Mikaela's Wake Up Call

Those You Love Could Be A Victim

Easter 2011. 

Logan in his pink striped polo looked like a little man. 

Marcus with his green check looked every bit the part of the doting dad. 

And I brought the spring in my step to Mass too, with a yellow tiered sheath dress that just screamed sunshine.  We were still getting ready 15 minutes before the church service was scheduled to begin down the road.  And as we rushed out the door I noticed that the wreath on my front door looked strange, bulky towards the top somehow.  I dismissed it and in the quick, stress of the family-flying-out-the-door moment thought no more of it during Mass.

Sometimes the things you should notice are the least obvious.

We made it to Mass, and spent an hour with every other kid and the “Jurassic Park” sounds they make during church, only heightened by the popularity of the Easter holiday.  Afterwards, we came back home and decided to take some pictures outside with the little guy.  As soon as we stepped off the front stoop, to reassemble our car keys-diaper bag-purse-what-have-you, I noticed the wreath again.  What WAS that section that looked so top heavy near the frame of the door?  A bird had been flying out of the overhang for the last few days but I thought nothing of it at the time, worrying about laundry, work, and finishing some house renovation planning project.

Sometimes the things you should notice are the least obvious.

A female bird had made a nest in my spring wreath.  Upon closer inspection, and with a camera, we got a look inside of that nest once we got inside our house.  There were three blue robin’s eggs just waiting to hatch inside that nest.  And we didn’t know anything about it.  But now, for the last few weeks it has been pure joy watching Logan look for “the bird” and Marcus and I checking on the nest to see if anything has happened.  They hatched about 2 weeks ago.  Logan says “Buh” every time he looks for it at the front door, through the top windowpane.  This joy though has also had a moment of pain.  One morning on his way to work, Marcus found one of the little birds on our front door mat.  He wasn’t alive.  I was sad when Marcus called to tell me that.

It says a lot about life—we need to enjoy those precious moments with our children.  And we need to keep our eyes open for things we don’t expect.

I didn’t expect to meet Robbie Thomas.  But fate would have it that we would meet.

A neighbor of mine lost her daughter last fall to SIDS and the pain that I have seen and experienced with that situation has been great.  Kaiya was just 6 weeks younger than Logan, and it breaks my heart to think she should be enjoying that bird’s nest as much as Logan is right now.  But, if it’s any solace to those who have grieved with them, Andrea has been such a strong advocate for learning more about SIDS and protecting the families touched by it.

Andrea told me something a few months ago that made me incredibly angry.  She said that some people were doing the unthinkable, taking the Social Security Numbers of children who had passed away and using them illegally on their taxes.  We looked for an example of who this happened to, partially hoping to NOT find someone for fear of the pain they were going through, but also wanting to see if someone would tell their story.  She wanted to let the world know that this is happening, to expose the problem and find solutions.  The SIDS Network of Ohio was adamant when I asked them about this scenario; their Executive Director told me they had never heard of anything like it.
But then, Andrea met Robbie Thomas through a SIDS support group, she introduced us through email, and the rest is history.

Monday night on NBC 4 at 6:00 p.m. you’ll see the painful events that Robbie has had to go through in the last year.  She lost her daughter to SIDS, she struggled getting through every day, and then in just the last couple of months learned that a stranger had claimed her daughter Samantha on their taxes.  And the IRS has given her no answers on if this was a terrible typo or a criminal act.  That’s where we came in; we tried to get answers on her case.  Sadly, Assignment Editor Laurie Omness and I found a way to find Sami’s social security number online in less than 10 minutes.  If we found it that quick, how long would it take a savvy criminal?  We had serious questions for the website that was providing the information.  And we had questions for the IRS, how do you know when there’s an SSN “mistake” on a tax form that it’s just an accident rather than intentional??

Robbie is one of the strongest women I have ever met.  She works full time, is already pregnant with another baby well along the way, and her husband and she have maintained a seemingly strong relationship in the midst of a lot of anger, unanswered questions, and deep sorrow.  This story is for her, and Andrea, and every other parent out there who has lost a child and doesn’t know that child’s legacy is prey for identity thieves.

This could happen to anyone who’s lost a loved one.  There are multiple websites that carry this material.  It serves as a warning to all of us who have had to claim that loved one on our taxes in the same year they passed away… husbands, wives, children, anyone who might be considered a “dependent.”
I think the birds are gone now, or close to being able to fly away on their own.  I’m blessed to have Logan around to see them.  I’m hopeful that Robbie and Andrea, these mothers who have lost so much, will be blessed with healthy babies and full lives in the years to come.  And I’m going to make sure this story doesn’t stop with me.  We’ll be following up with state officeholders and lawmakers on the federal level, to see if anything can be done about this troubling discovery.

I hope you watch at 6:00 p.m. on Monday or DVR the story.

Sometimes the things you should notice are the least obvious.

But with this issue, not anymore.
We’re exposing this problem so we can all learn more from it and find some solutions.

Posted by  on 05/09 at 12:58 PM



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