Three I’s of Advocacy

This article is reposted from Resources 4 adoption an organization that lists grants, loans and other financial help for people looking to expand their families through adoption.

Investigate – Do research (internet or otherwise) to find out as much as you can about whatever topic you are dealing with.  If your child has a medical, emotional or behavioral diagnosis, then become very educated about it.  If you are dealing with a state health program or some other form of a government program, then research that.  Many times the manuals for government programs can be found online with a little bit of digging.  Take detailed notes or print out the pages that pertain to your child’s situation or case.  Keep all of this information in one safe place where you can access it easily if you need to.  Here is why:  Because of the state of the economy (both state and national) over the last few years, there can be a fairly high turnover rate for employees whose job it is to review cases and make determinations, which means that some details about your child’s case might be over looked (i.e. lack of experience in this field).  There have been several times that I have had to utilize this information to help petition my child’s case.  I have had to pull from their own program manual and site article numbers from that manual back to them and politely point out that they missed considering this in the review.  This can make all the difference in the world on whether you child may qualify for services or not.  I understand that this may seem like a lot of work, and sometimes it is!  But you just simply have to keep on top of things if you want to see results.  It’s like I said in a previous article on this subject, “Be patiently persistent and trust but verify EVERYTHING.”

Inquire- Ask questions.  Do not be afraid to ask questions and sometimes ask a lot of questions!  I was taught that there are no stupid questions just stupid answers, so that is always how I have approached life.  You will never get any answers unless you ask the questions.  Do not feel ashamed if you do not understand the terminology that is being used by the professionals you are dealing with whether it is medical, psychological, or financial.  Sometimes professionals overlook that the average person, who is unfamiliar with their field of expertise, has no clue what the professional is talking about or explaining.  Ask the professional to explain his/her counsel to you in layman’s terms and to write down specific terms they are using on a piece of paper for you so that you can go home and look them up later.  Keep well written notes and documentation of every meeting, phone call and/or communication of any kind.  I will go more into this type of organization in a future article.

Insist –You may remember from the advocacy article I posted a few weeks ago, I mentioned the idiom “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  I said, “Always try ‘honey’ first, you may be forced to go with ‘vinegar’ down the road, but we’ll discuss that later.”  Well later is now!  While the first and always best approach when dealing with anyone from professionals to state/government employees, etc. is to use “honey”, there may be a time when you have to pull out a little bit of “vinegar.”  Please understand that I am not advocating some sort of blasting of people, civil unrest, use of profanity or anything of that nature.  However, there may be times that you must be firm and stand your ground and insist that a matter be taken care of promptly and properly.  This can be very uncomfortable for some people, especially those who do not like conflict.   This also may mean that you have to go up the chain of command in order to get results.  For example, a friend of mine had a baby.  Their family was covered by X insurance, which had promised to pay for all of her pre-natal care.  After the baby was born, the doctor’s office continued to bill her for payment of services.  She continued to contest that X insurance company was supposed to pay for the pre-natal care she had received from the doctor.  This went on for several months and she finally called the insurance company which gave her the run around as to why they weren’t going to pay for the pre-natal care.  A few more months went by with back and forth between the doctor’s office and the insurance company.  She finally said one day, “Well, I guess I’ll just pay them.  We can’t afford it and the insurance company told us that they would pay, but I am tired of getting phone calls and letters demanding payment.”  I suggested that she contact the insurance commissioner for our state in writing and on the phone to explain what was going on.  Miraculously two weeks after she contacted the insurance commissioner, she received a very apologetic letter from the insurance company stating that it was all a big misunderstanding and they were going to pay the doctor 100 percent of the bill!   Don’t let anyone bully you or make you feel like an idiot.  Sometimes it pays to be a little bit insistent!

Please share your stories of how you have learned to advocate for your children.  You probably have as many tips and suggestions as I do.

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