Friday, November 29, 2013

Immaturity--- Part 1

This would be a HUGE topic around here. And it's not about Black Friday shoppers- ha ha. Nope, no Black Friday shoppers (or Thursday) shoppers 'round here. Total craziness for sure. I want no part of that. 

But, anyway, back to the title-- Immaturity--- You see, we have 6 children adopted from China. 4 as teens. One adopted as a toddler. One adopted at age 8, almost 9.

One of my most favorite things is watching our kids grow in maturity. Because when we get them they have little to no language, delayed social skills, almost all were behind in fine motor, gross motor skills a little.

Lack of care, lack of guidance. It really doesn't work well for children to be raised in an institution:( EVER. For any length of time.

Because even when there is a caretaker or 2 that really, really cares for a child, there isn't TIME to work with a child to get them where they should be. Even the environment is not positive for a child-- having to "beat out" others for favors, foods, etc. 

We've seen the big and sad issue of no empathy from more than one of our children. They would LAUGH when another child got hurt. But in a "dog eat dog" lifestyle you learn to not care that someone fell down and that you are "better than them" because you didn't fall thus the laughing at the person instead of helping them out--- such a sad thing to see AND hard to retrain them to HAVE empathy. (but you can:)

In some ways this is where Phoebe and Kat made out well. They were fostered by older people that they learned from, they were loved by and they consider their "grandparents." It's a HUGE difference.

Anyway-- on to the maturity. Adopting a teen, is a huge mix up of a teen body, teen attitudes, cultural differences, and maturity of a toddler. YEP. A toddler. 

Because in the first few days of adoption you very well may see crying, even screaming, fighting, hitting, biting, peeing, anger. All kinds of stuff you would see if a toddler was unhappy and couldn't communicate that.

Then very quickly, even in weeks, they come to a better place, about  age 5-6 in maturity. Pre school. Finding where they fit in, although they may still be hitting siblings, pinching, playing dirty tricks, worrying about sister/brother having more than them, getting more than them.

Fast forward parenting. That's what I call it. Because you really do go through many of the same "new baby, sibling, etc" adjustments you have when you bring home a baby. You will probably need to cocoon at home, many older kiddos can't handle the stimulus of so many things, stores, church, school, parties, etc, need to come LATER. This can be a hard one for others (outside the adoption community) to understand. 

Having had a structured life in the orphanage (told when to get up, get to school, eat, be back to orphanage as well as times they were NOT supervised and no one checked up on them) doesn't give them the tools to handle this new life they have been thrust in to.

And you are adding in the reality that your child has figured out much of what they were told about US, our families, what adoption means, what we adopted them for-- is totally UNTRUE.

Our teens have ALL confirmed they were told untruths about adoption. Because most orphanage workers are clueless as to what our lives really are like. And the misconceptions they feel they share with the children:(

Chloe was talking with me and dad the other night. She happened to bring out the book I sent her with pics of us and I had used scrapbook stickers to "jazz it up." She was laughing and said that the one sticker that said "Father---  guide, teacher, leader."  

I had it ALL translated for her to read. Translation read-- Father is a school principal. HUH???  Yep, NOW, I know not to send any such thing- it should have read "FATHER"  That's IT. Because I know NOW that translation is a very tricky thing and it's sooo much better to go simple than to have wrong translation.

Chloe also shared how she was told we were not coming for her. We were the first Hague (New rules for adoption started in 2008) Adoption for our agency. It took MUCH longer for the paperwork to happen for her and because of that the staff took it to mean we were NOT going to come for her.

I was heartbroken for her. Even the day I arrived in China to get her, they told her while she was in the train, on the way, I was probably not going to show up for her? 

WHY? I don't know, other than not many older children were being adopted from their orphanage at ALL and this was 2009 when many people didn't consider an older child for adoption so orphanages thought these children were not wanted. Thankfully we have CHANGED THAT for the Min sibs orphanage:) They now list older children for adoption-- Whooo hooo! Every child deserves the chance to be chosen.

So back to your child's adjustment stages. You are sitting at home, getting over the jet lag and starting thinking about schooling. Yep, school. It's a terrible PUSH to get your child educated as fast as possible!  They are sooo behind.  Please read this, if you read nothing else of this post. 

TAKE AT LEAST 4 WEEKS TO KNOW YOUR CHILD BEFORE YOU SEND THEM ANYWHERE.

At the very least. 4 weeks. 1 month. 

If you can do 3-4 months, this is even better. AND--------- DO NOT stress their education. YEP. I said that. 

 It's soooo important that you learn about your child. Strengths, weaknesses. Personality.  

Do not discount what total immersion will do for your child-- so use English, as much as possible but keeping it simple. Not "This is a fork."  Just simply "Fork." 

  At first they will be very quiet, most likely. Some are more outgoing. Outgoing ones tend to pick up faster, but even the quiet ones are picking up. Often the first month they are like sponges, taking it all in. Especially the language.

Keep as much of a routine as you can. Daily routine. This is comforting to your teen, they are used to daily routine. Even a chart can help, pictures-- get up, change clothes, eat. Because when the start talking to you they want to know "What's next." Yep, they expect you to plan their every minute of every day.

They often DO NOT KNOW how to entertain themselves. Child (animal) movies with easy themes (Finding Nemo comes to my mind) easy puzzles. Chinese music is a way to let them "zone out" when they are overwhelmed hearing English all the time.  And it's okay to let them zone out some. 

BUT----I do not personally recommend free computer access, I pods, phones, etc. It just isn't good. They will zone out in to the computer and if they are struggling they will hide in media instead of looking to YOU to help them. They also do not have the skills for safety, they are still not so sure about your family-- do not add any situation that allows them to be negative about your family.

This includes, Chinese church, a friend's house (our kids didn't spend the night ANYWHERE else for at least a year), even contact with children adopted from their orphanage before them. We don't give the OPTION-- and yes, this is strict but we keep our kids CLOSE----- for our kids to be influenced in negative ways about FAMILY.

Our bond with our teens at first is like a newborn. They WILL go to ANYONE. They will look at their friend who has a cell phone and was adopted a year before them and think they got "robbed" in the family department. It fosters unhappiness.  I spoke to all the kids orphanage friends FIRST before our kids talked to them. And I explained we did not give phones, so that was to be explained it was too soon when our kids asked their friend "Do you have a phone? Will you tell mom I want a phone?"  (And trust me they did this)

PROTECT and CHERISH your teen.  We only get one shot at this. We didn't feel we had the option to "get it wrong." And for all 4 teens, we have the same rules. When your maturity shows us you can handle something then it will happen. And yes, that means we have younger than others with privileges that older ones DO NOT HAVE.

And our kids have pulled that "It's not fair." I've discussed that before. We can't make everything fair in life, hard lesson but it's true. If things were fair our children would have never come to us as it's not fair ANY child ever has to be an orphan.

So we don't DO "It's not fair."  And we use a number of things to show them this, including the scenario of buying 7 dresses of size 14/16. Who will this fit? Chloe. Only Chloe. But if we are being fair that is what we would have to do. Would this make anyone but Chloe happy? No. It gets the point across. Lots of "visual" teaching so they get it.

Often it's hard to cope with them being so physically attached to you, this is something to work on slowly-- so they don't feel rejected but also you have to teach them so when they are among peers they aren't offending people. And they will. They have soooo much to learn about our culture and often they "miss" social cues.  

Another issue commonly seen is the "hyper vigilance" while in one way can be really helpful to know everything that's going on with your other kids, but it can also backfire when new child thinks they need to know everything everyone is doing. And I mean EVERYTHING. They can't miss out on anything that's going on. 

Usually this diminishes over time but it can be highly annoying and certainly does not endear them to their new siblings when they are telling everything on the other kiddos. Finding a happy medium with that takes time.

Just the other day Phoebe was making Kat mad by telling her everything she said was "a bad word." Kat said she was being ridiculous. And Phoebe told her THAT was a bad word. So Kat comes to me irritated with Phoebe and Phoebe comes to me saying Kat is saying bad words. OIY.

I think at 6 months home you feel a kind of sigh of relief. People often say that-- just make it to 6 months and you'll be okay. I think what it means is that you really feel a bit settled in, you know your child somewhat, you can, at least, understand what they need in English. Lots of things are easier. 

But I think too that at around 1 year we often see some negatives. It's a time when we think "WOW, they have been home a whole year." 

And yet it's highly likely we are thinking--- goodness, why aren't they further ahead in this or that way? There's times Phoebe's behaviors are annoying-- now have no doubt, we love her, of course we do. But she does things that are close to 5-6 year old in maturity and I get impatient wanting to get her "caught up."

It's those times I have to ask God to forgive my impatience with this precious treasure, she's still learning and she's really the sweetest child, her and Kat both. 

 I mean, these 2 are making cards right now for God, and Phoebe wanted to know God's favorite color (answer ALL of them, He made them all!) and how to get a card to God ( tie to balloon and release).  

Yes, immaturity. It's part of the walk. Of adopting and parenting an older child. Some of it so sweet and innocent, some frustrating and difficult. For us it takes patience and love, as well as guidance from God. All part  of the commitment to the children we have adopted. To see them through and always try to do our best for them:)

 I'm going to end here and work on a Part 2, which is going to address the immaturity and longer time home, where we have gone with the older children, driving, schooling, dating, up to independence as an adult. 

Because as more people adopt older there's a world of difference to bring home a preschooler, even elementary school compared to a middle school/high school aged child as far as a "few years down the road."

So come on back and I'll get Part 2 up soon:)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful

It goes without saying that we are very blessed. But I am going to say we are soooo thankful for so many things that God has blessed us with.

First and foremost comes to mind, our children. The precious ones, all of them no matter how or when they came to be part of this family:)

This year we can enjoy Phoebe's first Thanksgiving. She has "gifted" dad and I with numerous cards and colored papers telling us "Happy Thanksgiving" as well as her thanking me for cooking while I was busy making our big lunch.

We are thankful for our home, for the added space, the comfort of a warm home. For the roof over our heads and so many of the blessings this home has brought to us.

We are thankful for our jobs, that we are able to provide for our children and are physically able to work. 

 That God has given us a wonderful family and everyone is currently in good health. 

That we live in a country that we can freely worship our Lord and say it as much and as often as we want to. To proclaim His blessings and sharing His hand in our lives.

And we are thankful for all of you, cause there's been so many times this blog has brought us answers, comfort, love, caring, forgiveness, laughter, tears, and support  from all of you. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, we wish for you a wonderful and love filled family day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A visitor

He arrived with no regard to the snow, the kids coming home early from school--- over 13 years since I last laid eyes on him---

Who was this "mystery guy?"  

Ron, MY BABY BROTHER. Yep, I get to call him that forever. 

Born on Christmas Eve. I spent a lot of my teen years "babysitting" him. I never minded because, well, he was my baby bro.

Love him. Tons. I cried when he got here. So overwhelmed with love for him.

Wayyyy too long to go between visits when I had to introduce him to SEVEN children he had yet to meet. 

All of them "new" to him. 'Cause I was pregnant with Camden when I saw him last.  Phoebe told him he looked like Jesus:)


You can't tell but he has long hair. And yes, red hair like me. And you can see the family resemblance between him, I and Camden. 

He was surprised how much Jay looks like our dad, although he "knows" him mostly through pictures only because our dad died when we were young.


He said as he was leaving "You obviously are doing something really good here."  Left me speechless. 

I'm soooo thankful to have seen him. I just hope and pray it's not 13+ years till I see him again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Goings on

It's hard to believe another week has passed by. Time just seems to fly by.  I remember Mom telling me that the older I got the faster time would go and I thought "Yeah, sure!" but here I am, wondering how we got to mid November and soon to be Christmas time.

Just flying by....the kids are growing so fast. Sigh.

Yesterday I went to school early, took the girls for their conferences. Not to worry, all 7 doing well- matter of fact, all are honor roll students:)  We are quite the proud parents!

Phoebe is doing well, her school has adjusted her work and grading for her English learning as well as her vision issues. Her teachers are amazed at how well she is picking up English and reading is going well. Her biggest issue lately is not listening, mainly being quiet (she talks from the minute she wakes till she goes to sleep!) so she got time off recess and she is actually grounded now from TV because of not listening to us.


Not that she is terribly willful, she's not, but she does have to pay attention and listen when her parents or teachers tell her. So we are expecting more of her knowing she can do it.

I also went to school last week for Thanksgiving "lunch" with the girls, I got to meet one of their new classmates and her parents who were very interested in my favorite topic, ADOPTION! 

They said they had considered adopting before. So we talked (I didn't mind that at ALL) instead of eating-I'm not really fond of school lunch but I wouldn't dream of not going to be with the girls:)

So I totally enjoyed that lunch and I hope that this family really considers going forward. You really can't go wrong unless you do NOTHING, right?

I bought all the stuff for our Thanksgiving feast. I always buy my turkey and say a quick prayer of thanks. I'll never forget Chance's first year home and how he was sooooo excited he was showing off the turkey we had in the freezer to guests who came to our home. 

He was just thrilled that we had a turkey when honestly I never really thought about how blessed I have been year after year of my life to always have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. 

Just another reason I am so thankful for my children, they remind me of things that we often take for granted. And just for Chance (well, okay, maybe for all of us) I bought a ham to make as well, since it's his favorite, even more than turkey.  And to have enough it was either ham and turkey or 2 turkeys:)

My BFF gave me a perpetual calendar for my birthday- It's about every day inspiration.  My phrase for today?  

I'm slowly learning for me, for now, right here IS my mission. It is my calling. He is sending me and I can follow. Even without a jungle or a moving van full of boxes, He HAS called me. And I can serve Him by staying. I can follow Him right here. 

This is really ME right now. Content. Not unaware, not uncaring,(NEVER) but also NOT waiting on another child to come home, worrying are they doing okay and how soon can we get them here? 

It's been many years since I could say that and for us, for now, this is right. It feels so good-- there's focus on the ones we have, their needs, I don't feel spread too thin.... a rare thing for me. 

Just being a family, as our children needed and we are happy to have them in our family. Enjoying them each and every day. 

Also playing catch up on some things--- so many adoptions have drained us (my van is giving out) so please pray for us to have guidance as we head to needing a newer vehicle. My van has been a stable, good vehicle for years and years. I am sad to even think of replacement of it:(

That's all for this week, the kids have Christmas lists all over the place, writing them, scratching things out, adding things...... their excitement builds. We are keeping warm, we hope everyone else is too:)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's up?

It's been a busy time around here. As it usually is:)

Last week we went to an Asian Food Expo, bring your appetite- and did we ever. Oh, the hot pot and pot stickers were YUMMMMMYYYYYY.

The kids were thrilled to have such a delicious supper and went back for seconds, thirds, I think a few went back 6 or 7 times!

On the way home we were entertained by the teens, at times they get going on "memories of China" and it was hilarious to hear Chance going over things he "did" in China and have Chloe yelling at him "Chance, you are making that up." Then she told him that if he remembered and really did those things then she "Remembered being a princess."  Oh, how they make us laugh.

On Monday the kiddos were off school (for Veteran's Day and we THANK all our vets for their service!!) You won't believe what the kids did. Yes, they did IT. SURE DID-----

The Christmas tree is UP. AND ready.

Now before you say it's too early (MOM) Phoebe is soooo very excited about Christmas coming that we let them go to it early. She's going to experience her very first Christmas and we are so thankful to have her home.

She was thrilled to wake up to a covering of snow already this morning. Her and Kat both let out squeals of delight.

I had someone message me this-- 

You may laugh to know that one of the things that has stuck from your blog is when you talked about how the teens are "up your butt" all the time. So, all those times you write profound posts and you pray and think hard over the words you say, that's the part that stuck with us.

Oh,my did I ever laugh over that. Because it's so true. They really ARE "up your butt" for a longgggg time and it's hard to handle at times but it's also true that I pray and think over what I write often, wanting to share but not offend, wanting to help but not discourage any adoption from happening that is meant to be.

So it was refreshing, in a weird kind of way, to know that even something that simple is remembered, can be laughed about, but also the family was able to know it was typical and not be wondering what to do/was this normal.

Because, yes, they really ARE. Normal that is. And it takes a long time to get older adopted children to figure out how to do things to occupy themselves and not have to be told what to do.


I also told this friend that I have another post in mind, about adopting older, I'll have to get working on that:)

So, anyway, the tree is up, I have a few things gathered in preparation of Turkey Day, Thanksgiving:)  I love

Thanksgiving, even when I do all the cooking. It's all about family and being thankful for what we have. Can't beat that. No gift giving required, just lots of good eats.

So that's what we are up to around here. Passing a cold around as well, but otherwise all is well. 

I'm very thankful for that:)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Guess what?

FULLY FUNDED!!!!!! For Joseph.

God is soooo good. 

Thanks to all of you who answered God's call to help this child, an orphan, become a--

SON!!

Joseph's momma was so shocked and thrilled- what looked impossible last week--- GONE. Torn down by God, the road blocking their way to this child.

Father LOVES these children, He will NOT let you down when you step out in faith and love to bring home one of His treasured children.    

Thank you again for helping this precious child gain the love of his very own family with his sister :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Joseph

UPDATE!!!!! I guess I should have done math sooner?

'Cause you aren't going to believe this------- $225 AWAY from fully funded.

Yep, you read that right---$225.

Now that's--

45 people giving $5
15 people giving $15
5 people giving $45

WOW!  Isn't God soooooo GOOD? He sure is! 


Ya made me do it. I didn't want to but I'm gonna--

$1300 left to go.

For a precious boy's life to change.

Here's where I didn't want to go- MATH (My math stinks, I never liked math, yuck, yucky MATH!!)

130 people giving $10.
65 people giving $20
26 people giving $50
13 people giving $100

$1300.  From $7,000!!!  

That's $5700 so far, given for this child's adoption-- whoooo hoooo. THANK YOU!!!!

And so little still needed!   Just DAYS for it to come.  Don't think that God says He will provide it early- nope, He doesn't say that.  So even when it's HARD for us to cling to faith, He is taking care of it. He's calling His people that He wants to bless--- He's calling you to give. 

Every single donation, be it $1 is a BLESSING- it's a way for you to be INVOLVED-- National Adoption Month-- and here's an adoption that needs our help.

Please first and foremost be in prayer--- Pray for Joseph, for his family, for their travels coming up in just DAYS.

And don't think I won't, for sure, post a picture of this precious guy with his new family for you all to see what you helped do:)))

I sure will.

So, go on, donate away to this wonderful adventure-- the addition of a son/brother. The link to donate is here---      http://projecthopeful.org/matched-families/smith-family/

And seriously--- THANK YOU!!!!! For caring! For PRAYING! For listening when God calls! 

This is God's work----- a child in need to become an orphan NO LONGER:) 

 Thank you FATHER!





Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

UPDATE #4--November 6 at 11 am. $1600 to go. It's HAPPENING:)  God is crushing the money mountain DOWN. It's sooo exciting to see this. I can hardly wait for the post that they are fully funded-- can you? 

Join in, it's not too late--- help bring this brother to his new life. Being loved. Being with his sister. Such a special journey, one you will be blessed to be a part of:)


UPDATE #3 at 7 pm November 5--- $1700 to go. Don't miss out on this miracle of adoption. 

Please consider helping this precious boy join his sister within their family-- Is God calling you? Every single dollar counts!!

 Don't wait and think it's someone else's place, nope you DO NOT want to miss this blessing!

UPDATE #2 at 1 pm today November 4---- $1800 to GO!!!! It's happening folks, God IS working through YOU!  Do you have chills yet?? Isn't it exciting to SEE how God works?


UPDATE #1 at 8am today November 4---- $3500 needed/ halfway there!!! WHOOOOHOOOOOO---- God is providing!!!

Come on- You DON'T want to miss out on helping with this--- a precious boy's life changed FOREVER!

It's Orphan Sunday!

I wanted to share a family with you--- a family JUST LIKE OURS:)

Adopted a girl, found out she had an older brother........... and are going back to adopt him too!

They need our help- us, Christians, believers of Him, His body-------

Because they need funds to get there.

We saw it happen here before--- you see the 2 sons we have that we never expected but are loved, wanted, CHOSEN  and orphans no longer.

Along with their sister.

So please--- please, please.  Time is short. $7,000 is needed in just 2 weeks.  

It's a different country than our kiddos came from but God doesn't mind so neither do I, this is an orphan who needs to become a son. His name is Joseph. He is WANTED.

Let's watch the money mountain be plowed down by our Father, let's rejoice as another child gains a family who will teach their child about HIM.

Here's the family's blog-http://confessionsofaneverydaymama.blogspot.com/


And here's their page to give-- please remember every dollar adds up, it all counts, so anything you can give is a blessing.    http://projecthopeful.org/matched-families/smith-family/

And please PRAY for this boy (Joseph) and for the parents stepping up to give him a family with his sister:)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A conversation

It's NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH!!

When (NOT IF) you adopt you get to be "in on" some the most funniest conversations just like this----

Kat:  "Mom, you're white right?"

Me: "Uh yeah."

Kat: "See Phoebe, mom's white like you." 

Phoebe: "Mom you white? Wheely?" (really)

Me: "Yes Phoebe, I am white."

Phoebe: "How you get white?"

Me: "Well...God made me that way."

Phoebe: "WOW, And He made ME white TOO.  What about when you get in sun?"

Me: "I turn pink."

Phoebe: "Just like ME."

Me: "Yep."

Phoebe: " Wow that God, He's SOMETHING."

Kat: "Yeah, He really IS, He's GOD."

I often wonder if God ever laughs when His children delight Him? I wonder how He couldn't with kiddos like ours:)