How Old is Hallie?

Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers

How Old is Lea?

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Do All Adoptive Parents Carry Their Papers to the ER?

...or the indignant rant of a non-biological mom who happily went through a second-parent adoption.

I think it's fair to say that I have carried a great deal of the medical care duties associated with being a parent of a micropreemie. I was there in the NICU for hours (on average 12-18 hours a day) for the entire four months of Hallie's stay, with a large number of nights spent sleeping in the recliners or rockers by her isolette, and before we lost Olivia, ran back and forth between the two isolettes as frequently as Sharon did. And I was there in L&D 24/7 (with the exception of a few times when I ran home to walk Bailey the dog) for the four days Sharon was in the hospital (and would have gladly spent four months doing that, had it been possible to keep Sharon pregnant).

Before the girls were born, we had emergency papers drafted by our friend Josh, who is a lawyer, stipulating that I could make decisions about the girls should Sharon be incapacitated (a very real possibility if an emergency C-section were involved in their birth. Fortunately, this was never necessary, but it seemed to be a prudent measure to take given that we were not sure how the hospital personnel at Pennsylvania Hospital would treat me in such a case.

I was thoroughly impressed with that treatment--the nurses, doctors, support staff, etcetera always treated me as an equal parent to our girls and accorded me a status equal to that of Sharon. That meant, and means, a lot to me (and to us as a family), and is a big reason why we love our nurses, doctors, security and front desk folk as much as we do.

And, up until tonight, I felt the same way about CHOP. Not tonight.

Tonight, we had to rush Hallie to the ER after 7 vomiting episodes that took place between 5pm and 9pm. The kid had nothing in her, her diapers were totally dry, she was obviously not herself (lethargic, uncomfortable, whining, and her color was off) and we knew that we needed to do something fast. So we gathered up our gear and sped over here (where we are now rather uncomfortably ensconced in an ER room, gradually getting some pedialyte in our kid).

We had all the bottles of goat milk, meds, a few dozen changes of clothing between us, toys, Sesame DVDs, and insurance cards. I never imagined that I would require the adoption decree.

But it turns out, according to the surly registration lady (to whom Hallie rightfully took an active dislike), I really did need that piece of paper. Never mind that one of those insurance cards is from my work, where Hallie has coverage under my plan because she is my daughter (my excellent employer allows for same-sex partner and child benefits, regardless of adoption status, as long as you are willing to vouch that you are a family).

So, even though Sharon was stretched out on the gurney-cum-bed holding a writhing and screaming (well, screaming for a kid with vocal cord paralysis) Hallie who was clearly in pain and not doing well, she needed to be the one to sign the paperwork. Turns out that, without my decree, my doing so constitutes a HIPAA violation and isn't good enough for this place.

Never mind that they've got me on file as mom or that I have committed precisely this 'violation' a few dozen -- maybe more --times when I am the only parent there for medical treatment at Allergy, GI, Pulmo, the regular ped, etc.

And all of this leads me to inquire: do all adoptive parents carry their papers to the ER? Or do folks just assume that one man plus one woman plus one baby equals one family, regardless of genetics.

Harumpf. This is not a good night to pull this stuff with me.

Anyway, Hallie is asleep now, finally, after considerable whining and kvetching. We've managed to get 5 ounces of clear liquid in her (apple juice and now the pedialyte cherry we brought with us---the ER actually ran out of everything but the unflavored and this wasn't cutting it for Hallie). We need to get 3 more into her before they will discharge us, but Hallie is finally sleeping and she needs her sleep, too. Hopefully she'll take more when she wakes up, and keep it down, and we'll be free.


Kirsten Wood said...

Oh, Abby!

What an outrage! You must have been so furious on top of being halfway to frantic about Hallie. The last time G. did some serious vomiting, he became a totally different kid -- barely moving, none of his usual babble -- and it's so awful to see your child like that. To have the insult of idiotic hospital staff on top of that -- in the very hospital where you have been so many times before -- is just appalling. If everyone enforced the regulation all the time, then you would at least be prepared for the necessity. I guess you will be from now on: rotten to have to do so, but better than facing this again!

I hope you got discharged fairly soon after your post, and that Hallie keeps up with her fluids today and gets her sidewalk-racing vim back soon.

(George likes cherry pedialyte as well, and when I tasted it, _I_ practically lost my cookies. That stuff is foul, IMHO.)

Heidi said...

Wow! I'm so sorry you were dealing with such stupidity while struggling with a very sick Hallie and already exhausted and worried... what if you had to bring her in alone? You said you've signed before with no issue when you're there with appointments, was this person just trying to be obnoxious and make life harder??

I hope you're home and Hallie is mending... do they think this is a virus and does it help explain the most recent ickiness?

Judith and Jason said...

(sigh!) So what are you to do? Have them keep a copy in her file??!!?? Unbelievable the week you guys are having.
Hopefully the Docs will get to the bottom of this?!
I hope you guys are out of that place by now! What bulls***!

Sarah said...

Wow, that's pretty infuriating. I am really sorry. :(

Chris & AnnMarie said...


I'm so sorry that Hallie was not feeling well, and on top of that, you had to deal with an ignorant receptionist on a "power-trip." I hope Hallie is feeling better at home now. Just know that both you and Sharon are AMAZING MOTHERS! Hallie is blessed to have you both!

Ann Marie

Sarah said...

I'm apalled that this would happen. I do remember once, though, when Erik and I were out of town and he contracted a staph derm infection that needed treatment.. I was not allowed to accompany him in the ER room nor was I allowed any access to the doctor for HIPAA violation. Now, this galls me. I WORK in medical records. My entire career is based on HIPAA. Trust me, I'm quizzed and schooled out the wazoo on this stuff. The fact as, as Sharon's next of kin and Hallie's next of kin, you most certainly have the right and are expected to be a part of all medical decisions regarding both of them. I don't have to carry my marriage license around. Why do you need to carry an adoption decree around?

On an aside, I'm so glad Hallie seems to be doing better. I was in a crappy place yesterday (still malingering) so I'm sorry I wasn't more supportive.

Contact the hospital's HIM (Health Information Management) department. I wonder if having the decree in the chart might help. If nothing else, you can contact an advocate and complain. This wasn't an issue before, so why is it now?

Laura said...

are they kidding???!!!!
OMFG that is absolutely outrageous! sorry, but this really irks me. in all the times daniel has had hospitalizations and surgeries AFTER the adoption was finalized i have NEVER had to PROVE that i was his mother and legally capable of signing all consents for him. we even postponed an elective surgery until after the adoption was final (after his 1st birthday) just so i could be the one to consent to the procedure rather than petition the court for permission. frankly i believe this woman's misinformation stems from the fact that Hallie's parents are same sex partners. even then it is totally wrong. if i was you i would compose a letter to patient relations about this treatment. perhaps i would have a little grace and patience if the er was not at a children's hospital where i would assume they have cared for patients whose parents were same sex couples as well. i'm sorry you guys had to be put through this crap.