So now I'm moving on to when you have been home with your teen/child over a year. At this point you probably have a decent understanding of your child-- their likes, their dislikes. Favorite foods. Worked on getting them to understand we do indeed, expect them to change clothes every day and have decent hygiene. That each day there will be another meal and another. That you are there for them even if they don't always understand WHY you wanted them.
You've most likely heard about other kids they care about/left behind. Maybe their life story-- which could be quite different than what you read in their adoption file. You will probably have heard things that break your heart. Make you realize this person, this CHILD-- that you now call son or daughter is an amazing survivor-- someone who can inspire you in so many ways.
Unless you have a quiet (older teen) then it may be harder because it's really tough to get to know one who chooses NOT to communicate. And some do this. These kiddos may be more traumatized, more withdrawn. Or it may be their personality.
Sadly this not only makes it harder to build a bond with a child who is like this it hinders adjustment and their progression. And you can't force them to be more social/ outgoing. It's a tough road for the child and family, but it does happen. And often with a child like this you have to lower your expectations and expect their immaturity to not progress fast at all:(
A place where a teen and even Phoebe's age (younger child) immaturity can be a big issue is school. Schooling is a difficult thing- It's tough to have a teen and realize at a year home they are basic (if that) readers-- meaning not even first grade. And it's tough to have a child who looks like a high schooler but is working on elementary work. But they HAVE to. The have to start at the beginning and get the foundation or they will not be able to proceed.
This is where it's really cool when people home school-- I do not but am SOOO impressed with all of you that do. It's a huge difference for the kids who will struggle educationally, because you can teach them from the beginning and work on behaviors as well. But if you don't then you will have to work with your school to get the basic foundation of reading and writing started and moving along.
One big issue is the huge gaps our teens have because they do not have a good education base from China school. Our schools struggled with placing our first kiddos home in lower than their ages grades not understanding how poorly their education had been. They did not even have basic MATH skills and math is universal. Add that with immature behaviors and lacking English it was very helpful to put them in lower grades. And we do not regret it. They fit nicely right where they are at.
Because our kids will be forever affected by ---again--- orphanage living. Because they were not taught study skills. And here's a big one-- MOTIVATION. No one in an orphanage is motivating orphans to learn, to study, to get homework done, turn in work on time. It's also hard to teach this later on:( As well, some kids don't WANT to work hard.
Many times growing up in an orphanage does not give children any reason to THINK for themselves. They are told when to get up, go to sleep, what to eat, when to eat. In an environment that does not allow them to use their imagination. They are actually discouraged from using their own brains to think because that would mean questions that aunties have no time to answer, children doing their own thing and it's just easier to teach them to blindly FOLLOW what they are told to do.
This is HARD. Because it leaves our kiddos with huge deficits of learning. Then we add a whole new culture and language AND family life to their "to learn" lists. It puts them at a different level of maturity per their age FOR MANY YEARS to come. Some grab on and run with it. Others DO NOT.
Chloe has been home almost 5 years now. She is 17. She is very well bonded. She is at about 15-16 in maturity. She's thinking about driving. She's wanting to go to school dances. She's self motivated, a rare one at that, but she has been that way since we adopted her. She is our only one of 4 that is that way. So I have to say she's an exception in that. Even so she is still lagging 1-2 years behind in maturity.
Chance, Chase and Paisley are further behind. They have had to learn study skills, be encouraged, even pushed to "get on the ball" with studies, school work. We've had to work on life skills, social skills, there's very few areas that the immaturity DOESN'T affect an older child.
When adopting older you have to understand that the commitment to our kids goes way beyond that "magical age 18." Honestly 18 doesn't MEAN a whole lot when you adopt a child who is a teen. They may or may NOT be ready to drive.
They may or may NOT be able to handle a job--- and I mean a job YOU help them get, YOU help them fill out their application, you take them to the interview, even prepping them for the interview- even at 18, 19, 20 years old.
Because between the lack of social understanding many of the older teens believe life HERE is like life in China. They can "live on the streets." They can "tell someone they work hard" and get hired for a job. They do not understand resumes, interviews are for MANY people wanting the same job.
Matter of fact---many teens have a "movie star" view of life, meaning they believe they will be rich and famous just by being THEMSELVES. Odds are not so good on this-- but seriously they believe they can easily become rich and famous. Just yesterday one of the kids asked us "If I jump off the highest cliff ever would I be famous if I died?" (No, MOM no one is looking to die-- don't call)
But it shows the immature thinking process. They don't realize that's just plain silly-- it's gonna make them dead, for sure, -- not famous. We asked "What would be the point? And, of course, they had no idea. (Again, that lack of thinking)
It makes me glad that our kids have quite a few years left here to learn what they needs to learn and with us protecting them. Because they clearly need it. And it falls under the "cherish and protect" your teen.
It can be difficult, again, to be looking at a teen body and hear some of the things that they "think" is correct, or how things work. And yes, some of it can be chalked up to being totally oblivious to things that normal teens are like that too. But many of these issues are clearly from lack of life experiences.
As far as dating-- we haven't seen the maturity until recently for our kids to even consider "real dating." Although don't think CAMDEN didn't ASK-- just turned 13 and thought he would "test some waters" by asking if he could date?Uh NO. He is not.
Another issue. Friends. It's a huge help to have some kids, such as a youth group at church willing to take your kids in and accept them as is. As much as possible. Because coming from a situation where they were not valued in their society and add in our kids immature behavior and it's very hard to have them "fit in" with kids their age. Not to mention the lack of knowing "how to be a friend." Our kids have been blessed with a great youth group.
It's allowed them a place to find healthy role models, peers who care about them, a place where they really fit in. And again, they are with kids younger than our children's number ages. BUT they were with kids that were the ages of our kids levels of maturity or older--- this is a good thing.
Our kids could see what other kids behavior was like and teens are usually pretty honest, so if one of ours was acting immature they would quickly get a "Why are you doing that- how old are you?" And coming from another kid sometimes goes much, much further than good ol' mom or dad saying it 10 (or 100)times.
Immaturity-- it's a huge and long term factor of teen adoption. Yes, it is. But these kids are wonderful, they can and will do well. A huge amount of patience is needed.
Expect to see long term immaturity and be prepared to have them home longer than usual to get them where they need to be. Unless some health issue precludes them from being independent, they can and will be, just later than most other children.
Protect and cherish them-- they need it. Teen treasures they are indeed. I'm excited to see where our precious ones will end up--- just not too soon. When they are ready.......... which will be soon enough:)