Over the weekend, I had the boys help me take down the props we’d used for the Haunted House and store them away until next year.
“That was a lot of work for just doin’ it twice,” commented Joshie.
“Yes, it’s kind of like decorating the house for Christmas,” I agreed.
“But the Christmas decorations are up longer than these were up for Halloween.”
“And that’s especially true for the people who don’t take down their Christmas decorations by New Year’s Day,” joked Dion, which caused the rest of us to nod in agreement.
“Benny, once you take the scarecrow apart, you can take your clothes to the laundry room so we can wash them, and then you can take them back to your room.”
“I’ve pretty much outgrown those things anyway, so you can keep them with the Halloween stuff.”
“Ok, I can do that.”
Once everything had been taken care of, we met with all of the boys to discuss another item on our calendar. “On Friday, Brandon and Danny will be adopting Xander, and Dion and I will be adopting TJ. This means you boys will need to clean up and put on your suits after you get home from school, because we’ll be going to a restaurant to celebrate afterward.”
“But I don’t got a suit,” Xander quickly stated.
“I have a few suits upstairs that you can try on as soon as we’re through here,” replied Brandon. “They’re all clean and I’m sure one of them will fit you.”
“Where did they come from?”
“They’re suits the other boys have outgrown.”
“Does TJ hafta wear a suit too?” questioned Hayden.
“No, he won’t be wearing a suit because he’s so young. However, we will put a nice outfit on him for the ceremony,” replied Dion.
“So, it’s just gonna be us?” followed Benny.
“No, Uncle Steve will be conducting the ceremony, and Uncle Richard is going to pick up Aunt Sally and Aunt Mary and bring them to the courthouse,” I answered. “They’re all going to the restaurant with us as well.”
“But don’t you and Dad D have to work on Friday?” asked Hunter.
“Yes, we do, but we’re going to leave work a little early so we’ll have time to come home and clean up first and change before we head to the courthouse.”
That seemed to take care of everything, so Brandon told Xander he would take him upstairs to try on the suits. Before they left, however, the other boys congratulated Xander and said he would get a special feeling when he hears the judge announce his name and says that he’d been adopted, because that’s what had happened to them.
“Are you gonna change your name?” asked Wyatt.
“Yeah, I’m changin’ it to Alexander Edward O’Hara-Currie, but I still want everybody to call me Xander.”
“I like the sound of your new name,” confirmed Wyatt.
Just as Brandon had predicted, one of the suits fit Xander very well and he looked handsome in it. Brandon also found a tie and a white dress shirt for him to wear with it, so Xander was all set. Dion and I laid out the outfit we were going to put on TJ, and on Friday we’d give him a quick bath when we got home, before putting it on him, so he’d be ready for his big day. Dad is going to take photos of the ceremony for us so Dion and I can be in them with our new son, and he offered to take a couple of other photos of us with all of our sons. Pop is going to do the same thing for Danny and Brandon.
While the boys were getting ready for bed, Brandon reminded us of something else. “Noah’s birthday is tomorrow, so we’re going to call him after dinner and wish him a Happy Birthday. He’s turning twenty this year and I think we should all be there so we can do this together like we did with Ryan.”
“Yes, of course, but don’t you want to call him before dinner?”
“If I remember correctly, I believe he told Danny and me that he has a late class on Monday, so this way I can be sure his phone doesn’t ring in the middle of a lecture. I’m certain his professors frown on that happening.”
“Yes, I’m sure they do.”
The rest of the evening was spent making sure each of the boys had everything he would need for Friday. We were doing this now so we’d have time to take care of any problems before Friday. After that was taken care of, we had the boys hop into bed so we could tuck them in.
“Thanks for ‘doptin’ me and givin’ me a suit to wear,” Xander said to his dads as they said goodnight.
“You’re very welcome,” replied Brandon, “and we’re very happy that you’re going to be our son.”
“Yes, and always remember that we chose you to be our son,” added Danny.
His comment elicited a huge grin from Xander. “Thanks,” he muttered, apparently choked up.
The following evening, Brandon called Noah after dinner and put the phone on speaker. “Happy Birthday, Noah,” we all shouted after he answered.
“Did you do anything special for your birthday?” asked Brandon.
“Yeah, I went out to dinner yesterday with a couple of my friends, and the restaurant gave me a free dessert after I showed them my driver’s license. One of my friends told the server it was my birthday.”
“Did your celebration include any alcohol?” asked Danny.
“Not at the restaurant, but we may have had a couple of beers when we got back.”
“As long as you and your friends did it safely.”
“Yeah, we did.”
“In case you’re wondering, we’ll have a belated birthday party for you when you come home for Thanksgiving,” stated Brandon.
“Ok, that sounds good.”
“We’re also glad you had a good birthday and we’ll see you soon.”
On Tuesday, Joshie and Benny told me something while we were waiting for Dion to pick us up. “We invited Tamara to have lunch with us today, and we told her she could eat lunch with us every day, rather than eating alone.”
“And we also invited her to attend the GSA meeting tomorrow,” added Benny.
“How did she react to that?”
“I think she wasn’t sure if we were bein’ honest at first, but she finally agreed to do both things with us,” answered Benny.
“Yes, I’m sure she was very skeptical after what she’d been through.”
“And we told her the members of the Gay Straight Alliance had agreed to protect her if anything else happened,” stated Joshie. “We got the others to agree to that at our last meeting.”
“Then she must be relieved that she finally has some support.”
“Yeah, we told the other gay and bi members that we shouldn’t turn our backs on her, cuz that would be like turnin’ on each other and we have to stick together,” continued Benny.
“Yes, the LGBTQ community shouldn’t be picking on or fighting with each other, because that weakens everyone,” I agreed.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
When we arrived at the house, Joshie and Benny told Dion and Dad the same thing while I spent time with TJ. I hadn’t been with him for very long before I suddenly became worried about the way he was breathing. It seemed to be very difficult for him to take a breath, and when he did, he was wheezing. I went out to ask Dad about it.
“Dad, did you notice that TJ was having trouble breathing today?”
“I noticed he was a little congested, so I took the bulb syringe and sucked the snot out of his nose.”
“I don’t think it worked, because he still seems to be struggling to take a breath.”
I suctioned out TJ’s nose again, and when Danny arrived home, Dion and I asked him to check on TJ for us.
“He seems to be having trouble breathing,” I told him.
“Are you running the steam humidifier in his room at night?”
“Yes, we are,” replied Dion.
“What about during the day?”
“We don’t have one downstairs and we never thought about bringing the other one down here, so I doubt Dad has been able to do that,” I answered.
“Then you might want to buy a second steam humidifier and keep it downstairs for Dad to use during the day. Are you laying TJ across your lap on his belly and patting him on the back like I taught you?”
“Yes, we do that at night and on the weekend, but we should probably be doing it more often.”
“Yes. Until his lungs are stronger, he needs this several times a day. And make sure Dad is doing it too. Also make sure you’re giving TJ the vitamins I prescribed. And when he cries, don’t rush to pick him up right away.”
“He doesn’t cry often, but when he does it’s shrill and piercing,” responded Dion.
“That’s why we pick him up right away,” I added. “And when he cries late at night, we’re afraid he’s going to wake up the other boys.”
“I know it might be irritating or problematic,” agreed Danny, “but crying actually helps to strengthen the lungs.”
“I didn’t know that,” I admitted.
“Me neither,” confirmed Dion.
“Just keep listening to his breathing to make sure it isn’t getting worse.”
“Ok, we will.”
“I don’t think his situation is serious and the things I’ve recommended should be enough to alleviate his problem. However, if this doesn’t work, or if he gets worse, then let me know immediately. He may have RDS, or respiratory distress syndrome, which is fairly common in premature babies.”
“Is it life threatening?”
“Not if it’s treated properly. However, if this continues as he gets older, I may have to put him on a bronchodilator.”
“What’s that?” asked Dion.
“It’s an artificial method used to open the airways. It could be through a nebulizer that turns a liquid into a gas, or he might have to use an inhaler. It could also be given to him in a shot or merely by taking medication, either in liquid or pill form.”
“Ok, we trust you to tell us what to do for him and which method is best,” we concurred.
After dinner, Dion drove to Kevin’s pharmacy to get a second steam humidifier and several gallons of distilled water to use in both humidifiers to keep them from clogging up. The local water supply contains so many minerals that when the water is heated the minerals can be left behind and create a build-up in the humidifier, which lessens its effectiveness. When Dion returned home, I grabbed Joshie so he could go out and help me carry the other items inside.
“I hope this clears up by Friday,” Dion told me. “I don’t want him less than healthy for the adoption ceremony.”
“I totally agree with you, so we’ll keep an eye on him until then. We’ll also have Dad monitor him during the day.”
As soon as we got to school on Wednesday, Joshie and Benny reminded me that they were going to attend the GSA meeting today. I told them one of us would come back to pick them up later, because I wanted to get home so I could check on TJ. They understood and said they’d call when the meeting ended.
When I went to the faculty room later, I heard some other information. It seems that one of the teachers had heard that two more of the boys who’d been in the first group arrested had been let out on bail and placed in the custody of their parents. This happened because their lawyer had talked them into agreeing to testify against the others in exchange for a lesser sentence. These were the two boys who had held Tamara’s arms down while one of the other boys stripped her.
Other than the trial, report cards for the first marking period came out on Wednesday. The marking period actually ended on November first, but it took several days to turn our grades in and print up the report cards to be distributed. When we arrived home, each of the boys showed us their report cards, and they all seemed to be doing very well, so we were pleased.
TJ also appeared to be doing better when we reached home, and we attributed that to the fact that we were running a steam humidifier both upstairs at night and downstairs during the day. Dad also confirmed that he was patting TJ on the back during the day to loosen up the congestion, and Dion and I were doing the same thing at night.
Since I tended to be the mother hen, Dion offered to drive back to the high school to pick up the other pair after they called, and when they arrived home, I decided to ask them a few questions.
“So how did the meeting go?”
“I think it went really good,” Benny answered.
“Yeah, everybody introduced themselves to Tamara and welcomed her to the meeting. She seemed comfortable being there, so I think it went great.”
“I’m glad to hear that, and I hope it helps her deal with the trauma she’s had to endure.”
By Thursday, TJ was doing much better and breathing normally again, so we crossed our fingers that he’d continue to be doing this well at the adoption ceremony the following evening. Dad also offered to help the other boys when we got home from school on Friday, because we were going to have to tie their ties for them, since none of them were capable of doing it correctly yet.
When we got to the house on Friday, Dad gave the boys a snack to tide them over until we ate, and then we all washed up and changed into our suits. When I finished, I packed a diaper bag to take with us, and then I gave TJ a bath and dressed him in the outfit we’d chosen for him. I also packed an extra outfit for him, just in case he spit up or had an accident in his first outfit. While I was doing that, Dad tied Benny and the twins’ ties and made sure they looked good, and Dion did the same for Wyatt, Joshie, and Xander.
We were just finishing up with them when Danny, Brandon, and Pop arrived home. They showered quickly before putting on their suits, and then Danny and Brandon checked each of their sons to make sure they were ready to go before we went outside to get in the SUVs.
“What a handsome looking group this is,” stated Pop when he saw all of the boys in the foyer.
“Yes, we’re very lucky that we not only have some very handsome sons, but they’re also well-behaved,” Danny replied.
“Most of the time,” teased Dad, and then he winked at the boys.
The twins, Xander, and Wyatt rode with Brandon and Danny, while TJ, Joshie, Benny, Dad, and Pop rode with Dion and me. When we arrived at the courthouse, the bailiff was there to let us in, since this was taking place after hours. Dad asked if Richard, Aunt Sally, and Aunt Mary had arrived, and the bailiff assured him they had, so the rest of us headed up to the courtroom that we were very familiar with.
When we got there, we quickly said hello to the others, and then we took our seats. Unlike on previous occasions, the bailiff had Danny, Brandon, and Xander sit at one table, and Dion, TJ, and I sit at the other one. A few seconds later the court stenographer came out and took her seat, and then the bailiff announced, “All rise.” Uncle Steve then emerged from his chambers and entered the courtroom, and he smiled at us before taking his seat on the bench.
“You may take your seats,” he stated simply once he was seated. “Out of all of my duties, this is the one I cherish the most. Not only am I a close friend of the patriarch of this family, but I’ve watched these boys grow into fine young men with families of their own. I’m pleased to preside over this ceremony as I add another member to each of their families.”
Richard, Aunt Sally, and Aunt Mary began applauding politely, something that didn’t usually happen in a courtroom. When they stopped, Uncle Steve began speaking again.
“Alexander Perez, is it your desire to have Brandon and Daniel O’Hara-Currie adopt you and make you part of their family?”
Brandon had to nudge Xander before he answered. “Yeah, I really want that a lot.”
“And Brandon and Daniel O’Hara-Currie, is it your desire to adopt Alexander and include him as part of your family?”
“It is, Your Honor,” they answered in unison.
“Very well, then. I now officially declare that Alexander Eduardo Perez shall now be known as Alexander Edward O’Hara-Currie and the son of Brandon and Daniel O’Hara-Currie. Xander, you may come forward and receive your birth certificate with your new name on it.”
Danny slid his chair back so Xander could get out, and then he walked forward to collect the document. Xander didn’t hesitate in the slightest since he’d met Uncle Steve at the house previously, and he looked at the birth certificate closely before holding it up for everyone to see. He then hugged it to his chest, over his heart, as he walked back to join his dads. He had just taken his seat when Uncle Steve spoke again.
“Since Trey Jamal is too young to answer my question if he wants to be adopted, I’ll merely assume he does. Dion and Trey Currie, is it your desire to adopt him and make him part of your family?”
“It is, Your Honor,” we replied.
“In that case, one of you can approach the bench and collect Trey Jamal Currie’s official birth certificate.”
Since I’d been holding TJ, Dion went to get his birth certificate, and as soon as he sat down again, Uncle Steve spoke for the final time.
“My congratulations to all of you and I look forward to dining with you shortly.”
“All rise,” announced the bailiff again, and then Uncle Steve left the courtroom and entered his chambers again. As soon as he had disappeared, the bailiff and stenographer came over to congratulate each of us.
“I was happy to volunteer for this duty when Judge Shay asked,” the stenographer began. “As you can tell, I’ve been crying again, which I usually do at the adoption ceremonies.”
“I was pleased that he asked me as well,” stated the bailiff. “I was here when you boys were adopted, and although I can’t believe so much time has passed, I’m happy to be here as your families also grow in number.”
We thanked each of them for their kind words, and a few seconds later Uncle Steve came out of his chambers without his robe on. He was now merely wearing a suit.
“Shall we go break bread together?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m starving,” his wife replied.
“I think we all are,” added Dad, “so let’s head over to The Fountains. Does anyone need a ride?”
“No, I’m riding with my husband,” responded Aunt Mary.
“And Richard was kind enough to ask me to ride with him,” followed Aunt Sally.
“Great! We’ve reserved the small, private dining room, so we’ll see you there.”
We all went out to hop into our vehicles, and then we formed a small procession as we made our way to the restaurant. When we got there, we walked in as a group and were immediately led to the dining room. Once we sat down, we began looking at the menus.
“This place is waaay nicer than anyplace I’ve eaten at before,” said Xander.
“Yes, we know, so I’ll help you select something off the menu to eat,” stated Brandon, and then he went over each of the choices with him.
After we’d ordered, I took TJ to the rest room so I could change his diaper, and after I washed my hands, I returned to the table and fed him his bottle. He hadn’t quite finished when our meals arrived, so I waited until he was done and I’d burped him before I placed him in the infant carrier so I could eat.
The meal was delicious, as always, and when we were done our servers brought out a congratulatory cake that the Shays had ordered, unbeknownst to us. While the servers where cutting the cake and passing it out, we thanked Uncle Steve and Aunt Mary, and then we chatted a little while longer as we ate the cake and drank our coffee.
“When will we be doing this again?” teased Aunt Mary.
“We’ll be having another meal together at Thanksgiving,” Danny replied, “but I’m not sure if we’ll be adopting any more children. We now have eight sons and a daughter, and Brandon and I never planned on trying to keep up with Dad.” Everyone chuckled when he said this.
“What about you, Dion and Trey?” she continued.
“We’ve talked it over and may be willing to take one or two more,” replied Dion. “We’ve been very lucky so far, and hopefully it will stay this way.”
“Good for you.”
“I would also like to mention that Dion’s birthday is the day before Thanksgiving this year,” I announced, “and we’ll be having a party for him on Wednesday night. We’d love to have each of you join us for dinner and cake.”
“So, you want to feed us on Wednesday AND Thursday?” countered Uncle Steve.
“Yes,” I stated.
“And Friday as well,” added Brandon. “We’re having a belated birthday party for Ryan and Noah on Friday.”
“And we’ll probably be having a birthday party for Revin on Saturday,” I continued, “since his birthday is the following day. I haven’t discussed this with Becky yet, but she’ll probably agree, and all of you are invited too, if you’d like to attend.”
“As long as it includes another of your family’s wonderful dinners, then you can count us in,” replied Uncle Steve.
“You’re not exactly getting any of these meals free of charge,” commented Dad, “since they’ll be expecting you to come bearing gifts.” He laughed after he finished speaking.
“It’s a small price to pay for having four consecutive dinners with this wonderful family,” replied Aunt Mary.
“And I concur,” followed Aunt Sally.
“Then I guess it’s agreed,” concluded Uncle Steve, and shortly after that we called it a day and all headed home.
When we arrived at the house, we asked the boys to take off their suits and hang them up, and Danny asked Xander for his birth certificate. He had carried it from the courthouse to the SUV, and then he left it there while we were in the restaurant. He immediately retrieved it after we ate, and then he carried it inside when we arrived at the house.
“I wanna keep it,” protested Xander.
“It’s a legal document and you’re going to need it for the rest of your life, so we just want to make sure nothing happens to it. We’ve got all of our birth certificates and other legal documents stored in a fireproof safe so nothing will happen to them, and we’re going to put TJ’s and your birth certificates in with the others.”
Since Xander looked hurt, Brandon quickly came up with a solution. “What if I have a copy of it made when I go into work tomorrow, and then you can keep the copy while we put the original in the safe with everyone else’s birth certificates?”
Suddenly, Xander perked up. “Yeah, that would be good,” he agreed.
“Then hand it to me and I’ll give you the copy tomorrow.”
Now that this was settled, Xander went upstairs to take his suit off, and then we let the boys stay up a little longer before we sent them upstairs to get ready for bed. We just asked them to wash their faces and hands and brush their teeth tonight, instead of showering, and then we went up to tuck them in. Xander was in with Wyatt and the twins again.
“I’m gonna sleep here with Wyatt and my new brothers,” he announced.
“Yes, you’ve done it before,” observed Brandon.
“Yeah, but now they’re really my brothers,” stated Xander with a awe-filled expression on his face.
“Yes, they are,” relented Brandon.
We didn’t have anything special planned for the boys on Saturday, so after we made sure they did their homework, we let them spend the remainder of the day playing or doing whatever they wanted. While they were doing those things, the rest of us did household chores.
When we went to church on Sunday, Becky pulled us aside after the boys headed off to their Sunday School classes. “You know Revin’s birthday is on December first,” she began. “Since that’s a Sunday, I thought we should have the party on Saturday, and I was wondering if I could coax you guys into helping me out. Revin wants to have a bowling party, like Tristan had, and I’ve told him he could invite two friends, along with your sons. Since you were so good at pulling it off for Tristan, I was hoping you could help me with this, because I’m not a bowler and don’t really know what I need to do.”
“Of course, we’ll help out,” we all agreed.
“And you can have his cake and ice cream at our house afterward,” offered Dad, “since we have more room than you do. The boys can even do other things after Revin opens his presents.”
“That would be wonderful, and I appreciate this very much.”
“And we’ll have a family party for him Saturday night,” continued Dad.
“That’s very generous. Would you mind if I tell Revin about this at brunch?”
“No, that will be fine, and I’m sure the other boys will like doing this again too. They seemed to have a good time at Tristan’s party.”
“That’s what Revin said and it was probably the reason he wanted to do the same thing.”
“I’m sure it was.”
Once the service ended, we went to the diner to have brunch. As soon as we ordered, Becky told Revin what we’d agreed to, which caused all of the boys to cheer. We immediately had to quiet them down, since they were disturbing the other diners, but they continued talking about it as we ate our meals. Revin was still smiling broadly and walking on air when we dropped him and his mom off at their house a half hour later.