Thursday, October 14, 2010

Joseph's first day of school

We have gone back and forth and back and forth on whether to keep Joseph at home this year or go ahead and send him to school. On one hand, attachment and bonding is important. On the other hand, the boy needs lots of structure and when he gets bored you know some of the mischievousness that occurs. On one hand we really like having him around cause he's so sweet and a lot of fun. On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to effectively homeschool the others when watching Joseph is a non-stop responsibility. On one hand there are things we can teach at home but on the other hand there is so much more that the school can offer. Ultimately school was the winner.

I was a little distressed during his testing and his IEP meeting because he was not cooperative. Not one bit.  If they wanted him to drop the bean bag into the bucket, he would throw the beanbag across the room and dump the bucket upside down. If they wanted him to point to the ball, he slapped the book and laughed....Etc.....That kind of thing. He took off his shirt and ran around the room knocking things off the counters. When I tried to correct him he arched his back and hollered. And laughed. Yes, it was that kind of first impression. I knew he was just overstimulated and overwhelmed and excited, because, although he is generally 'busy', he is 10 times busier and more excitable in a new environment (as we learned the first day we met him, when he broke my necklace, pulled my hair, yanked out my earring, and pinched and slapped John's face. Did I never mention this?)

I tried to tell the teachers and therapists that they were seeing him at his worst, just as we had on that first day, and I promised he would be better after the first day or so. I prayed he didn't make a liar out of me when I dropped him off for the first time this morning. I was a little tearful and a little worried, but it ended up being a wonderful day. Here are Joseph's first-ever first-day-of-school pictures. Hope was SO excited and so proud to take him around and introduce her "baby brother" (ha! they are only 10 days apart) to her fellow classmates.



Here is his first teacher, Mrs. Riggs. She called me about 10:00 am to tell me he was being a perfect angel so far! She said he sat at his little desk ALL through circle time, calendar time and music, he rested his little chubby hands on his face and listened intently, and bobbed his head and clapped to the music. They were really impressed with his pencil grip and the fact that he was able to do his craft all by himself with no help. I knew he had it in him! I am so proud. Mrs. Riggs called me later in the afternoon and said he was still having a great day, and that everyone loved him. He went to PE and she said he LOVED the parachute. He will get physical, occupational and speech therapy at school, and he will attend certain classes with the typical kindergartners, which I am so happy about. He and Hope get to eat lunch together and play together at recess. A little birdie told me that Hope tried to hold his hand at recess and Joseph wouldn't let her, so she held on to his shirt instead. :) How I love them.

I remembered a very low point in my life when I cried my eyes out, the time I learned that Joseph had been deemed unadoptable by a judge, and we had to face the reality that when he turned six last month he would be transferred to a mental institution where he would spend the rest of his life. Remember that post? 

Well today not only is he NOT in a mental institution, he had a mama who picked him up from a real school where his teachers who already love him are determined to help him reach his full potential. His mama welcomed him home with a little snack, went through his little backpack, pulled out his little craft, and hung it on the refrigerator next to some photos of his brothers and sisters.

God is amazing and life is sweet.

23 comments:

Cammie Heflin said...

Brought me to tears! So happy for him, he's going to LOVE school!

Leslie said...

What a perfect first day. That is awesome!! I'm glad you posted your blog on FB so I can follow it now ;)

thedickinsonfamily said...

So very happy Joseph has a family to love & care for him. You gave him Life! School is just the beginning of all he has to show you. He has great potential & because of you he can shine. Go Joseph!

little dalene said...

What adorable cousins I have. :) Mrs. Riggs sounds like a very sweet and brave woman! I'm glad Joseph is doing so well.

Gretchen Thibault said...

What a joy to read. Isn't it funny how they can do that at school??!! Sounds like the right choice!

Merany :) said...

Absolutely precious! I love it. He is so blessed and I know you are blessed as well. It's the little things that mean the most. :)

Christine said...

Yeah for Joseph!

MamaPoRuski said...

Wow! I am so happy for him, and for the school to feel such success on his first day! May he continue to be a walking example of what God can do when people say "YES!"
And here I was expecting a post about a disastrous day...shame on me ;)

Tina Koen said...

Oh my dear friend. I can imagine how you must have felt that day of testing, but by God's grace and your patient endurance, it sounds like Joseph's first day was one to remember...in a good way:) I'm so proud that you made the decision and moved forward with it. What a sweetheart Miss Hope is, Joseph too. Not that you are in that environment, I need to learn from you with the ages 5/6 that we are starting the preschool with in the township. I can sure do with some creative ideas. Love you my dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Yay Joseph! You Rock! (And Hope, you are an angel!)

Jan

Justine said...

Tears...not just tears, more like sobs, happy sobs. Happy, happy, happy sobs.

The Spicer Family said...

Happy tears for your little man and his sweet mom! So very glad he had a great day; that has to make the decision rest easier on your mind. Hugs to you all!! Jill

Lisa said...

Tears here, too :)! Those pictures are AWESOME. I especially love the one of him sitting at his little desk smiling, and the one of the artwork on the fridge.

The mental picture of Hope holding his shirt is too sweet to think about for too long. That makes me teary, too!

I can so picture the evaluations and can imagine that there was some anxiety on your part about taking Joseph to school. The image of Joseph that first day you met him also sounds familiar (only Alina waited until we got her home to unleash her full activity level and curiousity). She's tapered off substantially, though. She is also behaving very well at school and is surprising teachers/aides/therapists every day in one way or another (usually good!).

More than anything, this post shows the tremendous potential in our children with "special needs" from orphanages. They have value, they matter, they deserve life and love.

You are blessed, and so is Joseph!

George Harris said...

Thank you for posting this. So happy that Joseph is doing well.

NDMom said...

Bella says "Way to go, buddy!" She still recognizes his picture...I am so happy that he is with you!

Love, Bella's Mama

JennyH said...

Oh my gosh I love him and all his cuteness.

Glad his first day went well. Hope sounds so sweet.

Leah said...

Absolutely in tears here!!!!! A huge puddle of tears!!!!! check your email.

MoonDog said...

he is so doggone cute! sounds like you made a good decision for all. Glad it went well. hugs. miss you.

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

Beautiful post!!! So happy Joseph is home and doing well!!

jennifer... said...

God is amazing and life is sweet...

Well said! I love that.:)

Amy L said...

God is GOOD! I still think that Joseph could be Caleb's long lost brother! I'm not kidding, everything you say that Joseph does, sounds like you're talking about Caleb. Caleb gets overstimulated with just one other person in our house. When friends or family come and visit, he goes bonkers!:( But he's MINE and I wouldn't trade him for the world.:)
I'm so happy that Joseph had a good day at school. Caleb loves it and also craves the structure! They added three mornings of swimming to his school schedule which helps him get that sensory input that he soooo needs.:) He loves it!

Shea said...

Way to go sweet boy! I am so proud of him!

Deb D. said...

He is by far the cutest little 100% boy !! Love his energy, zest, charm. I'm not surprised he has already (!) become so loved by all at the school. You guys saw what a special little boy he is and we all get to witness it, too. Looking back to the post from months ago, it is beautiful to see how God made a way for Joseph. I wait with anticipation to see what more in his in story of God's plan for his life.

And your precious, beautiful Hope is a jewel of a child. What a loving heart she has.

Thank you for continuing to share your family with us.