Sunday, July 15, 2012

Older treasures

Gonna answer here for Rebecca--

She asked---

 Can you write a post for those of us newbies on some things to consider before bringing our older child home? And do you think we should ask her when we get there if she WANTS to come home with us? I know she has a choice.

I would NEVER ask an older child if they want to be adopted once you get to China. Nope. Never. WHY?  Well, just take this-- we asked that Phoebe, who is in foster care stay there till we come, not be returned to the orphanage when we get LOA.  What was the response? "We can send her back to orphanage now, we have not-- but we can?"  HUH?  We immediately said PLEASE clarify-- we do NOT want her sent back to the orphanage.

But see what I mean? Translation, even through a guide doesn't always come back right. You do NOT want to start out your adoption of an older treasure with them thinking you don't want them. And it's likely to come out that way. Don't take that chance. If she comes, take that as she wants to be adopted. 

Things you want to consider-- hummm.

Well. They are teens. They may be language impaired but they aren't dumb, deaf, or stupid. Don't yell at them. DO talk slowly. We talk very fast and don't realize how hard that is. I took Langenscheidt Pocket Dictionary (Amazon for less than $10) and carried it everywhere. It translates both ways. So Chloe and I could pick out a single word fairly quick and I could show her  "meal, bath, appointment" as one word and I was SURE of what I was telling her. Along with  hand signals, body language, etc. it makes it easier to communicate. 

We never had good luck with using guides too much, teens try to stick with guide, then when you leave province they are "lost"- I wanted her to know she had a way to communicate with ME not through another person. She used the book often and for a long time even once home. Much easier than electronic translators for both of us.

Be prepared to take an older camera for teen, if possible. Keep papers, etc, in folder YOU carry. They often will grab everything, they have no understanding of not touching things and they can be ROUGH. Fast and hard makes a winner in an orphanage, not so great on your phone, camera, computer,  even siblings, etc.

Have guide to ask child, (as soon as you get them on way back to hotel) do they have a cell phone,  a SIM card?  IF they do, TAKE THEM- have guide ask for them then take them. Tell child you will keep FOR them, then you decide when they use them.  And be careful where you put them- they can be sneaky.  I'm NOT saying it's not okay for them to have these, but I think YOU as the new parent need to know when they are being used.

I do not recommend letting them use your cell phone, room phone, guide's phone without someone listening in (who can translate).  And use guide to set guidelines. "Okay you call orphanage teacher and let them know you are okay." This does NOT require 50 minutes of conversation.  Make a 5-10 minute time limit.

You have to understand you could have a child claiming you are mean, horrible, and they want someone to come get them. NOT GOOD. You really want to start that whole bonding with you, not hanging to all things China asap. They got the Chinese orphan part, they need the American family part now, the sooner the better they look to you for their needs.

As for before you go, we have to say BELIEVE IN GOD, that He is guiding you to your child for a reason. He will not guide you wrong. As long as this is HIS will and you are following Him, He will help you and give you the strength to get through the rough times.

Look at your family strengths, see the weaknesses, be honest in them. And accept the BLESSING. These kids are a blessing. It's hard to see the rewards at times, but they are there. Know that you may have hard times, but there is a treasure waiting to shine under that rough and tough exterior.  Wait out the rough, work on smoothing those edges, and scaling walls that are built from their fear. Under the gruff, you have a scared little girl or boy just trying to protect their heart the only way they know how to.

"Hurt you before you hurt them." It's a defense mechanism.  Be patient. Be unfailingly kind. Know that they will watch your face, they try to "read" your expressions, first. Even in China. So plaster a smile on, don't show them rejection on YOUR face. Show them love, acceptance, even when you are less than thrilled. I told Chloe in China "sit down" (via the book) because she was standing on a chair in a restaurant-- she pouted. I told her firmly and with hand signals to back up the word "down" from the book. And I had the "no nonsense MOM look on my face.

But I didn't HANG onto that. Let it go. She sat, she pouted, but as soon as she looked up I gave her a small smile and thumbs up, then made it look like I had horns (with my chopsticks) and she had to smile.  Don't tackle every small behavior at once. Be prepared for slurping of food, spitting, open mouths eating, etc. Let that GO-- once home gradually work on those.

Be encouraging. Not horrified- even when they climb out of cab windows and you think you adopted a  wild monkey instead of a kid:) Chloe did that and I laughed. The guide and driver were MORTIFIED and angry, I laughed. I looked at it as she was very smart, she wanted out, and she got out. Might not have been the way expected, but she got out:)  She told me  MUCH later she was very car sick  and needed out. So imagine if I had gotten mad, she would have thought in her mind, "Gee I'm sick and she doesn't even care."

To address how to "pick"your child or know it's the "right" teen for you. That's a personal family decision. Just know what you are working with at home is my best advice. Is the oldest insisting to stay the oldest? Is a middle child happy to help a new brother or sister or totally against it? Do they have an easy going personality or do they NEED their space respected? 

 Some kids do super with a new sib close in age to them, some do NOT. Sit down, ask the kids what adopting a child looks like to them-- do they realize sibling may be sad, may not WANT to play basketball with them, or maybe they will love basketball.  They may be outgoing and sing all the time, they may be a bookworm. Give the kids at home ideas of what they might be able to share with a sibling. Make it real.  

Your child should have the ones at home be their very first advocate. Their first "friends" ---their first of as many things as possible. Because they MATTER. When I saw another child offer Paisley a hand down steps at a youth event and Chase made fun of that-- I pulled ALL of the kids (except her, she was in the shower)  in the living room and said " This is YOUR sister. Do NOT make fun of her. I do NOT want to see her struggle to go down steps and not see YOU offering her a hand, helping her because she has difficulties," and I explained her arthritis to them.  They weren't understanding her limitations. 

 We protect, we help, we expect the pride and honor of being a family member to be what shines through to her. We've got her back. We've got all their backs. And they have each others backs. We get to see the shine of these gems, as they get those rough edges smoothed off by our love, their trust, their security within this family.

I'm working on a project with Chloe, it will also help those adopting older, I'll be bad here and leave you guessing what it is:) I know, shame on ME.

Pictures are from a birthday party we went to, we were amazed when all the boys took swings at the pinata, but who brought it down but Miss Paisley:)  I told her I was glad she didn't aim that bat at me, whooooa. 

They threw the candy out and Paisley had a hard time scrambling among the kids to get much candy, but I overheard Kat giving her candy and saying "That's what sisters are for, to share."  Yep, that's what I'm talking about:)


Rebecca said...

Thanks for that helpful advice. I never even considered the issues with translation. There's so much to consider...
BTW, your little Aussiedoodle is adorable! :) What a fluff ball of cuteness!

thesleepyknitter said...

Lots of great advice!

We totally agree about taking the electronics and so forth that the child might have with her in China, and we learned that the hard way.

Our just-turned 14-year-old used her privileges to call a man from the orphanage to come see her in the hotel, without our knowing ahead of time that was happening. The situation appeared to be "purely platonic", but just the same, it was a huge wake-up for us that our daughter had survived for 14 years without us and knew how to get around in life.

We also deeply regretted the amount of computer privileges we gave her once she arrived home. If we had it to do over again, we wouldn't allow any computer access or phone access for the first six months, so that she would have bonded with us rather than building her own little world.

~Monica Utt~ Itty Bitty Land said...

"They threw the candy out and Paisley had a hard time scrambling among the kids to get much candy, but I overheard Kat giving her candy and saying "That's what sisters are for, to share."
That dear Kat. She made me cry.

Lisa M said...

Thanks for writing this one specifically for us newbies! One of our daughters was adopted from China at almost three years old and we are currently adopting a 13 year old boy from China. I appreciate your transparency!

Hunan Mommy said...

We all need to be a little bit more like Kat. So sharing! As always, I so enjoy your blog!