Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Finally, it happened. I've been expecting it, and I was (sort of) prepared, but somehow it caught me by surprise anyway. Maybe I should post this on our first blog, but this is the most current one, so I'll talk about it here. On the way home from swimming lessons, Ben began questioning me about his adoption story. We adopted Ben 2 years ago. Since he will be 9 years old next month, and he began his questioning asking if he's REALLY 9 years old, and if August 23 is his REAL birthday. I answered the only way I know how to answer anything; with total and complete honesty. We don't know your exact birthday, Ben, but your documents show August 23. When a baby is found in China, someone takes a guess as to how old the child is and gives them a probable birth date. You were found as a young baby, so we do know that your year of birth is accurate. That led to the discussion of why babies are given up for adoption.
Ben seemed ok with the idea that sometimes babies have medical needs and their birth mom's don't have enough money to take them to the Dr. so they take them to the orphanage to find new parents who can take care of them better. What Ben really struggled with is the fact that his foster parents didn't adopt him. Ben lived in a foster home for his entire life, as far as we know. Ben talks about his foster mom taking him to the Dr. ALL the time! Ben declared emphatically that his foster mom had the money to take him to the Dr. "Why didn't she keep me?" Now, I'm pretty sure Ben's foster family wasn't well-off. They ran a farm in China, had dirt floors, and all shared one bed. But in all honesty, trying to explain why a Chinese family can't adopt a foster child had me stumped. I'm sure it's like attempting inter-state domestic adoption here, darn near impossible because of the government. All I could say, repeatedly, is that your foster mom knew that we would be able to take great care of you, provide you with a good education, and the medical care in the U.S. is better. Lame. Lame. Lame. My one wish, right now, would be to be able to contact Ben's foster parents for him. I've tried and only reached dead-ends. So...did I have the right answers for Ben?  Nope. I hope he at least remembers that I didn't lie to him. His foster mom told Ben that he was coming to the United States to go to school, and he would return to China soon. The poor little guy spent six months here before he realized that he wasn't going "home." Advice anyone?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

English as a Second Language

Our little guys have been home three months now, and one of the things that continues to amaze me is how FAST our children are learning English. They understand 99.99% of what I say, and they speak English constantly now, even to each other. This morning they asked me when Austin is coming home (he's in China), and I answered, "In three more weeks." Leo went to the calendar, sang the song "Sunday, Monday, Tues, Wed..." three times, and pointed to the day that he thought Austin would arrive home. He was only a few days off the mark! In church, Sam greeted our pastoral associate by asking her "What are you doing?" She wasn't outside greeting parishioners like normal, she was in the back hallway by the bathrooms, and Sam thought it was noteworthy. Leo asked me, "Today, everybody good church! Today, doughnut?" I will admit, I often reward the little guys with french fries and donuts. I know, I know. I shouldn't start bad habits blah, blah, blah. But they are painfully thin, and I want to fatten them up a bit. Unfortunately, I've also gained weight too, by osmosis it seems. Soon, our french fry stops will be a thing of the past, I promise. But I digress. Before we adopted John and Ben, we spent a ton of time worrying about how we were going to communicate with them. We've found that we just don't have any issues with communication. I'm great at reading body language, and our adoptees have been great self-advocators. They manage to let me know what they need and want with no trouble at all. They need lots of attention, lots of love, and lots of french fries! The English language acquisition hasn't been an issue for us. Ben and John have been here two years and most people assume we adopted them as babies. John still speaks with a slight accent, but Ben speaks American English as if he's lived here all his life!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Still Loving Summer

I can't believe it's almost mid-July! This amazingly hot summer is just flying by! We're loving life and loving the summer weather, although our gardens and grass would prefer more rain. The kids' summer reading program started last week, and that has been working out great. Monday-Thursday four of the boys (John, Ben, Sam and Leo) work with a tutor (a graduate student in the SUNY Geneseo Literacy program) for 90 minutes. That gives me 90 minutes to run on the track next to the school. Of course, now I'm incredibly sore too. We're hoping the reading program will prepare both Leo and Sam for school  ( a local
Christian School) in the fall.

After reading, we come home, eat lunch and take naps. Then off to taekwondo lessons (for me) 1-2pm, followed by swimming lessons for the 3 little boys 2:30-3:30, and then taekwondo for the rest of the boys 4:30-6pm. We sit down as a family for dinner by 6:30pm, and watch a family movie until bedtime. On the weekends we usually invite another family over to roast marshmallows around a bonfire. Sound boring? Probably to most people. But I can't think of a better life for us. The kids have been getting along wonderfully, and we feel blessed.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My sentiments EXACTLY!

Once again, another adoptive mom was able to put into words my exact feelings. I'll simply post the link here and hope you take the time to READ IT to the end!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Want to Help Them but....

Our adoption agency posted the question, Is being an older parent easier? I would say DEFINITELY.  As an "older" parent, I finally, finally, finally understand that almost every time I leap in to HELP my children, I am doing them a disservice. I really love to help. I will tie my kiddos shoes until they are twelve, if they would let me. I do not want my kids to ever feel discomfort, distress or hardship.I want to solve all their problems, help with their homework and make their lunches. Now, as an older parent, I know that every time I rush to their side to help them, I am telling my children that I don't think they can do it without me. I am NOT helping. I am merely making myself feel important and needed. That is not good parenting, in my mind. So I changed the way I do things.
When we first adopted the two little guys, for instance, I gently put on their coats, zipped them, carried them to the van,lifted them into the van, placed them in their carseats, and buckled them in place. The experienced mother in me, however, only allowed this total dependence for a week or so, in the name of bonding. Or maybe I'm just not that patient anymore, and I couldn't stand to spend 15 minutes getting everyone into the van. By week two, I would hold their hands and walk them to the car, wait while they climbed into the vehicle and sat in their seats, and then I gently buckled them. By week three, I was teaching them how to buckle themselves into the seat. Whenever they buckled themselves in, they received high-fives from all the passengers! Now,two months after the adoptions, I say, "Come on!! Let's go!" and I fully expect all the children to get their own shoes on, and their own butts in their seats (buckled) in 30 seconds flat.
I am proud when the director of the swimming pool thinks my 13 year old son is 16. "Not because of how he looks, but he just seems so mature and independent." Yesterday, I dropped our 16 year old son off at the grocery store (with a list) while I took the littles to swimming lessons. I picked him up 45 minutes later, and our grocery shopping is done! Of course, he made a few mistakes, bought the wrong brands sometimes, and didn't use coupons. Next time, he will do it better. I will not be the parent who sends her children off to college not knowing how to do their own laundry!! I like to do laundry, usually, but I wash linens at our rental cottage each week. Everyone over 9 years old does their own laundry. It's not sorted, but who cares anyway. Really. Everyone over the age of 10 knows how to cook on the grill and use a cordless drill. I hold my breathe every time I want to HELP, and I let them struggle for a count of 60. Tears of frustration bring smiles of joy when the task is mastered. Repeat after me...My helping tells them I don't think they can do the task. I am taking anyway from them every time I leap in to solve their problems.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Camp Mom? Not me!

Summer is here and it's been hot, hot, hot! Our kids get out of school the first week of June, so we've had over a month off already. What I find interesting is that I realized that I am again the exception to the norm. I'm reading lots of blogs talking about the kids driving the moms crazy by now, and I just don't feel that way. I find articles on how to get the kids away from the TV this summer and learn how to play outside again, like this one and I find blogs on the same topic.I love this blog! But I don't get it. We have five boys home, and I'm missing number six (Austin, who is in Asia all summer). Maybe because we have Connor.Connor who spends a whole day trying to design a parachute that will lift him off the ground when he runs down our back yard hill. In general, Connor spends unbelievable amounts of time building things, or taking things apart, and he gets the other kids to "help." Last week he researched and built a ballista (a type of catapult). Connor found a come-along in the garage and decided he needed to use it to build something.First, he had to fix it, since it was broken. Then he had to find enough scrap wood for the project. Overall, it took at least a week to build the ballista, and Connor can now launch big sticks a few hundred feet. Then he built a workbench in the garage. I did have to buy two 2 x 4's for that project, but it was worth it in the end. The other day, Connor had friends over for the day, and I handed out the cordless drill and suggested that it was time to disassemble the rotting wooden play structure and burn it. That project kept seven (the friends too) busy all day! Yes, the fire was a bit HOT, but the bucket brigade was ready. I guess I'm just lucky that I don't need to research ways to leave the technology behind  because we have so little technology here. We can't get TV stations unless we move the TV into Austin's room, and spend hours with the rabbit ears and tin foil. We did this for the Superbowl. We only have internet on one laptop, and we get it by plugging in a cell phone device. We just don't have video games or handheld games, or any of that technie stuff. I'm not judging those that do; it's a choice we made and we are happy with our life. We do have a ton of books, and 12 acres of fields/woods/streams/ponds.We mow six acres of grass and have a level playing area for football, Frisbee,soccer games etc. We have a trampoline, and a 1/4 mile long paved driveway for bikes/scooters/basketball/skates etc. Also, I purchased a 14' put together pool from Walmart, which has been worth every dollar.So..if the kids bicker, I have a set of index cards with chores listed on them. Draw your punishment,kiddo. If they whine, draw again. If they come into the house when they should be outside, draw once more. I can have the cleanest house in town,or the kids can go play nicely--outside. I simply feel no need to organize a day camp for our children. I admire those mothers who organize their kids' summer, but I am just not going to feel pressured into trying to entertain the kids all summer. They need to entertain themselves or I'll find them jobs to do. But, I do not wish they were back in school. I'm happy they have the summer to just play outside! I take them to pick berries sometimes, and to their various lessons (swimming, taekwondo, guitar). We all nap everyday. We get up early everyday (even the teens must be up by 8:30) to run, and we have a bonfire or a family movie every night. I LOVE SUMMER!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Staying home

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am NOT a homebody. I like to be on the GO, GO, GO! I plan months in advance, and we usually go to friends' houses or entertain at our house every weekend. Although I love our home, I'm a type A++ personality and thrive on exercise, activities and lots of stimulation. (This is probably why I still don't know how to work a remote control). However, when you adopt older children, we have found that it's important to just stay home. A lot. Staying home, even when the kids seem to be adjusting well, goes against my normal inclinations;but we believe that it's the most important thing we can do to help our children adjust. Our new little guys still don't know our extended family, and they get confused/stressed when we have a bunch of people over. They get super stressed when we upset their normal routine. For example, every single day, at least 100 times a day, the little guys ask about what we are going to do today and tomorrow. " Eat lunch, and little sleep today?"  "Baba working?" "Connor and John running?" "Swimming lessons?" "Today, taekwondo?" It's readily apparent that routines are what make them feel secure. Makes sense to me. If my life was suddenly completely out of whack (if I were to be kidnapped by very nice aliens, and forced to live on a very nice planet, called Mars), I might feel better knowing that every day followed a specific pattern.
 And I might be confused meeting a bunch of people too. We decided not to attend any of the 4th of July celebrations/parties for this specific reason. The Independence Holiday is a BIG deal on Conesus Lake, and we've had to decline a bunch of invitations so that we can stay home and just vegetate. Maybe we'll roast marshmallows or watch a movie, but big crowds are out of the question this year. It's just too confusing for Sam and Leo. Yesterday, Leo ran to the car of the electrician and tried to give him a hug. Yep. The electrician is an older gentlemen, and Leo thought that he must be another relative.
Which brings me to another point. How do I nicely tell our relatives (and close friends) that it's confusing to our children to be greeted with hugs? Our adopted sons are just learning to comfort (or apologize) to each other with a kind word and/or a hug. They do not know these friends and relatives one iota, and it's weird to be hugged by nice "strangers."