Can't believe I only got 4 questions and a Ch*nese advertisement for a-hummm, unmentionables. But that's okay, here goes.. I checked out the grafted site, wow, love it! Any place I can freely give God His rightful place as the One who made our adoptions happen, I'm sooo there!
Now about the bonding issue...... I always remember that even though we have paper ages of teens here, these children really are like babies at first. The language barrier is HUGE at first and they are very vulnerable for a long time. This means it's my job as their momma to protect them.
I know they are not as cute and cuddly as a newborn, BUT they are as needy and vulnerable at first. I make sure to connect with them physically, just to assure them I am right by them. Literally. I pat a shoulder, muss up some hair, I try not to overwhelm with hugs at first since they aren't used to getting hugs and kisses in their culture. They also aren't told "I love you" in their culture.
I need to "connect" with them, to show them OUR form of love, as I am a very affectionate person with my kids. I wasn't shown that as a child, I was uncomfortable with hugs and "I love you's" I didn't have that. (MOM- it's true, NO CALLS)
So I ruffle their hair, it's rare that I walk by them at any time and don't pat them, just touch their arm, something. They get it really quickly and understand, that's ME. It gives them a connection with ME. I don't hesitate to plop right down next to them, no matter if it's the couch, floor, whatever and say "whatcha' doing?" Even if they don't understand me. SHOW interest in them. I play card games with them and tease them (lovingly) when they beat me at games:)
Another HUGE thing to bring them close to you, FOOD. I can't stress this enough. I take them to the store with me. They LIGHT up. It's like Disneyland to kids with rice soup as a main meal, every meal and sometimes NO meal. I pick things I KNOW they will like, the noodles, the beef jerky. I teach them what things are.
I keep a stock of Ramen noodles and I have gotten very creative in making them dishes similar to Ch*nese dishes. Just yesterday I used a canned beef, 4 packs of beef noodles, and a bag of frozen broccoli, cooked it all up and they ate it ALL. Just the 4 Min kids! I buy them whatever they recall from Ch*na and allow them to cook up stuff even when it doesn't turn out:)
I also buy them things like warm blankets, fleece pillows with prints, clothes, earrings, things they see and want, if they need them or not-again, providing for them. Not spending tons, we are on a tight budget, but when I go food shopping, I try to bring back something, even if it's a beef stick, or a shirt on clearance. Dollar store trinkets. It's knowing you care enough to think of them and what they would like to have, not just HAVE to HAVE.
I do not ever hit a child, not them, not another child in front of them. Our teens had been hit at the orphanage and I never want to take them back there in their minds- I am not an auntie, to be tolerated till my shift is over. I do scold and they KNOW when I am displeased. They do not want mother to be unhappy, because we have a good bond. Built from their desire to please-allow them to "please" with good behavior,affection shown to us. I did make it clear, they do not have to please to EAT. That was a "belief" they had that was not healthy.
I allow and encourage, contact back to the children they love, who they miss. Their friends left behind. They know I advocated for their friend to be adopted for a long time. They know I raised money for an AC/Heat unit for the older children's dorm- it shows them I CARE. They are puzzled WHY I care about others, but it's also showing them OUR culture and the Love of God I want them to eventually "get".
When they do have struggles and they cry, and they do, I sit with them, stroke their back. And I tell them I am sorry, I cry with them. I do not let them suffer alone, unless they show they really want to be alone. Then I will allow them private time, but they know I care.
As I am being totally honest, I will tell you all that Dad has had a harder time bonding to the older ones. It's harder for him since the children aren't trusting of men (from their past)- he is also quiet and they aren't sure of what to make of him. They aren't able to "read" him like they do me. I show them almost exaggerated emotions so they can learn to read people's faces, in Ch*na you show no emotion, it's their culture. So the huge play of emotions we show can be very overwhelming to the older kiddos trying to understand this new culture.
Dad also has less time with them and sees the whole "teaming up" issue as a bridge we are trying to build with all of our kids. Some days they still can not understand, or don't want to, that all 6 of them belong to us, not just the 3 teens, or the bio kids. It's an ongoing blending. It's not fun when they try to isolate themselves and hurt the other kids.
Dad is very patient and this has allowed them time to build a connection but it is slow going. I encourage them to ask him for things, showing he can and does provide for them as well as me. They also deeply respect that he works for us to have the home and life we do have. They know he, as well, will never hit them and he is a very good father. He is eager to have conversations with the boys, that is one thing that is tough to wait on their English to improve to that level.
Another bonding tool- a Life book, nothing fancy but a book that they can go back and look at their orphanage pictures has been huge for our kids. I begin at their birth (the kids think this is silly but I want to recognize their births and birth parents) and move right into their orphanage, their province, their zodiac sign, etc. Then how we found them and our trip to them. It is a visual blending of their life into our family. Honoring them. Our kids are so proud of their books I have worked on for them. They refer to them OFTEN.
As far as the kids' family and finding them...... It was many, many years ago that they were taken from their mother in the street. She was disabled. This is in a country that sees disabled people as a burden. They are NOT cared about. If they had had any extended family to go to, I believe they would have been there, not on the street begging for food to survive.
The kids did mention once an "older sister" (yeah, freaked me out for about 10 minutes) that I figured out what they meant, that she was on the street with her mother as well and she was older than them, acted like a sister to them. Not really their sister.
They say she was "adopted" within Ch*na and they wanted to try to find her. With no recollection of her name, I had to tell them it would be impossible. The kids recall no father at all. Ever. I believe they knew that when they were taken from mother and they had been begging to get her food to survive that she wouldn't have survived long without them.
So they do not ask about "finding" mother. They ask at times about her not being able to walk and will they be that way? It appears that no, they will not, it seemed to be something mother only had, not genetic. This is an educated guess of their doctor from tests and what he could learn from them of her abilities and inabilities, over the time they were with her.
How do I handle it? It's a part of their life. I try not to be shocked, but I have been floored at times. I have cried and told them I am so sorry that happened to them. They were all very, very young and don't have good memories of their life with her. I encourage them to respect her that she gave them life. I was curious if she gave them their names Lu Fei, Lu Kai and Lu Yun, but they don't recall.
I let them tell me anything they want, sometimes it just comes out. Chloe told me at about 7 months home she lived on the streets with her brothers, it took her another 4 months to mention their mother was with them! It doesn't really occur to them that I care to know these things. I am open to talking with them anytime about anything, Chloe comes to me often and says "can we talk."
She usually means, "can she talk" but I listen. The topic of their birth mother comes up maybe once a month, and it seems to me that they have come to a place of peace about what happened, and they have no issues with letting her be their past and accepting me as their mother now.
Although at one point all of them have said "how you my mother, you no Ch*nese. I Ch*nese, you American." To which I always tell them "God gave you to me to be my son/daughter and love. And I love you. You are now Ch*nese Americans so I CAN be your momma." Then if they get snotty I go further and say "who feeds you, who buys you school clothes, who takes care of you, who give you kisses, who fixes your boo-boos, ME- ME AND ME. I AM YOUR MOMMA, then I start singing "you are stuck with me, ha ha I'm you're momma, ha ha, momma, momma mia, stuck with me." Getting louder and louder till they are forced to give in.
(Mom do not call me and tell me to "grow up"- it's NOT going to happen)
Seriously, it just lets them know I am their mother, that's it. Not listening to any discussions about how I am not. I also have thick skin when it comes to them and realize they are teens, who love to say things snotty just to get a reaction. We are still working with Chloe to understand when she is being rude, it's a hard concept for them.
Hey, even the cute little ones, you know that adorable Miss Kitty? She was mad she wasn't getting her own way the other day and said "I don't like you, I want to go back to live with Po Po (her foster mom she calls "grandma"). Yeah! She said that!
Besides the fact that she is 6 but thinking she is 16, I told her "sorry, out of luck, you are stuck with me." Very calm and matter of fact. Didn't give her what she wanted, a reaction. She hasn't tried that tactic again:)
Here she is at the family reunion, POUTING. Refusing to join in. Imagine that? Did I mention I have a sense of humor that borders on insanity? Oh, might want to have that if you adopting 4. Just so you know:)