I realize it has been just over a month since we have blogged. This has not been on purpose, specifically, but at the same time, we have waited to see what the first few weeks home would bring our family. I mean our desire with this blog is to encourage other families to both adopt themselves, but also to glean insight and thoughts on the process of, pitfalls of, power of, and promise of adoption. We sincerely hope we are helping some of you in these areas.
We arrived home on July 11th to some wonderful friends waiting for us at the airport. After 17 hours of travel, the kids were pretty pooped and overwhelmed by the crowd who had come to greet them. I think they could not comprehend how so many people could love them who had never met them. That is a pretty powerful phenomenon. Any parent has experienced this, loving their children long before they first hold them in their arms. We are grateful for the hundreds of people who’ve believed with us for these children and loved them from a distance just like we have.
But now we are home. Home is NOT Poland. I have my Yukon back (I may have cried at her site and hugged her. She deserves a name, now). We have our dryer and a washing machine which will hold more than three pairs of jeans. We are thankful for some of the comforts we enjoy! People ask us all the time how things are going. I’m never quite sure how to answer that…..I have nothing to compare our experience to besides those we know and love who’ve gone before us and been gracious enough to share their journey. Ultimately, though, everyone’s adoption journey is unique to them….ours is still unfolding.
First, the adventure has definitely worn off. Of all of us. We are all trying to find the new normal. Our oldest four have had the most difficulty with this (one is adopted in that group). Their emotions are high, they understand what is happening, and that things will never again be what they were three months ago. Dealing with change isn’t easy. Our oldest daughter, particularly, has wrestled. Previously, she was our only girl and my only princess. Now she shares that with three other sisters. She shares her room, her space (she’s a bit of an alone-time seeker like her dad), her dolls, and her closet. What she’s discovered is her sisters don’t exactly have the same definition of “clean” as she does. This has caused some friction. We have been encouraging much grace and patience.
Our nine year old daughter (adopted) is finding her place. She’s the oldest of the adopted bunch and she’s a girl….so those two oldest girls, both used to being the oldest, both used to being in charge, both bull-headed and strong willed, have had some battles. Nothing brutal, just, what I would consider, normal brooding and space-defining; jockeying to find their position in the family again. The little girls are oblivious to all of this and are normal five and three year old knuckleheads. Chloe and Abby, often knuckleheads themselves, will find their way, and they are.
The boys have dealt with some jealousy, I think, of sharing mommy and daddy with their brothers and sisters. Not unlike how a toddler might feel when a new baby is brought home from the hospital. I don’t think the boys would articulate what they feel as jealousy, but we think there’s a little bit of that going on. Overall, the boys are getting along splendidly, though our ten year old wants his own room back – mostly because his brothers don’t exactly clean their messes up. Judah, our six year old adopted son, has integrated nicely and is VERY thankful for brothers, though he’s not trying very hard to learn English. I think this will come.
Since our oldest children have had the hardest time adjusting at home, we have tried to maintain open dialogue and quality time with them so they can express how they feel, often through my daughter’s tears. She loves her sisters and is glad they are here, so she has some guilt over how she sometimes feels about non-essentials. She’s also eleven and hormones are beginning to express themselves! Patience, time, copious amounts of grace, and refusing to “rescue” the adoptive children from sharing responsibility is helping a lot. I think in six months or a year we will all have adjusted and will find our new family rhythm again. But….it very well may take that long….
We are trying to keep in mind, our children are children. We shouldn’t be surprised the five year old acts like a five year old. When you combine this fact with the issues of our adoptive children’s past and the fact they have never truly been parented, you end up
with challenges we never faced with our biological children. For instance: pouting to get your way. We nipped that one in our biological children when they were toddlers, before they could talk back! But NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE has ever nipped that one in our adoptive kids – especially in the girls. So the two younger will pout to try and get us to give them what they want. It has been an uphill battle, but i think Amy and I are helping them understand we’re not moved by their stuck out lip and a few tears. We’ve seen it all before! The problem comes when this is not dealt with at a younger age. We end up with a nine year old whose pouting to get her way at age five or six, has turned into full out manipulation to get her way or blame her sister(s) for something. This will be a harder mountain to climb and a common survival tactic of older adoptive children, but we believe consistent parenting will ease this over time. It’s already helping. My goodness how far we’ve come in just over two months with them!!
There’s the word…..consistency. Look, VERY FEW adoptive children has any amount of consistent discipline, parenting, reasoning, etc to help them grow as a person. All of
them have received sub-par care for a portion of their life, and most of them have received marginally better care in an orphanage or foster system. Virtually NONE OF THEM have actually been parented. I think it’s because people feel sorry for the past they have suffered. I get that. But honestly, feeling sorry for them, and because of that, giving in to their every whim, makes the parenting job of their forever family much more difficult. On a side note, I guess this issue isn’t reserved for orphans only. As a pastor I see MANY children whose parents are failing to provide the discipline and consistency the child needs. The result of a lack of parenting at a young age is a selfish, manipulative, arrogant, and entitled brat at an older age. The lack of consistent parenting in my generation is killing us as a people. If the tide doesn’t turn, I shudder to think what we’ll be left with in twenty or thirty years. I mean congress is bad enough now, right? We must be better parents.
Back to the family…..if you’re bringing internationally adopted children into your home, try and prepare them for the differences in routine, atmosphere, food, and weather. My kids have been astounded at the humidity we have in Indiana. I hate it too, but living here all my life, I’m sort of used to it. These kids are from Northern Poland, on the Baltic
Sea where there is zero humidity and a hot day is 75. We’ve had two of them nearly pass out because of overheating! Food is an issue for many adoptive kids. Abby has been the greatest challenge with this. She hates Cheeze-Itz….but she loves Goldfish Crackers. We tried to explain to her they’re virtually the same thing, but she didn’t believe us!! We’ve been consistent with her trying all the new foods. At first she was very obstinate and stubborn. I think she sat at the breakfast table for an hour and half one morning because she refused to eat her Raisin Bran. With eight kids, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!! It’s our motto. My encouragement would be to maintain consistency and don’t indulge the manipulative pouty-ness employed to get something different. If you do, you better be prepared to be a short order cook!
It’s definitely still an adventure and challenge, but in a different way. There’s no more paperwork (for now); we don’t wait on pins and needles for an email with fresh information; and we don’t constantly day-dream about the day we will get to all be under the same roof….all of this has been accomplished! The challenges are just different now. Thankfully, we’ve not had behavioral issues, fits of rage, nighttime issues, or things like this. My heart goes out to those of you who have dealt with much more heartbreaking and difficult children than mine have so far demonstrated themselves to be. I trust the Lord will walk walk with you as you trust Him and believe in His plan for all of you.
After all….this whole adoption thing was His idea, right?
Thank you for sharing the the stories of the journey to your beautiful family with us. It is a joy to follow you and I wish you all the best. Lots of love from the Netherlands