Adoption = Progress, Part 3
Continued from Adoption = Progress, Part 2
I sit, chin in hands, listening to the district psychologist.
I glance around the table at the principal, school social worker, special education teacher, classroom teacher, guidance counselor and head of the special education eligibility team. All of these individuals have gathered for a meeting, which takes place every three years, to determine whether my children qualify to have an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.
Both have made tremendous progress, especially in the last year. Upon arrival, the 5 year old did not know his alphabet and the 7 year old could not read three-letter words. Now 9 and 11, our girl reads at grade level and our little guy is reading a level above his current grade. Their test scores have moved from bottom-of-the-ocean to above C-level (see what I did there?) and behavior is age-appropriate at school.
Our current school has been instrumental in their success; I’m not downplaying the role Hubby and I have had (because we’ve poured ourselves into what we call “extra-school”…homeschooling after school, through summer and holiday breaks). However, without the support from the school, we would never have come this far.
We were at another, less motivated school for the first two years, so I can vouch for this truth. In addition to teachers who truly care and have been willing to try every strategy we brainstorm, the school principal is adopted and he used this to connect with our son.
During our first year at the school, he and I…chatted…quite a bit. In his office. With the boy.
Rather than suspend our child for behaviors which probably deserved it, he came up with more creative consequences and spent hours (and I do mean hours) talking with our son, helping him see cause and effect. Our son began to understand how behaviors have consequences and make other people feel a certain way.
And he reminded me that this child was so terrified of what would happen to him at the hands of other children that he’d rather push them all away and make them fear him.
These memories flit through my mind as I listen to each person around the table discuss my children. The principal grins at me. He knows.
Our girl’s teacher raves about her behavior and focus. Our boy’s teacher is excited by his progress and while noting that he sometimes blurts his thoughts, the “bad words” we’re discussing are “stupid” and “dumb,” nothing worse. He’s also willing to be redirected.
I know that as the work becomes more difficult and they find frustration, it’s likely they will fall into some old habits, but for the moment I am thrilled beyond words.
Every year has brought improvement. Each year has ups and downs, but the mountains and deep valleys have morphed into rolling terrain. Rivers of tears have gone underground, reappearing only as the occasional stream.
The team finds my children still eligible for accommodations through the IEP process, which is truly a relief. I believe that by the end of the year they may not need some of these benefits; our son transitioned last year from a small group class and integrated without trouble into the mainstream classroom.
If we are able to continue this rate of progress, I can only imagine where they’ll be next year.
For now, though, I know that they are not quite ready for the expectations of a “typical” class load. Realistic understanding is key; they are still handicapped by the trauma and neglect of their past (which included no pre-school, no learning).
The kids know that if they have a good week at school, I’ll spend lunch with them on Friday. Our son likes to be sure. This past Thursday, he asked if I’d be there. I assured him I would. He then turned to Hubby.
“Daddy, are you coming to lunch because I had a good week?” Upon learning that Daddy had to work, he looked over at me and said, “Well…at least SOMEbody loves me!” Then, laughing, he ran over and hugged my husband. “Don’t worry, Daddy. I’m just kiddin’…I know you love me. I love you!”
This from the kid we could hardly touch for the first six months.
I bring my focus back to the table, smile and thank everyone. Most of them have no idea of the gift they’ve given my children, but a few know. Later, I stand outside in the blinding sunlight, watching clouds scoot across the infinite blue. I almost feel I can see straight through the atmosphere.
Smiling, I stare toward what I’m determined to see: our bright future.
Writing 101 Day 13 assignment: tell a story through a series of vignettes (short, episodic scenes or anecdotes) that together read as variations on the same theme.
Photo: Casey Alexander
Posted on September 29, 2015, in Adoption, Blogging101, Writing101 and tagged adopt, adopted, adopting, adoption, adoptive, IEP, Individualized Education Plan, parent, parenting, psychologist, school. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.