I have to find a school for Ramona for the fall. This is no easy task. She is currently in kindergarten and at the moment she has a full time Educational Assistant to help her make choices that ensure both she and the children she is with remain safe at all times.
I called my school of choice the other day and had a long conversation with the principal, she was judgmental and cool, to say the very least. I let her know that we were adopting an older child and had decided not to enrol Ramona in school immediately because the time she will have with me during the day will do a lot for her attachment and will hopefully help once we do put her in school full days. She told me she thought I was making a mistake and if I was not considering school perhaps I should consider daycare. I told her that I did not think that Ramona’s needs could be met in daycare considering she currently had 1 to 1 supervision at all times. She was less than understanding and asked if Ramona had been formally identified. When I told her that her IEP was for behaviour her tone got even more negative and we discussed alternate school options as this school is cross boundary and thus they are not obligated to take any of my kids.
She encouraged me to register Ramona (for the fall) with the town school now and then if I still wanted to send her to the country school to contact them in August when they would have a better sense of available space for cross boundary kids. Then I mentioned my other 2 kids and their grades. She asked about IEP’s and I mentioned that my older son had one but it was mostly just a matter of routine at this point and there was little extra, outside a little math support that he required. When I mentioned that Fudge did not have an IEP she commented aloud, “Fudge of Fudge and Calvin who went to Courtland”.
I answered in the affirmative and let her know that I was their Mom. Her tone immediately changed and she became friendly and inviting as she talked to me about the boys. She had been their principal; she was excited to hear that they were doing well. She became engaged in the discussion and mentioned emailing some people that had worked with the boys to let them know that they were doing well. It was like talking to a completely different person.
I hung up feeling thoroughly confused about the conversation but also feeling as though I had been judged because I am parenting a child with some extreme behaviour issues even though I part of the solution and not the cause of the problem. Why is it that we are judged rather than heard, as if the special needs of child who was abused or neglected are any different than the needs of any other special needs child.
J writes about the joys and challenges of parenting older children adopted from foster care at Stellar Parenting 101