Growing Pains

I've been working on a post in my head for weeks now, an adoption related post. But unfortunately, it's still in my head, in bits and pieces. Not sure when or if it will ever come out! I'll try to brief you about what is going here.   But first, look at these pictures of the past few years....
The first one is Evan and Daddy at Nifty Fiftys golf.June 2009.

 This next on is June 2010...with Asher. I didn't intend to take a picture in the same spot, but it's interesting to see the change in our family....

This Year, June 2011! Our family is growing :) And along with this growth comes "growing pains"!
This was Arielle's first time golfing. We've had a lot of firsts recently! She really liked mini golf! This week we also went to the beach and she loved that too :) but it wasn't easy to convince her to wear a bathing suit. Well, she didn't actually wear one...but
I'll save that for the next post.
 There is so much that I have found out in the past 3 months about our daughter. So much more than we ever imagined. The effects of not having a mom and dad are so obvious.

She's actually  around 17,  almost 18 years old (Paperwork says she's now 14). Legally she will always be 4 years younger. There is nothing we can do about this. Her birthday, the one she celebrated all her life, is in September. This is the one we will celebrate. But it's not the one on her legal birth certificate. We will never know her actual birthday :(

I believe our circumstance is out of the ordinary. Not many come home from Ch*na at this age, although I do know it happens.

She has learning difficulty and medical issues far beyond what we expected. She never would have made it on her own. She would have been looked down upon. I'm certain they didn't teach her where she was. She does read simplified charaters but struggles. And I'm not sure where to even begin with English. Presently, she's been using Rosetta Stone English, Homeschool version. But we are bypassing the writing parts.

We've had our challenges at home. I'm not sure I will share it all publically, probably not. It is her story to tell one day. About her life with her Forever Family. I pray for a wonderful "forever"...I believe it will be :) One thing I will share about adopting teenage girls...they get emotional at certain times...boy oh boy how could I forget :)
There is one issue I've been praying about daily and could eventually effect our bonding. She never lets me out of her sight...well, that's not true. She is getting better with this as time goes on.  I'm not sure others have experienced this with older newly adopted children. She is literally a few steps behind me most of the time. She follows me from room to room. And she doesn't know how to entertain herself. It drains me but she is learning. I am praying about this as it could be a hinderance for our relationship as well as other future relationships. I understand that this is common in toddlers and younger children who come home, but I never expected it with someone who is 17. She also calls out my name when she's not sure where I am in the house. And says my name multiple times...both my little boys have done this-and basically outgrown it. Any advice or suggestions? Will it end eventually like the little ones? I do realize there are stages and levels of developement that she never had the opportunitely to go through successfully. Is she going through the developemental stages now? This was my first thoughts on it all. But I'd like to know what others have experienced.
Very Serious about their Golf!!!

I've seen a level of maturity in the last few weeks that I had not seen before. I must admit, when she first came home I was convinced she had a mental disability. Her response to all the stress was bizarre.  I see it less but it's still there, but I don't believe she is mentally delayed at all.

But there are so many good things about her!!!

As I said before, I see the effects on her life without a mom or dad to love her, teach her, and look out for her. No one to tell her "I love you honey" or to give her  a hug. No one to go to her when it thunders...she's afraid of thunder. Who consoled her as a little girl when she cried in the middle of the night? I can go on but I wanted to give you the plus side of older child adoption. The blessings we receive everyday by bringing this Gift from God into our family. Let me share 10 of our blessings:)

  •  "Mom, I want hug" She loves to hug!
  • She loves to give us a kiss (this surprized me!)
  • She understands and appreciates what she has in a family
  • She tells me everyday she loves me
  • she makes her bed and cleans her room EVERYDAY! minimal prompting!
  • She helps with the little ones when I need it
  • She's old enough to take care of her own belongings 
  • I don't have to teach her how to potty!
  • She gets along great with her little brothers and...
  • She loves to be with her older sisters
  • She is giving of everything she has
And these are just a few :) Arielle has been home for 3+ months now. She's doing well, but we all have a long way to go. I can't wait to come back to this post a year from now to compare where we are to where we were! That's the real reason I wrote this. God is Good all the time!
  • OH, and I'll give one more blessing...there are now pictures of mom on family outings. Arielle makes sure of it! Well, now that I'm looking at it, we could do without this "blessing!"


    Barb G said...

    Yes, older children also struggle with adoption, in ways we never could imagine. Even though she was treated well at the orphanage, she never had a family. Our son, who will be 13 next week, suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his birth parents. And because he was removed from their home 7 times in 7 years, he was never able to bond with anyone before. He came to our forever home three years ago, and we are still working on bonding. It was two years before he was able to sit on our laps and let us rock him, something he never had before. Our experience is that our older adopted kiddos will need to go through some of the same stages of a small child to truly fully bond with us. I just wrote a recent post about experiential knowledge, and how we have to replace the knowledge our kids have with our new, loving and redeeming knowledge. Here's a the addy http://psa139.blogspot.com/2011/07/experiential-knowledge.html
    She sounds like a child who is terrified that you will leave. She can't speak our language, she's in a new country, and her emotional age is probably far less than her physical age. Bonding with kids who have suffered loss (and growing up in an orphanage is loss) is hard work, but it can be done. It's the toughest and most amazing job I've ever done. You have done a good thing here. And will continue to. Cling to our Lord, and pray, pray, pray.

    Praying for your family. (((hug)))

    kayder1996 said...

    Oh that thunder part gets me. I have thought similar thoughts about mine. What did they do when....? As to the English bit, you may just need to define your focus. Realistically, the time you have is not enough time to teach her to the level that people might expect. Focus on what is important. What will she need to know so she can function in society? Yes, she needs to know how to read but what does she really need to know how to read? Shakespeare? Street signs? Menus? Recipes? The newspaper? Perhaps also start thinking along the lines of her giftedness and start thinking career prep. Without pinning her into only certain things, perhaps have a moveable mental goal in your mind for the type of adult she will become and what skills she will need to be that adult. I would also really suggest finding topics that motivate her. Topic can make a huge difference in how well kids who struggle do in school. They do have books designed specifically for teens who are struggling with reading. I think if you google "high interest, low ability books" you would find some. But again, I'd try to decide what is most important and not stress to much over reading, if it seems that you have tried lots of things and it just isn't working. My best friend has 4 siblings from Vietnam, 3 of whom came as teenagers. One is essentially a non reader. He simply cannot read despite many different approaches and efforts. He's very mechanically inclined so they are spending a lot of time teaching him skills that will support him working in a place like a car dealership, mechanic, etc.. Know you're not alone in having hard academic struggles.

    Chris said...

    Our 11 y.o. does not do well entertaining himself...unless it has a screen...then he notices NOTHING! He needs direction most of the time. When he is home w/o the other kids, he definitely keeps an eye on me. It is getting better than 6 months ago.
    We are home since Sept. he has not learning problems that we have identified. So he is not the same in that regard.
    He is still needing to be reminded that we aren't going to get tired of him and send him back.

    Julie said...

    Our boys were almost 10 when they came home and we found many of those same issues. They never let me go anywhere without them. It was probably 6 months before they realized they could have more fun staying home rather than going with me.

    It seems like we went all the way back to the preschool stage in many ways but quickly progressed through the stages to the point where they are age appropriate (most of the time) now after 18 months.

    The other things we are realizing more and more is how much the English language holds them back -- and you would think they were fluent if you spoke with them.

    Just know that you aren't alone and God has an amazing plan for all of you! Many blessings!

    China Dreams said...

    I have to say that almost everyone I know who adopts an older child-really older like your daughter, not just above the age of three-has been surprised in the same manner. Rarely has the file been accurate. Rarely is the way smooth. Maybe there is an online support group? If not, there should be; there are enough of you. I hope that whatever your struggles, and hers, they work out for the best.


    Lisa said...

    Our 13-year-old daughter has been home for just over a year now.

    For me, the third and fourth months were the most difficult in our adjustment. It definitely got better -- started to feel more "normal" -- at about the six-month mark. I hope this encourages you rather than discouraging you! But for a couple months there, I had some pretty dark days. Don't get me wrong -- there were plenty of absolutely wonderful moments as well. But I'm glad to have those months in the rearview mirror.

    Best of luck ... you're not alone!


    Difference2This1 said...

    Our daughter arrived home on her 10th bday, home almost 3 yrs now, has shared/still shares all the same behaviors mentioned. She still can't keep herself entertained. One thing I did do when it was excruiatingly uncomfortable watching her discomfort during any family "down time" was to make a list of all the activities that she liked to do. I made her make the list- which killed at least a couple of hours at the time!! :) She had to have help- she didn't even know what she liked to do. When it was done and those times she was making the rest of us uncomfortable with her discomfort, we would say "Where's you list? Pick something to do from your list to do". Unfortunately, things have gotten so much worse since, but it did help with that particular issue!! :) It saddens me greatly the impact long term institution has had on many of our kids...I'm not sure our daughter will ever be "OK" in many ways. For a long while, we felt pretty isolated as it seems MANY older adopted children were doing so much better then ours. But, many families are facing the same struggles as we are also. I'm not glad to know so many other kids are struggling; but I am glad to know our daughter's struggles are not unique. Prayers for all of us praying for healing hearts of our children... Blessings, Jennifer