On Wednesday, I took Gus to our local elementary school for him to be evaluated by FCPS (Fulton County Public Schools). As you know, back in October we had him evaluated through Georgia's BCW (Babies Can't Wait) program and he qualified for both speech/language and OT services. We decided to start with speech since that was our biggest concern (and STILL is), but because of scheduling conflicts, we didn't actually get a lot done with Gus and his speech therapist. The ST came to our house three times and each time was horrible. Gus didn't seem to like her and she was constantly touching his face, talking really loudly, and just not a good fit with him. On the third visit she threw her hands up and said she just couldn't keep working with him until his sensory "issues" were resolved. She said I was the problem (he was looking to me for help and not doing as she wanted), and so it was for the best that we stopped using her for speech. However, while it was great to start OT services with Mary, whom Gus absolutely LOVES, he hasn't been getting any help for his speech and language. As six months have passed, he has remained behind and has actually gotten further behind where he should be. We did enroll him in preschool in January, and I honestly think it was the best thing we could have done for him. Any language gains that he's made have come from preschool. Anyway, BCW is a program for kids up to age three. Once a child is three, they "graduate" out of BCW. Some end their services there, because they don't need assistance anymore. Others continue to need services and so they move to the public school system for their needs.
Because we still need support, we had to start the process to see if Gus would qualify for services. He had his hearing tested about a month ago and the results were excellent. Then on Wednesday, he went to have more testing done. There was good news that came from the meeting. He qualifies for more services and will start in August at an elementary school that's close to us (not the school where he'll attend for K-5).
He did not qualify for OT services. I say this is a positive because it means that he's doing really well in the areas that he was deficient before. He's been seeing Mary every week for an hour, and obviously it's paid off. They said they see the sensory problems that he'll need help with, but it's not enough to have an OT there to support his needs. He will have an IEP. This will be good for three years and each year we'll write goals for him and we'll review to see how he's doing. When he's met all the goals we have for him, I believe the need for an IEP will be gone, and so will the IEP. However, it's a legally binding document that will spell out exactly what he needs and he'll be sure to get what he needs through it.
So the biggest question I had was what are we going to do next? The team recommended he be in a classroom setting. This means that instead of someone coming to our house for one on one time, once a week for an hour, he'll be in a classroom and seen at the school. They said he could go five days a week (mornings only), and wouldn't need to continue with preschool somewhere else. This means no more Christ the King for preschool. It also means, no more spending $$ each month for preschool, since sending him to the public school is free (taxes pay for it). I had a lot of questions and doubts. I want him to be with a variety of kids, not just a bunch of special education kids in one room. However, I was told that while he'll be with kids with IEPs, he'll be with similar kids. So he'll be there for speech delays, he'll be with kids who also have speech delays and maybe a few other things, but won't be with behavior/emotionally delayed children. They try to put the kids together based on their needs, which made me feel a little better about it. I want him to thrive and not be negatively impacted by the behavior of others. I don't want him to go five days a week, but I found out that it's most likely a 7am-11am program. It might not be too bad for him to go five days a week for just that little bit of time. We could still do MOMS Club stuff and it's important that he still have time with non-disabled peers. We'll see. We go May 9th for the IEP meeting and thankfully, Steve will be there with me. I just want Gus to get the support that he needs and I want him to be with teachers who not only have a passion for exceptional learners, but also have the background, training, and ability to serve his needs. Gus has a great teacher at CtK right now, but she's the only one on staff who is going to school for early childhood education, and is the only one focused on special education. It's been such a blessing to have her for Gus, but as the director told me, we cannot guarantee what next year would look like for him. He could have a teacher (at CtK) who doesn't understand his needs, and it could be a disastrous year for him. So, we decided to give the public school preschool a chance. If it's not what we're looking for, or it's not a good fit, we'll have the IEP to help us find the right fit. CtK is a great school, and we'll probably send Hugh there when he's older, but for now, when we get to May 21st, Gus will be saying goodbye to CtK for preschool.
Fulton County offers free transportation to and from preschool. I immediately said no, I don't want Gus on the bus, but they assured me that it's a special bus for preschoolers only and it has car seats. I said I'd think about it. The more I've thought about it, the more I think I may do the bus. Not only because it'll be super nice to not have to load everyone up to go down the street, but because traffic is HORRIBLE at 7am. We'll see, but I'm leaning more towards letting him ride the bus and it'll give me more time at home with Hugh, will let Hugh keep sleeping and not have to wake to take Gus to school, and will give Gus a chance to ride a bus, since he sure as hell will NOT be riding the bus when he's in elementary school.
It's REALLY odd to be on the other side of the table for an IEP. As a teacher, I sat in on multiple IEP meetings each year, and I'm very familiar with IEPs. As a teacher, they spell out exactly what you're to do for the child, how to help them be as successful as possible, and what goals to work on for helping the child succeed.
As a parent, it's totally different. I just want Gus to get caught up on his language. Looking at the developmental milestones for a three-year-old, I was shocked at how many are centered around speech and language. At this age, EVERYTHING revolves around speech and language and he's significantly delayed. I'm excited that he'll be going to school (which looks just like any other preschool classroom) with teachers who can help him get where he needs to be. I'm hopeful, I'm relieved, and I'm excited for him. I'll keep everyone posted. Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, and texted to see how the evaluation went. It means the world to know that you care!!!
I can't believe that Hugh is four months already. He is such an awesome baby and he really is pure love. He's delightful to be around, and it doesn't matter where I go, someone always stops me and comments on how adorable he is. He always smiles back and then the person who is commenting on how cute he is, becomes even more smitten. And don't even get me started on his hair.
I took Hugh to the pediatrician today for his four month well check. He got all his shots, and his doctor said he is so very healthy. At his two month appointment his stats were: -Weight: 13.1 pounds (76%) -Height: 23 inches tall (49%) -Head: 14.75 inches round (48%) Today they were: -Weight: 17.3 pounds (85%) -Height: 25.5 inches (67%) -Head: 17 inches (71%) He's made some tremendous growth and I was floored when she gave me his stats! He's definitely thriving and she is so happy to see how we'll he's doing. He's totally meeting and exceeding his developmental milestones too! She got to hear him chatting and blowing bubbles and she saw him standing and said how amazing it was that he's so strong!
Hugh is a really amazing baby and he brings so much love and joy to my life. I'm so very blessed to get the privilege of being around him on a daily basis. He's awesome.
This morning we celebrated Hugh's baptism. We were up bright and early to get ready to head to church. We made it just in time to drop Gus off in the nursery and head inside for the 8:45 service. It was a wonderful ceremony and we were called forward just after the welcome and greeting happened. Everyone seemed really excited to welcome Hugh into the church. It was really awesome.
Off to church!
Sitting with his God Mother, Lesley
I asked the lady in the pew in front of us if she'd be willing to take pictures for me. Thankfully she was willing, and she got some really awesome moments that we otherwise would not have had!!
Pastor Brian and Pastor Sherry
Pouring the water into the baptismal fountain
Hugh was so calm... didn't cry at all!
Lesley taking Hugh's candle
After the service was over, we took a few pictures, got Gus, and then took some pictures with Pastor Brian.
Ask anyone who has ever adopted a child through international or domestic adoption, and they'll tell you that the most incredible time is when you finalize the adoption. The adoption process is grueling. Even when you have everything "fall into place" and you don't have a wait. The vast amount of documents, the intrusive questions, the lack of privacy are all incredibly hard on people who choose to adopt a child. I've never been pregnant and had to undergo what it's like to be pregnant, but I highly doubt it is anything like what you go through when you adopt. While not everyone celebrates Adoption Day (some call it "Gotcha Day"), we most certainly do. Not only do we celebrate because we're proud that we've built our family through the blessing of adoption, but we want our children to celebrate the day they officially became ours forever and ever. For a lot of people, coming to the conclusion that adoption is what you'd like to do to build or expand your family, isn't something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time to think about the pros and the cons, you have to look at the finances and determine if you can afford to adopt (which is sad), and you have to decide if you're really up for the challenge of the unknown. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; adoption isn't for everyone. Once you submit your application (if you go with an agency), it's scary. I can vividly remember how nervous I was once we sent everything in. It was out of our hands at the point, and up to the agency to determine if they wanted us, and if they had room for us. When we got our letter in January of 2010 saying that we had been accepted by CAS and we would be hearing from them regarding the formal application process, we were so excited.
The home study process was the scariest at first glance, but after experiencing it once, we knew there was nothing to fear. In all actuality, the home study is the easiest part of the adoption. Well... almost. With Gus's adoption, we had to wait for several months before we could bring him back home. He was two months old when we finally got the okay to come home with him. It was the best feeling ever to finally get to bring our baby into our home and get our lives started with him. We had two post-placement visits once we were home. The first was at the three months of being home mark (he was five months) and the second was when he was home for six months (he was eight months old). Because we finalized in Michigan, we weren't really given much of a choice when it came to when we'd go to court. We were given Friday, April 8th, 2011 and Friday, April 15th, 2011. With Steve's work schedule, the 15th happened to work best for us. On April 14th (a Thursday), we drove to MI for Gus's finalization hearing. We didn't have a lot of time to spend, we actually came home on Sunday the 17th.
We went to court on Friday the 15th and were joined by my parents and Gus's birth mom and her mom. We had a very formal hearing with the judge and then took pictures after. When the whole thing was over, we met up with Gus's great-grandma Marge and his birth mom and Grammy for lunch with my parents. It was awesome to celebrate. That afternoon, we went and painted our hands on a plate and celebrated that night with family and friends at Outback for dinner. It was awesome.
Gus and his godmother
Gus was 11 months when we finalized his adoption. With Hugh, it has been a totally different adoption all together. Not only did we never have to involve an agency, but we picked our attorney, had a lot of time with his birth mom, we were in the delivery room when he was born, and we were able to come back home relatively soon (the holiday held us up a bit). We had one post placement/court report visit and then our attorney contacted us and told us when we'd be going to court. Monday, April 15th, 2013 at 9:30am My first reaction was, "NO WAY!!!!" I couldn't believe the odds that we'd finalize Hugh's adoption on the same day that Gus's was finalized two years before. I mean, there ARE 365 days... it could have been any day, but it happened to be April 15th and I took it as a sign.
We dressed Hugh in the same shirt and tie that his big brother wore to his finalization hearing. The shocker is that Gus was 11 months when he wore it and Hugh was three months. Hugh is a big boy!!
We went to court and didn't know what to expect. We were going into it expecting it to be similar to how Gus's hearing went, but it was vastly different. We never went into a courtroom. We actually went into the judge's chamber and met with him in his office. He was in regular clothes (no robe) and we had a casual conversation before the swearing in occurred.
Our judge's brother was adopted and he mentioned that he has a special place in his heart for adoption. :-) We were sworn in by our attorney, he asked us several yes/no questions. Then that was it! It was over before I knew it and I actually said, "That's it?" The judge got his robe and we took a few pictures before heading to the records room to get our official documents.
We went to the records room with our attorney, he filed everything and gave us Hugh's adoption decree and said he'd be filing the birth certificate request for us. Then we shook hands and we left to go home.
Just like that it was over.
It was so awesome to FINALLY be done with the adoption process. I won't say that we'll never adopt again, because who knows what the future will bring, but at this point, we're both 99.9% certain that we're done adopting. Unless a miracle of God happens and I get pregnant, we're done building our family.
I'm blessed beyond belief. We had relatively easy adoptions. Both happened without an agency, and both were brought into our lives for a reason. I feel that both boys are gifts from God, and their birth parents are the most selfless people I've ever known. I don't take a single day for granted with them, and I know that we've built our family via adoption for a very good reason. I'm excited to not have to share any more private and personal information with a stranger again. I'm excited that I don't have to jump through any additional hoops to comply with rules and regulations that I don't necessarily agree with. I'm excited that I don't have to spend any more money on attorney fees or agency fees. I am so excited to be done with the adoption process. I finally feel like we can move forward and just really enjoy the memories of when we were in the process. The process is grueling and it's hard and it's not for everyone. But, when you finally do finish what you've started and you have a beautiful child that's all yours, as if you birthed them yourself... it's just remarkable. So we celebrate two adoptions on April 15th. We have a Double Adoption Day and we couldn't feel more blessed.
My blog that's specifically about open adoption and how our family came to be complete.
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I'm Cathy and I'm a former elementary teacher turned SAHM. This blog has grown and evolved through the years to be my sounding board, then a place to share my thoughts, fears, and celebrations, and then where I post pictures and practice my photography skills. I blog about daily happenings. To read more about my family and how we're connected to open adoption, please follow our family blog: A Completed Family.