We were seeing more progress. Mickey attended his first field trip (I had to go, but he did well). school was going better – most of the time. I got a nice mix of positives and negatives. The negatives were still terrible, but meltdowns at home were calming. Meltdowns at school were less. Academically he was struggling – way behind his classmates. Sight words were horrible, reading level was non-existent. We were heading into the final weeks of kindergarten and he was nearly a full school year behind. Part of the problem was behavior, the rest we assumed was his low IQ and it seemed that the doctor may have been correct.
We also got our adoption date – May 29, 2012. The day after memorial day and the Tuesday after the last day of school. Mickey went ahead and changed his name at school – if his old name was on a paper, he would scratch it out and write his soon to be new last name. He smiled more. His therapy continued at an intense level, still 6 days a week. Daycare found that he did better in the pre-k room rather than the school aged classroom.
Minnie geared up for her first ballet and tap recital. I pierced her ears, because she wanted me to and because I finally could. I tentatively began making a plan to take a vacation to Indiana to visit our extended family – my Grandparents had not yet met the kids, and some of my cousins who hadn’t been able to visit. I explained to my cousin everything she would need to know about us staying with her. Mickey couldn’t wait.
One interesting thing I discovered with both my children is that they cling to family. Not just the people, but they were both anxious to “fit” and be part of the family. I was incredibly lucky that my entire family accepted them immediately, from my grandparents through my cousins. Their favorite toys and stuffed animals were those that were mine and my brother’s when we were little. They still are. They both have an unusual reverence for family heirlooms and items that came from my Grandparents.
Mickey was very excited about his kindergarten end of year program. There were songs and he tried to keep them a secret, but could be found singing them almost any waking moment. I went and was delighted by how well he stood there and performed them. His gestures were off, he forgot to do half of them, he was distracted, but he did it. This was a major win for us. After the performance we went back to the class for presentation of the certificates of completion. His teacher presented them in alphabetical order, but skipped Mickey. I briefly panicked that this was how I was finding out that he wouldn’t be moving on from kindergarten. When she got to the end, she started to cry. She explained to the class that adoption day was 4 days away and that they had opted to do his certificate in his new name. His first official document. Mickey cried. His para pro cried, I cried, and half the parents were tearing up. It was awesome. He was so proud of his certificate with his new name.
Adoption day dawned. My parents met us at the court. I ordered a special sugar free cake (sugar made Mickey crazy angry) and planned a special lunch after court. My mom planned to take the kids to her office to introduce them to her co-workers. We were hopeful that Mickey could handle this, but while we were slowly able to make plans with him, but we always had a backup plan for what happened if he couldn’t handle it.
The judge took us to a conference room. The kids and I became a family officially. Mickey told every single person that he encountered that it was “Adoption Day!!”. It was adorable. We went to a nice restaurant and had a great meal. Mickey was awesome. Minnie was presented by her grandparents with the necklace that Grandpa gave Grandma when they were dating some 45 years earlier. Mickey was presented with a car bracelet that had been my brother’s when he was little. I gave them picture frames engraved with their new names, the date and the words “Forever Family”. It was an emotional day and one of the best for Mickey’s behavior we had ever had. While my mom took them to her office, I went and had the photo taken at our adoption day lunch printed for their new frames.
I knew without a shadow of a doubt that i had made the right decision. I type this note more than three years later and I am emotional. It was one of the best days of my life. Our family became complete. I no longer feared that DFACS was going to change their mind. They were mine and I was theirs. My son and my daughter. For real.