Difficult Changes

Yesterday brought a big change to our lives.  Dimples has been struggling under the pressure of her current school.  She is intellectually capable of doing the work, but the homework pressure was resulting in significant challenges at home.  We came to the conclusion that while we love her school, we had to consider the needs of the entire family and do what we could to calm the household down.

It was a very sad day because Dimples loves her classmates and feels close to them. Russ and I have been thankful for the high structure/high nurture environment and Christian instruction – even uniforms have been great since Dimples does better with fewer choices.  But the pressure to be organized, write neatly, complete assignments at home, etc. has been too much.

Yesterday she began school at our neighborhood public school.  We are requesting an IEP to accommodate some of her needs and hope it will ultimately result in a calmer girl.

As for me, I was a total mess yesterday – this is a significant loss, yet we believe that this is the best decision for everyone.  I am overwhelmed at the thought of learning to navigate the world of IEPs.  How much more do I need to learn as I parent my kids from “hard places?”  Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode. Thankfully, I have friends who can advise me and we’ll just take it a step at a time.

[edit:  I should add, we are very thankful that both the principal and Dimples’ teacher are Christians who attend our church.  What am amazing blessing that is.]

This is about much more than changing schools and I’m still processing it. I have some thoughts I would like to share; hopefully tomorrow there will be time to write.

For all of you who loved me and offered support yesterday via my One Thankful Mom Facebook page – thank you.  Blogging was beyond me – one sentence updates were all I could manage.

Please pray for Dimples as day 2 at her new school begins.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

35 Comments

  1. Paula Miles Spears
    October 9, 2012

    I have done the IEP thing for years. It can be overwhelming, but just remember that you are your child's biggest advocate. That is a tremendous blessing that the principal and teacher are people that you already know will want to be on your child's side. I am the world's worst when it comes to navigating change, so I feel your pain. I do know that this is a decision that wasn't made lightly and hopefully it will reap big benefits for your family. Many prayers and good thoughts are being sent your way. Call me if you have and IEP questions or you just need some commiseration. Hugs to Dimples as she starts at this new school, too.

    Reply
  2. Dawn Wright
    October 9, 2012

    Continuing prayers!

    Reply
  3. Emily
    October 9, 2012

    Big transition for everyone but a step towards greater healing. Having the IEP will be a wonderful way for you to be sure she is getting her needs met. Even though uniforms helped – you can still have very specific school clothes for her – even outfits for certain days. Heck we are lucky if Yabsera changes his pants by Thursday! I am with you!!! And I love love love our neighborhood public school for our kid from a hard place.

    Reply
  4. Kara
    October 9, 2012

    My E is in public school and we are in the midst of the world of IEPs. I panic, I get frequent phone calls, I am in tears all the time. BUT he got screened for English Language Learning and (shockingly) qualified for an hour EVERY DAY. This is one-on-one time with a woman that recognizes that although he is a jabber box, he only comprehends a smidge of what is being said. This has been a blessing and we are already seeing progress in letters and sounds- something that we had been working on with home school and traditional kindergarten models for almost 2 years.

    Reply
  5. mamitaj
    October 9, 2012

    I just want to hug you and tell you that we have had a very positive experience with our public school for Cupcake. I was very forthright in sharing her past trauma history and they have done everything in their power to meet her needs and get her the services she needs. I know not everyone has such glowing reports, but certainly it is possible. Bless you for doing everything you can for your whole family.

    Reply
  6. Marissa
    October 9, 2012

    Hopefully it's a good school and the will be able to do the IEP navigation for you. We were lucky enough to find ourselves in a school district that really took the lead on it which was a huge relief. I hope you find the same.

    Reply
  7. Chantelle
    October 9, 2012

    Once again I just have to say THANK YOU for being willing to share your experiences with us. Parenting our special needs/attachment challenged kids continues to be the hardest thing I've ever done. You bless me every single time you post. ((((((hug))))))

    Reply
  8. Jo Wall
    October 9, 2012

    We have our 3 kids at a Christian school and our 4th with an IEP in a therapy based Kindegarten in public school. It was a lot to process at first, and it is exhausting having basically doubled everything, different teaching styles, homework, fundraisers, etc ,etc. We know the public school is the best thing for our daughter but miss terribly the Christian base she will not be getting. It still makes me sad…..but we necessary

    Reply
  9. Debi
    October 9, 2012

    I have been thinking of you and praying for you! Although we've never met, so much of what you write, I can totally relate to!!! I do have to say, we put our 6 yr old in the public school system, while we homeschool our bio boys. We needed that break and to be honest, it's been an awesome decision for us. The IEP has been so great and she gets the structure and support she so desperately needed. I met with our principal and the teacher and special ed teacher and they've been open to input, incredibly supportive, and communicate with me all the time. She is thriving. I pray the same experience for you all!!! 🙂

    Reply
  10. Sara
    October 9, 2012

    I recently started reading your blog and it's uplifting to me as a new "foster to adopt" mom–you are so real with all the challenges and so many of my close friends don't understand how hard and rewarding it can be. I want to encourage you—-you can do public school and IEP, etc. You're already advocating for your child and it isn't any different in the pubic edu setting. My daughter is on a 504 for anxiety and I've been working on a plan with her school for two years. At first it was exhausting trying to find what works, but I realized I need to trust my gut. Pray for God to provide for you a person there who "gets it". God gave me one and she is a lifesaver. Believe me, these teachers can be the most "compassionate, unwilling to give up" educators I've met. You know more about your child, her needs, what works for her, than they do at this time, so you might find yourself educating them, and that's ok. They will appreciate your input and knowledge. I'll be praying for you and Dimples!

    Reply
  11. Cari
    October 9, 2012

    When we brought our then 12 y.o. daughter home in 2010, we placed her in public school along with our other school-aged children. I knew she was behind academically and socially and wanted her to be placed in 5th grade, but due to her age and physical appearance they felt 6th grade was best. We all soon realized that she needed an IEP. It definitely helped her during the rest of the school, however, we were still struggling with attachment issues. We were all stressed out. I home schooled her during the 2011-2012 school and basically reviewed kindergarten-3rd grade. We read A LOT, but I was more concerned about her attachment really than her academics at this point for our family's sanity. I believe we did the right thing. This school year our daughter is back at the public school with an IEP in the 7th grade. She is 2-3 years older than most other 7th graders, but its where she "fits", and she is doing much better than her 6th grade experience two years ago. This year I have learned to back off on hovering over her academics and let the responsibility fall more on the school. This has been difficult for me, but I am learning there are some things out of my control and that our daughter's academic success may look differently than what I am used to seeing from our other 5 children. I've had to lower my expectations, which has helped reduced some of the stress that my daughter and I were feeling. It has not been an easy past two years, and even though overall it's going in the right direction it's still NOT easy as you well know, Lisa.

    Reply
    1. Julie
      October 9, 2012

      Oh I too am in that boat. Met with para ed and principal last week and was told zero output academically. Focusing on behavior skills then next up academics. I don't even ask if he has homework (also 7th grade) unless he brings it up. Helped too reduce our stress. He can always do 7th grade again if he chooses.

      Reply
      1. Cari
        October 11, 2012

        Julie…that's a great perspective. It is his choice. That concept is something that I am working on with my daughter. She says she doesn't have any choices, so I try to rephrase my words when I'm talking to her by saying "she can choose to do this or choose to do that". Good or bad it's her choice…and her consequences.

        Reply
    2. sleepyknitter
      October 9, 2012

      Cari, you don't have any return information connected with your name, so I'm hoping you read this — I would like to talk with you about how you reviewed K-3rd in a year's time, as I'm wondering if I might need to do something similar with my oldest daughter and am feeling nervous about. If you happen to read this, please contact me at rsfleenor at juno dot com.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        October 9, 2012

        If you don't hear from Cari, let me know and I can forward an email to her from you.

        Reply
        1. sleepyknitter
          October 9, 2012

          Thank you, Lisa! I'll let you know in a couple days. Blessings! Praying for your family! –shawnee

          Reply
      2. Cari
        October 11, 2012

        I just sent you an email. If you don't get it, just email me at iracnocab at gmail dot com.

        Reply
  12. Jennifer Seivert
    October 9, 2012

    We are also navigating the waters of IEPs and public school with our treasures from hard places. Our school has come along side us to help get our six year old qualified for educational help to hopefully make up for the early neglect he experienced. They are also working with us on impulsivity and frustration management. Our little guy has a ton of big feelings and he is really struggling to channel them in positive ways. I get phone calls about bad choices but also encouragement that progress is being made little by little. His younger siblings are in the preschool program at our public school as well so we are confident that the school is interested in the well being of our family in an amazing way. I will pray that Dimples will find friends quickly and that she will have special teachers who are able to bring out the best in her. Thanks for being so transparent Lisa. You say what many of us are feeling in such eloquent words.

    Reply
  13. Angela Humphrey
    October 9, 2012

    I've never posted but just have to say that we love our public school and they have been great with our special needs/attachment challenged children and are so willing to partner with us in learning how to best meet their needs. The IEP process is overwhelming at first but has been a blessing. The whole team gathers to develop the best plan for each, individual child and parents are very involved. Praying for you as you navigate new waters.

    Reply
  14. Tricia
    October 9, 2012

    I have had a lot of experience in the public school world and for the most part, the people involved are compassionate and caring people and many love God deeply. They are quite adept at dealing with kids from hard places as they are required to educate all children and have a diversity of issues to deal with. I hope this is a wonderful place for her and for you. Change is scary and tough. But it may be just the place for Dimples. Becky Bailey's Conscious Discipline program is a great resource for teachers and goes right along with trust based parenting.

    Reply
  15. Jennifer P
    October 9, 2012

    Change is hard and this change has so many ramifications for your daughter. Praying for the peace that passes understanding.

    Reply
  16. Ann
    October 9, 2012

    Public schools have amazing resources for kids with learning differences. I'm guessing that this will open many good doors for your whole family. Good choice!

    Reply
  17. Hannah Tucker
    October 9, 2012

    (((hugs))) Praying y'all through this.

    Reply
  18. Sue B.
    October 9, 2012

    Hi Lisa, My tooth fell out so I was at the dentist yesterday , consequently I was praying but not on line! I am with you my friend. God moves in mysterious ways and I know He is doing something wonderful. Love you!

    Reply
  19. angela
    October 9, 2012

    I understand your feelings. I am a homeschool mom. I was homeschooled, I was going to homeschool all my kids. IN fact we homeschooled our bio kids until the 11th grade. I have one at home still. BUT homeschooling was not the best choice for my twins, though, the Lord knows I tried very hard to make it work. The Christian school would not have been able to provide what my children need…I had to let go the dream. It's almost my identity – the homeschool mom. I have been the homeschooling advocate and ran a homeschool enrichment program, and choir… and now I send my children to public school? It was a hard thing to adjust to. HOWEVER, it has been everything we needed. THe IEP has been a life saver. I am on board 500% with how the school is working with my children and the thought that I might not have accepted their help almost brings me to tears now. We could not have survived the chaos the attachment issues x2 were causing our household. I am worn and feel beaten and those few hours of the day while the twins are at public school and the foster children are at their parents visit and it's just me and my 10th grader are healing. I'm crying just writing this… I'm so tired out, and yet…. the twins are doing amazing at school!! They are learning and it is amazing. THey are coming home excited to see me and we read together and do homework (when they have it). Missy started her Cpap for sleep apnea and she hasn't had a rage or a loss of self-control in over a week. GOD IS GOOD. And I am grateful for the amazing people who care at the public school and are lifting my burdens. And yes, the special ed teacher is a friend from church, too. That's so comforting.

    Courage. THis will be a good thing.

    Reply
    1. Luana
      October 9, 2012

      Thank you for writing this, Angela. I'm a homeschooling mom too and am struggling to let go and let the public school system in.

      Reply
  20. secondinaseriesofsix
    October 9, 2012

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Just wanted to mention that while I don't know how things are in your district, in CA, it's common for parents to bring a professional advocate to IEP meetings. The idea is that it is someone who is familiar with the jargon, process, and people involved, who can be with you and smooth things along. Just an idea I'm sending along with prayers!

    Reply
  21. sleepyknitter
    October 9, 2012

    I want so much to home school our three kids but don't think I could handle our middle one, and she has now been in public school for three years with an IEP all three years. I feel the IEP has been a blessing because it does result in more attention for her both during the week and in the overall tracking process, and it calls for us to have a couple meetings a year with the people who are on her "team," her regular teacher, her special ed teachers, the director of the program, and the school psychologist. I keep a three-ring binder for her that includes an IEP section with clear page-protector pockets, and I stuff all the info in there. A couple times a year I remember to organize it :-), and on the day of the meeting, I go over all the latest information that I've received before I attend the meeting (and of course I went over the newest info on the day that it arrived in the mail, too). There are moms who are **LOTS** more organized than I am!!! ha! But even this small amount of organization means that I know what we're going to talk about at the meeting, and I can mentally review any changes I've noticed at home in the IEP's target goals, and our team sees that I know what we're talking about. At any rate, I like the IEP and am attempting to get an IEP for our older daughter, who has CP, speech problems, and potentially learning delays. I also feel that all the teachers on our "team" genuinely care about our daughter's best interest. However, I have learned that because they are on a very, very tight budget, they don't let me know about options that are available that they're not required to tell me about. They have other students with worse struggles than our daughter's, so I have to decide how much to research other options, then how much I want to push for our daughter to receive this or that service in view of the tight economy and other students' needs. I struggle with it. In general, I am happy with the IEP process.
    I pray that all goes well for you and for Dimples on this new path!

    Reply
  22. julie pitts
    October 9, 2012

    Lisa…my son is in public school. He has a 504 plan, but not an IEP, as he was assessed to need only the 504. You might check into that as well. I will write you later from my computer to see if I can help at all. I will pray for you all today…Julie

    Reply
  23. Bramfam
    October 9, 2012

    Lisa, my sister asked around and found a fellow mom to coach her through the IEP process. One of the special needs aides helped her too. It's like many things in life, overwhelming at first and hugely helpful in the long run. Blessings and hope… Many are praying for you:)

    Reply
  24. kristine
    October 9, 2012

    We once moved my son from a private school that I loved and was on the board of to a public school. It was for the best and my son thrived but it was a loss for me all the same. It will be OK. Dimples will do well. You have lost something but I know you will have your gains too. I agree with the comment on few clothes choices. We let our sons choose Saturday clothes but school and church are the choices are very paired down. Good luck! I hope this week begins a new normal for you which is calmer in the evenings.

    Reply
  25. Jodie Howerton
    October 9, 2012

    L –

    You are already gifted at advocating for your kids. That skill is all you need for the IEP process. Go in there and tell Dimples' story – the entire school will be on your side. You are an amazing mother and friend -and I miss you!

    Reply
    1. Katie May
      October 20, 2012

      Great advice!

      Reply
  26. Elizabeth Andrews Carter
    October 10, 2012

    You know that I am behind you 100% and support you in this decision. I forgot to send those books home with you….maybe I should mail them? Lots of good advice in the comments…you are so blessed! Love you!!

    Reply
  27. Luciana
    October 10, 2012

    Lots of prayers that this will be a very positive change for your family. xo

    Reply

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