Sunday, December 30, 2012

Understanding Hard

Parenting Jie Jie has been so fun and easy. We hit it off from the beginning and have had such a great time as a family. I knew going into my next adoption that I would not get so lucky. I knew that what I had with Jie Jie was very, very rare.

As things became so hard in the last couple months, not knowing why, I didn't realize how hard they had become until about three weeks before the truth came out about what Sissy was doing. In the few lucid moments I had when I wasn't consumed with worry over what would disappear next and how, I kept telling myself that I've done one of the most difficult things in the adoption world: Adopt two older children! I keep telling myself this, too, because it's true. I'm not doing anything wrong, adopting to older kids is hard, heck, adopting one older kid is hard. But I was made for this and prepared for it my entire life. I am ready and willing and eager to mother my girls.

Now that I know what is truly going on in my own home again, and I've sorted out my daughter's accordingly, I can take a deep breath and say I have survived this and done quite well, all things considered.

Am I over the hump? I don't know. Will there be other humps? Most likely. But, and I type this holding my breath, I think we are over the hardest part. It's always hardest getting at the raw truth, being exposed and raw, as Sissy now is.

What happened at first was that she became what she was in China, but even less. She did nothing, barely had a pulse, only performed her chores because she knew she had no choice if she wanted to eat good food and wear pretty clothes. Then, as I made her talk about it all and face it, she became argumentative and also tried using my own words, but she didn't have enough understanding of them so I could see she was merely parroting me thinking that would be what I wanted to hear. When that didn't work, she became more observant, helped by me, of course, as I kept pointing things out to her.

Now, she is starting to take the initiative. No, she doesn't suddenly understand love or most of her other feelings, but she does seem to understand that there is something more and she wants to find out what it is. She also sees Blossom moving past her at a very rapid rate and she might be the tiniest bit alarmed. Tonight we talked about college. It's a very real possibility for Blossom if she keeps moving ahead as fast as she is. Sissy asked about herself. I told her that she will not be ready for college when she's 18, but that she may work hard and be ready later in her life. I told her that I'd prepare her for a trade school and explained that trade school teaches one thing, enough to get a job, and that university teaches many things so that a person may get a very good job. It's not entirely accurate, but it's the best she can understand. I asked her if she works as hard as Blossom does. Of course, she said the obvious, which is no. I told her that she can achieve more if she works more and she's starting to see that since the rest of us in the house are pretty fast movers.

I wonder if my simple explanations will come back to haunt me when they are adults and have must better understanding and grasp of the English language. For example, Sissy constantly touches her forehead. She has tiny pimples there that become huge and infected because she always touches them. I had told her to stop, nagged her, got angry, to no avail. Then, I kept telling her to wash her face. I showed her how. She never did. Finally, I told her that she must wash her face twice a day with soap and water if she wants her skin to clear up and that she'll have to wear socks on her hands if she doesn't keep them off her face. Well, it's been three days now and guess what? Her pimples are GONE. Yes, with regular washing, her oily skin dried up to normal and without the irritation of dirty fingers, the pimples healed. Now, will she come back to me at some point in the future and say, "Mom, pimples are caused by normal hormones in teenages." Will I be able to convince her that her pimples were not caused by normal hormones or will she think I lied to her? Will she one day blame me that she didn't go to college, saying I didn't encourage her or aim high enough?

I'm certainly not going to worry about this beyond typing it tonight, I've got enough real things to be concerned about, but it did cross my mind tonight at dinner so I thought I'd blog about it and get some input.


Vickie said...

I guess you know my "take" on this but I'll post since our talks aren't recorded anywhere:)

I think we do the best we can. As they learn sometimes they point out things, mostly that they have learned but not in a way of "hey, you were wrong mom, this is how it really is" it's more often things they believe (true or not) from CHINA that they argue about. Once they decide to learn and more forward in a family they suck up what we are trying to teach them and don't too often look back. We have one, Chloe, who loves to argue (we call it teenage snot) and she will sometimes bring up things, but she knows now without a doubt we are trying to do the best we can do for her and her brothers and sisters because they are our children and that's what we do as parents who love them:)

Anonymous said...

My neighbor that adopted the teenage twins from the Ukraine could share stories for days. She ended up
disrupting the adoption because of all the drama. Her husband left her and their biological children. He took full custody of the twins. The twins snowballed him. Secretly I wonder if they still act perfect when he's around. I wonder if children with RAD can hold up the facade for long periods of time. They were always "perfect" when he was around. Anyway, my friend lost faith in the future. She lost faith in their "redemption." I truly hope that doesn't happen in your family. Your daughters have so much potential. I hope they have some inner desire to be better.
As far as worrying if she will later distrust you or think you lied. That doesn't matter. When they came to your home they had no concept of appropriate feelings and responses to anything. The fact alone that they will eventually be able to express their true feelings is huge progress. That is because you taught them to recognize their feelings. So even though they see their experiences as a negative thing, your greater understanding will see that they have made significant progress. As parents we are often blamed for the grievances of our children. Eventually our children (hopefully) will have children of their own. Hopefully then they will see how much time and effort we devoted to them. Even if they don't ever appreciate our efforts, God does.
Thinking of you and your girls.

Anonymous said...

I think two things are going on-

1) As your girls get older, you provide them with more complex answers. This is typical of biological and adopted children. Take Sandy Hook for example, the details of what I might discuss with a 16 year old are very different than an 8 year old. As long as you keep the lines of dialogue and communication open to revisit topics, I can't see this "hurting you" or them later on.

2) I'm not sure if telling Sissy she can't or shouldn't go to college is the best thing. That MAY come back and bite you. I think providing her with neutral information is best at this point. "Most people go to college when they graduate from high school at 18. But some go when they are much older after they have been working for a while." There is no judgment in that sentence and allows her to think about what you've said. If she asked, "What should I do Mama?" I would have answered, "I'm not sure yet, that is a long ways off and we'll have to see how you like school and learning and what you want to do for a job when you get older." That is assuming that it IS several years away. I'm not sure where Sissy is tracking? Is she at a 8th or 9th grade level acedemically?

Finally, it is possible, that Sissy may never bond to you like your other girls, but that won't make her an unsuccessful individual. My brother (he's a bio kid, btw) didn't bond to my parents and was very difficult to raise, he isn't close with them at all, but he's a totally productive member of society, etc...he just is a bit odd when it comes to our parents.

Anonymous said...

Tell her "IF you don t work hard THEN you won t go to College".
The only reason why you are telling her she won t go to College is because you are still upset at her and you are becoming emotionally caught up on the situation.

This kind of thing could come back even within 5 years. Dont play games telling your kids stuff for the desired "effect". She is 14.

We are praying for you

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your trials and successes. Your honesty is appreciated. I'm not sure that telling Sissy that she won't be going to college but Blossom will is wise. Rather than motivate her to try to be like Blossom, it may drive a wedge of resentment against Blossom because in her very immature thinking Sissy may interpret it that you simply like Blossom more than you like her. Saying she has to work so hard to get where Blossom is may also make her give up and resign herself to being "dumb and lazy" even though that's not what you are saying. I think she might be just too early in her language and emotional development to understand your meaning. Just my thoughts. Keep up the great work! You are an inspiration to many.

K said...

I'm not angry at her any more, but what you don't see and understand is the reality of exactly how she is when it comes to effort and learning. I am not one to squash anyone's potential, but unless a miracle occurs, she just isn't college material. It will be a miracle if I get her through high school by the time she's 20. She doesn't connect the obvious, she doesn't think (can you imagine what this must be like?), she isn't naturally curious. These are symptoms of RAD as well as the personality she was probably born with. She won't even pick out her own clothes, but asks her little sister to do it, even AFTER I told her to do it. She doesn't have a learning disability, it's just how she is right now.

Anonymous said...

But she hasn't been in to US very long yet. Give it more time before you tell her she isn't college material. It also might be that your teaching style and her learning style don't sync. I was reading posts from a few months ago and she was picking out her clothes, that has regressed it sounds like. Why, I don't know, but she has the capability.

MJ said...

Love your blog. You're doing something most people would never dream of doing-parenting two older girls from a very difficult situation. I'd personally be very careful about comparing the two girls, verbally or otherwise. Sissy doesn't deserve that and it'll drive a wedge between them and you. Approach Sissy as her very own person, i mean yes be honest with her that "Yes, college takes work and dedication." But don't say never, you never know where she might be in 5, 10, 15+ years. Continue to encourage her interests and career interests, and go from there. Good luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

You are amazing and I love what you are doing! I like your honesty and truth. Straight up tell it how it is, that is the way we roll around our house. So done with trying to sugar coat reality. I have an adopted 12 year old with RAD. No one knows what it is really like except you, all kids are different. We may have a similar situation but it will never be the same as yours. God bless you and your family. Always keeping you all in my prayers.