallenged, it could mean scores of Nebraska foster-adopt kids won't get assistance they need; it could mean that wards of the state would wait longer for adoptive families because there may not be assistance for these families.

Part of me wants to just accept the subsidy and scrape by eating rice and beans simply so we can make little man official--so he can be a Helzer. It would just be that finalization that I think he needs right now. Selfishly, I don't wait to take DHHS to court because I want to move on with our family. But....another huge part of me feels a huge responsibility to see how this plays out in court for the sake of other kids. I've always been one to fight for injustice; if I can intervene, why shouldn't I? Gah. There's just too much to think about.

So, in the next week we'll be contacting an attorney from the previously mentioned agency to see what we can do, crunching numbers with our anticipated subsidy figures and the cost of mental health professionals---and praying we make the right decision (all while parenting and teaching). If you're the praying type, please pray we would have wisdom and peace throughout this process.

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