Leap of Faith

Yesterday was yard cleanup day. It was breezy, but sunny, so I was able to mow and bag up most of the leaves. Mason enjoyed putzing around the backyard in the cozy coupe. He’s getting more independent now and will play alone while I mow the yard. He’s also down right obsessed with Playdoh. He likes making cookies and cupcakes out of Playdoh. He can spend hours trying out all the new colors. He still wants me to play with him, but yesterday I started some craft projects of my own, and he was just happy to have me sit by him at the table acknowledging all his yummy creations. I’m noticing that Mason is playing with a wider variety of toys and books, and he’s independently coming up with ideas for play. He loves to push trucks and cars around and make imitative sounds. When he backs up a toy, he says, “Beep, beep, beep, backup.” This last week Mason started therapy with a new OT named Emily. Her practice is called Foundations Therapy. We will be seeing her for two hours a week. When I called her in September to make an appointment, I was surprised when she told me that she had met Mason. She was hired to be the new OT at his school. So she sees him twice a week at school for 30 minute sessions. I know she has him working with a stiff putty to strengthen his hands. She also has him tearing strips of paper to make craft projects. That’s translated into tearing up several magazines and coloring books at home. In her office, she is going to be working on his balance and play with him. She wants to enhance his play skills so that he doesn’t seek out the same routine all the time. We both want therapy to be play time for him. I still don’t have a really good idea of what they are doing with him at school. I went to the school board meeting last month, and I read a piece that I had written explaining Mason's diagnosis, what kind of therapies he has already received, and what people with Autism experience every day. I hoped to educate the school board so that they would see the importance of hiring someone with expertise in Autism education. Most people on the school board don’t know what Autism is. They also don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher with 25 little kids in the class and have an autistic child doing his own thing. Mason put on a great show while I was at the mic reading. He started running a pattern around the room, and no one could distract him. One of my main concerns for Mason at school is the number of people who supervise him during the day, and the huge number of transitions he has to make. Because of all the specialists he works with and the different aides, he has many more transitions than the other kids in his class. I plan to give his teachers each a copy of the book The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. Naoki is a person with autism who wrote the book when he was 13. He answers questions many people have. I especially enjoyed the section called: The Mystery of Missing Words. I see it as my job to help educate this community about Autism. It’s hard for me to do, but I will do it. And I will keep advocating for Mason and all the kids in this community who have Autism. Mason and I had a lot of fun together this month. Fall is short here, so we have to get out and enjoy it while we can. We went to Govin’s to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. Mason loves playing with Yvin and Ian, and so we all had so much fun at the farm. I have fun because it reminds me of my childhood. I’ve especially enjoyed watching Mason take horse riding lessons. Even the smell of the barn makes me happy. It’s too cold now to continue, but he will start again in the spring. We also had fun at Auntie Susan’s Halloween Party. Mason wanted to be Casper the Ghost. He’s not into the old Casper from my childhood. He likes the new Casper from the cartoon Casper’s Scare School. Thanks to eBay, I found some fabric with Casper on it, and I made him a cape. We also found a Casper shirt he wore to school on Halloween. On Halloween, we went with our friends to the Lutheran Church “Trunk or Treat.” It was perfect for little boys. They even had a puppet show and popcorn. This morning I’m starting to pack to go to Cincinnati. On Wednesday, Mason and I will be driving to Chicago, then on Thursday, on to Cincinnati for the National Women’s Studies Association conference. I decided to drive this year so I could save money rather than buy an extra flight ticket for Mason. I love this conference, and I get to see many people I’ve known through the years. NWSA provides child care, which is wonderful, and I wish all conferences offered this option. I’m excited to hear Elizabeth Alexander give the keynote speech on Thursday night. A few weeks ago I was interviewed as a possible adoptive placement for a child who lives in Missouri. It’s been about a year now that I’ve been trying to adopt through foster care. After hearing their questions and concerns, I had the realization that foster care adoption is not going to work for us. Most kids in foster care have experienced horrendous things that no one should have to go through. They come with reactive attachment disorder; many have been sexually abused; and all have been physically abused and neglected. Because Mason has a communication disorder, he would not be able to tell me if he was being abused by an old foster brother or sister. The social workers were also concerned because I do not want to be a long-term foster care provider, and no one can guarantee that a child placed in my home will want to be adopted. A lot of kids age out of foster care without being adopted. Because we had a placement disrupt earlier this year, social workers are concerned that the same things could happen again. I also learned that before a child from another state can be placed in Wisconsin, the law requires that I would have three visits with this child. It’s not practical with my job and taking care of Mason, for me to commit to three out of state visits. As expensive and emotionally draining as private adoption is, I strongly feel that it is the way for us to get another child who will fit into our family. I called the adoption agency in Baton Rouge where Mason was adopted from, and they sent me a contract right away. I also need to get the right kind of home study done. Right now, the home study that I have can only be used to adopt kids from foster care. I will need a home study that is specifically done for a domestic private adoption. I have decided to go with Crossroads again since they were very good and helpful the first time. I’m getting the paperwork done, but dragging my feet just a little because getting the home study done and finding a birth mother is expensive. One of my Facebook friends suggested a kind of social medial campaign to raise funds. Last week I set up two campaigns (I should have gone with one-but I made a rookie mistake). So far, my friends and colleagues have been very generous in making donations. I’m going to continue working on these campaigns as well as trying to pick up extra classes and things I can do to earn extra money. It’s a leap of faith for sure, but one that I feel compelled to try.

Join and learn more about our adoption story: https://www.adopttogether.org/newbabyj

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