Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another driver

Don't yell (MOM) I still haven't gotten to the last 5 elaborations from the "You shouldn't adopt older if...." post.

Quite frankly I am not feeling motivated so unless I hear differently from anyone needing me to go over the last 5, I'm going to leave it at this--

Adopting older is HARD. It takes tons of patience. It take tolerance. You have to be as prepared as you can be for the worst and then if you get an easy teen--- WHOOOO HOOOO! Congrats. If not, then you can fall back on all you learned and use it!

Yes, WE HAVE been through VERY tough times with certain children. For sure. I've fretted, I've lost sleep, I've cried, hubby and I have had many discussions about "What should we do differently? What is going to get through to them, Will they ever mature? Will they ever have a good future?"  It's taken A LOT for me (hubby is more laid back so it was mostly ME fretting) to LET GO and give it over to GOD.

Like most trials and difficulties-- God can and will get you through and with TIME every one of the "issues" with adjustment, bonding, cultural differences, ALL of it will get either better or you will learn to cope with it better.

FOR SURE. God doesn't call those equipped- He equips those HE calls:)

We stepped out in faith 6 times and with each one we have HAD to hand over to HIM the reins and have become better parents for doing that.  And as I have said many times they ARE teen treasures. So very worth it. Even the tough times, worth it.

We are on the "getting them there" side and it's a darned pretty sight to see:))

We want our treasures to thrive, to enjoy every possible benefit of being adopted in to our family as the true gifts that sharing their lives with us is to us.

Here's one thriving---

Another driving permit obtained today......Mr. Chance this time. He's so proud of himself but in true Chance fashion he had to let on he didn't pass to everyone--- such a stinker, he is.  A fun stinker though.

Other news, I did meet the new ESL teacher. She seems very nice and very interested in helping the teens. (Phoebe has a different ESL teacher in elementary level) I've heard nothing from the kids and am figuring no news is good news in this case.

Usually they come to me fussing if they are worried about assignments/classes being too hard or they aren't understanding things and don't feel they will have the help they need. So we will see how it goes.

We did have 2 kiddos banged up, well, 4 if you count field hockey (Chloe) and football (Camden) bruising-- but the 2 others-- Derrik took a dive over the front handlebars of his bike on his way home from work and got a mild concussion.  He landed on his FACE-- ouch.  

And Chance--  I got a call yesterday to come get him-- he tore a FLAP (ouch) off a finger tip-- the pad part of the finger, in a machine in Vo Tech.  Said something was in the machine that wasn't supposed to be there and he reached in to get it out-- it wasn't able to be stitched because the flap won't have enough blood flow to survive- but it definitely is big enough to hurt quite a bit till it heals.

I HAVE to tell you where I was when the school called ----I was off enjoying my new little buddy..... (I will ask his momma if I can post a picture of him)

I've become an Ayi!!!(Auntie) to the CUTEST little man from CHINA.... a dear new friend in our very rural area announced she was adopting from China and everyone she told said "You gotta talk to" {this family with all these Chinese kiddos} 

Which was US, of course, and we have been excitedly waiting for months now to see this little guy come home.

I was hanging out with him while his momma got caught up on a few things, oh does he remind me of Kat when we first brought her home. So precious:)

 He's funny--when he got tired of me he said "Ayi, bye bye." Trying to get rid of me- ha ha. He's smart too (figured out how to scroll through my phone pics) and just adorable.

 So happy to see another little family made by the blessing of adoption.  It never ceases to be a blessing to behold:)

Tomorrow we head out for the much anticipated consultation of Paisley's hips being replaced.  Send up a prayer for her, this will be a major surgery for her. Hopefully we will have more info on when/ one hip or both, etc.  Once this appointment is over.........

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Day

And it came again.

The first day of school. Came early this year, and by the look on a certain child's face (huh... Chance) some were not ready for this.

Chloe and Chance- 11th grade. High school.

Paisley 9th grade, High school.

Camden 8th grade, Middle School.

Kat and Phoebe 5th grade (different classes) last year of Elementary school.

Wow, is that odd. Last year of having anyone in elementary school?? How will I cope?

I just will, right?

We have a new ESL teacher, I guess we will all meet her tomorrow, the kids didn't even see her today at all???

Doesn't sound positive to me, so far:(   Guess we will see how that goes, I have a meeting with her tomorrow.

I didn't hear too much complaining although CHLOE did say on the way out the door this morning-- "Why won't you let me just quit school and work a job?"

I said "No way!  Have a great day:)"

I have surprisingly managed to fill out all the forms for the 6 of them-- there were MANY less this year-- yeah!!! Most of the stuff is now online and I signed a single form saying I would read the "guidelines" there. What a relief.

Paisley was doing her dish chore tonight, it's funny that Chance goes and helps her by putting away any leftovers and wiping the counters (without being asked because she would NEVER ask for help) as they always BICKER--- he said something to make her mad, and she said something about smacking him-- his response?  "You little girl, I'm not scared of you, who do you think you are?"

Her reply?  "YOUR SISTA."  Cracked me up. Totally. Can't let her size fool ya:)

The older kids all said "What about Chase?" When picture time came, then laughed when I reminded them--- "He graduated."  He was off to job training for BOTH his jobs today.

Busy kiddos.  It was very quiet here, I slept quite well (worked night shift) with them gone all day.

So a quiet, so far easy, new school year begins.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Still here, busy days

I am TRYING  to get the last 5 from previous post done, but you'll have to wait for it.

Too much busy-ness. 

 Multiple trips for twice daily field hockey (Chloe) football (Camden) that can't possibly be scheduled close enough to field hockey to make it one trip for both (NAHHH), add in job interview, then training for not 1 but now 2 jobs for Chase (he's going to have to give up job #1 for the better job #2) and driver's permits for Chloe and Chase (Chance wasn't home).

Add in a job interview for Chloe and both us, "ol' parents" working--- life is just downright nuts.

We gotta get these kids driving, somehow. Both our vehicles are huge, not sure they will be able to learn to drive in either-- but if they are all going to work they will need to be able to help with transporting. Mom is only one gal.....

And I learned something else about my darling children--- they have no clue how to ASK "Does Thursday 8:30 am work for you MOM?"  Nope. They just say "Yes, okay." AND HANG UP. Then look at me like I will be thrilled that they have now made me a 4th trip in ONE DAY to "town" to get them to their job interview/training.

Totally not funny. I've learned another thing too-- when mom works nights and they all sleep--- they think mom doesn't need any sleep because they all are well rested. So those 2-3 hrs then gotta be up to take them all over is "No biggie" to THEM.

I'm very thankful they are finding jobs, passed their permit tests!! (YEAH)

Chance has gone missing, (just kidding MOM) he's been working with Uncle  (Ron's bro) for weeks now, what was to be a week, turned in to almost a month now. He came home today (via the train, all by himself!!)  because they start school next week, so he HAD to.

I missed my Chance. I mean it. There's no one else coming to me multiple times a day asking "Do you have anything I can do?" And meaning ANYTHING. I've said "Scrub toilets" and he will go do it. That boy is a worker. He wants to be busy.... I don't just miss his working either, I missed that easy smile of his:)

We didn't really get to celebrate the twins' birthdays, Chance was away and Chloe was at field hockey camp. So here's their 18th birthday pic together, can't believe how much they have grown. Both of them such wonderful kiddos.

Did I mention school???? Yes, back they go early this year, just in case we have many snow days again this winter.

We didn't have enough snow make up days last year so they go back early to hopefully avoid that this year.

Two 5th graders, 8th grader, 9th grader and two 11th graders. WOW. Down to "only" 6 sets of forms, I will hardly know what to do with myself on the first night of school.

School clothes are bought and ready, supplies packed in backpacks, and everyone (except Chance) is looking forward to going back. Summer has flown by just they always tend to do................. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

5 More

Not kids (MOM)----5 more elaborations:)

6. Child's view on adoption/ reaction

Yes, your child has to AGREE to be adopted at age 10 and up. In one way I can see how helpful this is- this is the child making a commitment to your family. BUT, on the other hand they do not often know what it really means and are too scared or even bullied to sign:(

Not by new parents but orphanage staff. They *think* it's a totally amazing opportunity for the child, but if a child really, really doesn't want to be adopted then they really, really should be allowed to express that. And preferably before adoption day.

As far as coming to you with open arms--most teens are NOT comfortable with hugs, kisses, being told you love them, etc. They ARE TEENS- we didn't force hugs, we DID tell them we love them. We didn't go nutso saying it but we made sure we showed them the adoption certificate (in the red booklet) then said "Woooo eye knee" (I love you) "errr zahh" (son) or "new r" daughter. Even with our butchering Mandarin they got it:)

There's lots of things you can do to promote bonding in physical manners besides hugs and kisses. High fives. Playing with a ponytail. A quick touch on the shoulder. We painted nails, we compared hand sizes:))) Lots of creative ways to bond.

Also body language is huge, most parents are used to "reading" body language (in a younger, non verbal child) and can figure out the basics with a teen. Don't go overboard thinking you gotta understand (in China) what an issue may be. Keep it simple, if they are crying don't try to "fix" everything, sometimes it just takes sitting with them, rubbing their back if they will let you, and accepting they are sad. We CAN NOT fix it all for them which is HARD.

Sometimes they are the opposite, so close to you it's hard to breathe, which leads to--------

7. Personal space

This cracks me up. Seriously. Because it's funny NOW. It's not so funny when you have kids who doesn't want to be hugged but are literally in your LAP if you dare sit down. Who will be right next to you, as in, you turn to get a fork while cooking and they are right there next to you, even leaning on you.  It takes time and it can be quite annoying when they are "Up your butt" as we call it around here:)

We were VERY tolerant of this at first. Because pushing them away is rejection. And not good. But really, truly, this is a big issue in our culture. People will think they are rude, and that's not cool. So working on having them "move back" takes TIME and should take time, but will need to be worked on.

Another area of work---getting the kids to understand  my corrections of them was NOT yelling. How I did this was when they complained (and they did) that I YELLED at them, I asked them if I said whatever it was "like THIS" (yelling) or "like this" (normal voice). 

And AGAIN when they said "Mom yelled at me?" I would ask "Did I yell (whatever) or do you need me to yell so you know what yelling is?"  It taught them in a very direct way what YELLING was compared to telling them something for correction. 

We also had to point out "being in trouble" and "being corrected" were not the same thing--- being in trouble meant they did something wrong and knew what they did was wrong----- being corrected was working on something wrong that they DIDN'T know was wrong to do aka NO punishment.

AGAIN-- this takes time. It takes trial and error. Repeat lessons. Pouting happened. Crying happened. Sleeping to avoid "being in trouble" happened. Threats were made to "not eat."  We handled that one by making everyone come to the table and sit with a plate in front of them. And suddenly the "I'm not going to eat person" was eating. No big deal made about it. We did NOT allow hiding in rooms sleeping/pouting for days on end once we realized they would do this to avoid any issue.

8. School.

Well then. This has been a HUGE learning curve for us throughout the years our teens have been home. Very first thing I suggest to EVERYONE who adopts a teen is DO NOT STRESS SCHOOLING FOR A MONTH. At least 4 weeks, give you, your child, time to get over jet lag, learn the household routine, learn something of your child's personality, find some favorite dishes (It can be hard to get them to eat) before you even consider starting school in any manner.  Don't stress it. It's AMAZING what immersion can do, just keep it SIMPLE-- not "This is a spoon."  Simply "Spoon." 

So when it was time to look at school we did this---

We got Chloe a "buddy" (now her BFF) and put her in 6th grade as a 13 year old. Yep, behind her peers. Had to fight to get the school to do it too-- they tried to pull that "They should go to the grade per their age." And I said "Show me the law that they have to be placed there? (There is no law) 

So that's where we started with her. The boys, we got them buddies, didn't work out as well for them, or Paisley either but it did give them someone to "show them the ropes" of lockers, where their classes were, etc. If you do not know any child to "buddy your new teen with contact your guidance counselor and ask for a child who is NOT an "A" student-- as they go over an assignment a second time (with our teen) they will get extra lesson and not be impatient with your child. It's a win/win for BOTH kids.

We put the boys lower, but quickly saw Chase was struggling with social aspects of not fitting in. So at half the year he was bumped up to high school. It takes a TON of communication with your ESL (English Second Language) sometimes also called ELL (English Language Learner) teacher. Because they are NOT typical ESL students who have mom/ dad at home speaking their native language and you have all the bonding/ adoption stuff on top of trying to get them taught in school.

This is where I love, love, LOVE you homeschoolers. You ROCK. Seriously. Because it doesn't matter if they have to do Kindergarten work for 2 years to get a base then "take off" learning. There's not the pressure of public school. There's not the questions, "Why are you here, where did you come from, can you still speak Chinese, how old are you, why don't you know your real birthdate, did you flunk?" 

As well as the "making fun of" as we have encountered in our district:( 

We have had a hard time with schooling, from ones who are self motivated to others who were not and begged to quit. From tears, usually at least 1 meltdown from schedules that are not correct to assignments not being adjusted for our kids and them believing if they do not sign that they WILL learn and do a 20 page report on DNA within the first month of school that they will be in TROUBLE.

I've written "This is NOT an appropriate assignment for my ESL child" on too many assignments to count. And sent them to the ESL teacher to adjust for their level. I've talked to the ESL teacher/ guidance counselor and others at school probably 10X the normal amount other parents do. It takes INVOLVEMENT.  It just does.

9. Unreal Expectations

We handled this one actually quite well. With fostering special needs kiddos we learned to treat them at their maturity age, NOT their number age. So we were prepared for the immaturity and having to parent "that way."  It only gets sticky when others say "OH, you turned 16, are you dating, driving?" Or when they first came and wanted cell phones and there was NO WAY they were ready for any of that.

It's hard to get them to understand (as it is any teen) we are NOT giving you the world. No cell phone. No personal computer, no dating, no, no and no-- seemed to be the answer a lot. And not their favorite answer. There was grumbling. Complaints--- many of them, some even came right out and said "Auntie told me I would get a cell phone", or Auntie said I would be given ANYTHING I wanted." 

And yes, my response was "Does Auntie live HERE? Do you see Auntie here parenting you?"  Not their favorite answers and they had to "get over it" often at first. We were NOT their friends, or even people they LIKED very often at first--- but we are their parents and weren't trying to be their friend. Don't be AFRAID to parent. That does not mean MEAN-- it means caring guidance-- "This would not be good for you." Even if they don't like that answer or even believe it-- it's in the context we want them to eventually KNOW----- We care about you enough to say NO to something we, as adults and parents do not think is good for you." 

10.Back to Normal

What is normal anyway?  Seriously, you WILL find a NEW normal. One day instead of thinking, wow they really feel like a guest here and possibly an unfriendly, immature, hard-to-love guest---- to "This OUR KID." You start to SEE ways that they fit in, that they belong, even if it's something as simple as a much younger sister helping them read a beginner English book. You DO come to the place where you realize that you can't imagine life without them in it.

And what I really loved in the comments from the original post was someone who said "We are at the BEAUTIFUL SIDE OF ADOPTION."  Yes, it's possible. It's hugely possible to "get there." And "there" is a wonderful place,  a place where even though tough times can still be seen at times, you are seeing gains your child is making. You have reasons to be SOOOO very proud to call this child your son or daughter.  It does COME!!!

Adopting a teen is totally different from raising bio kids. But it does HELP, although in my book is NOT a requirement to be prepared enough to adopt a teen. You have to go in prepared for the worst. Then if you get anything less than that- it's GOOD.  Seriously-- have realistic expectations..... this can be hard because we want to give them EVERYTHING--- all the benefits of being our child, education, clothes, food, dental care, etc. Everything they haven't had.

Just understand that for some teens, they take it RUN...... as in, they do wonderfully.  They thrive in life with you. BUT....... sometimes they Do NOT. Sometimes they are angry, frustrated, sad, do not want to be adopted/ parented.  You may become more of a host- like family for them and this can not be considered a failure. Even disruption is not a failure. It's trying to find the best solution for an adoption that is not working out for the BEST OF THE CHILD.

Lots of times OUR EMOTIONS get thrown in here-- DO NOT DO THAT. Do not look at yourself and say "Why does she/he act that way, what am I DOING WRONG."  Sometimes for certain teens we have to accept their progress even when it comes at a snail's pace (remember the snail WON THE RACE) because that's where they are.

What WE want for them may not be a realistic goal/ desire of the child. It's VERY hard to accept that sometimes. It's also hard when you are struggling and other people do not "get" where you are with this child/ why you have to do some  things you do with them, they want to PITY your child and give them everything. It doesn't help that at times tougher teens can totally pull off being total ANGELS in ANY SUPERFICIALLY relationships. Church friends. School.

I've had people tell me how WONDERFUL my child was--- soooo helpful, pleasant , kind and thoughtful when they were just RUDE, LOUD, DISRESPECTFUL, wouldn't answer me when spoken to----- 5 minutes prior to running in to this person telling me how delightful my child is being TO THEM.  They can do SUPERFICIAL well-- it requires little/no effort-- it's when you get to the deep rooted stuff that you get the behaviors we have had:(

And that's a hard "pill" to swallow at times. It makes us sad for our child, knowing that FAMILY is too hard for them to make the effort they make with an acquaintance:(  But again,  we are a work in progress and the "so called friends" we have lost that don't understand where we are/ what we are doing with our child to help them heal and get through tough behaviors, well, we don't figure they were worth being friends WITH if they don't care any more than that.

I'll work on the last 5 next time and leave you with pictures of Paisley-- looking so determined (not angry) to hula hoop and was doing a great job. She was trying to teach Phoebe who could NOT catch on, but Paisley was doing so well with no hip flexion at all this is something she likes to do,  but has to put tons of effort in to do.

Also she was soaking up some sun, another good thing for her:)