Since there was such a HUGE outpouring of interest over the "You shouldn't adopt a teen" post, I wanted to go a little further in depth with each issue.
Because trust me when I say there's not anyone who will adopt a teen (or younger) and not have some adjustment issues. Some children adjust easily and some don't but there IS adjustment.
We do have very polite, well mannered children. Some are very good at the "please and thank you" stuff, others not so good and have to be reminded often. But they all do KNOW how to be polite and well mannered most of the time. As far as feeling gratitude we aren't looking for them to be eternally grateful to us, it's not what we adopted them for, so we aren't stressing what could be very well seen as ungrateful behavior for some.
And we ALWAYS keep in mind that our older children didn't exactly seem grateful to have what we gave them as teens either-- aka these are normal behaviors.
It CAN be hard to not wonder why there isn't MORE gratitude from adopted teens leaving behind an orphanage life-- gaining the "American dream." But there just isn't. You can't expect it because teen adoption is HARD for all parties involved and feeling they "owe us" is nowhere we want to go.
Gotta tell you a funny here-- I often joke with my Chance and say "What dream are you living in?" And he always says with a smile 'The AMERICAN dream MOM." He's such a hoot to live with-- everyone should have a Chance in their life:)
This just is what it is. They are immature for their number ages. We have seen it, lived it. We parent per behaviors, NOT by number age. We have to. Because the immaturity also brings with it a need to keep them safe, give them room to grow but in a protected place within the family.
We love, love, LOVE our church youth group for this exact reason. No matter if we have kiddos 2,3,4,5 years behind in maturity, our kiddos have been accepted AS IS. Not just accepted, but included, given a church family that loves them as well as some wonderful people who are so supportive and caring of us, the parents, while we walk this harder road with older adoptees, now our sons and daughters.
3. Buddy adoption
We really strive to give EACH child their own place in this family. No matter age, they are a valued member of the family. The biggest issues we saw were with first the boys when they came--- finding where they belonged, what their place was in the family. The worry about everything being equal, since sister had 14 months of time with us already under her belt and functional English skills. It was tough for all 3 of them as well as everyone else for a LONGGGG time.
We saw it again when Phoebe joined us. Because she was so close in age (not adopted to be a buddy, just happened to be close in age) and she was checking out everything Kat had from 7+ years with us. And wanting us to give HER all that to "make up." You see in an orphanage, EVERYONE gets the same stuff. Doesn't matter if you were bad that day, if oranges are delivered for a treat, everyone gets one.
Doesn't make a good example for trying to make consequences for behaviors, because they aren't raised to see any consequences. VERY HARD thing to overcome. This is why when we have to ground children from something we take it for how long it takes to see the behavior/attitude change. Because they will "wait us out" if we do a set time of grounding and go right back and do the bad behavior AGAIN.
It's not easy when they "Bean count." It just isn't, it's tiring, annoying. BUT-- it can and does get better. Learning how the family works, lessons about "everyone getting a size 8 dress and it only fitting certain people"--- many visual lessons to "get it" but they DO get it. They do. We do not have bean counting much at ALL anymore. Not going to lie and say it's totally gone, nope, but it's a typical amount when you have more than 1 child.
4. Hormonal teen
We really went to China with very low expectations for their behavior. We didn't get excited when they did some of the crazy things (Chloe climbed out of a taxi cab window!) they did. We just got through getting their adoptions done and heading home. We didn't sweat much, we were firm when we felt we needed to be but we also gave LOTS of leeway for emotions/ behaviors from the kids.
They really aren't much like what they present to you in China. Chloe is still shy. Phoebe still likes to question everyone and everything. Chance is still ornery:) But beyond that I can assure you Chloe has never again crawled out of a taxi window, Chance has never again tried to slyly make me say a Chinese swear word. Phoebe has chilled on the questions, her nervousness replaced with comfort of knowing we have her back.
It's really something to see the growth they go through- might be slower with some but it DOES HAPPEN. And often, you will come to find out that the "crazy behavior in China" had some reasoning behind it. The taxi escape? I found out much, much later (like 2 years later) that Chloe was getting car sick. It didn't occur to me, even when I learned she got quite car sick going ANYWHERE-- but she crawled out to avoid barfing--- not to escape me or run:)
And as far as safety- we did not have anyone (of either sex) play in a room alone for over a year. Till we were sure there were no indications of any abuse/ bullying that we needed to protect a younger child from. We were very diligent (as every parent should be who is bringing home a teen) that they understood the family guidelines (hands to yourself- no tickling, NO HITTING) and we have baby monitor with video and intercom in the younger girls room piped directly in to our room for viewing.
We were used to having special needs foster children who required a high level of supervision so this wasn't anything new to us.
5. Table Manners/ Hygiene
We have made HUGE strides and did this fairly quick with table manners, hygiene. I am very fond of zipl*k bags and took them to China for ALL with an outfit for each day (repacked after laundry was done) and pj's for bedtime-- handed them to the kids and pointed to the bathroom. If they came out with any of the clean clothes still in the bag, they were pointed out and sent BACK in to the bathroom, until everything was changed. They learned quickly (even if they didn't agree to it at first) to change clothes EVERY DAY.
Now they wear something an hour and it's in the laundry! As well, we do have ones who will wear the same outfit/clothes (clean) over and over since I do laundry every day and have had to make some of those things take longer to come back to child so they would wear something else...... I guess from not being used to having more than a few items of clothes they have favorites and want to wear them constantly?
We did have some mishaps (deodorant in the shower?) but otherwise shampoo pointed out, loofah with body wash pointed out and really if they erred and washed everything with shampoo or everything with body wash, no biggie-- they would still be clean.
If anything, we have had some go the route of OVERKILL of spending time in the bathroom and showering obsessively... a few that I have to keep track of "Did you shower?" but calendars have helped Phoebe and Kat (every other day showers due to dry skin) stay on track. The hardest thing was teeth brushing, something they are NOT used to doing and back teeth needing extra brushing that doesn't happen.
All in all this is another thing that besides saying "Stop slurping!!" probably more than most parents, the hygiene and manners are typical for their (maturity) ages, same amount of reminders from mom, being sent back to "brush those teeth again and try harder," being something I told my adult children as teens/ tweens the same.
That's gonna be it for today- I'll get to the next 5 next time, so stay tuned:)) And get any questions you have in the comments and I will address them in the next post.
Pictures are from after Paisley's baptism, the kids got to swim and play afterwards, Camden even tried to help Phoebe learn to float. They had a great time.