Most adoptive parents (or parents of special needs kids) have horror stories about their interactions with "normal" institutions like churches, schools and social services. Even those who are trained for the task of working with special needs issues are sometimes obtuse when it comes to the child in question. Or, it may not be the individual professional in question but the policy of the institution he or she represents.
The good news is that sometimes these institutions do a good thing on behalf of a challenged/challenging child.
A few minutes ago I received a telephone call in my office. It's never a good thing when my office administrative assistant says, "Pastor Bart, you have a call from a teacher at Franklin School." I mean, I know they're not calling to affirm my fatherhood, nor are they inquiring about ways the church can make positive connections with the school or something. They are calling because an incident has occurred that requires parental notification.
After identifying herself, the individual said, "Dominyk was in school today with a pocketknife."
I can't say that I am surprised, because he often leaves things in his pockets that he forgets about. I do at least half of the laundry in our home, so I have railed at him many a time for the rocks, plastic animals, knives, pens, pencils, erasers, gum, YMCA cards, and assorted other trinkets that find their way into the laundry.
She went on to say, "And, as you know, we have a zero tolerance policy for items like this."
"Right," I grimaced, awaiting the next bad news. Like, "You need to come and pick him up," or "he is going to be suspended for three days," or whatever.
"But," she continued, "Dominyk is the one who brought it to our attention. As soon as he realized he had it in his pocket, he came and told us right away. He forgot it was in there. So, we are going to handle this directly with you. Since Dominyk did the right thing we are going to honor that."
"That's very kind of you," I responded. "We appreciate that."
And so, I will need to come to the teacher's room one day soon and pick up the pocketknife directly. There will be no further sanctions for him (or us) because he did the right thing.
And, fortunately, so did the school.