When we adopted Rand eight years ago we had few assurances from any of the professionals or from the pre-adoptive home from which he was disrupted. The pre-adoptive family articulated concerns about certain of his behaviors (to the point where they felt they could not keep him, but did keep his two birth brothers). His social worker, while a very positive person, was realistic about what we could expect in terms of Rand's achievement. She didn't say it in quite so many words, but the impression I was left with was that if he was able to finish high school we could all be happily surprised. At the time he came to live with us Rand had been in a Department of Corrections facility simply because it had the only space available for him. He was in the highest level of special education classroom available and at eleven was developmentally more like a five-year-old.
But today he triumphed and proved them wrong! He and I went to his community college this morning at 7:05 to wait in line for the bookstore opening, which occurred at 7:45 (he was told it opened at 7:15, so we had extra time to wait). He gathered his books and required items and $588 later we was on his way to his first college class of his life. We wonder how the whole college thing will go for him, but he will still be living at home (so there is that security for him) and we will help him budget his student loan and such so that he will not be on his own. This college has academic support available for students who need the help, and one of our parishioners is a faculty member there (and has taken a real interest in Rand) so I think this is his best chance for post-high school success.
The way I see it is this: even if Rand doesn't succeed at the community college attempt, he will already have accomplished more than most people eight years ago thought he was capable of. He already has triumphed, and everything in the future is simply surprise blessings for him and for us.
And I suppose that's the whole point of adopting older kids. We give them the best chance they have for success, and while we cannot make them achieve we can provide the opportunities for them to do more than others have thought possible. It feels good to have these kinds of parenting moments and to know that without our presence in Rand's life he could well be another homeless, unskilled, unmotivated loss of society. Instead we are proud parents of a person who is moving forward with his life in pleasantly unexpected ways.
They said it was unlikely, but it's always fun to prove even the professionals wrong!