Lots of You Asked for It, So Here You Go

Ok….like 5 people asked for it.
But since I am a stay at home mom and interact with exactly no one most days during the day
5 people is like a lot.

So here you go
my thoughts on older child adoption.

The question of how we “do” older child adoption
how the intricacies of that play out in our home
how their adjustment is
quite honestly sets me back a bit.
When asked about “Older child adoption” I have to wait for that “older child/hard to place” label that used to define them rise up from the recesses of my brain and come back into my frontal lobe….errr…cerebral cortex?…..I dunno….so that I can remember
because I truly don’t look at them as “older children”.

They just fit.
They fit perfectly into our family.

I don’t know that it is harder.
I don’t know that it is easier than adopting younger kids & cute squishy lil babies.

It’s just
well
different.

In the beginning in China it was fabulous.
They were old enough to somewhat have a grasp on what was happening.
All 3 came right to us.

(other than Joshua apparently thinking he was going to live in Italy….sorry buddy)

There were
No tantrums.
No tears.
Just pure
adrenaline induced
excitement.
For them
for us
we were one big group of really, really excited people.

Yet, ironically, if anything illustrates the udder brokenness of these orphans
it is that moment
because really,

children should not be that excited to be handed to
and walk off
with perfect strangers.

But they somehow know.

They know that what is to come

love
life
hope
a future
food
a bed
warmth

simply must be better than what they have now.
Because when I try to picture my biological children being handed over to strangers at the age of 7
and the definite opposite reaction that they would have
it illustrates just how big a void these kids sitting in those orphanages have.

There is nothing like a family.

There is
no
thing
like a family.

Practically, older kids just aren’t as needy in the physical sense and since we were far beyond diapers and nap times this worked well for us.
They could walk, go to the bathroom, understand that it was time for bed, shower, dinner.
(Man I am SO good at charades now. If anyone ever wants to play, let me know. I’ll kick your butt.)

This I knew was a key to our families successful transition.
These kids were in the same phase of life that we were already in so the adjustment on our part was minimal. (Not to trivialize adoption itself but in this specific context(as it pertains to age) it was a minimal impact.)
I think had we chosen to go back down baby lane it would have been much more difficult (for us).
We just weren’t there.
Our hearts weren’t there.
Our sports filled evenings and weekends weren’t there.
Our older kids weren’t there.

I knew how to do 7 year’s old.
Our youngest 5 are all within a 21 month block of time.
The twins are 6 minutes apart.
Push em out, push em out, waaaaaayyy out!
Sorry, that was a throwback to my brief cheer-leading days in high school.
But I digress…

Jacob is 14 months younger than the twins.
Joshua is 3 months younger than Jacob.
Joey is 4 months younger than Joshua.
If we could do anything,
we could do the 6-8 year old age range.
I knew what their maturity level was, what would appeal to them, how to speak to them.
We were there.

Granted, some of it may have been lost in translation but I think the message is this…
Kids are kids.
Red, yellow, black and white they, at their core, are kids.

Obviously

Experiences will color that,
Trauma will cover that,
Abandonment will change that,
Institutionalization will harm that

but somehow I could see right through all of that muck and mire
and I could see that underneath it all
there was a little boys heart.
I didn’t know how long it would take to unearth.
I didn’t know the hardships would come along
I didn’t know how much pain was in the process
but the heart
the heart is there
it’s just waiting.

It’s the uncovering of all of the “stuff” that comes along with adopting older kids that is where the challenge can rise up
and
smack
you
in
the
face.

So though I don’t change diapers
or warm bottles
or wake up for 3am feedings
and I don’t hurry home for nap time
I fight a battle that is larger than myself.
A battle that will consume them
if it weren’t for love.

So yes.
It’s hard.
I do sleep all night
They do go to school all day
but I have to be ever mindful that though their neediness doesn’t lie in the physical sense
there are still 3 little hearts under my roof that are still in a state of mending.
Because not only do I have my own parenting wisdom, tips, techniques and training to impart on them,
I am simultaneously un-parenting all of the bad habits, harsh words, and lack of love that they endured when I wasn’t there.

Have you ever tried un-parenting and parenting at the same time?
It’s ummmm……fun?
Nope.
Pretty sure that’s not the word I am looking for.

It’s not just “Hey buddy, this is how we do this.”
It’s “Hey buddy, I know that was how things were done before and I’m sorry that happened, ~ hug ~ hug~ but here’s why that’s not ok. Now let me show you what we do. ~ teach. train. model. ~ hug ~
Then it’s “Good job! I knew you could do it!” ~ hug~
All whilst speaking Chinglish and having about 50% of what you are telling them get lost in translation.

Repeat.
8,000 times a day.

They will be 14 years old before we ever even break even.
They will be 14 before their time in our family becomes longer than their days spent in an orphanage.

This is a marathon.

I am not who I used to be.
My patience is bigger
My heart is heavier
My joy is tempered.
Just like a normal marathon
it’s exhausting.

It takes an inordinate amount of energy
of patience
of love
of patience
of patience
of teaching
of training
of patience
of love
to bring these kids out of the darkness.

And if I’m being honest….

it.
empties.
me.

And if I’m being more honester. (yep I know, not a word)
it’s the reason I haven’t been blogging.
It takes SO much to be continually pouring love, encouragement, discipline, and training into these kids that I often find myself

empty.

And most days
when the sun has set
when 7 sleepy heads are happily snoring on their pillows

I have nothing left to give.

Are we happy?
Yep.
Would we do it again?
No doubt, yes.
Is it the hardest thing I have ever done?

A
b
s
l
u
t
e
l
y

Are there moments when I think to myself,
“Am I being punked?”
7 boys? Seriously?
Totally.

I vastly underestimated the amount of life training that they would need at their age.
Things like

A stove is hot.
You knock on the door before you walk into people’s houses, you can’t just walk in.
Seatbelts.
Walk on the sidewalk, not in the street.
Kindly do not remove the food from your plate that you don’t care for and place a big blob of it directly on the table.
Don’t walk down the hallway from your room to the bathroom stark neked. You’re 8.

Small things of course.
But when each and every moment,
each and every action
each and every transition
requires explanation it takes awhile to get the hang of that.
Rather…
it took me awhile to get the hang of that.

But last I checked my goal isn’t to take up residence on Easy Street,
I think that is a crowded, overpopulated neighborhood.

go.
serve
love.
be more like HIM
It’s what I want to do.
It’s where I want to live.

So is older child adoption really more difficult?
I don’t know.
It’s just
different.

________________________________________

Sonia M.

Sonia and her husband John are an Air Force family with 7 boys. She stays at home part time and spends the other part of her time shopping at Stuff-Mart buying large quantities of food to feed said boys. Sonia’s hobbies include cooking, cooking, cooking more, cleaning, cooking, and cleaning bathrooms. They are navigating their way through life attempting to glorify God in all that they do — follow the journey here.

8 Responses to Lots of You Asked for It, So Here You Go

  • Jennifer P says:

    Loved this the first time. Love it even more the second!

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. We’re waiting on a court date for 2 Ethiopian teenagers and can totally relate!

  • Tracie says:

    Great post. My daughter was four when she came home from China (my sons babies from Korea) so I can relate to everything you shared. For the first three years after she came, I was empty when it came to those outside our home. She required so much, the boys got the rest…and if there was anything left my understanding partner got that. I had nothing left to give.

  • I just loved this post! We also have 7 very close in age (4 older children adopted from Russia) and patience is definitely needed! Patience for today, but also patience for the process of reaching their hearts and being used by God to be a healing agent to those sad and broken places. I have become familiar with being emptied and needing God to fill me up! He is so faithful to do that and I am so very thankful. Blessings of all the fruit of the spirit on you Sonia, and on each of those precious boys!

  • Elya says:

    Really great post – thank you for sharing!

  • Anna says:

    Oh my goodness!!! We need to have coffee!! Lord, did I need this. THANK YOU!!

  • Nancy says:

    Love. Thank you so much. Really… thank you.
    nancy

  • Ginger says:

    Thank you for sharing. Our five year old (also stinky boy) from Bulgaria has been home three weeks. I totally get “unparenting while parenting” and “blobs of food on the table!” It’s so encouraging to hear similar battles and to see the fruits of our labor!

    http://momentsdefined.wordpress.com/

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