It wasn’t time yet to go back to work, and Alex wanted to go back to school to tell his teachers about the adoption. Even Six wanted to go back to school! Nathan’s parents had other things to do, so they couldn’t go with us to celebrate Alex.
So Nathan dropped me off with Alex and Six, for me to sit with them at lunch while he delivered the other kids to their schools:
I sent them scampering back to class, saw a kiddo for work, then Nathan came back by to pick me up.
We were suddenly on our own, then, unexpectedly, and without the others we had planned for celebrating.
So we celebrated ourselves!
What a fun surprise lunch date, with another gift card (miracles to us)!
We are thrilled to announce the adoption of “Five”, whose name is Alex! Finally! We were told his adoption would be final over a year ago, and because of all kinds of things it didn’t happen. Then we had his adoption date scheduled with Anber last month, only to arrive and find out the DA had not filed a termination order! This meant Alex was not actually legally free for adoption, and we had to wait for that paper to be filed and then another 30 days after that. He was so disappointed, and it was so hard! But he was “kind and had courage”, so very brave, and celebrated Anber’s special day. I have never been so proud of him, and the humility and courage he showed as in those moments.
But finally, today was Alex day, and this is Alex’s story.
As with Anber, we kept his first name and spelling to honor his biological families, but gave him two middle names: one from Nathan’s family and one from my family.
Nathan’s grandfather had the name Farrald passed down to Nathan’s dad Leon, who then passed it down to Nathan. My father’s name was James, as was my “adopted” father, James Johnson (my stake president and now our patriarch). This gives Five his new and official name:
Alexander James Farrald Christensen.
Alex came to us on a rainy day. It was storming, actually, and I was at LDS Family Services when we got the call. I was a mess, recovering from miscarriages and preparing for the burial of my mother that weekend. I didn’t think anything of it when I raced through the rain, shook with cold as I drove to Claremore, and stood drenched inside the foyer of the DHS office while I waited for them to call my name.
I was wearing my green floral skirt and yellow sweater over it.
Then he came to me, red-faced from crying, filthy as anything, and long red curls hanging halfway down his back.
He could barely speak, and not much in sentences, and didn’t seem to know how much of anything worked. He was confused by the car seat, ate with his face to the plate like a dog, and wanted to pee outside because he didn’t know how to use an indoor bathroom.
Nathan was holding auditions that night for his rehearsals, and I had to go straight there. Everyone was very patient and kind as this feral child tried to sit through auditions without knowing anyone there. Oh, and that’s when we figured out he didn’t know what crayons were.
He was four.
When we got home, he cried for forty-five minutes because we had to give him a bath and he didn’t know what a bath was. When we showed him his room, he crawled up on the bed, backed into the far corner, and curled up like a little puppy. He didn’t know how to get under the covers or how to use a blanket.
Then he slept for three whole days.
He came from the casino, you know, in case you hadn’t heard. He was the four year old they found wandering around the casino parking lot two summers ago. He had been in foster care once before, resulting in a skull and brain surgery, and mother had a ten year suspended sentence that included having no contact with Alex. Alex’s father got custody of him out of foster care, and was living in his van while trying to keep a job he may or may not have had. When they found Alex, dad didn’t show up for two whole hours to look for him. Alex was only wearing a pair of shorts, and his feet are scarred and have neuropathy, from always walking on the hot pavement or cold rain and snow without any shoes or socks. He had to wear sunglasses his first six weeks with us, because the eye doctor said he had never been out in the daylight. He had memories of a meth lab explosion, which sometimes he still talks about in detail.
His mother hid from the police the whole time he lived with us, and so he never once had a visit with her. I saw her once at court, when she found out her rights were being terminated by default.
His father went to prison over the matter, so Alex didn’t have visits with him, either. His adoption was scheduled for last April, and then we hit two hiccups: the judge retired, a new judge had to get up to speed on the case, and Alex’s father got out of jail early due to overcrowding. Then last fall, quite unexpectedly, the new judge ordered fifteen minute supervised visits once a week in Claremore. It was so traumatic for Alex, who just cried and had to be pulled screaming and kicking out of the car each week. It was terrible, the long drive for fifteen minutes. He would not speak to his father, only laid on the corner of the couch and slept like a puppy again.
Except for one day, when he stood up, walked over, and looked his father straight in the eyes.
That’s the day he told his father what he knew, without being mean or hateful, just the facts of his experience in that van and the things that happened to him there, and then he walked out, satisfied he was done with visits.
Except the judge had ordered them, so we had to keep taking him. It helped when his father bribed him with food and toys, though it was all soon forgotten and Alex’s love could not be bought. Then finally, between Valentine’s and my birthday, two years after he arrived, we went to trial and won. I hugged his father goodbye, and promised to take him to church and teach him to pray.
And so we do.
It was all over the news, the story about Alex being found at the casino, and he saw it on the news before coming to our house. Because of the autism, he can quote entire conversations and so he definitely remembered the news footage. Since he had already been exposed to it, we couldn’t take that out of his head. We could use it, though, to help him tell his own story.
And he’s ready now, to share his story with you, FINALLY… we did lose the original footage in our move, though thankfully had a backup of a draft, so our apologies for the low sound, but here is his adoption video: