The summer that Devin turned 5 was a big one — we had survived an entire year with what we perceived to be autism and we were almost ready to finalize the adoption. That does not mean that the previous year had been an easy one, but we were at a point where we could look back on some of our experiences and chuckle rather than crying!
Although we were starting to get better at taming the meltdown monsters, that did not mean that they did not still find a way!
One day the special education preschool bus pulled up in front of our house and as Devin got off the bus, he had tears streaming down his cheeks. He also had one of his snowboots in his hand and was walking through the snow in just a sock on the one foot. The bus driver shouted that she would call me and explain once she got the other students delivered to their destinations.
I took Devin in the house, helped him remove his wet sock and wrapped his foot in a blanket to warm it up. About an hour later, the bus driver called to explain. It seemed that Devin had a favorite seat on the bus and that afternoon when he got on the bus another student had already taken that seat. The bus driver suggested to Devin that he sit in a different seat, and thought the situation was taken care of. After dropping off a couple of students, the driver proceeded to the next dropoff and was suddenly ducking to avoid a snowboot flying through the air at her! Devin had not given any indication of still being upset once he sat in the seat she had suggested! There were several other incidents that involved shoes flying through the school bus for other reasons that year as well!
As long as Devin could stay active and moving, the meltdowns at home were declining. But we live in South Dakota, which means lots of snow and cold weather during the winter months.
Devin would beg to go outside and scream when it was time to come in, no matter what the weather conditions were. One day the wind chill factor was about 30 degrees below zero, but all he wanted to do was go outside. I explained repeatedly that it was way too cold to play and each time he would scream and kick. I tried diversions — playing games with him, TV, movies, singing songs but nothing worked for more than a few minutes. Finally I told him that he needed to play in his bedroom for a few minutes and I walked into the kitchen to take a quick sanity break. About 4 or 5 minutes later I heard Devin laughing and squealing with joy. Thinking that I had finally reached him, I walked back to his bedroom to see what he was so happy about — the little stinker had figured out how to open his window, pushed the bottom of the screen out and was happily hanging his head out in the cold air! No wonder he was so happy!
The Adoption Nears
During one of the caseworker’s visits, she told us that since everything was going well the other state was ready to move forward with the adoption. While we were discussing this, she told us that we needed to let her know if we were planning on changing Devin’s name so that she could complete the necessary paperwork. During this conversation, Devin was out in the yard playing with our teenage daughter.
That night, I bathed Devin and settled him into his bedroom to watch a short video before lights out time. While he was watching the video, my husband and I told our daughter about our discussion with the caseworker. The three of us agreed that we would change Devin’s last name to ours but keep his first name and middle name the same. The general consensus was that changing his first name would be too confusing for him. A few minutes later, I walked into Devin’s bedroom and turned off the video and tucked him in — he gave no indication that he had heard any of the discussion.
Imagine my surprise the following day when I received a phone call from one of Devin’s preschool teachers! She started out by asking how things were going and then got to the point of the call — she wanted to know why we had not let her know that the adoption had been finalized! I replied that it had not, and asked why she would think so. She said that when they were taking roll call at school that day, she had called out Devin’s name and he did not answer. Thinking that he was daydreaming or distracted, she called his name again and still he did not respond. So she tried a third time — this time Devin stood up and screamed at her, “That not my name. My name Devin Turman!” And then a meldown started! Evidently Devin had overheard our conversation and changed his name all on his own! From that day forward, he refused to answer to anything but “Devin Turman.”
Finalizing the Adoption — Devin Style!
The day of the adoption hearing, Devin was beaming from ear to ear! During the adoption hearing, the judge asked us if we knew what we were getting ourselves into — as I replied “Yes”, the thought going through my head was “if you could only spend a day in our house, you would not be asking that question!” We had a small gathering afterwards, which some of the preschool staff attended. One of the staff members looked at Devin and told him how lucky he was that Grandma and Grandpa had adopted him and he now had a permanent home. Devin’s response was “Who Grandma and Grandpa?” When she pointed at us, he corrected her with, “No. That Mom and Dad!” He had definitely grasped that part of the adoption process!
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