Thursday, May 28, 2015

Getting personal

Today I am going to write about something very personal, but very close to my heart. Last night while caring for the elderly lady I sit with, I watched a new show called "The Briefcase". The show is based on giving two families $101K that they can either keep, give part of away or give all away to a family in as much or more need than them. When making this decision, neither family knows that the other family also has a briefcase, so they are making this decision with the assumption that they will not receive any money in return. One of the families had a husband with health needs and no health insurance. The wife of the other family worked as a nurse, and said several times that she felt for people who didn't have health insurance, but as I heard her say these words, I felt like she just didn't get it. I'm not belittling this woman or her family who also had financial and medical needs, but more or less acknowledging that she is like so many in this country who don't really understand what it's like to be uninsured or underinsured and have regular medical bills.

Healthcare has been a hot topic in our country the past few years. Many have been up in arms over Obamacare, the cost and the fact that they are being required to have health insurance. I am not going to pretend like Obamacare is perfect and I have had plenty of frustrations with the marketplace, but I am so thankful that it exists. Let me let you in on a little secret, for most of our marriage, Elias and I have been underinsured.

What does this mean? It means that we would receive employer based health insurance that was not comprehensive, so it covered very little. We would go to the pharmacy each month for his meds and be told that we didn't have coverage because there was no generic brand for his medications and the bill would total anywhere from half of our monthly income, to twice or more than our monthly income. These costs came every month. In our first year of marriage, we had times where we had to decide whether or not to get his meds that month. No one, should EVER have to decide whether or not their loved one could receive their daily medications. Some of his pharmaceutical companies had assistance programs, but you didn't qualify if you were underinsured. There were times I prayed that we would qualify for medicaid and if our medical expenses were counted, we would have, but we didn't qualify and couldn't afford private insurance.

There came a time in our marriage where we were out of options. Neither one of us had comprehensive employer based health insurance, we couldn't afford private insurance and our last lifeline, the NY state reimbursement plan that reimbursed us up to 7% of our income (which helped, but wasn't ideal when you don't have the initial funds to pay and they take 3-12+ months to reimburse you) was giving us 30 days to obtain comprehensive health insurance with no prescription drug coverage cap. I was in tears.

Then Obamacare began. The healthy NY program was in place which offered private health insurance at a slightly more affordable rate, it was still a lot of for us, but so much better than anything else we could ever afford. And, because of Obamacare the previously held $3000 prescription drug coverage cap that prevented us from using this option before, that we would have maxed out in one month, was removed. We then could afford appointments, prescriptions and we qualified for various co-pay cards to further remove the financial burden.

This is why we had to fundraise for adoption and were unable to put money away over our 5 years of marriage. I know not everyone agreed with that decision, but it was our only option other than wait an underdetermined amount of time where we could eventually save enough money to become parents.

Now as a family of 4, two of whom have additional medical expenses, we qualify for quality, affordable health insurance because we live off of a limited income. We have no employer based health insurance, but we now have options that we didn't have before. I know that Obamacare has not been great for everyone or even affordable for everyone. It is far from perfect and I truly hope that it improves throughout the years instead of declining, and we may someday face that challenge as well. However, I want to help those who have been frustrated by health insurance costs and issues for the first time in their lives, to understand what those of us who have lived this way for years have gone through. We are not the only family that has benefited from these changes and the past 2 years have been the only 2 years out of our nearly 7 year marriage that we haven't faced constant health insurance related stress. Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now, but if I opened one set of eyes, I have done my job :). Also, this post is not to invoke pity, just to educate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

An Ode To Birthmother's Day

We all know that Mother's Day is this weekend (and if you didn't, you do now!), but did you know that there is also a Birthmother's Day? Don't feel bad if you didn't because up until a couple of years ago, I didn't know either. Really, you wouldn't know unless you have some sort of connection to the adoption community. Birthmother's Day is this Saturday, the day before Mother's Day, so I thought I would take the time to brag a little bit on our birthmother, Katy.

There are so many stereotypes surrounding adoption and birthmoms. Everything from every birth mom must have used drugs, to the children were unwanted, to these women need to be more reproductively "responsible". Unfortunately in some cases this is true, but many times it is not and in our case, it certainly is not! 

Katy is none of these things. She is an amazing, responsible woman who loves and cares for her family. She loves deeply and the decision to place our boys did not did not come lightly or easily. She is raising two other great children as a single mom and she has said goodbye this side of heaven to two others before Asher and Lucas. She loves the Lord and is raising her children to do the same. She runs her own daycare to provide for her family and she has never used drugs. 

When she found out Asher had Down syndrome I think that there was a part of her that somehow, despite the deep love she already felt, grew to love him even more than she already did. That love came with fear because adoption was already in the back of her mind and she didn't know what that would mean when it came to finding a family for both of her boys. After Asher was diagnosed with Down syndrome, cysts were found on Lucas' brain which could have been indicative of another chromosomal condition. She was strongly encouraged to terminate her pregnancy, but her love was so strong for these babies that she knew that that was not an option and that resulted in two beautiful and healthy boys. 

She sought the Lord when making her decision and He led her to us. She prayed for us and for our boys. She cried tears of joy and tears of sorrow when handing two sweet babies over to us to raise and love. She is joyful that she has given us the gift of parenthood, but she misses and thinks about Asher and Lucas every day. She rejoices in each milestone they meet and tells us how much she loves not only the children we share, but how much she loves us as well. 

She is strong, as all birthmother's are who choose to make this incredibly selfless decision. She knows I am their mom, but she will always be too. I am so honored to share motherhood with this amazing woman. 

This Birthmother's Day, don't judge before you know the story (one that Katy will share at a later time). Most birthmother's are just like you and me who have found themselves in a place where parenting at that time was not the best option for their family. They love their children and they want to be part of their lives, to know that they are safe, healthy and happy. To share with them their story and love on them. I am so thankful for open adoption and for Katy and their is never a day that I take that for granted.