So before we brought Archie home, I had planned on waiting a while to send him to school. I figured he would stay home with me for the first semester while we got to know each other, and just use that time to bond and adjust. Well, the bonding and attaching process happened a lot more quickly and smoothly than I could have ever imagined. Again, giving so much credit to his caretakers at the orphanage on this. They really prepared him so well. Talked about us and looked at our pictures with him EVERY day for probably 6 months before he came home.
I realized a couple of weeks ago that Archie was really ready for school. I knew how much he would love it. He is hungry to learn new things. He is VERY social. So I started contacting the district and the Elementary school we are zoned to, to see what we could do. I knew that he would need to be evaluated and tested and that it might take some time. I was not prepared for what they had to tell me though. It would be 90 days before he could receive any sort of special services. Like being in a Life Skills class, or having an aid in a mainstream class, etc. They would just have to put him in a regular classroom based on his age. SECOND GRADE. Um, I do not think so. I can imagine the nightmare that would have been. Not only is Archie half the size of any second grader. He doesn't speak English, and while he is super bright and a little sponge, he does have Down Syndrome, and he was raised in an orphanage. All of these factors make it pretty clear that sticking him into a second grade class was just not an option.
God has very strategically placed many new friends in my life during this journey. One of those amazing people is Christina. She has a precious little boy, David, who is also blessed with an extra chromosome. She and I had talked a lot about school options. She is a wealth of information. So after talking with the district, I let her know what was going on, and what they had told me. She then asked me if I would like for her to make a call to The Arbor School. A private, special needs school that David attended, and one that she and her family really support and love. She said that they might be able to help us out during this time of transition. Of course I said that would be awesome! The next day (last Wednesday) we went on a tour and met with the Director of the school. The school was AMAZING. Absolutely perfect for Archie. Such a loving environment.
I explained our situation to the Director. He understood that we would not be able to afford the tuition at this time. But at the end of the tour, he let me know that he really wanted to help us out. They committed to take Archie for the 90 day period that our public school district would take to evaluate him. I was truly overwhelmed by their kindness. This was the most incredible blessing for us. Everything was happening so quickly. They gave me the paperwork, told me to get him a physical as quickly as possible (which is what led us to Grumpalump Doctor last Thursday), and that he could start as soon as that was all taken care of.
And this morning, I dropped my little boy off at his first day of school! Talk about being a nervous wreck. The longest I have been apart from him since he has been home was the other night when I went to dinner and a movie with my mom and sister (a much needed night out), while Joey and the kids hung out at home. I tried to prepare him the best that I could. We talked a lot about school and how he would get to go play with friends. He can sign (and understands) "friend". So we did a lot of that this morning and he was pretty excited. When we pulled up to school, his teacher (who we met on the tour) was right outside. Archie jumped out of the car signing "friend" to her. She said "that's right, I am your friend", and he ran to hug her. My sweet, smart boy. His communication skills blow me away.
Joey, Ace and I all took him in. Ace was very proud of her brother. I am so proud of him too. Both of them. And now, I am sitting at home, with so much I could and should be doing. But instead I am biting off all of my nails and staring at the clock. I cannot wait to pick them both up, and hear how his first day went.
Ace to Archie: "Smile, buddy, you get to go to your own new school!"
All ready to go!
With one of his teachers. She dresses up in the morning and stands outside to greet the kids. Archie loved it.
I am so thankful for The Arbor School and what they are doing for us. What an awesome place, and amazing people. I just know Archie is going to blossom even more, and learn so much.
Okay, off to try and get at least one thing checked off of today's "To Do" list.
Lots of Love!