When Becky stopped by to pick up Revin later, the boys immediately began to pepper her with questions.
“We want to sleep out in the tree house, and we want Revin to do it with us,” began Tristan. “Will you let him join us when we do it?”
“Did you have a particular time in mind for when you’re planning on sleeping out?” Becky asked in return.
“Our dads said we should prolly do it on Thursday or Friday,” replied Hunter.
“I only get to spend time with Revin on the weekends, so Thursday would be better for us.”
“K, we’ll tell our dads that we want to do it on Thursday then,” agreed Hayden.
“And Joshie and Benny are gonna be there too, cuz we went them to stay with us in the tree house,” said Wyatt.
“Ok, I’ll have Revin bring his sleeping bag with him when I drop him off on Thursday. I’m glad he got that last Christmas.”
“Yeah, we all got a sleeping bag for Christmas too, but we just used them to sleep together in the family room on New Year’s Eve,” stated Hayden.
“Yeah, that was neat,” stated Hunter, “but this will be waaay better.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait to do this,” added Revin, just before he and his mother left for home.
Dion helped me fix dinner while Dad was unpacking from his trip, though Dad was going to wait until the next day before he did his laundry. As soon as Brandon got home, we all sat down to eat, but we didn’t say anything about Richard’s upcoming visit during the meal. That’s because we didn’t want to answer the boys’ questions or explain the implications of what the visit might mean. When we finished eating, the younger boys went out to play in the tree house again, while the older group found other things to do. The rest of us stayed in the dining room to chat.
“I guess it won’t do any good to speculate about why Richard called and asked to meet with us,” began Brandon, “but when I spoke to him I had a feeling it involved another boy. I have no idea how old or any of the details, but he wanted to make sure Danny was present when he spoke to us. He mentioned something about needing a doctor’s perspective.”
“Could he possibly have a medical issue instead?” asked Dion. “Maybe he wants Danny’s advice and our support.”
“I guess that’s possible,” relented Brandon.
“Do you think it may have something to do with Aunt Sally instead?” I asked. “I know he still keeps in frequent contact with her, so maybe she has a medical issue.”
“I suppose that’s also possible,” agreed Dad, “but let’s not speculate and just wait to see what Richard has to say.”
We all felt that would be best, so our little meeting broke up, but I’m convinced none of us stopped thinking about the various possibilities. This continued until Danny arrived home a couple of hours later and Brandon quickly told him about the meeting. After they’d discussed this briefly, Brandon went out to the kitchen to prepare something for Danny to eat, while Danny went upstairs to clean up.
When Danny came down again a few minutes later, he ate his meal while chatting with the boys. Brandon knew that Danny wanted to spend some time with the boys as well, so he called them in for the night so they were able to spend some time with Danny before they turned in. As soon as Danny finished eating, we sent them upstairs to shower and jump in bed before Richard arrived.
The four of us had just come downstairs from tucking the boys in and saying goodnight when Richard’s car pulled into the driveway. It was just before 10:00, and the rest of us let Dad go to the door to greet him. After offering him a drink, we all sat down in the living room to listen to what he had to say.
“I imagine you’re all thinking this probably has something to do with another boy, and you would be correct, but this is not a typical situation,” Richard began. “That’s why I wanted all of you to be here.”
“We’re all ears,” said Brandon to encourage him to continue.
“This young man was brought to my attention by a colleague in an adjoining county.”
“And they couldn’t handle him there?” asked Dion.
“They tried, but the situation was handled poorly, so they thought it would be best to give him a fresh start at a new location.”
“Ok, so just tell us about him,” urged Danny.
“His name is Alexander Eduardo Perez, but he goes by Xander.”
“Another Alexander, but neither of them uses that name,” Dion teased referring to me and this boy.
“His parents were killed in a traffic accident when he was two-years-old,” continued Richard. “He was with them at the time and obviously survived, and the authorities assumed his name was Alexander, since that was embroidered into the diaper bag that was found in the vehicle. Unfortunately, the diaper bag might have been a hand-me-down, because I was told it was well worn.”
“So, there’s no other way to verify his identity?” asked Dad.
“No, and unfortunately the people in the car had no record of having a child, so they either gave birth at home and never took him to see a doctor, or they raised someone else’s child. Their last name was definitely Perez, though, but the diaper bag could still have been a hand-me-down from a relative, but no relatives were located during the search after the fact. The boy, therefore, has gone by this name since he was placed in foster care.”
“I take it there is more to his story besides the question surrounding his name,” countered Brandon.
“Indeed there is,” confirmed Richard. “The boy suffers from an overactive bladder and a condition known as pediatric incontinence.”
“What it means,” Danny continued, “is that his bladder tries to empty frequently, often without warning, and even when he does have a warning, it’s often insufficient for him to get to the toilet in time. The condition can be caused by several factors, some of which might be medical, including frequent urinary infections, but there might be other factors, such as stress or laziness. However, it’s not difficult to deal with once the cause is diagnosed.”
“That may be true for people with a medical background or a basic intelligence, but unfortunately this isn’t what happened,” added Richard. “At first his foster parents were very understanding and supportive, since they felt his condition might be the result of his age or possibly due to the trauma of losing his parents. However, their understanding ended as he grew older, although no one realized the extent of the conflict at that time.”
“What do you mean?” asked Brandon.
“The caseworkers discussed what had happened with Xander after it was brought to their attention by the school, and they were able to piece together the extent of the problem. As soon as Xander turned five, his foster parents’ patience began to wane, and they started treating him differently. At first, they became harsher and more critical whenever he had an accident, and they also began to punish him. Eventually, they also started to shame him in public, although they did this indirectly.”
“How did they do that?” I asked.
“First of all, they didn’t do anything to help treat Xander’s situation, because they complained they didn’t get paid enough to provide the necessary items he would need, but they also did something worse. Each time he wet the bed, which was basically nightly, they would remove the sheet and hang it out his bedroom window to dry. Since his bedroom was located at the front corner of the house on the second floor, everyone could see the sheet and the huge yellow stain and were able to figure out what had happened. This meant the other children on his school bus not only knew about his problem, but they also began to tease and harass him about it as well.”
“His mattress must have been a disgusting mess,” stated Pop.
“I was told the foster parents wrapped a waterproof tarp around the mattress so the urine wouldn’t seep through and ruin it, but it also caused the urine to spread out and cover a larger area. This was the extent they went to in order to address the problem, which only made matters worse. Of course, some of the other children already knew about Xander’s problem because he had accidents at school as well, but the teachers were able to prevent the students from picking on him at school. The teasing occurred on the school bus, primarily by a group of older students, and they also harassed him when they saw him outside of school.”
“And his foster parents weren’t willing to provide him with youth diapers or absorbent briefs?” asked Danny in disgust.
“Those were some of the items they claimed they didn’t get paid enough to provide him, but that wasn’t exactly true. If they’d taken the time to fill out some paperwork it would have been covered, but they were too lazy to complete the forms and Xander ended up paying the price.”
“Damn, that’s awful,” stated Pop.
“It truly is,” Richard agreed.
“So, when are you bringing him here?” asked Brandon.
“He’s still in the other county, but in a temporary situation for now and not in the same foster home. I wanted to make sure you were willing to take him in before we moved him here.”
“It’s not the best time to be taking in another boy, because I have a lot going on and I’m not home very often,” stated Danny.
“We’ll still take him, because I can handle it for now,” said Brandon, “if Dion and Trey don’t mind helping out during the day, while I’m at work.”
“We’d be happy to do that for you,” I quickly agreed.
“Yes, we would,” confirmed Dion.
“I just have one question,” stated Brandon. “How old is Xander.”
“They weren’t sure of his age when he was pulled from the wreckage, but they determined he was about two-years-old at the time. Since they also didn’t know exactly when he was born, they used the date of the accident as his birthday, and that’s what they’ve been using ever since. As of now, he’s seven-years-old.”
“Ok, so what is the birth date they’ve been using?”
“That would be May 30th. His parents were returning from a Memorial Day Weekend celebration when the accident occurred. It was never determined who was at fault, since blood tests revealed that both drivers had been drinking. The other driver’s blood alcohol level was higher at the time, but that wasn’t enough to prove that he caused the accident.”
“That’s a shame, but it seems as if this is settled,” said Danny. “If it’s possible, I’d like you to bring Xander by my office first, so I can give him a physical and run a few tests. I want to determine if his problem might be caused by an infection, stress, or another condition first, so I’ll be able to determine the best way to handle his problem.”
“I’ll call the other county and have him brought here tomorrow, if that’s not too soon?” replied Richard.
“No, that would be fine,” agreed Danny. “Bring him to my office at 5:00 and I’ll examine him, but I’ll also ask Jesse to hang around a little longer so he can run some diagnostic tests for me. That might help to determine the underlying issue.”
“With your busy schedule, are you going to be able to do that?” asked Dad.
“I’ll be in the office anyway, since I still see patients throughout the day, so I’ll just stick around a little longer.”
“And I’ll stay later as well,” added Brandon, “so I can bring him home afterward. I’ll drive the SUV to work, because we’ll probably have to stop by Kevin’s pharmacy on the way home so I can pick up a few supplies.”
“Ok, then I’ll plan on having dinner an hour later,” I offered, “and I’ll prepare a snack for the boys in order to tide them over.”
“Thank you. That will help out greatly so I don’t have to listen to a hoard of whiny boys when I arrive home.”
“I’m thrilled that this is settled, but it’s not the only reason I’m here,” continued Richard. “There’s a second child I also want to talk to you about, but this one is an infant.”
“Oh, we definitely can’t handle an infant right now, especially if we’re already taking in this other boy,” said Danny.
“Maybe you can’t, but Dion and I have been talking about wanting another child, and an infant would be perfect,” I offered.
“But this isn’t a typical infant,” responded Richard. “This baby’s mother became addicted to OxyContin due to a previous back injury, and the problem escalated when she started having severe back pains during pregnancy.”
“So, I assume this means the baby is addicted as well?” asked Dion.
“Yes, that’s what I’m told,” confirmed Richard.
“Is the baby a boy or girl?” I followed.
“The baby is male.”
“And his mother can’t deal with both his and her problems at the same time, or is it because she’s in jail now?”
“She died during the delivery,” replied Richard. “She went into labor at the end of her seventh month and started to hemorrhage while giving birth. Unfortunately, by the time the doctor arrived he was unable to control the bleeding. He saved the baby, but he couldn’t save the mother.”
“Damn, I heard about this case,” stated Danny. “The OBGYN at the health center said he was called out late one night for an emergency delivery and told me about it the next day, but that must have been a month ago. He said she’d lost too much blood before he arrived and he did as much as he could, so could this possibly be the same case?”
“It could very well be the same case,” agreed Richard, “and they’ve used that time to treat the baby for drug addiction. This won’t be an easy situation either, and there are bound to be multiple problems you’ll have to deal with, if you’re still willing to take this child?”
“What types of problems are we talking about?” asked Dion.
“I think I’d be the best one to describe those issues for you,” offered Danny. “Although nothing is definite, the baby might suffer from blotchy skin, fevers, diarrhea, and vomiting. He may also be very fussy, suffer from seizures, have sensitivity to light and sound, and he might also emit a high pitched, shrill cry when he’s fussy.”
“I’m not sure this would be the right place for the baby, if he is sensitive to noise,” pointed out Pop, only partially in jest.
“I think we can keep the other boys under control, so it won’t be a problem,” said Brandon. “And the house is big enough that we can keep him away from the worst of it.”
“In addition to everything else,” continued Danny. “He might also suffer impaired growth and slower development as he gets older, as well as having behavioral issues.”
“I think we can work with those,” I replied, “and I’m sure Wyatt and Joshie will be willing to help too.”
“I’m sure all the boys will be willing to help,” interjected Brandon.
“And what will you do when school starts?” asked Brandon, “because I’m not sure the day care center at work will be able to deal with those problems, since they deal with so many other children.”
“I can take care of the baby then,” offered Dad. “My travels will be over by the time school starts and I’m sort of used to dealing with babies. After all, I helped take care of Joshie and Wyatt at that age.”
“That would be a great help, if you’d do that for us,” I agreed.
“Certainly, because other than taking care of the puppies, he’ll have my complete attention.”
“Then I guess we’ll take him,” answered Dion after silently communicating with me.
“Fantastic, then you’ve solved both of my problems,” said Richard.
“Before you go, what else can you tell us about the baby’s mother and when should we expect him?” asked Dion.
“The mother’s name was Tabitha Greene and she was Caucasian. She didn’t give any indication as to who the baby’s father is, but the baby appears to be Caucasian as well, even though we don’t know anything about the father.”
“That’s not a problem,” we agreed, “but when can we pick him up?”
“I was told by the OBGYN that he’ll have to stay in the neonatal ICU at the hospital for a couple more months,” stated Danny. “I was told he was just 30 weeks old at birth, or just over seven months, where a normal birth usually occurs at 37 weeks. He’s currently in an incubator due to his premature birth.”
“Will we be able to go to the hospital and spend some time with him?” I asked.
“I’ll start the process for you two to adopt the baby,” replied Richard, “and I’ll have a birth certificate issued with your names on it. I’ll also inform the hospital staff about that fact as well and arrange for you to have visitation rights during visiting hours.”
“I might be able to arrange expanded visiting hours for you,” stated Danny, “because having you there to talk to him will help start the bonding process as well.”
“That will be fantastic,” responded Dion and I at the same time.
“And if you want him circumcised, then I can arrange for that to be done while he’s still in the hospital.”
Dion and I quickly conversed about this before I responded.
“Joshie and Wyatt not only look like Dion, but they’re circumcised like him as well, and seeing this baby will look more like me, I think we should also leave him natural like I am.”
“And I agree that will be fine,” confirmed Dion before he turned toward me. “Do you have a suggestion for a name for him?”
“Actually, I do. What do you think of naming him Trey Jamal Currie? He’ll have my nickname as his first name and your middle name.”
“That works for me, as long as you don’t think it will be confusing with both of you named Trey.”
“No, because we’ll call him TJ at home, and we’ll ask his teachers to call him TJ at school as well.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
“Then I’ll say goodnight and head home, because it’s getting late,” announced Richard as he stood up and gave each of us a hug as he prepared to leave. “I want to thank all of you for bailing me out yet again.”
“We’re happy to do it,” we all agreed as Richard was heading out the front door.
After he departed, the rest of us talked about the situations briefly before we turned in.
“When are you going to tell the other boys?” asked Dad.
“It looks as if I’ll be bringing Xander home tomorrow night, so we should probably do it before then,” said Brandon. “Would you guys mind telling them for us tomorrow, since Danny and I will both be at work?”
“Sure, we can take care of that for you,” confirmed Dad. “We’ll even tactfully explain about Xander’s problem, since the boys are bound to find out about it sooner or later.”
“Thanks, that will help a lot and possibly help to avoid any hurtful or embarrassing problems,” agreed Brandon and Danny before they headed upstairs to turn in.
The rest of us did the same thing shortly thereafter since it had been a very long and draining day.
When we woke up the next morning, Dion and I sat down to chat with Dad after the others left for work. “When do you think we should tell the boys?” I asked.
“We should probably let them eat breakfast first?” replied Dad.
“I figured that, but do you want to do it before lunch or later in the day?”
“Let’s tell them early and then we’ll have time to answer their questions before Brandon and Xander get here.”
“Should we tell them about TJ too?”
“That’s up to you and Dion.”
“We might as well do it at the same time,” said Dion. “I suppose we should also tell them that we’re not exactly sure when we’ll be able to bring him home with us and that they probably won’t be allowed to go to the hospital when we go to visit him.”
“Ok, that sounds good, so we’ll get them all together after they finish breakfast,” suggested Dad. “We can fill Noah and Holly in about this after they get home from work, although Noah may find out about Xander before then, since he works with Jesse. They’ll also be arriving home before Brandon, because he’s going to do some shopping after Danny examines Xander. That means we’ll have time to discuss everything with Noah and Holly before Brandon and Xander get here.”
“Ok, that works for us.”
As soon as the boys finished their breakfast, we sat them down in the family room so we could explain the situation, and we asked Dad to tell them about Xander first.
“We met with Richard last night after you boys went to sleep, and Danny and Brandon have agreed to take in another boy.” He then stopped and gave them time to murmur amongst one another about this first, and then he continued. “His name is Xander, he’s seven years old, and he has a medical condition.”
“What type of condition?” asked Joshie.
“He has an overactive bladder and can’t control it, so he’ll probably have to wear special undergarments so he doesn’t embarrass himself, especially at school.”
“You mean like diapers for older kids?” followed Benny.
“Similar, but hopefully they’ll be more discreet than that.”
“So, he pees himself?” followed Tristan.
“Yes, and according to your father it’s probably caused by a medical condition and he can’t control the situation, but Dad D will explain it to you later,” I replied.
“Wow, it must be awful to have that problem,” said Hunter.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to have it,” added Hayden.
“You’re right, because it is a very difficult problem for a young boy to endure,” offered Dad, “and I hope none of you are going to tease him about it, since it’s not his fault and he can’t control it.”
“Nah, we won’t,” they all concurred.
“Yeah, there was a boy in my class when I first got here,” said Elliot, “and he had an accident like that one day in class while we were taking a test and the other kids picked on him unmercifully. I tried to defend him, but it didn’t really help.”
“Yes, those other kids were disgusting,” chimed in Ian.
“There was a girl in my class that just smelled like she’d peed herself and the other kids picked on her,” added Ryan. “They called her ‘smelly Kelly’ and ‘Kelly the bed wetter’.”
“I think we all feel sorry for him and won’t want to make fun of him,” commented Revin.
“I’m glad you boys understand how difficult it must be for him. You might also have to stand up for him and explain things to others when he starts school in the fall, but don’t say anything about his problem unless the other kids find out about it first. I’m sure your dads are going to work with the teachers and do everything possible to keep that from happening.”
“So Xander is the same age as me?” asked Wyatt.
“For now, but you’ll be turning eight in the fall and his birthday isn’t until May, so he’s slightly younger than you,” explained Dion.
“Will we be in the same grade?” continued Wyatt.
“No, I suspect he’ll be a grade behind you,” replied Dion.
We continued to answer their questions as they arose over the next several minutes, and they were a lot more understanding and empathetic than any of us had anticipated. This was good, because it meant they would do whatever they could to make Xander feel comfortable at home, and Dad, Dion, and I were thrilled when we saw their attitude. We knew this wouldn’t be an easy adjustment for any of them, especially Xander, but having their cooperation was definitely going to make it more bearable.
“We have something else to tell you,” announced Dion. “Trey and I are going to adopt another baby.”
“Really?” countered Wyatt. “A baby?”
“Yes, but we won’t be able to bring him home right away.”
“Why not?” asked Joshie.
“His mother was addicted to pain killers and he is too,” I replied, “and he was also born prematurely, so he’s in an incubator for now. It will probably be a couple of months before we’re able to bring him here.”
“That sucks,” mumbled Joshie.
“It does, but we’ll be able to visit him in the hospital in the meantime.”
“Can we go with you?” followed Wyatt.
“I doubt it, since he’s in the ICU for babies, but you’ll get to meet him soon enough.”
“Will I get to hold him when you bring him home?”
“Yes, as long as you’re very careful and quiet. The baby might be extremely sensitive to noise, because of his addiction.”
“Thanks to his mother,” grumbled Joshie. “Did she get arrested and go to jail?”
“No, she died during childbirth and they have no idea who the father is, so that’s why we’re allowed to adopt him.”
“At least that’s one good thing to happen to him.”
“Thank you,” responded Dion. “We’re glad you feel that way.”
Once we finished talking about this, the boys headed off in different directions, leaving Dad, Dion, and me to talk about how the meeting went.
“That went well,” said Dad. “It looks like both groups are ready to welcome their new brother and cousin.”
“And protect them too,” added Dion. “I don’t think this could have gone any better.”
“I agree,” I responded, “and the ‘Hotel’ is getting two new arrivals.”