Article by Jesse Wang
October 14, 2019

Know this at the outset: the systems you encounter were not made to accommodate you. Because you aren’t the biological or adoptive parent, each bureaucratic system you encounter will challenge you in some way. The key to survival is careful documentation and easy document retrieval. Designate a binder or folder that you can use to keep track of copies of important documents, appointments, notes, and numbers. Safeguard original documents and make copies of everything. Having everything together in one place will make all your appointments go more smoothly. Don’t be like the great-grandmother who was turned away from the Social Security office three times for three different reasons. Always call agencies and offices in advance to find out exactly what documents you need to bring and if you need to bring the child with you. Ask about hours and days of operation, and payment methods and prepare accordingly. Keep track of when you called and to whom you spoke within your binder. When you do have an appointment, bring something to do while you wait, and reward yourself in some small way when it is over. Expect long lines and hassles at government offices. If you do get rejected, find out exactly what you need to correct the situation. Ask the employee to make you a list of documents or steps and get the name of the supervisor if you still have questions. I recommend having a few deep breathing exercises and calming mantras in your mental toolkit; you’ll need them. Take control of what you can before setting out by both physically and mentally preparing and you will actually minimize the amount of difficulty you experience.

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