When he was placed with us, we were told that our son had a tendency towards making false allegations, making up lies, stealing… all of the behaviours one might expect from a 7 year old who had spent much of his young years in and out of foster care, and coming from an abusive home.
As I have mentioned, my son was brought to my daycare by his birth mom for much of the time between the ages of 21 months and 3.5 years. His mom came from much of the same type of childhood as he did, and had many of the same struggles. I can say from knowing her that she did try very hard, but she unfortunately had a tendency to be drawn into poor relationships.
While I did document the times when he came to my daycare with unexplained cuts and bruises, I never did call the children’s ministry on the family. The reason for this was that they were already involved before and during the time he was in my care, and while I questioned his mother’s explanations, there was a possibility that she was telling the truth.
When he left my care suddenly, and without explanation at the age of 3.5 years, I assumed (it seems correctly) that he had been taken back into foster care. I thought about him a lot, but never considered that one day I would be trying to adopt him.
For most people, and this was true for us, the social workers match the child to the family. It isn’t often that the parents choose the child, though they are given the option, once the paperwork detailing the children’s needs comes through, that the parents can choose not to adopt that particular child.
So while our social workers were preparing us for the adoption of a sibling group of three, which they had already matched with our family, we had no idea who the children we would be adopting were. It was when I was told his birth date that I put it together, and asked if he was the child we were to be adopting. I also had the name of our middle daughter (we live in a small town) and asked about her as well. This was confirmed, and I grew more excited about bringing my children home.
When he came home, he was as excited to have a new family as we were to welcome them home. He called me “mommy” right from the start, shortened to “mom” as he grew older. The behaviours that had been mentioned, and the challenges, were apparent right from the beginning.
He especially had trouble understanding boundaries when it came to people he didn’t know. He would run right up to people to ask them for things, or to climb in their laps. He had no fear in this, but it scared me. If we went into a store, he would continuously ask us to buy him whatever he saw, and grew upset when we told him he didn’t need it. For him especially, I could see that the social workers advice not to allow him to be given anything from other people, or to be left in the care of other people until he settled into our home was important to follow. So I did – fully and completely, as is my autistic way.
We homeschooled him, with permission from the ministry, both to help him settle in, and to help him with his education. I was already homeschooling my birth son at the time, and it made sense to me to keep the children home in the beginning. At the time of placement, he had just completed the first grade. They were moving him to second despite the fact that from what we could see, he couldn’t even recognize the letters of the alphabet. I had him repeat the first grade that year, and he (at his own request) completed the second and third grades the second year, so that at the end of two years in our home, he was right where he was supposed to be for school (despite the fact that he had fetal alcohol, attachment issues, and was tested in the 2nd percentile for intelligence.)
Outside of homeschooling, we took the children to Church, where they attended their age related classes, sent them to youth group, had friends come over, had birthday parties, visited family, spent time camping, took them for numerous outings to amusement parks, science centres, zoos… We also had numerous specialists and doctors involved in their care, and they still spent time regularly with their previous foster parents.
For me, that was an overwhelming amount of social interaction, so it didn’t make sense when they accused me at the end of those two years of isolating my children. I guess that, also, is the autism in me. The amount of social interaction that I can handle is so much less than that of neurotypicals that it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone would expect more. If they had known about my autism, and explained it to me, maybe I could have understood and adjusted – or maybe they could have given me that reason to deny our choice to homeschool in the first place; but then if they had known of my autism, they never would have allowed me to adopt at all.
If I had known, I could have adjusted, but I didn’t know. That is the way things go some times. I was trying so hard to be normal at that time, that it never crossed my mind that I was never created to be that person.
Our son was also on the sugar/dye/wheat/milk free diet that our girls were on. In fact, he had the strongest reactions of all of them in a behavioural way to these foods. I still do not understand how others could have missed these connections; they were so “loud” to me. I also do not understand how, when they were told in detail of what we were doing in these areas, they couldn’t come up with a solution to help get other types of fat into the children’s diets to help them gain weight.
So from these, I was accused of isolation, and nutritional neglect – though in these I believe they had as much responsibility to help us, and to let us know what they were demanding from us, instead of accusing us in the end of something they knew was there from the beginning.
This is a lot of information, and again I am going to have to split it into two posts to keep it from being too long. Thank you for sticking with me – there is a lot to say.