“Our lives were full and we were complete. We had three kids thriving at school and excelling in sports. Between the three of them, we would be at a court, ballpark, or tournament pretty much every day of the week. In between, we would travel, our family past time. I am a volleyball, football, baseball, and basketball mom. Like I said, we were busy and happy with our on-the-go lives.
In December of 2017, while I was at work, a case came across my desk that had to be filled out ASAP for the court system. I normally do not work on this type of report for my job but I stayed to take care of it. In the meantime, one of my besties decided to take on a sibling group that was in need of an emergency placement. Now mind you, she has four kids of her own and now three foster kiddos. When she called to tell me what she was doing, it sounded so familiar to the report I was working on, and you know what? It was. It was the same little boy and his siblings. What a crazy coincidence this was! After a few weeks of having seven kids in one house, we took on the boys temporarily to give her a break.
I remember the first time he came to our home. He was so little. My biological kids are giants. Currently, my 16-year-old is 6’0, my 14-year-old is 6’2, and my 11-year-old is 5’4. As babies, they were giants so to see this little one was surprising.
He was 28 months old, and the health records showed he was a normal, healthy toddler with no medical needs or diagnosis. Cool, we thought as again this was only supposed to be temporary until the social worker could find permanent placement for them. We were not a licensed resource family home as we had not intended on fostering or adopting. We had our three giants and did I mention, very busy with their schedules.
We noticed he did not say any words, not even babbling, which was odd because in the reports, it said he had words. He had aversion to food textures, bath time, and meltdowns at the volleyball and baseball games. Every day at the same time, he would line up his toys and get very mad when they were not facing the exact same way. Wait a minute, there was no mention of this at all in his health records. Could this be? Naw he is just adjusting to our home.
You see, my husband and myself are both special education teachers. He teaches 8th-grade RSP and when I was in the classroom, I taught Early Childhood Special Education. We knew professionally what we might be seeing could be autism. I switched him to a developmental pediatrician because what I was seeing daily and what was in his foster care records did not match up at all. I began to take data to show when, where, how, and what was triggering him so we could best help him. It appeared we were the only ones who noticed this.
During this time, we also decided to officially foster and got licensed as a resource family home until they could find a permanent placement for him. He started to get early intervention services in our home — speech, OT, and PT after seeing he had a global delay in all areas. A few months in, he called me a version of mom, and my husband a version of dad. That was it… he was going to be ours. We decided no one was going to continue to advocate for him like we were. He was making progress slowly but still no diagnosis. It took longer because as his foster mom, I did not have all the rights to make the decisions I needed to make for him, educationally or medically. It took months but he finally got a diagnosis of autism, speech and language disorder, audio, and visual processing disorder.
I cried. Although I knew, hearing it aloud with the reports of all the things he was not able to do made this momma mad. I was mad at his previous caregivers, social workers, and the process that took so long. I was mad because I did not know what that meant for his future and who would care for him. It was us. We were moved from foster parents to adoptive parents. We were determined he had been through enough as he was placed in foster care at 2 days old, and we were going to raise him as our own.
There was and still is so many emotions surrounded by his diagnosis I just didn’t have with the three giants. I want the reports to look at what he can do. He has made progress here, but there is not any room in the reports for that. I want his peers to see him as the loving, playful kid he is. I want everyone to see, despite his beginning, he is a fighter. He does not give up easily and believes he is just as big as his giant siblings. His spirit is infectious and he is loved wherever he goes. He also really loves snacks… lots of snacks.
We officially adopted him in December of 2018. It was such a beautiful day. We were not looking to foster or adopt a child with special needs. We were chosen divinely of this wonderful blessing we call Josiah and our lives are blessed because of him.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Markeisha Hall, M.A. Special Needs Consultant from San Bernardino, CA. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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