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.
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:)