About Bigger Than Your Block

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. The second edition of 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money will be released June 2016. She's been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event or to find out more about her work, visit her at www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

April Fun in Louisiana

Blue gradient Louisiana map, USAI’m thinking about going to visit family in Louisiana and I’ve come across two festivals that might be just right: Franklin Parish Catfish Festival and the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

I’m thinking:

  • Fly into New Orleans
  • Drive over to Baton Rouge to check out the birth certificate of my great, great grandmother.
  • Drive up to the strawberry festival on Friday.
  • Head on over to the catfish festival Saturday.
  • Spend a few days with our loved ones.
  • Head home.

I’m wondering if that would be safe for us to do. I’ll call my relatives in the area and ask them. I’d hate to wander into an unfriendly area.

Unschooling Hopes

I just read this and it made me tear up. This is exactly what I hope for my babies:

“Can I have your cookie?” I ask, pointing to his oatmeal cookie that he almost went berserk over because dad almost accidentally threw it out. (I didn’t really want the cookie.) “Uhm…” he says, mulling it over. “Let’s half.” He splits his cookie in two, right smack in the middle, then hands the other one to me. Later on, he will do the same thing with his hotdog, offering the mangled sausage to me with his full mouth.

It is this kind of warmth and thoughtfulness that will take you aback—this sense of character, the incredible kindness, their concept of sharing—it jars you. Their social skills are intelligible, and they aren’t being graded for it. They don’t get a star for sharing a cookie, or a stamp for holding conversation with an adult. They just really warm up to you as a person, are curious about who you are and what you know. There is no judgment in their eyes—they approach every person with the same reverence. They will hold your hand, pull you with them, and open up their world to you.

I love how the babies are kind to each other. I love they are interested in everything. I love how they learn without even (barely) being taught. I want them to hold on to that for as long as they can.

Passport Attempt #1 – The Phone Call

phone call

In case  you haven’t been following along on our passport drama for kid two here’s the skinny:

  • We move and misplace original birth certificate for our daughter.
  • We ask adoption worker for another copy of birth certificate and she says no.
  • Adoption worker says we can get a passport without a birth certificate.
  • We finalize the adoption.
  • We apply for passport with birth records.
  • We go on staycation and place mail on hold. We get an email saying that we were receiving a letter from the passport folks. We return and get no letter. We tell USPS and no one cares. We end up calling the passport folks.
  • We speak with a customer service rep who tells us he can’t tell us what was in the letter but he’ll have someone from the office call us to chat.
  • We miss the call.
  • We return the call and no one picks up. We leave a message.
  • A woman returns the call and tells us that 1) the laws have changed and you do need a birth certificate to get a passport and 2) we need to sign a declaration saying that she doesn’t have a social yet.
  • We’re waiting on the letter to arrive in our inbox so we can get the birth certificate in the mail.

Ugh …..

 

 

Adoption Birth Certificate Arrived Today

Birth certificate sample NY

We finalized our daughter’s adoption June 2nd. Her amended birth certificate arrived today in the mail (about 42 days). We applied for her passport with her birth records and adoption paperwork and so far …  nada.

If I had known the amended birth certificate was going to arrive so quickly (the letter with the adoption paperwork said it could take up to 12 months. Eek!) I would have just waited to apply for her passport. Oh well ….

We were hoping to get down to Mexico before the summer is over. We’ll see …

Managing Foster Care Trauma in Infants

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Grilling up some bubbles at beach during our staycation.

We met our daughter when she was eight months old (she was in foster care). We were told that she had one rather large medical problem (that could be worked through with years of physical therapy) and a few social emotional issues that caused her to scream in public and have to be carried all the time, yes even when in the house.

None of the information was accurate. Our pediatrician thinks she was manifesting her unhappiness with the family she lived with before (we are her third family).

In adoption class, a social worker told us that it would take twice as long as the trauma to be able to navigate the trauma and behave differently. Since she experienced 8 months of trauma (more if you throw on whatever may have happened during the nine to ten months while she was baking) it will take her around 16 months to be able to behave differently. My plans was give her until her second birthday before I really expected her behaviors to change.

She surprises me every day.

Right now, she’s 20 months old and she’s so different from how she was when we met her. She’s amazing! She’s never had any physical challenges (with us) and her behavior was different from the moment she got her out of that house. This week, we had a staycation and went around visiting touristy places in our city. She’s been smiling and waving to people and wandering around. Strangers in public have ever referred to her as a happy baby! Last night she slept in her own bed all night. She plays with her cousins (running around the house screaming and laughing) and is like any other little kid.

I look at her now and I can’t imagine our lives without her. I’m glad that her record didn’t scare us off. The paperwork does not tell the whole story. Both our kids had some challenges on paper. Both of our kids are perfect. They are absolutely perfect. I’m thrilled every day that I get to help raise such wonderful beings.

Most kids in foster care have experienced trauma but it happened to them, it doesn’t define them. With someone to love on them (we use attachment parenting and gentle parenting) and support them these kids will blossom. Managing foster care trauma in infants is easy: just love them.

Passport Attempt #1

We took the passport application, her photos, the adoption order, the adoption decree, and some birth records that we found in our placement paperwork to library. The lady wasn’t sure if they would issue a passport without a birth certificate, etc. Our adoption worker assured us that we’d be able to get her passport without a birth certificate.

The woman that processed our application didn’t seem too sure.

We’ll see ….

Passport Drama for Adoption #2

passport map

With the first adoption, we had a copy of the original birth certificate. We got the photos at AAA for $7. The Wednesday after finalization, we took our adoption order, the application we filled out, and the other paperwork and went to the library to turn in everything. The person that took the paperwork was very kind. We had a passport for the 1 year old within two weeks.

This time around, things are a bit different. We were given an original birth certificate for this baby but we moved ….  and now I can’t find it. When I asked our adoption worker for another one, she said they couldn’t give it to me due to privacy concerns (we already had one) which made me shake my head. All we have is the adoption finalization paperwork and the medical files from the birth.

When I asked my adoption group if we’d be able to get a passport with that information, the responses ranged from “just take the original birth certificate” (which is no help) to “get your attorney to get it for you” (which is also no help).

Yesterday, our adoption worker called to see if we want to keep our case open or close it. She casually asked where we’re taking our babies (after finalization last time, we took our baby to South Africa) and I told her, “No where”. My plan was to wait the six to twelve months until her amended birth certificate came in and then visit somewhere. She said that she’s had several adoptive families get a passport after finalization with just the two documents that we got after court. She said to make color copies (don’t give the originals to the passport folks) to turn in with the application.

She sounded so sure.

I’m making an appointment for next week. We shall see.