What does family mean?
I think for many people who adopt older children (teens) they think our children will be sooooo thrilled to get a family and that living with us they will totally "get" family right away.
That we want them, love them, provide for them.
But often this is NOT the case. First they don't get WHY we want them. Chinese orphans are the "low men" of their society, they aren't treated well, as teens they are fully aware of the stigma in their society. So how do they instantly overcome the insecurity of that?
They don't. It takes time.
Add in what they are told. We (Americans) are all RICH, LARGE, LOUD, and are coming to adopt these children to give them EVERYTHING. Daily trips to Disneyland-like parks and never a chore in sight. Yeah, right.
But this is what they are told and when we do pick up a few (even cheap snacks like we got on Phoebe's trip) on the trip they have never seen money like that being spent and believe we really ARE rich.
(And I don't mean the "rich in children" my kids say if someone asks if we are rich)
Another layer of difficulty in family acceptance-- the competition aspect-- they were likely tough, rough, loud, rude, or even sly, sneaky, but this is how they learned to SURVIVE. Great in an orphanage, not so hot for family living.
It's odd how we take a child that WE SEE as "family" and really think because we love them, we yearned for them, we would walk through hot coals for them, and we expect an instant bond. Sometimes it does happen but more often NOT with an older child- It's downright awkward during those first few days even into weeks/months, it's a "what have we done" feeling/time for the first few months.
And it's OKAY to feel that. REALLY it is.
It's like taking us and plunking us down in the middle of Siberia in a new-to-us family and we are expected to understand they are now our family and be IN LOVE. REALLY?
Do you think seeing a few pictures of us before adoption, with other kids, our home, pets and even a few gifts sent to them give them any idea of what a family really is?
HOW would we feel? Scared? Happy? Worried? Defensive?
Because someone we don't know (guides) tell us that this is our new family we are supposed to just KNOW this "new family" are a- okay?
That we are safe and loved by these people who----- look nothing like us, smell funny, talk another language, eat weird stuff, do weird things--- and how easily or fast would any of us adjust/accept that? Wouldn't we feel glad these people care but also wonder WHY?
And we would feel thankful they feed us, care for us, give us clothes but wouldn't we MISS our food, our clothes, smells, people, but wonder if we show unhappiness will they stop taking care of us, will this NEW FAMILY get mad? Will they send us off to the next country because we aren't "happy" enough for them?
It's not as if you learn commitment, love, caring, empathy, sympathy, even concern for ANY ONE but themselves in an orphanage. And then you have the hierarchy of orphanage care, this is where we find issues with Chase and Paisley. That deep desire of theirs to "rule the roost" even bully the younger children, be the boss as a means of survival in an orphanage.
They do not understand that being an "older kid" means a child looks up to them and we will hold them responsible for teaching yeah or nay things. Yep,that's how it goes in a family.
But that the parenting job is OURS to do, Not for them. It takes a power out of their hands, one that we have seen 2 different sides to. Chase- who did not want that power taken-- he was the "parent" of Chloe and Chance and was deeply offended that we intended to parent not just them but him as well. That still does not sit well with him.
He struggles. He doesn't believe when we try to tell him something to teach him that he could possibly be wrong and us correct. Nope. Never. I keep telling him he's gonna be in for a rude awakening when he gets a job because we are much easier and kinder than a boss is going to be:(
Then there's Paisley,Chloe and Chance. They have accepted we are the parents. That's totally cool to them. They have comfort and acceptance in being cared for, cared about, provided for but also expectations of.
Even with acceptance it's still constant learning. Chloe sent me a text message the other day from the school bus. She said "I am going to go do X-Y-Z."
And I wrote back, " I think not. You do not TELL me what you are doing. YOU ASK." So she immediately thought I meant she couldn't do what she was saying. And I told her "I am not saying you can't do X-Y Z-- I am saying you need to ASK, so try again." So then she did and she ASKED. And she was given permission:) She also apologized because she was wrong-- she's very caring and wants to do the right thing.
It's something that seems odd, to teach a teen how to ask for something. Or that a behavior is not acceptable. Even Phoebe who likes to pretend crying like a baby when she doesn't get her way-- she has to be TOLD-- this is not an acceptable behavior. She DOES NOT KNOW.
You see, our kids are immature for their number ages. They also have to learn what behaviors are okay and what aren't. We think they will just "get it" as soon as we add them to the family but they do not. And for teens they can do some really odd things.
I've said before and will say again, we use a lot of visual learning-- we will actually go over a behavior that they do or should do. We then show them what the behavior looks like and we role play how to do it the right way because they learn the quickest this way.
AND it takes LESS English if you have one you aren't sure how much they are understanding. So there is no question they understand. We will role play it 2-3 times over. That usually does it there. They remember this way and are able to modify the behavior.
So other than all this learning what are the kiddos up to? PLAYING-- it's Summer Vacation after all.
That means, getting wet, of course. They got the hose going and a bucket, a ball and fun ensued. Camden was the hose master- ha ha, that's just means he was in charge of the mess and got everyone mad at him for getting them soaked.
Chance took the bucket and was dunking his head in it. When asked exactly what he was doing he said "Seeing how long I can stay under." Okay then. Now there's a skill:)
He's got a cold now (NO MOM it's not from the cold water)and so does Phoebe. Spring colds, I guess. Sharing it for sure, Kat is sniffling now and so is Paisley.
At least they all can sleep in and get well, no school has some advantages for sure.
Lots more time to enjoy being FAMILY:)