Saturday, October 31, 2009

Adoption State of the Union Bullet Report

I haven't blogged anything worth salt lately, and for that I am sorry. I have read some truly wonderful adoption updates on other blogs, which I find are a great source of hope, information and comraderie. It's an incredible thing to see how other families deal with situations similar to your own; you don't feel alone, and you may learn a great thing or two along the way.

Each time I try to sit down and write an update of some sort, my words and thoughts become a huge jumble that is so difficult to separate. Something that may seem like a huge, pressing issue one day suddenly is nothing the following day, and by that time I see no reason to blog about it at all.

So instead of trying to collect my thoughts in a flowing, appropriately transitioned piece of writing, I'm resorting to the ol' Tried-and-True Bullet Points State of the Union Adoption Update:

* ** Keenan joined Paloma and Miles and has just finished his second week of K-4. Miles always had done really, really well in K-4 and I never had a negative report, until Keenan started. Then it was like they both became different children. Both boys were loud, had a hard time listening to the teacher, wrestled with each other and another little boy, pushed in lines, and decided that singing and dancing in the bathroom was preferable to listening to a book during Circle Time.

I spent most of the first week, feeling more and more upset with the boys as the teacher had more "difficult" behavior to report as each day passed. I'm not used to having "those kids" in the class, and I certainly did not enjoy having to meet with a frazzled teacher at the end of each day. By last Thursday I had decided to pull Keenan from the class and put him in the morning class, which would make my day hell, but then at least I wouldn't have to be so frustrated all the time.

But then I spent last weekend reading, and talking to other parents, and reading some more. Slowly, my anger towards the boys completely dissipated and I actually became more frustrated with the teacher and the school and their 'disappointed' attitude after a mere 4 days! All of a sudden I felt myself feeling like a Mama Tiger, and was ready to work on making this a much better experience for the boys.

We had a lot of positive, upbeat talks with the boys over the weekend about what sort of behavior is expected at school. We created a sticker chart, because they LOVE stickers, and it reminds them each day what is expected of them at school.

I also had a talk with the teacher. I explained to her that while the boys are big and active and have happy faces, they are emotionally/socially and in some ways cognitively, at the level of a 2.5 to 3 year old. They did not have any structure like what is expected of them at school, so this is completely unnatural to them. Yes, they would be more 'work' than a child like Paloma, but I think with positive reinforcement and consistency, it should pay off.

Fortunately, this week went much better. It wasn't perfect, but at least the teacher didn't look frazzled by the end of the day. Baby steps.

*** As we grow together as a family and learn more about each other, Cliff and I have come to the realization that the boys are only around the age of 2.5 years at many levels. I know you may be thinking, "duh, wouldn't you expect that?" Yes, we did expect it before they came home.

But then two little boys arrived. Little boys with bright shining eyes and booming voices. Little boys who were so happy to have hugs, swing on swings, get new toothbrushes, and be read to each night at bed. Little boys who can jump rope, ride bikes and scooters, and crab walk across the yard in a blink of an eye. Little boys who on so many levels seem like everyday, average 5 year olds.

It took us weeks of getting to notice the little nuances special to each child. The small bits of body language that it takes a while to attune yourself to. And as the boys grew more comfortable with us, they slowly began letting their guards down, and we could understand more of them. Suddenly, it became very apparent, and we knew that we had to approach things in a different manner to help our little guys grow.

*** Because of the difference between their physical age and their "internal" age (I don't know the right word for it), it can be very difficult to parent. I remember a mom I knew when we lived in Milwaukee. Her little 2.5 year old Owen looked big enough to pass, easily, as a 4.5-5 year old. So when they would be out, and little Owen would throw a tantrum or something 2.5 year old appropriate, she could get the nastiest looks and comments from people who thought Owen should know better.

It's easy to think that our boys should know better too. I find myself having to constantly keep my frame of reference in check when dealing with out two little guys. I'm dealing with little ones, not kindergarteners, I tell myself nearly all the time.

*** Once we truly realized the discrepancy in phsyical age vs. emotional age, while it wasn't easier to parent, it has been easier to help build and promote attachment. Changing our style with the boys has made things go a lot more smoothly day in and day out. While having to be so "purposeful" in my interactions with them is exhausting because it's such a new way of parenting, the results are worth it and help me stay motivated to stay in the right frame of mind.

*** The boys eat up praise. Gobble it up. Like a big bowl of ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream. They love to be helpers, get high fives, have big hugs, and give smooches. They love it when I tell them how proud I am of them for giving a nice apology, or for sharing, or for being kind. Their little peacock feathers come out and they feel like a million bucks. I've seen these little boys when they came home, and saw how tired, scared, little and alone they felt. So to see them feel Proud and Valued: it's a great, great thing to see.

*** Each and every day, I amazed by these boys and their bravery. The way they have handled this entire situation is beyond amazing. I stop and think of just how little they are, and how BIG the world is, and it is all I can do not to cry.

No child should ever have to be alone in this world. Every child deserves someone to love them and advocate for them.

*** Each and every day, I remember the MIRACLES it took to bring these boys home. People always ask about our adoption process, and I am convinced that it was the Lord Himself who brought these boys home. I look at the files and paperwork we have; I think about the hang ups and road blocks we were given; and I KNOW with my whole heart that this was the work of the Lord.



A Blessed Life said...

Great post and very timely for me. Thanks!

Lisa said...

Thanks for taking the time to share and go through the learning curve. I will keep this post and refer to it when the time comes for me.

ManyBlessings said...

"So to see them feel Proud and Valued: it's a great, great thing to see.":


"No child should ever have to be alone in this world. Every child deserves someone to love them and advocate for them."

and Amen again.


Salzwedel Family said...

Thanks for sharing this update. It's so good to hear how it is after the homecoming...since some day I will be in that category!

Katy said...

Thanks for sharing your insight! I am taking mental notes...=) I am glad you are adjusting despite the challenges.