Friday, April 8, 2016

Somewhere on the Spectrum. Written by Kerri

Somewhere on the Spectrum

My Journey…………

I had wanted to be a mother all of my life.  At age 41 after 6 miscarriages and exhausting all my medical insurance for fertility; I turned to legal risk adoption.  This basically means that you foster a child with the hope that parental rights will be terminated. I took classes; got approved and then the wait began.  I got several calls for babies that had shaken baby syndrome.  I would be a single parent so my biggest concern was for healthy child-nothing else.  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the care those babies would need; so I declined.

The wait continued until I was 42 ½ years old.  One day I received a call that there was a baby boy for me.  My first question was if he was healthy.  He was.  His biological mother had killed his purported father while holding her then son.  The baby was then held hostage for six hours in an abandoned warehouse until the mother surrendered.  When you get these calls; you don’t have long to decide as the child needs a place to go. I was ecstatic at the chance and accepted. 

He was and is beautiful!  It was a long journey through the court process and also to try to determine his paternity.  As it turned out, the victim was not his biological father and the mother was not willing to provide alternatives.  This made it even more difficult to terminate parental rights.  When all was said and done; it was two years later and the adoption was finally completed.  I was his mom!

During the first two years of his life, while waiting for the adoption to be realized; I noticed some things.  I was sure the early trauma would affect him in some way.  I’m a social worker, after all, so that’s how I think.  He walked around fourteen months; but talking wasn’t happening.  Everyone told me that boys are late talkers.  It just didn’t feel right.  Call it mother’s intuition.  I had him evaluated for speech and OT and he qualified with more than a 25% delay.  He also bit kids a lot in daycare and had some pretty awesome tantrums.  Again, I had him evaluated. The day before the adoption hearing a diagnosis came in the mail:  PDD-NOS.

Some people actually have asked me why I still adopted him.  As if you would “give back” a child-your child that you have bonded with and love.  He is very verbal now and was by 24 months with the speech therapy.  As he grows we have new and different challenges.  Just as every child does at every stage in life.

I believe there are several things that can be gleaned from my story.  First, early intervention is everything!  If it wasn’t for EI; I don’t know at what level he would be functioning now.  It is a free service that is government mandated.  If you suspect something is delayed in your child’s development; please avail yourself of their services.  There is so much to gain and nothing to lose.

Second, autism can happen to anybody-whether you adopt or give birth. .  In my son’s case; there was no prenatal care-at all.  I think this may give some credence to the folic acid connection.  My son is still a healthy child; but he is different. Different is ok.  We have to adjust to it; both of us. He isn’t damaged, disposable or something to return.  He has certain strengths that are a part of his diagnosis.  He is also more than his diagnosis. He is a smart, charming, funny and affectionate person.

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