Arell (Hebrew) lion of God Adley (Hebrew) God is just Jeremiah (Hebrew) God will uplift
April 25, 2016 Arell Adley Jeremiah Howden joined our family. The wait had been forever and, many times, looked like it would end in heartache. “We just have to get him,” Raine kept saying.
Since birth he had been at my friend’s foster home. A diagnosis of a chromosome condition – a microdeletion and a micro duplication finally came after endless tests. “But if we can just get him, Jesus will heal him,” Raine believed.
I grabbled with the idea of parenting a child with extensive special needs. At 2yrs of age, he showed no signs of ever being able to speak. His ability to walk was questionable. His comprehension appeared to be minimal at best. Healing was possible, but not guaranteed. What if it didn’t happen? Was I ready for a life-time of intensive caregiving?
Possibly not, still I dove in. It felt like the right thing to do. After meeting with my daughters and I, Arell’s social worker declared, “I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant. You’re clearly the perfect family for him.” Despite the fact that he was eligible for adoption long before April 2016, we’d waited. On paper, I looked like the last place he should be. I was a single mother with two girls adopted from foster care. How could I possibly give Arell the attention he required? At last, the social worker agreed to meet with me. And she was instantly won over.
We began the transition from my friend who was fostering Arell to me who was adopting him. That all went smoothly and on April 25, 2016 he moved to our house permanently.
Foster care adoptions in Ontario involve a 6mth probation period. The child is placed with an adoptive family, their name is changed on health cards and other official documents, the social worker visits once a month to monitor how things are going then, if all is well, paperwork is filed to complete the adoption. Normally, the courts process this paperwork within a few weeks of it being submitted.
Everything went exceptionally well during Arell’s probation period. He grew and flourished in the most unexpected ways. The only hitch was, I couldn’t get used to his name. I’d really wanted to change it. The adoption worker assigned to our case has been incredible yet has some rules of her own – names can’t be changed and pictures of children can’t be posted until the adoption is complete.
Once our paperwork had been submitted to the courts for completion, we transitioned to calling Arell by his middle name, Adley – meaning God is just.
The declaration has been a necessary one. We’ve faced a number of surprise injustices lately. The courts in our area put all adoption paperwork on the back burner. I found myself waiting for months along with many other families. There was no reason or explanation that could be found. The paperwork simply wasn’t being processed.
We waited and waited. He was already mine in every way so the paperwork didn’t really matter, or so I thought. Then it came time to enrole Adley in school. Though he’s made significant and astounding progress, Adley remains fairly behind his peers. The team of therapists who have been working with him since he was 6mths old are hopeful this won’t always be the case. Still, I had the option of applying for him to attend a specialized school connected to the centre where he receives therapy. Upon acceptance, we ran into a truckload of problems because I didn’t have the adoption finalization papers.
“You’re not his mother,” the school administrator, director, and principal all told me. They insisted upon using his pre-adoptive name and listing his birth mother on all records.
“But I am his mother,” I continually argued.
They disagreed. The therapists who work in the school, informed me that my daughters are not Adley’s sisters. The only family they would list on their forms was his biological brother who lives with us (initially as a foster child but we’ve just begun the adoption process with him).
I would say his name – Adley – and remind myself that God is just. It was the courage I required to continue fighting. The school could not understand my position and I couldn’t see theirs. For more than a year, Adley has been my son. His health card shows his adoptive name. I’m able to make all medical decisions for him. I can sign official forms. He’s listed on income tax forms as my child using his adoptive name. If I wanted, I could get a passport in his adoptive name and be recognized as his legal parent on that. I was completely confused as to why the school refused to recognize me.
After several heated conversations, they agreed to use his adoptive name. At no point did they understand the reasons why it mattered, they just grew weary of my resistance. Still the principal stated, “I don’t feel comfortable listing you as his mother.” When I went over her head, contacting the school board and a social worker involved in the therapy centre, she consented to write my name in the spot that said “parent” on the registration forms. I’d placed my name there, but in the great debate it had been completely scratched out.
My son is no lion, though that’s the name he was given at birth. He’s timid and gentle. There’s nothing fierce about him. Still it’s part of the name he bears.
There’s been very little justice in his life. Coming into the foster care system at birth ensured that. Even at it’s best, foster care is anything but just. Still, God is just.
And God will uplift. The Lord will lift my son out of his dismal beginnings and bestow on him the honour he is due.
I now hold in my hand the paper the special needs school requires. They’ve assured me once they have it, we will be looked upon as a family. Their words leave me irate. We became a family on April 25, 2016. They lack the authority to declare us otherwise. This is my son. I am his mother. He has two older sisters whom he adores. They’ve been instrumental in spurring him on to the heights he’s climbed – literally. The little boy who could hardly walk is now running, jumping, and climbing. Mostly in an effort to join in the fun his sisters are having.
He has a great deal to say and speaks with clear confidence. Adley’s comprehension still surprises me sometimes. He understands and remembers. Yesterday when I told him it was bedtime, he answered, “Diaper change first.” That’s right. There’s always a diaper change first. He’s all about Paw Patrol right now and recognizes the characters on items when we’re out shopping. He can stand his ground against his bossy little brother yet still retains the softest of hearts. He and Athena have a special bond. “We’re the double A’s,” she says. “A as in awesome!”
Raine was right. Once we got him, the healing began. Adley has been transformed since he came to us. He continues to take new ground each day in his abilities – physically and mentally. He’s a treasure. And now he’s absolutely, completely, officially mine!