Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Camden!!

It's a certain young man's birthday around here today.

Camden is 14. WHOA.

Where did that time go? 

 From the minute he was born with that downy red hair, till he's nearly as tall as me and he is turning in to such a wonderful young man, we have adored this boy.

He will say I am NOT allowed to embarrass him, I imagine I will end up doing something that does no matter what----

He is a teenager after all.

I'll probably be in trouble for these pictures, no doubt but I didn't blog when he was little so you all missed out on these.....

We will have a small family party (no laughing, we know that any family party we have is NOT small by anyone else's means) and celebrate this guy turning 14.

He is now old enough to be basically "picking" his gifts-- a mountain bike it was this year. Like dad's, to keep up with dad since it's one of the many things they enjoy doing together.

Usually our Camden is seen with a football in hand, or listening to his favorite Christian music, he's been a true gift from God from day one. 

While we blended our family together with marriage, Camden made everyone brothers and sister--- because he was everyone's new baby bro.  And love him they did/do.

Even as we added in children from fostering or adopting, each one was his "new brother/sister." 

Never any hesitation with acceptance of them, no matter their needs or looks being different. He's a wonderful example of God's love for ALL our children.

Can't imagine life without this guy in it, seriously.

He's fun, energetic, smart, and a blessing from God.

Happy 14th Birthday Camden-- we love you always and forever!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Parenting 101, or NOT?

First I will tell you about Paisley's hips since I know you are all waiting to hear the news on that.

Doctor said we are not hurting her to wait- the hips have degenerated more, for sure.

But he also said we will "know when it's time." That might be confusing for some but as a former Labor & Delivery nurse, I get it:)

The meds she takes for her arthritis suppresses her immune system and an infection in a new hip could take her from a new hip to no hip (removed until infection under control which could take months) and he will only do one hip at a time:(

She kinda got a little green around the gills when he explained the whole " new hip in, if infected could possibly take new hip out, wait possibly months, re- do hip" process." I could tell there she wasn't ready.

She has slowed down, for sure. And she will continue to do so. The hips will not be any "miracle cure" for her because she has ankle, knee, even toe involvement of the arthritis:(

Now to the "Parenting 101- or NOT title.  Oh, WOW. It's not a GOOD---  Oh WOW.  Nope it's not.

Have I mentioned how HARD older child adoption is? Yep, I'm pretty sure I have. So I'm gonna share this because it really came at us out of the blue.

Chase has been working a lot. He's also looking to move next month closer to work. So he's been absentee most of the time.

I work much less during the school year so I am home almost always after school. But I worked late a day this week. And dad worked then was on "Pick children up from sports and work duty." (Chloe, Camden and Chase)

I walk in the door from work and find Phoebe crying. Brandon was fighting a migraine-- poor guy had his head on the table and says "I don't know what is going on, but I heard screaming."  I'm thinking "HUH?"

Over the course of 2 days (yes it did take that long) to get the whole skinny on things that went down--- Chance decided he was "big man on this campus" and he was bossing/ bullying the girls.  Until Phoebe got so upset she got hysterical.

Kat knew better than to let him bother her. (Oh, the difference in when children come home--- age 3 home, verses age 8 +  such a HUGE difference)

Paisley did NOT help matters. She told Phoebe that he was being a bully and just to tolerate it because it happens. And then told her to lie to me so they wouldn't get in trouble???????



So we addressed Chance first-- that he was NOT allowed to bully anyone. Quite frankly I was surprised  he needed to be told this because Chase did this to HIM when they first came home and we had to protect him from Chase. I did remind him of that:(

We addressed with ALL of them that this house/ family IS NOT, NOR WILL IT EVER BE--- an orphanage. And how they lived in the orphanage was NOT going to happen here-- EVER. We do NOT live with bullying. We do not LIE------- EVER.

Chance was VERY stubborn about this. He got mad and said some really rotten things. He made me mad and I yelled (YES--- I DID! MOM don't call) and later had to apologize ( he did too) but I was wondering what in the world brought this on?

I can usually pinpoint something and I didn't think the start of school was it. Then I remembered that Chance stayed quite some time with Uncle this summer. And it clicked. He was a guest in their home. They didn't have to PARENT HIM.

And he was loving it. Of course he was. Earning money, no one pointing out anything he would be doing that was "less than nice" because that's what you do when you have a guest, you are tolerant of them no matter what. Not one "little sis" to annoy him in sight anywhere:(

And he came back to the real world (our home) and he wasn't liking it. We WILL parent him, that's our job. And he was told that.

I can tell you NOW what he said to that-- and we can laugh together-- I wasn't laughing when he said it-- matter of fact I think there may have been some flames shooting off the red hairs......

He said "They (meaning the teens) wanted to tell me what I was doing wrong parenting."  OH REALLY?

I will tell you I pointed out I was raising number 12+ child, I was MANY years older than him, that "they" had NO parenting experience and that being former ORPHANS raised in an ORPHANAGE did not give them the correct information on the best way to raise children.

He was basically wanting us to house, feed, clothe, run everywhere for them but we do NO PARENTING.  He somehow got REALLY BIG for his britches being away, didn't he? 

We quickly dispelled him of this totally crazy notion of his and got him back in line. Yes, we did. He wasn't happy and probably won't be for a bit. (No MOM we did NOT smack him senseless, or hit him at ALL) He was also warned he is 18 years old and that comes with a whole range of responsibility that so far he's not shown, at all------and he was told the opportunity to work with uncle again will not happen if we see this negative behavior again.  Not fooling around with him understanding this will not be accepted.

Did I mention they are totally immature for their number ages? I think I have.

We also addressed Paisley- I knew where her comments came from, she had a "misguided sense" she was protecting Phoebe as the older girls in her orphanage did for her, I am sure.

 Because her orphanage was well funded, but came with a whole other set of issues because little guidance beyond older children raising younger children situations which are NEVER good.

Orphanage care is NEVER GOOD. It causes all kinds of long term issues.

Paisley was reminded AGAIN that she is not a parent, she is NOT raising Phoebe and Kat and that she was NEVER to tell them to tolerate someone bullying them or to lie to us. She KNEW better and was responsible to be a GOOD influence for her little sisters to look up to. She had to apologize and tell the girls what she told them was wrong.

She didn't have much to say (her usual behavior when in trouble) but she said she understood.

 I guess what was so surprising (or not to us) was how long these teens have been home and yet how quickly they will fall back to that crappy orphanage behavior.

It's so difficult to reset their mindset to what FAMILY means. And none of the orphanage behaviors they had were acceptable for this family's life.

Brandon is getting a first hand experience how tough this is-- he sees they aren't "bad" kids, not at all--- but he's also seeing the deeper level of work involved with teaching them what family is, getting them on the right path.  He's been kinda shell shocked looking for a few weeks, it's a familiar look-- we wore it for a long time after coming home with the teens.

He has asked "Why would anyone do this?"  Poor guy. I DID tell him they were totally worth it. He didn't seem 100% convinced. 

 Guess it takes longer to get there?

Before all this joyless crap happened we took the kiddos and their church youth group (19 kids in all) to an amusement park, there was a free Building 429 concert!  Wow, was that a blast! Yes, even with 19 kids.

We were blessed to get seats up front for the concert and Phoebe ended up standing on a cooler to see the singer and guitarist--- her very first concert was quite the "hit" for her.

She was so thrilled they were singing about GOD-- what a heart this girl has for Him,  she gasped when she asked me "Are they singing to tell everyone about GOD?" And I said "Yes." So joyful this girl is:)

She wanted to meet the group-- and we got to- they were yelling "NO pictures" but she asked and guess what?

Yep, our special treasure got her picture with both the band members she could see through the concert.

I didn't catch the boys in any amusement day pics, they were busy riding rides from the minute we got there- well once we FED them, that is. We packed coolers to keep down the costs (concert was free, rides were not) but as usual, God had us covered, we were given $6 a person OFF coupons at the entrance by another church group who got a group discount for 50 people and had 24 left over tickets, of course just as we arrived they were looking to give the "extras" away:)

God is so good like that, isn't He?  Always!!  Just as He guided us through the rough parts this week, He's always with us........

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another driver

Don't yell (MOM) I still haven't gotten to the last 5 elaborations from the "You shouldn't adopt older if...." post.

Quite frankly I am not feeling motivated so unless I hear differently from anyone needing me to go over the last 5, I'm going to leave it at this--

Adopting older is HARD. It takes tons of patience. It take tolerance. You have to be as prepared as you can be for the worst and then if you get an easy teen--- WHOOOO HOOOO! Congrats. If not, then you can fall back on all you learned and use it!

Yes, WE HAVE been through VERY tough times with certain children. For sure. I've fretted, I've lost sleep, I've cried, hubby and I have had many discussions about "What should we do differently? What is going to get through to them, Will they ever mature? Will they ever have a good future?"  It's taken A LOT for me (hubby is more laid back so it was mostly ME fretting) to LET GO and give it over to GOD.

Like most trials and difficulties-- God can and will get you through and with TIME every one of the "issues" with adjustment, bonding, cultural differences, ALL of it will get either better or you will learn to cope with it better.

FOR SURE. God doesn't call those equipped- He equips those HE calls:)

We stepped out in faith 6 times and with each one we have HAD to hand over to HIM the reins and have become better parents for doing that.  And as I have said many times they ARE teen treasures. So very worth it. Even the tough times, worth it.

We are on the "getting them there" side and it's a darned pretty sight to see:))

We want our treasures to thrive, to enjoy every possible benefit of being adopted in to our family as the true gifts that sharing their lives with us is to us.

Here's one thriving---

Another driving permit obtained today......Mr. Chance this time. He's so proud of himself but in true Chance fashion he had to let on he didn't pass to everyone--- such a stinker, he is.  A fun stinker though.

Other news, I did meet the new ESL teacher. She seems very nice and very interested in helping the teens. (Phoebe has a different ESL teacher in elementary level) I've heard nothing from the kids and am figuring no news is good news in this case.

Usually they come to me fussing if they are worried about assignments/classes being too hard or they aren't understanding things and don't feel they will have the help they need. So we will see how it goes.

We did have 2 kiddos banged up, well, 4 if you count field hockey (Chloe) and football (Camden) bruising-- but the 2 others-- Derrik took a dive over the front handlebars of his bike on his way home from work and got a mild concussion.  He landed on his FACE-- ouch.  

And Chance--  I got a call yesterday to come get him-- he tore a FLAP (ouch) off a finger tip-- the pad part of the finger, in a machine in Vo Tech.  Said something was in the machine that wasn't supposed to be there and he reached in to get it out-- it wasn't able to be stitched because the flap won't have enough blood flow to survive- but it definitely is big enough to hurt quite a bit till it heals.

I HAVE to tell you where I was when the school called ----I was off enjoying my new little buddy..... (I will ask his momma if I can post a picture of him)

I've become an Ayi!!!(Auntie) to the CUTEST little man from CHINA.... a dear new friend in our very rural area announced she was adopting from China and everyone she told said "You gotta talk to" {this family with all these Chinese kiddos} 

Which was US, of course, and we have been excitedly waiting for months now to see this little guy come home.

I was hanging out with him while his momma got caught up on a few things, oh does he remind me of Kat when we first brought her home. So precious:)

 He's funny--when he got tired of me he said "Ayi, bye bye." Trying to get rid of me- ha ha. He's smart too (figured out how to scroll through my phone pics) and just adorable.

 So happy to see another little family made by the blessing of adoption.  It never ceases to be a blessing to behold:)

Tomorrow we head out for the much anticipated consultation of Paisley's hips being replaced.  Send up a prayer for her, this will be a major surgery for her. Hopefully we will have more info on when/ one hip or both, etc.  Once this appointment is over.........

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Day

And it came again.

The first day of school. Came early this year, and by the look on a certain child's face (huh... Chance) some were not ready for this.

Chloe and Chance- 11th grade. High school.

Paisley 9th grade, High school.

Camden 8th grade, Middle School.

Kat and Phoebe 5th grade (different classes) last year of Elementary school.

Wow, is that odd. Last year of having anyone in elementary school?? How will I cope?

I just will, right?

We have a new ESL teacher, I guess we will all meet her tomorrow, the kids didn't even see her today at all???

Doesn't sound positive to me, so far:(   Guess we will see how that goes, I have a meeting with her tomorrow.

I didn't hear too much complaining although CHLOE did say on the way out the door this morning-- "Why won't you let me just quit school and work a job?"

I said "No way!  Have a great day:)"

I have surprisingly managed to fill out all the forms for the 6 of them-- there were MANY less this year-- yeah!!! Most of the stuff is now online and I signed a single form saying I would read the "guidelines" there. What a relief.

Paisley was doing her dish chore tonight, it's funny that Chance goes and helps her by putting away any leftovers and wiping the counters (without being asked because she would NEVER ask for help) as they always BICKER--- he said something to make her mad, and she said something about smacking him-- his response?  "You little girl, I'm not scared of you, who do you think you are?"

Her reply?  "YOUR SISTA."  Cracked me up. Totally. Can't let her size fool ya:)

The older kids all said "What about Chase?" When picture time came, then laughed when I reminded them--- "He graduated."  He was off to job training for BOTH his jobs today.

Busy kiddos.  It was very quiet here, I slept quite well (worked night shift) with them gone all day.

So a quiet, so far easy, new school year begins.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Still here, busy days

I am TRYING  to get the last 5 from previous post done, but you'll have to wait for it.

Too much busy-ness. 

 Multiple trips for twice daily field hockey (Chloe) football (Camden) that can't possibly be scheduled close enough to field hockey to make it one trip for both (NAHHH), add in job interview, then training for not 1 but now 2 jobs for Chase (he's going to have to give up job #1 for the better job #2) and driver's permits for Chloe and Chase (Chance wasn't home).

Add in a job interview for Chloe and both us, "ol' parents" working--- life is just downright nuts.

We gotta get these kids driving, somehow. Both our vehicles are huge, not sure they will be able to learn to drive in either-- but if they are all going to work they will need to be able to help with transporting. Mom is only one gal.....

And I learned something else about my darling children--- they have no clue how to ASK "Does Thursday 8:30 am work for you MOM?"  Nope. They just say "Yes, okay." AND HANG UP. Then look at me like I will be thrilled that they have now made me a 4th trip in ONE DAY to "town" to get them to their job interview/training.

Totally not funny. I've learned another thing too-- when mom works nights and they all sleep--- they think mom doesn't need any sleep because they all are well rested. So those 2-3 hrs then gotta be up to take them all over is "No biggie" to THEM.

I'm very thankful they are finding jobs, passed their permit tests!! (YEAH)

Chance has gone missing, (just kidding MOM) he's been working with Uncle  (Ron's bro) for weeks now, what was to be a week, turned in to almost a month now. He came home today (via the train, all by himself!!)  because they start school next week, so he HAD to.

I missed my Chance. I mean it. There's no one else coming to me multiple times a day asking "Do you have anything I can do?" And meaning ANYTHING. I've said "Scrub toilets" and he will go do it. That boy is a worker. He wants to be busy.... I don't just miss his working either, I missed that easy smile of his:)

We didn't really get to celebrate the twins' birthdays, Chance was away and Chloe was at field hockey camp. So here's their 18th birthday pic together, can't believe how much they have grown. Both of them such wonderful kiddos.

Did I mention school???? Yes, back they go early this year, just in case we have many snow days again this winter.

We didn't have enough snow make up days last year so they go back early to hopefully avoid that this year.

Two 5th graders, 8th grader, 9th grader and two 11th graders. WOW. Down to "only" 6 sets of forms, I will hardly know what to do with myself on the first night of school.

School clothes are bought and ready, supplies packed in backpacks, and everyone (except Chance) is looking forward to going back. Summer has flown by just they always tend to do................. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

5 More

Not kids (MOM)----5 more elaborations:)

6. Child's view on adoption/ reaction

Yes, your child has to AGREE to be adopted at age 10 and up. In one way I can see how helpful this is- this is the child making a commitment to your family. BUT, on the other hand they do not often know what it really means and are too scared or even bullied to sign:(

Not by new parents but orphanage staff. They *think* it's a totally amazing opportunity for the child, but if a child really, really doesn't want to be adopted then they really, really should be allowed to express that. And preferably before adoption day.

As far as coming to you with open arms--most teens are NOT comfortable with hugs, kisses, being told you love them, etc. They ARE TEENS- we didn't force hugs, we DID tell them we love them. We didn't go nutso saying it but we made sure we showed them the adoption certificate (in the red booklet) then said "Woooo eye knee" (I love you) "errr zahh" (son) or "new r" daughter. Even with our butchering Mandarin they got it:)

There's lots of things you can do to promote bonding in physical manners besides hugs and kisses. High fives. Playing with a ponytail. A quick touch on the shoulder. We painted nails, we compared hand sizes:))) Lots of creative ways to bond.

Also body language is huge, most parents are used to "reading" body language (in a younger, non verbal child) and can figure out the basics with a teen. Don't go overboard thinking you gotta understand (in China) what an issue may be. Keep it simple, if they are crying don't try to "fix" everything, sometimes it just takes sitting with them, rubbing their back if they will let you, and accepting they are sad. We CAN NOT fix it all for them which is HARD.

Sometimes they are the opposite, so close to you it's hard to breathe, which leads to--------

7. Personal space

This cracks me up. Seriously. Because it's funny NOW. It's not so funny when you have kids who doesn't want to be hugged but are literally in your LAP if you dare sit down. Who will be right next to you, as in, you turn to get a fork while cooking and they are right there next to you, even leaning on you.  It takes time and it can be quite annoying when they are "Up your butt" as we call it around here:)

We were VERY tolerant of this at first. Because pushing them away is rejection. And not good. But really, truly, this is a big issue in our culture. People will think they are rude, and that's not cool. So working on having them "move back" takes TIME and should take time, but will need to be worked on.

Another area of work---getting the kids to understand  my corrections of them was NOT yelling. How I did this was when they complained (and they did) that I YELLED at them, I asked them if I said whatever it was "like THIS" (yelling) or "like this" (normal voice). 

And AGAIN when they said "Mom yelled at me?" I would ask "Did I yell (whatever) or do you need me to yell so you know what yelling is?"  It taught them in a very direct way what YELLING was compared to telling them something for correction. 

We also had to point out "being in trouble" and "being corrected" were not the same thing--- being in trouble meant they did something wrong and knew what they did was wrong----- being corrected was working on something wrong that they DIDN'T know was wrong to do aka NO punishment.

AGAIN-- this takes time. It takes trial and error. Repeat lessons. Pouting happened. Crying happened. Sleeping to avoid "being in trouble" happened. Threats were made to "not eat."  We handled that one by making everyone come to the table and sit with a plate in front of them. And suddenly the "I'm not going to eat person" was eating. No big deal made about it. We did NOT allow hiding in rooms sleeping/pouting for days on end once we realized they would do this to avoid any issue.

8. School.

Well then. This has been a HUGE learning curve for us throughout the years our teens have been home. Very first thing I suggest to EVERYONE who adopts a teen is DO NOT STRESS SCHOOLING FOR A MONTH. At least 4 weeks, give you, your child, time to get over jet lag, learn the household routine, learn something of your child's personality, find some favorite dishes (It can be hard to get them to eat) before you even consider starting school in any manner.  Don't stress it. It's AMAZING what immersion can do, just keep it SIMPLE-- not "This is a spoon."  Simply "Spoon." 

So when it was time to look at school we did this---

We got Chloe a "buddy" (now her BFF) and put her in 6th grade as a 13 year old. Yep, behind her peers. Had to fight to get the school to do it too-- they tried to pull that "They should go to the grade per their age." And I said "Show me the law that they have to be placed there? (There is no law) 

So that's where we started with her. The boys, we got them buddies, didn't work out as well for them, or Paisley either but it did give them someone to "show them the ropes" of lockers, where their classes were, etc. If you do not know any child to "buddy your new teen with contact your guidance counselor and ask for a child who is NOT an "A" student-- as they go over an assignment a second time (with our teen) they will get extra lesson and not be impatient with your child. It's a win/win for BOTH kids.

We put the boys lower, but quickly saw Chase was struggling with social aspects of not fitting in. So at half the year he was bumped up to high school. It takes a TON of communication with your ESL (English Second Language) sometimes also called ELL (English Language Learner) teacher. Because they are NOT typical ESL students who have mom/ dad at home speaking their native language and you have all the bonding/ adoption stuff on top of trying to get them taught in school.

This is where I love, love, LOVE you homeschoolers. You ROCK. Seriously. Because it doesn't matter if they have to do Kindergarten work for 2 years to get a base then "take off" learning. There's not the pressure of public school. There's not the questions, "Why are you here, where did you come from, can you still speak Chinese, how old are you, why don't you know your real birthdate, did you flunk?" 

As well as the "making fun of" as we have encountered in our district:( 

We have had a hard time with schooling, from ones who are self motivated to others who were not and begged to quit. From tears, usually at least 1 meltdown from schedules that are not correct to assignments not being adjusted for our kids and them believing if they do not sign that they WILL learn and do a 20 page report on DNA within the first month of school that they will be in TROUBLE.

I've written "This is NOT an appropriate assignment for my ESL child" on too many assignments to count. And sent them to the ESL teacher to adjust for their level. I've talked to the ESL teacher/ guidance counselor and others at school probably 10X the normal amount other parents do. It takes INVOLVEMENT.  It just does.

9. Unreal Expectations

We handled this one actually quite well. With fostering special needs kiddos we learned to treat them at their maturity age, NOT their number age. So we were prepared for the immaturity and having to parent "that way."  It only gets sticky when others say "OH, you turned 16, are you dating, driving?" Or when they first came and wanted cell phones and there was NO WAY they were ready for any of that.

It's hard to get them to understand (as it is any teen) we are NOT giving you the world. No cell phone. No personal computer, no dating, no, no and no-- seemed to be the answer a lot. And not their favorite answer. There was grumbling. Complaints--- many of them, some even came right out and said "Auntie told me I would get a cell phone", or Auntie said I would be given ANYTHING I wanted." 

And yes, my response was "Does Auntie live HERE? Do you see Auntie here parenting you?"  Not their favorite answers and they had to "get over it" often at first. We were NOT their friends, or even people they LIKED very often at first--- but we are their parents and weren't trying to be their friend. Don't be AFRAID to parent. That does not mean MEAN-- it means caring guidance-- "This would not be good for you." Even if they don't like that answer or even believe it-- it's in the context we want them to eventually KNOW----- We care about you enough to say NO to something we, as adults and parents do not think is good for you." 

10.Back to Normal

What is normal anyway?  Seriously, you WILL find a NEW normal. One day instead of thinking, wow they really feel like a guest here and possibly an unfriendly, immature, hard-to-love guest---- to "This OUR KID." You start to SEE ways that they fit in, that they belong, even if it's something as simple as a much younger sister helping them read a beginner English book. You DO come to the place where you realize that you can't imagine life without them in it.

And what I really loved in the comments from the original post was someone who said "We are at the BEAUTIFUL SIDE OF ADOPTION."  Yes, it's possible. It's hugely possible to "get there." And "there" is a wonderful place,  a place where even though tough times can still be seen at times, you are seeing gains your child is making. You have reasons to be SOOOO very proud to call this child your son or daughter.  It does COME!!!

Adopting a teen is totally different from raising bio kids. But it does HELP, although in my book is NOT a requirement to be prepared enough to adopt a teen. You have to go in prepared for the worst. Then if you get anything less than that- it's GOOD.  Seriously-- have realistic expectations..... this can be hard because we want to give them EVERYTHING--- all the benefits of being our child, education, clothes, food, dental care, etc. Everything they haven't had.

Just understand that for some teens, they take it RUN...... as in, they do wonderfully.  They thrive in life with you. BUT....... sometimes they Do NOT. Sometimes they are angry, frustrated, sad, do not want to be adopted/ parented.  You may become more of a host- like family for them and this can not be considered a failure. Even disruption is not a failure. It's trying to find the best solution for an adoption that is not working out for the BEST OF THE CHILD.

Lots of times OUR EMOTIONS get thrown in here-- DO NOT DO THAT. Do not look at yourself and say "Why does she/he act that way, what am I DOING WRONG."  Sometimes for certain teens we have to accept their progress even when it comes at a snail's pace (remember the snail WON THE RACE) because that's where they are.

What WE want for them may not be a realistic goal/ desire of the child. It's VERY hard to accept that sometimes. It's also hard when you are struggling and other people do not "get" where you are with this child/ why you have to do some  things you do with them, they want to PITY your child and give them everything. It doesn't help that at times tougher teens can totally pull off being total ANGELS in ANY SUPERFICIALLY relationships. Church friends. School.

I've had people tell me how WONDERFUL my child was--- soooo helpful, pleasant , kind and thoughtful when they were just RUDE, LOUD, DISRESPECTFUL, wouldn't answer me when spoken to----- 5 minutes prior to running in to this person telling me how delightful my child is being TO THEM.  They can do SUPERFICIAL well-- it requires little/no effort-- it's when you get to the deep rooted stuff that you get the behaviors we have had:(

And that's a hard "pill" to swallow at times. It makes us sad for our child, knowing that FAMILY is too hard for them to make the effort they make with an acquaintance:(  But again,  we are a work in progress and the "so called friends" we have lost that don't understand where we are/ what we are doing with our child to help them heal and get through tough behaviors, well, we don't figure they were worth being friends WITH if they don't care any more than that.

I'll work on the last 5 next time and leave you with pictures of Paisley-- looking so determined (not angry) to hula hoop and was doing a great job. She was trying to teach Phoebe who could NOT catch on, but Paisley was doing so well with no hip flexion at all this is something she likes to do,  but has to put tons of effort in to do.

Also she was soaking up some sun, another good thing for her:)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Follow up

Since there was such a HUGE outpouring of interest over the "You shouldn't adopt a teen" post, I wanted to go a little further in depth with each issue.

Because trust me when I say there's not anyone who will adopt a teen (or younger) and not have some adjustment issues. Some children adjust easily and some don't but there IS adjustment.

1. Gratitude

We do have very polite, well mannered children. Some are very good at the "please and thank you" stuff, others not so good and have to be reminded often. But they all do KNOW how to be polite and well mannered most of the time. As far as feeling gratitude we aren't looking for them to be eternally grateful to us, it's not what we adopted them for, so we aren't stressing what could be very well seen as ungrateful behavior for some.

And we ALWAYS keep in mind that our older children didn't exactly seem grateful to have what we gave them as teens either-- aka these are normal behaviors.

 It CAN be hard to not wonder why there isn't MORE gratitude from adopted teens leaving behind an orphanage life-- gaining the "American dream."  But there just isn't. You can't expect it because teen adoption is HARD for all parties involved and feeling they "owe us" is nowhere we want to go.

Gotta tell you a funny here-- I often joke with my Chance and say "What dream are you living in?"  And he always says with a smile 'The AMERICAN dream MOM." He's such a hoot to live with-- everyone should have a Chance in their life:)

2. Maturity

This just is what it is. They are immature for their number ages. We have seen it, lived it. We parent per behaviors, NOT by number age. We have to. Because the immaturity also brings with it a need to keep them safe, give them room to grow but in a protected place within the family. 

We love, love, LOVE our church youth group for this exact reason. No matter if we have kiddos 2,3,4,5 years behind in maturity, our kiddos have been accepted AS IS. Not just accepted, but included, given a church family that loves them as well as some wonderful people who are so supportive and caring of us, the parents, while we walk this harder road with older adoptees, now our sons and daughters.

3. Buddy adoption

We really strive to give EACH child their own place in this family. No matter age, they are a valued member of the family. The biggest issues we saw were with first the boys when they came--- finding where they belonged, what their place was in the family. The worry about everything being equal, since sister had 14 months of time with us already under her belt and functional English skills.  It was tough for all 3 of them as well as everyone else for a LONGGGG time.

We saw it again when Phoebe joined us. Because she was so close in age (not adopted to be a buddy, just happened to be close in age) and she was checking out everything Kat had from 7+ years with us. And wanting us to give HER all that to "make up."  You see in an orphanage, EVERYONE gets the same stuff. Doesn't matter if you were bad that day, if oranges are delivered for a treat, everyone gets one.

Doesn't make a good example for trying to make consequences for behaviors, because they aren't raised to see any consequences. VERY HARD thing to overcome. This is why when we have to ground children from something we take it for how long it takes to see the behavior/attitude change. Because they will "wait us out" if we do a set time of grounding and go right back and do the bad behavior AGAIN.

It's not easy when they "Bean count." It just isn't, it's tiring, annoying. BUT-- it can and does get better. Learning how the family works, lessons about "everyone getting a size 8 dress and it only fitting certain people"--- many visual lessons to "get it" but they DO get it. They do. We do not have bean counting much at ALL anymore. Not going to lie and say it's totally gone, nope, but it's a typical amount when you have more than 1 child.

4. Hormonal teen

We really went to China with very low expectations for their behavior. We didn't get excited when they did some of the crazy things (Chloe climbed out of a taxi cab window!) they did. We just got through getting their adoptions done and heading home. We didn't sweat much, we were firm when we felt we needed to be but we also gave LOTS of leeway for emotions/ behaviors from the kids.

 They really aren't much like what they present to you in China. Chloe is still shy. Phoebe still likes to question everyone and everything. Chance is still ornery:)  But beyond that I can assure you Chloe has never again crawled out of a taxi window, Chance has never again tried to slyly make me say a Chinese swear word. Phoebe has chilled on the questions, her nervousness replaced with comfort of knowing we have her back.

It's really something to see the growth they go through- might be slower with some but it DOES HAPPEN.  And often, you will come to find out that the "crazy behavior in China" had some reasoning behind it. The taxi escape?  I found out much, much later (like 2 years later) that Chloe was getting car sick. It didn't occur to me, even when I learned she got quite car sick going ANYWHERE-- but she crawled out to avoid barfing--- not to escape me or run:) 

And as far as safety- we did not have anyone (of either sex)  play in a room alone for over a year. Till we were sure there were no indications of any abuse/ bullying that we needed to protect a younger child from. We were very diligent (as every parent should be who is bringing home a teen) that they understood the family guidelines (hands to yourself- no tickling, NO HITTING) and we have baby monitor with video and intercom in the younger girls room piped directly in to our room for viewing.

We were used to having special needs foster children who required a high level of supervision so this wasn't anything new to us.

5. Table Manners/ Hygiene

We have made HUGE strides and did this fairly quick with table manners, hygiene. I am very fond of zipl*k bags and took them to China for ALL with an outfit for each day (repacked after laundry was done) and pj's for bedtime-- handed them to the kids and pointed to the bathroom.  If they came out with any of the clean clothes still in the bag, they were pointed out and sent BACK in to the bathroom, until everything was changed.  They learned quickly (even if they didn't agree to it at first) to change clothes EVERY DAY. 

Now they wear something an hour and it's in the laundry! As well, we do have ones who will wear the same outfit/clothes (clean) over and over since I do laundry every day and have had to make some of those things take longer to come back to child so they would wear something else...... I guess from not being used to having more than a few items of clothes they have favorites and want to wear them constantly?

We did have some mishaps (deodorant in the shower?) but otherwise shampoo pointed out, loofah with body wash pointed out and really if they erred and washed everything with shampoo or everything with body wash, no biggie-- they would still be clean.

If anything, we have had some go the route of OVERKILL of spending time in the bathroom and showering obsessively... a few that I have to keep track of "Did you shower?" but calendars have helped Phoebe and Kat (every other day showers due to dry skin) stay on track. The hardest thing was teeth brushing, something they are NOT used to doing and back teeth needing extra brushing that doesn't happen. 

All in all this is another thing that besides saying "Stop slurping!!" probably more than most parents, the hygiene and manners are typical for their (maturity) ages, same amount of reminders from mom, being sent back to "brush those teeth again and try harder," being something I told my adult children as teens/ tweens the same.

That's gonna be it for today- I'll get to the next 5 next time, so stay tuned:)) And get any questions you have in the comments and I will address them in the next post.

Pictures are from after Paisley's baptism, the kids got to swim and play afterwards, Camden even tried to help Phoebe learn to float. They  had a great time.