The Start of my Book

I am getting both excited and nervous.  I am closing in on the end of what will hopefully be my first book.    I still have a few finishing touches and it will need to be sent off to editing before it goes to publishing (I hope)  but I am excited. I never thought I would get this far, I am after all not a writer I am just a simple country girl.  But the idea that our story,  our journey through foster care and adoption could possibly become a book is CRAZY!!!!!!

Now I find myself asking questions like: “What if it sucks” “What if I can’t find a publisher willing to help?” “Will anyone want to read it?” “What if its a total failure?” “How will I fund the book?”  “What if people find the book too simple?”  So many questions but still I’m excited.

 

I’m excited because I never saw myself as anything other than a mom.  I have enjoyed putting our adventure in foster care and adoption on paper.  I have enjoyed reliving our process and revisiting some almost forgotten memories.

 

If I wrote the book and no one reads it other than my children when they are old enough I will consider myself successful.  After all it is their story as much as mine.  Below is the start of my book.  I hope you enjoy.  Let me know what you think, put my nerves to rest one way or another.

 

From our beautiful chaos to yours  always follow your dreams.

 
        Today is like any other day at the house.  Our five-year-old daughter is sitting at the table hard at work on her ABC’s.  Three out of four boys are running around playing with the numerous cars and airplanes we have collected over the past few years.  Our oldest son is still at marching band practice while our oldest daughter is away at college. The phone rings.  It’s my husband, letting me know he will be a few minutes late getting in from work, there was an early run in the morning and his boss asked him to stay late to help load the trucks.  Our newest addition to the house, a tiny four-week-old baby girl, sleeps soundly in her crib.  There are dishes in the sink that need to be washed and clothes in the rocking chair that need to be folded.  The living room floor is covered in wooden puzzle pieces and Lego’s.  Looking at the house it’s hard to believe I once was OCD about these type of things. At one point in my life I  made sure all the books were in alphabetical order on the bookshelf and that the clean clothes were put away promptly after being washed.  Nowadays if the books are in the bookshelf and not strung across the floor I am grateful.  As for the laundry, it seldom makes it’s way out of the clean laundry basket.  My priorities have changed.  I have changed.

 

It’s time to start dinner while the little ones are distracted by the cartoons on TV. Thanks to Mickey Mouse I will have about thirty minutes to throw dinner together. This is our life. This is our beautiful chaos, as we have named it.  Never dull, never boring, always changing, and always busy.  This is our story. This is how we became a forever family through foster care.  Our journey step by step as it unfolded.  Through the up’s and downs of foster care all the way through the wonders of adoption this is how our family came to be.  It’s a story about our faith in God and how He guided us every step of the way.  It is not a journey many people understand or choose to take, but it was the journey God chose for us.  Every child, every tear, every smile, and every fear has made us the family we are today.

Three Plus One

The start of Our Story

Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.

-Michael J. Fox

      My husband, Todd, and I attended the same high school.  We are part of the graduating class of 1994. We were in some of the same classes, had the same lunch, he played football and I sang in the show choir.  We were good friends however we never dated in school. I had a boyfriend so he never asked me out.  We lived in a small town outside of Charleston, West Virginia.  Our hometown was so small there no stoplights back then (there are only two stoplights now).  There is something special about growing up in a small town.  Friday nights were played out at the football field and Sunday mornings were spent in church, everyone knew their neighbors, and children played outside after dark. It was that kind of town.  We went through our four years making the most of the high school experience.  We shared laughs, gave each other dating advice and shared the occasional English assignment answers.  When time came, we graduated and went on with our lives in separate directions.  He quickly joined the military and I married my high school boyfriend and started a family.  Todd and I didn’t see or talk again for 14 years.  Strange how God works things out.

              I won’t bore you with all the details about those 14 years for our story starts in 2008.  That’s the year I found myself divorced and a newly single mom of two children. My daughter Sierra was 13 and my son Devin was 10.  My life was broken. I had been with their father since I was fifteen. What in the world was I going to do now?  I was lost with only two choices:  I could let the divorce define me as a person or I could overcome it and be a survivor.  The choice was clear, I had to survive, if not for myself then for my kids.  With help from a few family members I was able to find a townhouse in the area to rent.  It was nothing like the house we were use to but it did have everything we needed. Staying in the area meant my kids could stay in their schools.  They were dealing with enough because of the divorce, changing schools and leaving their friends was not something I wanted for them.

And so, it began. The last few years of my marriage had been a struggle that left me and the kids by ourselves many nights but now we were on our own.  The three of us. We were all scared of the unknown, of what the future had in store, but one thing was certain we were safe, we had survived.  We had each other and that was all that mattered.

               I had no intention of dating or even talking to anyone at that point in my life.  Let’s face it I knew nothing about how to date in my thirties, the last date I had been on I was fifteen.  I felt beat down, unwanted and ugly. I had been told for years I was not pretty enough or good enough for anyone and I believed it. Plus, I felt a little old to be dating. Besides who would date someone with kids?  I know it sounds crazy now, but at the time that’s what was going through my mind.  My focus, my drive was my children.  Only my children.  They were the reason I had found the courage to leave an abusive husband. They were the reason I woke up in the mornings those first few months after the divorce.  They were the reason I decided to take online classes to finish up my degree.  Everything I did was for them.  It’s always been about them, not me.  Little did I know God was working on something far bigger than I ever imagined.

             

              A few months went by and the kids and I were adjusting well.  We were getting use to our new normal life.   We were in a routine: going to school, going to taekwondo practice, going to church, visits with grandparents and every other week my son was at his dad’s.  We were making the best out of a bad situation.  I was trying to keep their lives as normal as possible to make things easier on them. My daughter was a typical teen, and she came to me one day after school wanting to know if she could have a MySpace account.  Not being the most computer savvy mom around I had no idea what MySpace was but agreed to look into it. After some research, I agreed she could have one, only if I could monitor it, yes, I was (and still am) a helicopter mom.  I let her set up an account and I also set up my own account this way I could keep watch over her.   She added me as a friend and all was great. She was happy and that made me happy.  I eventually added a few close friends and family members to my account.  I was still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce so it was a nice having everyone just a message away.

One day after checking up on my daughter’s page, I was scrolling through some profiles on my page and stumbled across a page for my old high school.  Our class presidents had set up a reunion page so people could talk about and give suggestions on upcoming events.  Can you guess who I found on that page?  If you guessed Todd, then you would be correct.  I thought it was him but years had passed so, like a teenage schoolgirl, I sent him a message saying something like ” Hey this is Crystal, I think we had English together.  If you remember me I would love to catch up so add me if not ignore this.”  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that was the line that started our beautiful chaos off.  How crazy is that?  He did respond, quickly I might add, and we had a good laugh.  We started sending messages back and forth. For the first time in years.

               Meanwhile my daughter was trying to get me to date or at least get out and meet people.  She was tired of seeing me as she put it, unhappy.  Todd was also starting to ask if we could go out or if he could meet the kids.  I told them both no. I did not want to go through a relationship again, after all the first one did not work out so well for me.  I was not about messing up my life or my kids’ life again. Besides I was completely fine with the way things were. However, my daughter was not taking no for an answer. She had a friend and the girl’s parents had a friend that everyone agreed I had to meet.  He was single, had a motorcycle, and recently back from serving over in Iraq. Every woman’s dream, right?  Sierra insisted I meet up with him and at least go out to dinner.  I turned her and her friend’s parents down time after time.  My heart told me if I was going to go out on a date with anyone it was going to be Todd.  After all we had been talking, well messaging back and forth.  Plus, I kind of knew him since we had gone to school together. He seemed to be the safest choice, not this motorcycle riding man everyone was eager for me to go out with.  I finally broke down and told Sierra that I had been talking to someone on MySpace.  I told her that he was wanting us to go out for dinner but if her and her brother were not ok with it then I would call it off.  Shockingly they were both excited that mom was talking to someone and wanted to know who he was, what was he like, does he have kids, and about a hundred other questions. That’s when I showed them Todd’s picture, thanks to his profile page.  Sierra bursts into laughter with tears of joy running down her face and yells, “That’s Him! That’s the guy I’ve been trying to get you to go out with!”  She was all smiles, and my heart was strangely at ease.  What are the chances of that happening?  I mean seriously what are the chances?  Chance had nothing to do with it, this was God, all God.  Only He could work out our paths so that we could be reunited. It’s funny how God used social media and my daughter to bring us back together. He can use anything to make sure His plan happens.  So, after I calmed down my overly joyful daughter I sent Todd a message and agreed to have dinner. And with that, Todd and I went out. Our first date he included my kids.  We all went out on his friend’s boat.   We picked up right where we left off. He even confessed that back in high school he had a crush on me but never acted on it because I had a boyfriend.  He joked that now that I was divorced he could finally ask me out.  And that made him happy.  Our friendship grow into love and one day in early August 2009 we became husband and wife and our family became our “Three plus one.”

The Seven Wonders of My World

My world is made up of many things.  Good things, bad things, big things and small things. But nothing holds more value than my seven wonders that call me mom.  Each one unique and different but yet still the same.

Sphinx and Khephren Pyramid
Sphinx and Khephren Pyramid
It is only fitting we start with the one that started it all, almost 22 years ago.  I was a young 18 year old scared out of my mind.  How in the world was I going to be a good mom to this precious girl when I was but a kid myself?  But the moment she was placed in my arms I knew my goal in life was to make sure her life was the best it could be.  Her early years were filled with laughter and joy, trips to grandpa’s, and movie nights with grandma.  She has always been “an old soul” and she has a beautiful heart for helping others.  She is my gift from heaven.  She made me want to be a better person, she continues to make me a better person.  Her school years were made up of cheer leading, piano, dance, taekwondo (she is now a 4th degree black belt) , honors classes, color guard, and winter guard.  She is a fighter for what she believes in and a friend that will stand by your side when everyone else has walked away.  She tries to find the good in the darkest of places, but if you hurt her or someone she loves watch out.  It seems little only yesterday I was bringing her home from the hospital, how can it be she is about to graduate college in just a few short weeks?  The first in our family to achieve this accomplishment. True to her overachiever fashion she is graduating with a double major in Political Science and English with minors in Religion and History.  Proud momma is an understatement.

Statue of Zeus, Olympia
Statue of Zeus, Olymipa
Next comes my boy, 18 and full of life.  His sister wanted a puppy but got a baby brother instead.  His first year was touch and go.  Filled with hospital stays and surgeries (almost nine full months we spent in the hospital his first year) We lost him more than once that year but by God’s grace and the doctors He provided my boy, my miracle made it back to us. I am blessed to be his momma.  His school years were challenging to say the least but we made it through. He played T-ball when he was little but taekwondo quickly became his life( he is now a 3rd degree black belt, not quite old enough to test for his 4th degree). He became a gifted saxophone player in high school and marching band, concert band and jazz band filled our weekends and evenings.  He can make me laugh harder than anyone else with his silly jokes and corny puns. He will always be my baby. He is the perfect gentleman, opening up doors, pulling out chairs, and quick to give a complement. He goes above and beyond not to do the things his father done, he strives to be more like his step dad.  I know he is nothing like the man who helped create him. He is good and loving and kind, wish I could take the fear away. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is slow to anger. He protects/ guards his siblings with everything he has. He worries about others and is the best big brother anyone could ask for.  He works hard at his job and goes to college, while still trying to figure out what path he wants to take.  He knows me better than I know myself and can make my darkest day bright with a phone call or text.  Love being his momma.

 

 

I have worried about them for more than I should.  There were a few dark years where I was not sure if I was doing what was best for them.  Part of me feels guilty that their father and I divorced but the logical side of me knows if I would have stayed I would be died and they would be on their own.  I hope they can forgive me for the tough choices that had to be made back then.  I think they have turned out pretty perfect given the darkest we escaped.

 

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Next we come to diva, six and sassy and everything in between.  Her past is clouded with darkness but she shines so bright.  At sixteen months she made her way to us, in a t-shirt three times to big and jeans that could not button for they were two sizes to small.  She did not talk, she did not walk, but she did warm our hearts.  With her situation comes baggage that did not surface until two years ago, long after we fell in love with her.  She was RAD or Reactive attachment disorder, ADD/ADHD and FASD or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  None of which are her fault, that lies with her birth mom’s poor life choices.  When she is good things are beautiful and bright, but more days than not we struggle to figure out what is making her so angry.  Her imaginary world where her life is perfect with her birth mom crosses over to our world some days making reasoning with her impossible, but we love her anyway.  I wish I could go back and change the things that happened to her.  I wish she could see what I see in her. Her behavior may not always be great but she is gifted with knowledge.  She is so smart.  Spelling and reading come easy to her and she can do math in her sleep.   She is so eager to learn and try new things, and she loves going to church and singing God’s praise.  I am thankful to be her momma.

temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
Wild man, my spunky five year old.  Oh how my world changed when he come into my life.  At two months and four and a half pounds, he redirected my path the moment he was placed in my arms.  It is because of my love for him diva came to live with us, siblings (in their case half siblings) the department tries to keep together.  He, like my oldest son, spent much of his first year in and out of hospitals.  Surgeries and sickness consumed his early days.  He too is a fighter.  Innocent victim of a drug addicted mom that wanted nothing to do with him. He survived the drugs in his system and being shaken then thrown across the room. He is destined to do great and mighty things. He has proven doctors wrong time after time.  When they said he would not walk or talk he showed them he could and would.  He was diagnosed with autism at 3 but that has not stopped him. Autism does not defy who he is.  He makes me see the beauty in everything.  Through his eyes the world is such a kinder nicer place.  He does not judge others and does not notice when others judge him.  His laugh is contagious and he can melt my heart with his smile.  God knew what He was doing when He had the caseworker call me.  I am blessed to be his momma.

 

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
Wonder number five we find Big Al.  Its funny how after we decided we were finished being foster parents God puts His plan in motion.  At two days old he was in my arms. He has the biggest smile and the most gorgeous brown eyes I have ever seen.  His hair is as wild as he is.  He is one of few words but his facial expressions do his talking for him.  He loves to set with me in the mornings and share a cup of coffee.  He is beautiful both inside and out.  He is the peace maker in the family.  If someone needs a playmate he is the one to drop whatever he is doing and go play so that the other child is not upset.  He has a calmness about him that is unique and welcomed on days of complete chaos.  I am grateful for  my grandfathers advice the night the call came in about the “little boy who needed a temporary home” Rest In Peace grandfather and know I still hear your voice of reason. He makes my days more enjoyable by just being here.  I can’t imagine my life without him in it.  I miss him running around during the days now that he is in preschool.  Its so quiet here now.   I am honored to be his momma.

colossus of Rhodes
Colossus of Rhodes
Our Elmo is wonder number six.  Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face.  Three and a half and full of energy.  He is definitely our class clown. He can make you laugh like no other.  His silly faces and sweet little voice warm my heart daily.   He too had a rough start but has overcome those sicknesses and is growing leaps and bounds.  His eyes are are blue as the ocean and his heart is even bigger.  He is not afraid to tell you he is “momma’s baby” and he proudly wears that imaginary badge.    He brings much needed laughter to our home.  He is the cuddlier on rainy days and the “come lay with me till I fall asleep” at night boy.  He loves to learn the names of things and is always carrying a book around and asking “Whats this things name?”  His imagination has dinosaurs running in our yard most days and with race cars chasing them away.  Oh what an exciting world he gives us to live in.   It is my joy to be his momma.

lighthouse of Alexandria
Lighthouse of Alexandria 
Last but certainly not least is our wonder number seven, our precious unexpected peanut.  In the mist of our already crazy lives God saw fit to bless us one more time, this time a sister to our three little blonde cuties.  She was so tiny but healthier than the rest (Praise God) She is the one we did not know we needed until she was placed in our arms.  In her I get to redo all the joys that make up being a mom.  I get to be mom one last time.  The late night feedings and the early morning wake ups don’t bother me like they did 20 plus years ago, for I know when I blink she will be off and going to college.  I was not as hurried for her to walk or talk as I was with the others,  though she did both early.  In her short 18 months she has changed our lives more than she will ever know.  I am so thankful for the caseworker that took the time to locate her half brothers and sister, it would have been so easy to just place her somewhere else.  But now, even though they are not with their birth mom they are together and with me.  Her sweet dimples when she smiles take over her little face.  Her hair so thin but we manage to get those big bows in.  For now she is a girly girly but I know in time she will be out in the mud and riding bikes with the rest of our pack.  I am thankful God gave me one more chance to get this mothering thing down right.  I am overjoyed to be her momma.

 

These seven wonders have made me the mother/person I am today.  I can only hope that I have given them the love and guidance they need for this world.  I know we do not always see eye to eye on things but I hope they understand that I only say and do what I do because I love them so much.  My two oldest laid the foundation for the type of mom I wanted to be, with the five youngest I get to do the things I wish I had done with them.  I am older and wiser and my choices are much easier these days than back then.  I am happier now than I have ever been, which is completely crazy seeing I get every little sleep.  I treasure both the memories made and those to come.  I would love to see the Seven Wonders of the World someday, but until then my seven wonders are all I need.

 

From our beautiful chaos to ours make today better than yesterday and the foundation for a greater tomorrow.

much love my friends

A Mother’s Instinct

via Daily Prompt: Instinct

 

From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, her first instinct is to protect and love her unborn child.

As a mom of five adopted little loves, I did not have those first few months to bond with my children as he or she grew inside of me.  Our bonding started the day the caseworker handed them over to me with their trash bag filled with all of their belongings.  The healing starts as soon as they feel safe and loved.

With wild man the bond was instantaneous.  The worker handed me his car seat and I took him in the house. As I unbuckled his car seat and pulled his tiny little body up into my arms he made the sweetest noise.  As I held him tight and listened to the worker explain his case I fell in love.  The bond we share could not be stronger if I had given birth to him.

Our journey has not been easy.  Early on we knew he was not developing at what society calls a”normal” rate.  By the age of three we were given the diagnosis of autism with sensory issues.  We were told that he would never talk in full sentences, he would most likely never run or climb, and that his abilities would be limited.  Our world changed drastically inside that 45 minute office visit. We were just getting use to be parents of little ones again, and now we were told we were the parents of a child with autism.  I was not prepared.  But I had no choice, I would move mountains for him, he was my son.

Now he is six.  In the last three years we have figured out how to do things in order to give him the best possible life.  We have moved and the school he attends now is nothing less than a God send. He is not only doing well, he is excelling.  He can now hold a pencil, write his name, and is learning to count and even read, YES READ!!!! For all these things I am thankful.  But there is still the other side of autism not many talk about.  We still have daily food battles.  I have been told by teachers and family he needs to eat a better diet.  With his sensory issues a good diet is not something in our reach.  You name it we have tried it. Everything from gluten free to all organic, but the fact is if I can’t get it in his mouth then its not going to work.  What works, well this week he is eating popcorn, bread sticks, strawberry yogurt, strawberry pop-tarts, KFC mash potatoes, cheese curls, and his all time favorite food Stage two Gerber peas(these he only eats at the house now because some boy at his school told him it was for babies)  Is it a healthy diet? Probably not, but at least he is eating and to me that’s all that matters.  We also deal with the fact that with his diet we have poop issues.  In the past six months we have managed to get him potty trained (thanks to his awesome teachers) well by that I mean he pee’s in the potty during the day.  At night we are still in pull-ups because he has not mastered overnight bladder control and there is no bowel control. So when he needs to poop lets just say its still a mess.  His system does not operate as yours or mine so it can be days, 7 to 14 days, without him going.  Yes, he takes medicine daily to help out in this area, but his average is one good poo every 8 days.  It’s painful and it’s massive!!! No one talks about this side of autism.

So this past weekend I will admit I was more than nervous about taking him with me while I went to visit my grandmother in WV.  She has been ill and I knew taking all the little loves would be to much for her. My husband had made plans to take wild man up to his parents but seeing that my grandmother was ill, he agreed he would watch all of our other little loves while I took wild man with me.  Wild man would get to see all of his grandparents and he was excited.  He does not do well with change so the trip made me anxious.  What if he refused to sleep? What if he would not eat? What if the car ride was to much? What is the surroundings were to much?  I had hundreds of what if questions running through my head.  We never know what will happen when we have him out.  In fact we have secluded ourselves from many things,(family nights at school, trips to the mall, large family gatherings) because we know the stimulation will surely cause him a meltdown and its just not worth it if he will be in pain.  But sometimes life can not be helped. And just when you think the worst, God gives you the best.

I can not believe the weekend we had.  Wild man did such an amazing job.  I had several people I wanted to met up with while I was in so I dropped wild man off to my in-laws. We sat and had a visit before I headed off to my next destination and when I got up to leave, guess what? He didn’t even scream. Praise Jesus. Not only did he spend the whole night with my in-laws he actually slept. I knew taking him place to place would be to much for him but thankfully my in-laws were able to watch him while I did.  When I went to pick him up he showed me everything he had done while there.  He showed me his “new office” and his race track that he had beat papaw on many times.  He showed me his new cars and even his new favorite snack (pickled flavored chips) When it came time to leave, he did not cry instead he kissed them goodbye and said  See you laters.  We loaded up and went to met my parents and brother for breakfast, where he sat and ate his chips.

IMG_0950
Wild man cuddled up to my dad aka papaw  (don’t mind my dad he hates pictures lol)

There was a baby that started to cry, but instead of having a meltdown he covered his ears until she stopped then said Shew that baby to loud.  From there we went to my aunts to visit with her and my grandmother. He told me he was excited and that he could not wait to jump on her and give mamaw a big hug.  I told him he would have to be easy.   He took his lunchbox full of cars and freddy figures and followed my oldest daughter in the house.  He quickly made his way over to grandma and very easily gave her a hug.  My aunt was wonderful and let him roam from room to room exploring all the new wonders his eyes saw.  He felt at home and that made me happy.  He played with my cousins little ones and made his way over to set on my dad’s lap a time or two.  For the first time in a long time I was not nervous about what he would do, he had this calmness about him that I don’t get to see often. Maybe he could sense mamaw was not feeling the greatest who knows. Or maybe the difference was that here, no one was looking at him and judging him, they were all just happy to see him.  There he was not “the kid being loud” he was just my son.  He was surrounded by people who love him all weekend long.  He did not have to try and fit in with the social norm for there at my in-laws and at my aunts it was OK for him to just be himself. As our visit winded down and we started to say our goodbyes, wild man made it back over to my grandma.  Before anyone could catch him he jumped (just as he said he was going too) into her arms and hugged her.  I found myself apologizing and asking her if she was okay, and she just laughed.  She smiled and said “He is fine don’t make a fuss”  And you know what, she’s right.  He is fine.  Her smile said it all.  He had made her happy.

IMG_0954
wild man with my oldest daughter and my grandmother
As his mom my instinct is to protect him, as an autism mom my guard is always up.  People judge him without knowing him and that makes me both mad and sad.  They will never know the joy it is to be him mom.  They will never know the endless love I have for him and all of his uniqueness.  But my grandmother showed me something this weekend.  She loved him for his heart, my whole family did.  They did not care that he got a little loud, they were just happy to see him.  I am thankful for their loving ways.  What a great weekend we had.

From our beautiful chaos to ours when life is not going exactly like you pictured it, in the words of my wise grandmother Don’t fuss.  Take time to enjoy the good for the bad days will get better, life is to precious to fuss about the small stuff.   Smile and laugh your way through it all.

 

 

Lookout Preschool here they come…Finally

Before we moved our two youngest boys attended a wonderful daycare that gave them much needed social time with kids(other than their siblings).  As time came closer for us to move steps were taken to see if they would qualify for early preschool.  Back at home they would have qualified based on a number of many reasons: they had delays in speech and in socialization skills, they both were in an early intervention program (Birth to 3), both had been in foster care, and both had been drug babies at birth.   The steps were taking and the mandatory tests were given.  And just as we had figured  they were eligible to start preschool for the up coming year.  Well they would have if we had stayed back home.

 

As foster to adopt parents we are questioned all the time ” Are all those kids really yours?” “What’s their issue/problem?” “Will you keep that one also?” “I bet they have tons of problems later in life”  Back home I could not tell you how many times we were asked those questions, especially the are they all yours one. Back there many people in our small town knew we were foster parents so even if we haven’t seen them in a while they knew, or had heard, we had added a few little loves to our ever changing family.   I longed for the day when we would not be known as “a foster family” just simply a family.  And when we moved here that’s exactly what happened, we were just the new large family that had moved into town.  I was happy.

 

In August we started the process of getting four of our little loves into their new schools.   Diva was easy, we sat down signed her forms and done.  Wild man was somewhat harder.  We had to go through a few meetings to select the correct school for him, then we had to select the right classroom, an autism room or normal kindergarten room with an aid, and arranged for his bus to pick him up at the house. The boys should have been as easy as diva’s, should have been.  The initial meeting was set up.  I took in my folder of paperwork, the recent tests and scores from back home, the reports from the Birth to 3 workers, the shot records, their physicals, their birth certificates, and the reports from the eye doctors and their ENT.  I had everything they needed and them some. But it did not go so smooth.  The preschool director did not think the test that was preformed back home would qualify them here.  She made a few calls and it was determined that the boys would in fact have to take their test our test would not carry over here.  Even though I was not happy with the decision, I agreed to have them retested within the next few weeks. I knew the tests would be similar and with their background they would still get in. That however never happened.  The teacher that was suppose to do the testing was very pregnant. When the day came to do the testing I received a call from the school stating that the teacher was having complications and she would not be able to do the testing that day.  I was told it would take a few weeks to get someone else in the school to take over her position and I would have to wait until then to get the boys tested.  So we waited, and we waited.  A few weeks passed and no test.  Soon a month had passed. I called to get an update and was told they were working on it.  A few months passed and still nothing.  When I called, I was told that the original teacher would not be back and that the sub was teaching her classes but she was unable to administer the test.  This back and worth and getting nowhere went on for months all while the boys were stuck at home with me.  At this point we could not afford daycare. We were carrying two house payments, we were paying for the house back home that had not sold and our new home here, daycare was not an option. Then one day, six months into this whole process, I called and was given the number to a lady that was taking over the testing for the school finally someone to talk to.  I called her as soon as I got off the phone with the school and left a message.  She called me back a few days later and she set up their first test, this one was for speech.  I meet with her and the speech therapist and the test was given.  As we talked I was informed that the boys would only qualify  for services if they did not pass the test.  It is not like the preschool’s back home.  According to our records, that had finally been found (they were lost after the initiation meeting)  We made to much money.  I was puzzled. How did we make to much money??  That’s when the question came.

 

So, do you still call them twins, even though they were born a few days apart? Did you have complications that caused the different birth dates?  I had to laugh and as I did I said no.  They looked at me with confusing eyes.  I then explained that they were adopted.  This whole time they had assumed they were mine, just as I had wanted.  As I explained their background I saw one of the ladies start taking notes.   Here the boys had never been seen as foster kids, they were just my kids.  I knew there were delays due to their hard beginnings and that they needed more help but, now that they were with us and because my husband works we make to much money to automatically qualify for early preschool  here  (which is super funny in its own right that he makes to much money for a family of nine) as I talked they listened.  They asked questions and I gave them answers.  I was not looking for a handout, I did not want them to feel sorry for them, but I did not want my boys to get over looked because the school thought we made to much money (lol sorry that’s still funny) As we talked they agreed to continue the testing.  And I am so thankful they did.

I returned to the school last week (7 months into the process) to receive the final decision.  As I sat there waiting for them to tell me that neither of my sons would get in, I tried to figure out where we could cut corners in order to afford daycare now that the house back home had finally sold.  Turns out, I don’t have to worry about daycare,  my boys do require some extra help.  Elmo qualified in two of the five areas, Big Al qualified in three.  As they were doing the testing they noticed that Big Al has some “autistic like qualities” that need to be addressed.  We are in the process now have having him evaluated.  One of the ladies asked how many days a week they boys would come, 3,4 or 5?  We agreed that since they had missed out on so much of the school year they could attend 5 days a week 8 – 1:30. Oh and fyi, as we went over the scoring they showed be both the new test scores and compared them to the scores from our original test. Both of my son’s scores differed by only 2 points at most in any of the five areas ( different test same results)  As we finished up one of the ladies said they apologized for it taking so long, she was however a firm believer that all things happen for a reason.  And you know shes right.  Yes I was aggravated that they did not get in back in August, but the truth is now that they are in I know my days will be so much different with them not being here. I was able to enjoy the past few months in our new town with them everyday.  I got to keep them little a little while longer.  I got to spend some much needed mommy and son time with them and for that I am thankful.  I know that on next Monday I will be a mess as I tell them goodbye and walk them into their class.  They are so excited and I’m excited for them.  It’s not in my timing its all In God’s timing.

 

From my beautiful chaos to yours life does not happen when we want it to.  It happens when God allows it to.  Be patient it will happen and when it does you will say to yourself “Man I wish things would just slow down.”  lol

Autism from Our front row seats

It’s been almost three years since wild man was given “the diagnosis” but we knew before that.  I think back to all the early signs and question myself did we act fast enough, could we have done this, should we have done that.  I still remember his last actual meal, he was 20 months old and we were out at one of our favorite restaurants.  He had chicken along with some french fries and I believe he ate just as many fried pickles as I did.  If I would have known that was the day he would pick to stop eating I would have opted for something a little nicer.

It’s not the diagnosis that drives me crazy, it’s how people react to the diagnosis.  Yes our son has autism and sensory issues but we all have things that make us unique. Our days are last longer than most people’s.  He does not sleep.  We have tried all the ideas that people feel the need to tell us to try.  And while he does use his weight blanket and his vibrating music pillow sleep still eludes him. The fact is he just can’t shut down.  And when he does not sleep I do not sleep. I am his comforter. He feels safe with me. You will not find a boy who loves his mommy more than my son loves me. Ask anyone that knows us.  I am his favorite person. Our mornings start off with kisses and “no I no goes today” talks for which I am so thankful for, a year ago these talks were not possible.   I spend my days fighting for him to have a normal education, while inside I question if I am doing the right thing.  I worry if he will be excepted by is classmates in the new class, but I want him to be challenged I want him to add to his ever growing mind and his abilities. He pushes back but he will thank me later, I hope he thanks me later. I want to baby him and protect him from everything, but I also understand I can’t always protect him and that something’s are necessary for him to go through so that he can be the best he can be. In the last 7 months he has far surpassed the doctor’s and teachers expectations.  He is learning sight words and even learning how to hold a pencil, things many take for granted but we were not sure we would ever see him do. His personal aid sends pictures to ease my mind and assure me he is making friends and that he is enjoying class.  After he is home he feels safe and can normally be found in just a pull-up or underwear. Sensory disorder at its finest. Clothes bother him. So if you disapprove of him running around like that don’t bother coming around. He lives here, not you. This is his safe place he will do as he pleases. He can spends hours sometimes lining up his cars (smallest to largest front to back no spacing in between) in long seemingly endless rows that we dare not touch or move for we know a meltdown will surely occur.  He parallel plays most days with his siblings, but on the rare occasion you will find them all playing duck duck goose. He repeats himself if he gets excited or nervous and if he is having a bad day he will sit and spin in circles. As for food this past month he’s sensory issues limited him to: french fries, KFC mash potatoes, stage two peas, yogurt, and strawberry pop-tarts.  He’s obsessions include: airplanes, five nights of freddy’s action figures, the chicken dance, and Disney’s Cars toys.  There are days we dance, there are days we cry, there are days I’m not sure I’m strong enough for him.  Trips to the doctor, like today, I dread.  I pray that no one will be in the waiting room and if so I pray they don’t mind him setting beside them, he will even if they do. Personal space means absolutely nothing to him.  We are out of his comfort zone the sound of a baby crying or another person on a phone can lead to a meltdown, today it was the noise the water dispenser made.  After we were home it was his usual two baths before calling it a night.  It was filled with  “momma hold me” “I  love you’s too” “take me sleep” phrases in his sweet little voice.

 

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I wish I could go back to the days before we knew he had autism.  Back to the fairy tale people push that everyone is equal and all are treated the same no matter what their gender, their race or their disability. He falls in the middle, their are others who have more severe autism and there or others that are blessed with talents from it. I wish we slept past 5am.  I wish we went to sleep before midnight. I wish he had a normal diet. I wish he could tell me what hurts when he is sick.  I wish I didn’t worry about his future, our future. I wish people would not stare. I wish people would not judge. I wish I had all the answers. But I know that’s not possible.  I wish people could see him as I see him. I wish they would look past the meltdowns and the mood swings and see him. He is the sweetest most kind loving child I have ever met.  He makes me smile daily.  He may not speak much but his actions speak volumes.  His love is unconditional and without boundaries. He sees things through eyes like no one I’ve ever known.  He does not judge others. He enjoys life to the fullest. He is a free spirit.  He is my sunshine on all my cloudy days.

Autism is like an amusement park ride, to be more specific an old wooden roller coaster that beats you up while taking you to unreachable heights only to drop you hard and fast.  Everyday is a new adventure.  Around every turn something new slaps you in the face and you find yourself praying that you don’t screw things up.   Its our life. It’s real.  It’s a struggle.  It’s frustration.  It’s small victories. It’s spontaneous laughter. It’s meltdowns. It’s love. It’s hope.  It’s our normal.

 

From our beautiful chaos to yours look past the disabilities to see the person.  You don’t know what your missing.

 

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