Goodness! When I started this I never dreamt that it would take me so many chapters to get through everyone!
When Kyle first started coming around our house, he was a cute little guy who couldn't talk. Everything he wanted, he just pointed to and made a sound. He was about two at this time so I knew he should be making some sounds......there was also no extra weight on this little guy....I used to call his legs his Kermit the Frog legs because they were so skinny, and had such poor muscle tone, they kind of just flopped everywhere! Most two year olds try to undress themselves or even try to put their shoes or maybe their jacket on,....not Kyle! He would just sit there and wait for you to do it for him. At first, when he started regularly coming to our house, I noticed he showed signs of being delayed, but I had hoped that he was just like Justin, just needed some positive stimulation in his life.....but after a number of weeks without any change, I realized that that wasn't how it was. Kyle definitely had some major delays as well as not saying any words . The one thing about Kyle though, and still to this day, he still has this problem....he 'looks' normal. Now, you might be saying...'what? What do you mean? That's great if he looks normal....well, one way, the obvious way, yes....but, when people expect him to act and do things at the age he is now, which is 22,then he runs into a problem. His comprehension is that of a nine year old. It reminds me of the time that I was in a waiting room , at the hospital and I observed this very big kid, acting very immaturely for what I thought was his age. In conversation with his mom, I didn't comment my observations but she spoke of why they were there. Apparently, he was very large, ...for his age...she explained how often people would become annoyed with her because they thought he should be acting like an eight year old when he was in actuality half that age! I understood what she was saying because we ran into that very thing with people trying to interact with Kyle, all the time.
I will say this about him though...unless you really know him he can act like he understands you quite well....but he isn't....many a time after he has been chatting with another person and he comes to me,...I'll say...'what did they want?' And with a little grin on his face he usually says , 'I have no idea mom!'
By the time Kyle was officially taken into care, we had been working on a few things to try and help him. One was speech therapy ....and the other was his teeth.
With the speech therapy he started a program at the hospital in the city...him and I would have to go several times a week for a number of weeks, then you would go. 'Off block' for a few weeks. Then the cycle would start over....this went on for almost two years until he turned five. Then we were informed that to continue any kind of speech therapy, he would have to go to school. Their program didn't go past age five. I had decide that Kyle was too immature to start school but when I was informed that this was the only way to get speech therapy....well, I had to enroll him.
As for his teeth, ...not long after he came to live with us, and I was brushing his teeth, I noticed that his teeth, especially the molars were in deplorable condition...they were actually rotting. The agency advised us to take him to a pediadontist . When he saw Kyle's mouth and teeth he recommended surgery! The dentist said his rotting teeth was due to the birth mothers poor prenatal nutrition that caused him to be born without enamel on his teeth! Kyle had many molars covered with silver caps and two root canals done.....and he was three! Thankfully, he was put under general surgery but he wasn't a happy camper on the drive home with a little bucket on his lap! Fortunately , his dentist, Dr McIsaac, was wonderful. Over the years he did an amazing job on Kyle's tiny little mouth, strategically, moving the right amount of teeth at the right time, so that he would never have to wear braces. Now, his teeth are beautiful.
At the same time that all this was going on, Lauren seemed to be having some difficulty ....she was just finishing up grade one and there wasn't a night go by, as I was tucking her in that she didn't complain about her head or stomach hurting and it was determined that it all had to do with school! It was causing her a lot of anxiety. It really upset me to see her so upset....she was already dreading grade two and she wasn't even finished grade one! I knew some friends who homeschooled and after talking with them , Don and I decided that this might be the ticket for Lauren!
Corey was also having some problems to the point that they put him in a special learning class, in another school for a year! I didn't agree with a lot of the things the Special Ed teacher did with Corey, and after a year, our school said that he had brought his grades up enough to come back. He wasn't keen on going back to his friends to be made fun of, so we decided that we'd homeschool him also.
We didn't go into this with any idea of how long we'd do it for but we thought we needed to try. It was very difficult, kids that have experienced regular school have a harder time adjusting to being at home....they think they're missing out on stuff like parties and recess....they did enjoy the more relaxed timetable and we did have them involved with a homeschooling group that met regularly for gym time and music. We even hired an off duty fireman to tutor Corey in his French !
We did this for two years. Unfortunately, we were not able to continue....for a few reasons....
One was the expense...you have to purchase all the curriculum and some subjects that were distinctly Canadian, like our math, and history.....I had to find out what text book they were using at school and purchase our own copy.
Two....Justin still had to continue going to the local school...since he wasn't adopted and still a foster child, we were not allowed to homeschool him.....sometimes that caused a problem between him and the other two.
Three.....since Kyle needed so much help with general learning skills and speech therapy, I had to juggle that, plus homeschooling, plus working with Maya and keeping a household for seven kids!
We made the decision that because Corey was going into grade seven and needed to be prepared for highschool that this was the time to put them back into the school system. Lauren seemed to be handling it better, but she did have difficulty upon re-entering. Her teacher wasn't in favour of homeschooling and felt that we had done something of a terrible disservice to her. She made her feelings and attitude known to Lauren and to this day Lauren still speaks derogatorily about her homeschool years. I still feel that it was the right thing to do for Lauren at the time though, I still feel it helped her with her self confidence and stress level. There wasn't any more talk of stomach and head aches.
For years after that , Kyle got some speech therapy at school and every summer went to a speech camp...which I had to call school so the other kids didn't become jealous over Kyle going to camp and they couldn't!
I should also mention here about an amazing educational assistant that Kyle had from kindergarten through to grade eight ( except for one year when the education board insisted that Kyle had to attend a special class in another school....that wasn't a good year, and when they said he'd be moving to a school in the city that would involve being on the bus four hours a day....well, I refused and insisted that he come back to the local school and he was thrilled to be with Mrs Rae and his best friend Nicholas again.)
Marlene Rae was his E.A. and I've never met a person in the school system that went the extra mile and more for a student. She devised her own curriculum for Ben and Nicholas that ran parallel with the curriculum the rest of the class was using. Every summer Mr and Mrs Rae took Kyle and Nicholas on a day outing, the boys were treated like royalty! They and we loved Mrs Rae......she was definitely someone that made an amazing positive difference in a child's life!
A long about the time that Justin was 8 years old, I remember it was summertime. He and I were sitting at the kitchen table and the subject turned to adoption....we were all very frustrated over how long it was taking for the agency to get the boys cleared for adoption , including Justin. He was aware that Corey, Lauren and Maya's names had been changed when they were adopted but Justin wasn't a toddler....I really didn't think he'd want his name changed, so I was very surprised when he brought the subject up.
'Mom', he said.....'yes',.....'if you guys adopted me would you change my name?'....I replied,...'well, you're kind of older, we really didn't think you'd want your name to be changed.' ' Well,' says he....' If you did, what would you change it to?' 'Well,' I quickly thought, ' you have three names right now....Justin Paul William.....we thought we could just change them around.....change them to Paul William Justin'.....it just hung there a moment as he thought. 'Okay,' says he...'I'd like that'. ' Okay,' says I,....'we'll keep that in mind'.
A few days later, we were driving in the van, and Justin pipes up....'mom......when are you and dad going to start calling me Paul?'......obviously he had been thinking this over for sometime...I looked in my rear view mirror at him and said....'well, when would you like us to?' 'Now', said he....'okay, but you'll have to be patient with us because it might take awhile for us to get it straight'.......'okay', said he.....and he looked quite satisfied with himself.
I wasn't sure if he'd stick to it but he did....a week or so later I signed them up for a local Vacation Bible school and I carefully watched as he signed Paul as his name....I guess he was serious. When he started school in September, I went into the school and told them that he wanted to change his legal names around....since they were his legal names they didn't have a problem with him going with Paul instead of Justin.
As for Kyle, even though he had speech therapy constantly, he still spoke with a significant stutter and mispronunciation of beginning sounds. One sound he had difficulty with was the hard 'K' sound...which of course his first name began with....I searched through names , looking for a short name, that he could pronounce...it came down to Jack or Ben....we chose Ben....
So, long before we were able to officially adopt the boys , their names were already changed in our family.....
Justin became Paul William Justin
Kyle became Benjamin Spencer Kyle...( but he prefers Ben!)
As I have been writing this it has indeed been strange to call them Justin and Kyle....to us it always seems like they've been Paul and Ben , right from the beginning!