Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What's In a Number Anyway

The mysteries of our children are something many simply can not fathom.  We are handed over the responsibility of raising a child, and in the case of our older adoptees that responsibility comes mid-stream as our kids have childhoods that are half complete.  Those children come to us quite literally naked, often both emotionally and physically, and we are given nothing in terms of useful information to work with.  Years and years have passed, pain has been experienced, history exists to which we are not privy.  We have no biological information, scant clues to the past which has been lived prior to joining us, and the barest minimum of details to help us flesh out the unknown.

We take everything at face value at first, all the while searching for clues and digging ever deeper as we draw closer and closer to one another and learn more about each other.  We do not start with true blank slates, but in some odd way we actually do as we have no preconceived notions based upon inherited qualities or characteristics.  Many of us spend years and years trying to sort through issues, trying to untangle a web of pre-institutional harm and institutional neglect.  Our children are affected profoundly by the things we know...lack of early stimulation, malnutrition, inadequate human contact, and so much more.  They are also impacted by those things we will never have full knowledge of.  Late at night we find ourselves in the age old "which came first, the chicken or the egg..." inner dialogues as we try to wrap our mind around puzzling issues which seem to have no concrete explanations.

Today, Kenny was the enigma on paper, as I attended his IEP meeting with the special education team after a battery of tests was performed last week.  Though not present with us, I felt his hand gently laid across my shoulder as I stood in for him, gathering information, taking notes, and processing what I was hearing.  I came away with more of an understanding of the challenges we face in the future, and hurting and conflicted for our dear son.  Tonight a heaviness has settled in, and I am trying hard to battle it but for the next few days I think it will prove too difficult and I might just have to sit and rest in certain knowledge for awhile before deciding upon an approach I can live with.

Test scores are numbers that can change our entire perception...and our destination in life.  We can live and die by them, letting them dictate so much of our inner conversations with ourselves, or we can take them for what they are, numbers on a page which speak some truth but do not account for the unmeasurable...the unique spirit within each of us.  There will be information from this meeting that will not be shared with Kenny until adulthood, for it would forever change his sense of self.  By adulthood, if blessed, perhaps we will be able to laugh over the absurdity of what was implied by a number typed on a page.

But now Dominick and I must somehow move backward in time to a place of blissful ignorance, where we would not have results and data and would just see Kenny for who he is, an amazingly thoughtful, deep, intelligent little guy who has thus far defied all odds.  But within that desire to step back, we have to retain pieces and parts to work with, and determine what modifications are useful, what will success look like for Kenny, and how will we help him achieve it.

This will not be easy, and the world is colored a hazy gray at the moment.  I know it won't last, but it will take a lot of creativity, intentionality, and perseverance to bring on the return of the rainbow.

As God is my witness here tonight, I will see to it that Kenny becomes all God intended him to be, and will disregard any test results that tell me his future is bleak.  I will take away only that which can be productively used, and sweep the rest under the rug for now.  Oh, I'll still know it is there and won't likely ever forget, but he won't see it there until one day we air out the rug and then we can maybe even smirk a bit and say "We proved them all wrong!!".

Heart, guts and passion are what breeds success.  Diligence, support and effort create "winners".

God has Kenny in huge palms, cradled and secure.  I can let this go, I can trust my gut instinct which says something is not quite right here, and I can proceed on knowing that what man dictates, God laughs at.  Kenny has purpose and gifts to share.  It is up to us to draw out strengths and capitalize on them, and they ARE numerous.  No one will work harder than both Kenny and I, we are in this together.

I promise you, my son, you will get the best of me.  We'll turn our backs on conventional wisdom and keep on doing what we are doing, working towards your brilliantly bright future.  Keep on reading about Bill Gates and other successful entrepreneurs.  You'll be one of them someday, but you have to believe it...just as I believe in you.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cindy,
I am so sorry you got disturbing news today about Kenny. Please remember these tests are not the end all and be all. If he were still in public schools they would be used to decide the amount and type of support he would need.
I am assuming that it was an IQ test that gave you an inaccurate view of Kenny (forgive me if my assumption is wrong). These tests are biased. There are a lot of experiential questions on the tests and Kenny is missing those experiences
Khaily took an IQ test when she was in kindergarten. The tester explained to me after the test that her scores were lower in language in part due to her not answering some of the questions. She would not answer the question "what is a letter." I know she wouldn't answer it because there are two possible answers and she didn't know which was the right one so she gave nothing. But for that she got them wrong.
Keep loving him and teaching him...with you in his corner he can't lose!
Kim in Korea :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, we know you will fight with all your might for your amazing Kenny! There are days I also wonder what the future will be like for our older adopted children. While we don't seem to have the issues you must have been shown at that meeting, there are little tweaks and quirks that make me wonder at times what we can expect in terms of college for either of them. Some has to do with special educational needs at the moment, others have to do with spaces I perceive in their understanding or ways of interpreting what's going on around them. Most people would not see it, and maybe I'm overly anxious.

But I was reminded the other day of all the stories we hear of people from the lowest socio-economic strata, those who had little or no support, had to deal with terrible surroundings or upbringing...and yet they succeeded. They excelled in a certain area, gave the world an incredible invention or discovery, changed the world in some very important way. So I just keep giving all I can give, as you do, trying to help them become all God created them to be. And that, my friend, is why these particular kids are with we particular mothers. Not that we are amazing or fantastic ourselves...though YOU are...but because God placed these particular kids in our hearts and then brought them to us. We have our work cut out for us, but that's what we do. We're moms...yeah!

Our daughter who has had some issues with accepting me as her mom, the stubborn one who lets me know by her glowering brow that she is unhappy with me, the one who has also come so far in the past three years...after we'd worked together to finish a school writing assignment, she looked at me and said, "I really like working with you on my schoolwork." I told her that brought tears to my eyes, because I was so happy she enjoyed working with me and saw that I was only there to help. I said it also makes me very happy to know that she is proud of her work and wants to learn. Break-through moment, because even though she has expressed some other thoughtful or caring things to me, this was one of the first times she really, truly let me see her heart. That's kind of stretching it, but I don't know how to express the difference in the depth and intent of her comment.

Our second son also has some impulse control issues. I worry over him often. He's also a sweet kid, and has a heart to really be a good guy and obey the Lord. He just gets in his own way sometimes. That's when it's so wonderful to have a husband and some really great teachers to reassure me that this boy is going to make it, that 99% of the time he's doing what he should be.

They are truly in God's hands. He did know what He was doing when He created them. And He knows what He's doing in trusting a loving mom to never give up on her child.

Take heart. And may God give you the wisdom to sort out the things that you were presented with at the meeting and to know the best way to proceed with Kenny's education. Fortunately, there are many helps out there, those who do care and also know ways to work with his difficulties. Don't hesitate to ask some great and caring experts for advice or help. We have a daughter getting her masters in special education. She is amazing, and I've told her so. She thinks she's just doing what others could easily do, but I know she (and others like her) have a gift to work with those that things come harder to. I am in awe of her and respect her greatly for her heart to help others who just might need it a little more.

God has special plans for Kenny. He will touch the world in ways God has planned for no one but Kenny!

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

"God has Kenny in huge palms, cradled and secure. I can let this go, I can trust my gut instinct which says something is not quite right here, and I can proceed on knowing that what man dictates, God laughs at."

With God's quirky sense of humor, I know the time will come when day after day, God is laughing with joy to watch Kenny grow and give and succeed in life. I am guessing that right now, in the case of your family, God is holding all of you in that great palm and reassuring you that God will not let go--ever!

You, I know, feel that most of the time, and keep it in your heart and mind even when the "feeling" is absent. Kenny and you and the whole Team LaJoy are succeeding here and now, and we, your readers, friends, and cheerleaders, will never let you forget that.

Love,
Lael

Anna said...

I am so thankful for you... for your family. I can read what you have written and completely understand.(this is what I was getting at in my post on Monday) You give me the words for some of the things in my head that dont have names. Thank you for sharing, it feels good to know there are others out there that understand. Even when I feel so lonely in my community, I know that I have God, my family and there are bloggers out there that "get it". Its so reassuring. You are so blessed to have Kenny in your life, he will be a tool that God uses to accomplish much & teach you more about yourself and the world around you. We just have to be patient with ourselves, Gods plan, and our little ones!

Anonymous said...

Cindy,

Zoey too was given a bleak report by a top neuropsychologist. He said she wouldn't go far. 8 years later, she is on the honor roll in general education with no modifications. What he missed was her willingness to stick with it no matter what. These tests are just a snapshot of who Kenny is. That's it! There is so much more to him, and he has a wonderful Mom to support him.

Robin

Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
After your hard year, it makes me sad that you had to feel what was obviously a kick in the gut. 19 years ago, my ADD son, abandoned by his ADD father and my ever so briefly husband, was the subject of my first kindergarten conference. Attending was the guidance counselor, the principal and the teacher. They saw him coming! But I was blindsided. In the end, they saw my son more clearly at the time than I did, and it was devastating. However, although we later got the diagnosis that confirmed everything they discussed, I never felt that this was a reason to give up. After years of coaching where family members said family support should be withdrawn, my son has graduated college and is applying to grad schools. He will continue to need academic support, but in an internship he proved completely able to handle the demands of the career he has chosen. (He will just need a secretary to keep him on schedule!) As I and his adopted father (my beloved husband) have done, you will have to help Kenny find a career and life goals that match his strengths, of which there are many. You will, as you have committed to doing, stretch him to be the best he can be, and accept whatever limitations prove unbeatable. Our son has even married a sweet wife willing to become his life coach, who agrees that if this is his only flaw, it is worth it. He is a towering man of God, with a great heart and enormous compassion as a result of his struggles. My first step into the world of therapeutic parenting was beyond unpleasant, but it has allowed us to consider adopting FAS/FAE children. Good will come from this!
God bless. Sherry

Karon and John said...

I had a similar feeling at a recent IEP meeting. I made the mistake of doing both the boys back to back and by the end it got to me. I am a teacher and now the parent of two children, and I can tell you this information is just a tool to put you and your kids on the right path. Yes my youngest is way behind due to years of neglect. He can not be equitibly compared to his peers who have had the privelege of proper nutrition, books, saftey, love ect. What is more important is comsistant progress and starting where kids are. Yes, my little Isaac has loads of "deficinces" and is labeled as developmentaly delayed. But who wouldn't be given the circumstances of his early life. It does not mean he is doomed, it means I have a starting line. Right now he must learn two way communication, then we work on opening books the right way, then we work on coordination. Remember that as adults a 30 year old functions very similar to a 50 year old. It is only when we are children that the developmental stages are so glaring.

MaureenJE said...

What a burden to carry your news and keep it to yourself because you know it would undermine Kenny's determination. What a blessing that God and Dominic can help you carry this burden.

Kenny is so blessed to have you! You see his strengths and gifts and you will teach him to use them. Kenny also has a great support group in his brothers and sisters.

Best wishes and virtual hugs as you work through this and come out on the other side fighting!
~ Maureen in OH

Anonymous said...

Mama LaJoy, please see if you can check out these books from the library http://www.laughingallegra.com/

My sister and BIL are struggling with raising an adopted daughter who has many disabilities. These books have helped my sister tremendously.

Dee said...

You have the right attitude, Cindy. Scores are just numbers. I saw some low test scores on both my kids early on and was sort of freaked out, but their intelligence just isn't measurable by our standards. You have to grade on a curve, knowing trauma and neglect always affect a developing brain.

I didn't talk much before age 5, and didn't read until age 7. My IQ was measured at 5, and then again at 21 - and had jumped 16 points during those years.

You're the best teacher for Kenny, and I know he will thrive under your care. Hang in there!

Kelly and Sne said...

From what I have read of your blog and your determination so far, I have no worries that you will find the strength to file this information away and use it as a tool to help Kenny realize his potential in life. If anyone can do this, it is you. I will admit that, given the scary prognosis that our IA Dr. gave our recently adopted daughter, I am finding your post and the comments inspirational. We, too, believed in the potential of our daughter. And, while I admit that I have anxiety over the future and my ability to handle all of the potential challenge, we are determined to help her to realize her potential in spite of the challenges.