Again, the Bureaucrats….

With Sunday being Easter and my promise to post every Sunday, I am going to do a little cheating here and post early. Then I am going to do a little more cheating, and post what I have written for another place that I write.  There will be some overlap between both groups. Forgive me for that.

Last summer, Family Focus created what we call “The Chocolate Milk Club.”  It is a way for regular folks to help us with our mission by sending us $25 each month.  The mission, as readers know,  is to find adoptive homes for the foster kids still waiting for families.  But all the means that we use to do that work is to do it in a non-bureaucratic way, protecting as best we can the kids that we work with from the bureaucrats.  Sometimes we protect in a small way; sometimes in a huge way. But always we need to protect, because kids without parents need such protections beyond anyone else.

Each month I write an update for our Chocolate Milk Club members. Here – at the suggestion of my boss – is the one I have written for March.  It is my hope that some people reading the blog will come join the Chocolate Milk Club []  and stand with us.




                                                                                                      March 2013: VOL 1: ISSUE 8

My grandson, David (pseudonym), is thirteen and for various behavioral reasons he is currently in a psychiatric hospital. [I adopted him through FFAS even though he calls me grandpa.] He also has diabetes 1, requiring an insulin shot after each meal.  Ordinarily, he lives with me.

At the beginning of this week, I spoke to the head of his unit, the psychologist. I told the man that I wanted to take my grandson out on a day pass yesterday for lunch and a movie.  David, of course – and maybe more than many – due to his eternal dietary restrictions, would want to go to McDonalds for lunch. The visit was approved.

However, yesterday, not three hours before I was due to pick him up, the nurse called asking me if I could bring the McDonalds’ food to the hospital for my grandson to eat before we left so that she could give him his insulin shot.  I told her that that was ridiculous. My plan was to sit with him at lunch and discuss his future and make our plans for him to come back home, which he is very nervous about.  She then wanted to know if I could take him to McDonalds – six miles away – and bring him back after he ate so she could give him the insulin. Doing so, however, would have meant us missing the start of our 1:30 movie, planned on by he and I for over a week.  And approved, let us all remember, on Monday morning by the powers-that-be.

I told the nurse that I could count his carbs, do his finger stick, figure out his dosage, and give him his insulin.  That, after all, is what we did when he was home five times a day, or more, but always seven days a week.  I had been taught to do that; I was required to do that; I knew how to do that; and I would be doing that again when he came home. And, by the way? David himself could do all that.  But, she told me, that that was not allowed.

So what could I do?   I went through a drive-in McDonalds on my way down and ordered all our food.  When I got to the hospital, I asked her where we were to eat.  I was told, and I knew from experience, that we could go inside the locked doors, but then when we were done, we would have to wait until someone came along to unlock the doors.  That has been as long as 15-20 minutes in the past. Even when I use my cell to call the front desk to ask them to send someone to open the doors.

Or, she told me – and she was very nice, and very apologetic – we could eat right there in the reception room. The reception room, where people walk by at all times, in and out of the hospital. Very conducive to this private and very important conversation that I needed to have with my grandson.  And then she gave David his shot, before he’d eaten a thing – which means that we could have gone to McDonalds as we’d planned anyway.

I was furious.  David asked me if we could eat in the car, but I sure didn’t want to do that as there was no place to put down the food etc.  So we left, found a park bench right outside the door, and sat there, juggling the food, and the drinks, and attempting to get through this serious talk.

Now mind you, when a person has Diabetes 1, they are always at risk for going too high or too low on their blood sugar. Too high will kill you long term; but too low will kill you today.  To protect against that, one always needs access to what’s called a glucagon needle. They are very expensive. And they are rarely ever needed.  But they could be.  Did the hospital give me one to take on our trip to the movies? No.  And that is not the first time that I have taken him out, and always without it (I keep one myself in the car.)

So, what was this about, this refusal to allow me to give him his insulin?  Protecting David? Or “looking” like they were protecting David? You know the answer. It was about bureaucracy.

And why wasn’t I told this insulin problem prior to yesterday so that I could have come earlier, perhaps? Or gotten tickets to a later movie?  Why? You know that answer too.  Bureaucracy and the right hand not knowing – nor caring – about what the left hand is doing.

And what happens to a kid with no family – as David was before I adopted him – and therefore with no protection from the bureaucrats?


The Chocolate Milk Club is the best answer we have yet devised to this everlasting problem of bureaucracy hurting our kids.  It wouldn’t have helped concretely yesterday, I know that.  But it helps me to know that we are not facing this nonsense alone.  There is a “we” behind us. And it can, and does, help concretely lots and lots of other times.  It allows us to bypass bureaucratic restrictions on spending money on the kids. Hell, one time I was with a six year old down in NYC on some mandated something or other.  Whatever we were doing took hours and hours, well into the evening.  But there were no provisions to buy the child dinner. None. Zero. The money it would cost was very specifically NOT to be reimbursed. We did it, of course, anyway.

The Chocolate Milk Club income gives us the money, but believe it or not, just as important is the support of our like-minded fellow citizens who are helping us to say: personal trumps bureaucratic every single time.  We stand together on this. I wish we had thousands of folks standing with us.  Maybe then, to copy the commercial, we’d be saying, “Can you hear us now?”

Thank you for being a real part of our solution.



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