Saturday, June 20, 2009

Any thoughts on this one??

I read every book I could get my hands on regarding adoption - I think they really did help prepare us but there is nothing can replace hands on experience. I am thinking it would be helpful to others who are or will be taking this journey to share some of our challenges. I got this idea from my friend Sally over at her blog. When I read her post I felt like I could completely relate- and even though it was a challenge they were facing it felt good to know that others are going through the same thing. There is a bond between us and between other adoptive families that is just naturally there.

No matter what challenges we face I think we would all agree that this journey is so worth it. These children are incredible, they are beautiful gifts from God that should be treasured. I believe that having faith in God and asking for his help is essential in this journey.

Sarah has been home 6.5 months and with the warmer weather and children playing outside we have faced a few new challenges. The girls now want to play outside they want to ride bikes and play with the neighbors. Whenever they are out I also need to be out - watching them like a hawk. One neighbor is working on the landscape- and there is a lot of heavy equipment. Anna is extremely small and could easily not be seen. She want to play in the sand they are using for their patio and driveway. We have to wait until the evening when all the workers have gone home, then we can play in the sand.

In  Ch*na Sarah never really learned about safety. It is very natural for her to do things that would make us gasp with concern. If a car is going down our skinny driveway she would see nothing wrong with trying to race along side of it- training wheels and all. She has no concerns that she might fall under the tires of a moving car. She will follow along behind someone with her bike not realizing that that person my stop and she would run into them and hurt them. She would open the car window and stick her head out. Well, you get the point. I feel like I have to often... okay constantly, remind her of safety rules. It is a little bit of a bummer when you just want to enjoy and have fun with your child but instead have to be so very vigilant.

Over the last 6.5 months we have spent a lot of time together, a lot of time together! I think our bonding has come along great, really great. But lately we have been challenged- I am not questioning our progress BUT I am surprised by "this situation".

We have a neighborhood family that has a girl Sarah's age. Sarah is just beginning to be able to go over and call for her. If she goes in the house she calls home to tell me- that took 4 weeks to get down! The family is different from ours and has different parenting styles and eating habits. Whenever she goes over there she has pop, candy, gum and chips- she loves this- I do not love it. Sometimes she brings her treasures home and then refuses to share with Anna. The mother has highs and lows and sometimes crosses the line of appropriateness with Sarah. She hugs her, kisses her and tells her she loves her. For an adoptee I think this is very confusing. Sarah is just learning what families are all about and how they differ from friends, neighbors, acquaintences, etc. FYI- they may seem like they (the adoptee) get it but it really takes a long time for them to fully understand these concepts.
One day she (the neighbor lady) will be calling across the yard "Hi Sarah, old buddy, old pal" and the next day she will be angry and Sarah is not sure why- neither am I?  

I feel the hugs and kisses should be for her own daughter not my daughter ( me, a little jealous- maybe, she is mine to protect). I think it is confusing to Sarah to have "a neighbor" act like that. On top of it when you throw in the candy, gum, pop and chips - well our little girl is about ready to jump ship and join the others. Those treat are so enticing to her that it makes her want to run over their and play. As far as she is concerned that Mom is really really nice and ya... she yells for no reason but who cares I get candy, gum, pop and chips!!  It almost renders her in capable of making a good decision. Which she is actually probably not even ready to make anyways. So now as her parents we have to set more guidelines ( I wish we didn't have too). 

1. We can call for our neighbor friend but since the weather is so nice we can only play outside. 
2. Mom/ Dad have to talk to the neighbor lady and set appropriate guidelines. No hugging, no kissing, and maintain an appropriate adult/ child relationship. I know I'm boring and I'm a bit strict but I can tell you that I feel that something is not right. Iam  usually correct in this situation so I have to go on my gut. The neighbor lady is not approachable- I am not sure when we will be able to have this conversation.
3. We play equally in their yard and our yard.
4. We keep busy and limit our playtime in the neighborhood.

Oh argh- now while even writing this post we have already had another incident... We went out to dinner after church . When we came home, the neighbor girl was waiting for us. We decided that Anna would have a quick bath (major food in the hair) and Sarah could play for a little bit. 20 minutes later we call our daughter home. She... they walk in the door and Sarah lets me know with all sincerity that she does not need to come home... her friend that is now standing next to her "said so"... I looked at her, I looked at them and said honey is _____, your Mommy or Daddy? Since she is not your Mommy or Daddy she does not get to decide that and I said goodbye to the little girl... 
The problem is ... our own daughter doesn't get it. She has listened to other children in an  orphanage for 8.5 years. She will do what they say and not necessarily what her new parents say. AFTER all of this I am guessing no one will be questioning why I am homeschooling...

Any thoughts??  I need some ideas! Keep them kind please!! Thank you so much! BTW I wish I lived in the country!!


Sally- That Girl! said...


You sound so like me when it comes to establishing appropriate boundaries. I am amazed at how many adoptive parents are uncomfortable to do this. My feeling is that we have one shot at doing this whole attachment thing and we better get it right!!

People who have not adopted simply do not get it. My friends tell me all the time that we should treat B and M like our other children.

I am like are you kidding?? They brains are completely hard wired differently from living in an orphanage, from not having a loving and nurturing mother from the moment of birth until now.

I didn't get to go to a dear friend's big birthday last night because of all of B's issues right now. I could no way leave him. She suggested to bring him then. What she doesn't understand is I can't take him to a place with over a 100 strangers many whom are my friends who would want to hold him, hug him and he would want to kiss!

I am right there with you. I feel your challenges and at the same time rejoice that we get to walk through this together!!!

We are blessed beyond measure!

Laura L. said...

I totally agree also, with setting boundaries.
Everything you described does sound really strange, with a neighbor who wants to hug and kiss Sarah, and then the next time is angry.
It does sound like something is not right. I do believe you should trust your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, then it really may not be.
The pop, candy, chips, is another thing.
Mostly, I'd probably be concerned with her safety.
I'd probably set in place a "we don't play inside _____'s house rule. I'd rather risk possibly insulting a neighbor, rather than my child's safety.
Yes, Sarah is already used to going inside their home, but it's not too late to go back and undo that.
This is just my opinion. You asked for it. :)
If the neighbor mom asks, you can always tell her you don't feel Sarah is ready to play inside neighborhood homes.

Lori said...

I TOTALLY agree with Sally and Laura. You cannot let this go on any longer. Sarah's attachment is at stake. It is sooo difficult to get people to understand about how non-family members must keep a distance from our adoptive children in order for them to thrive and gain an understanding of what a family is.

I am going to email you the link of a blog of a family who are dealing with this almost exact same thing with their 13 year adopted around a year ago. She recently posted a wonderful "announcement" trying to explain how attachment is developed. I hope it will help.

Mom Of Many said...

As I was reading your post I had a very strong thought come to mind. It was one of the best parenting words I ever got. I was a young mom and a very wise older woman said this: "Never ever leave Abi or Tyler with anyone that you are not crystal clear as to the provision for them. Do you understand Linn? Crystal clear!"

We have told that to our chldren as they grew. There have been "friends" that they have not been allowed to play with (period!). There have been houses that they are not allowed to go to (period!). All of this because we are not CRYSTAL CLEAR as to the provision they would have. Adopted, birthed, fostered - our kids safety (physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual) is the only top priority. "Socializing" is not the priority...their safety is.

We have been very vigilant about who our kids play with and where they play and even who comes to our home to play. Having a well adjusted 26, 23 and 19 year old makes me confidant that we did the right thing. Were there times we said no to invitations to "come over and play" or "spend the night" or whatever? More than we could count - if we did not feel "crystal clear" we did not do it. Crystal clear is pretty darn clear!

I would have a family meeting of all who live at home (so all kids hear the Crystal Clear) and Sarah knows that she is not the only one who will have the rules....include Anna too ...even though she is little she will begin to understand that there will be times (and maybe plenty) where mom and dad just say "no"...and I would let dad explain the rule...(he is the authority of your home)...and have him explain about protection...(physical, emotional spiritual and sexual) and how he was given by God to protect all of you..and you are his "back-up" when he is not there and you will carry out Daddy's rules for protection.... You guys are the protectors that God has given know better than anyone else. No need to feel guilt about protecting them.

One time at the first church we were pastoring a family visited and on that very first sunday they took a liking to our Autumn (who was probably 4 at the time) carrying her around...and they wanted to take her home (I still shudder thinking about them). They did not have a 4 year old, but a daughter who was probably 8 and a boy about 10.

Tyler who was about 7 at the time came to me and said, "Mom you are not letting her go are you? Please mom don't! They are creepy and something is not right about them." Of course there was no way on God's green earth that I would have considered letting her go.

The next Sunday they came and brought about 5 gifts for Autumn (brand new CD's, etc)...I thought "what the heck?" They again wanted her to go with them for the afternoon?? Ummm, right! NOT A CHANCE!

But I thought it was so cool that Tyler discerned that something was not right and he wanted to protect his little sis.

There was something up with them and although I have no idea what it could have been, it would not surprise me if they were pedophiles (and no, I am not kidding).
It was not natural for them to take such a liking to my daughter...she was cute, but come on? Gifts the second time meeting her?? And not just one, but like 5? Totally creepy.

Now on a separate note...Autumn was not happy with our "no"...she was little and loved to go with anyone and wanted the gifts...but oh well! Who knows what we protected her from, but we definitely protected her! Before long they quit coming.

I would be praying that the family would move or that another neighbor would move in to take the girls attention away from Sarah....and no matter how unhappy Sarah is we/I would be saying, "no, no, no" to every "get together' that is asked about. Period!

Sorry that was so long. We are fanatics about "crystal Clear"...

Praying for wisdom for you!! xo

Acceptance with Joy said...

I haven't adopted yet... working on that still, but I have always had pretty strict rules about association even with families we know. Bedroom doors must always be open when we are playing, etc... sometimes it is inconvenient for us as parents to constantly be in earshot and vigilant, but it's not just about their physical safety. The influence for good or for evil in the spiritual sense is amazing. All the kids playing together might be wonderful, good, christian kids and one says something and it all leads to a new thought and new ideas and if parents aren't there to hear and redirect the seed planted could grow. I know that some have felt I was over-protecting, but actually over the years our friends have become more vigilant in that direction also.We have all learned through our experience and mistakes that to be vigilant was absolutely vital. In the end it creates a very strong sense of identity and family and negative peer pressure has had almost nil effect.

We had a next-door neighbor girl the same age as my children. My girls were NEVER once allowed to go to her house. She was welcome here and we have gone sledding together and stuff. I didn't know the parents. We always waved and said hi and and sent over christmas cookies, etc.. but I didn't know their values and what it was like inside their home. I felt like such an odd-ball for that, but the risks outweighed the benefits of me feeling like everybody else.

What Sarah said to your daughter would be enough to make me consider keeping them separated for a LONG time. It will seem like punishment to your daughter but you can make it up to her with fun stuff as a family. She isn't ready for that kind of influence. You need to be the most important person in her life. If you can't keep them separated for awhile then I would be playing with them or sitting right next to them... I know. I am hard hearted ;-) What else is Sarah going to say that will undermine everything you are working so hard to accomplish? You are a good, experienced mom, go with your gut. You won't regret that.

Chad and Kristy said...

You are doing the right thing and trust me.. people will think you are crazy at times. We have the same problem with Anna Li except it is her teachers (at school and church). They feel so sorry that she was in an orphanage for 12.5 years that they think it is their job to shower her with love, hugs, kisses, and gifts! We have asked them to stop numerous times and they just refuse. After a big meeting with the school about this, the teacher walks Anna Li to the car and yells "I will call you this summer Anna Li!" Luckily I was not there (it was my husband) because I would yelled right back "no you want!" Agh! So, as you can guess, we are looking into homeschooling next year. Anna Li has expressed it is confusing to her as well.. and she does have a hard time destinguishing relationships. EVERYONE thinks Chad and I are being bad parents and they also seem to think they know more than all the research and all the specialist. I guess we will have to live with people thinking we are crazy but it is what is best for our daughter. Stay strong and we will talk more on our group:) I sent you an invite.

ronvic7 said...

I KNOW my family and friend think we are nuts. We have kept Chloe to ourselves now for 3 months. She has gone NO WHERE without mom or dad. There is no issue of needing "girlfriends" as she has so many sibs- thank God for that.

We figure by the time we get to schooling in the fall we will have a great handle on "family" verses friends and her shyness is actually a benefit to us in this regard.

She in uncomfortable with anyone but us and it's obvious. So she NOT willing to be approached even by our family or friends in too friendly of a way.

I think it's your call. Our kids are just that- OURS- to protect as we must. Protect YOUR relationship as her mother.

Chris said...

I agree with all the other posters, we have not adopted an older child at this point just infants so far.
My question to you do you "cuddle" a 13 y.o. how do you form that attachment/bond that you do with an infant? Guess I'll have to post this question on Lori, Linny, and Patti's blogs too.
We have our name in our agency's SN list, but we don't qualify income-wise so I don't know if our dream will ever come true. But with God you never know.

Hezra said...

oh Jean! I am so sorry, I know too from experience as a child who was dealt with inappropriately and as a parent who doesn't want that to happen. I feel that God has given us all a good mom "gut instinct" or holy spirit leading in these things. They are NOT easy. Esp when you feel your newly adopted child has theheavy need for attachment but the wrong people are pulling for it, THEN she seems hungry FOR it. I have had so many many uncomfortable situations I have had to deal with. My parenting years are not so many-- my oldest is only 12. But we have 5 kids, two of whom were adopted. I am sorry for you to have to deal with this. I am so sorry for your daughter who doesn't understand it. But I will be praying for you both.Know you are loved and supported and you are doing the right thing.

Mom to my China Posse said...

Hi Jean, Having adopted a older child I totally understand what you are saying. Having adopted 4 times prior to adopting kamryn at age 6 I thought I had it all figured out but there are so many new demensions in adopting a older child that I am still working on and boundaries are one of them, not only for other people with her but with her as well. She has no idea about giving people their personal space even strangers. I took her to the doctor the other day and she was right in the doctors face so to speak and messing with everything and it reminded me in China how curious people were and how they would get eye to eye with you and stare. I have tried explaining to her about manners and respecting other people things and space but she is havign a hard time with that concept. Have you experinced anything like that with Sarah?

Michele said...

You have gotten some great advice. I hope and pray it will be ok for you and Sarah.

Laurel said...

Go with your gut! Absolutely! Yes, your girls need major boundaries.

We brought 3 older siblings (now ages 7, 10, 13) home from Ghana 1.5 years ago. They knew nothing about safety boundaries. They ran into the road in front of cars. They ran their new siblings over with their bikes.

We, too, had adults that went overboard. It was especially hard for us, because we have 3 bio. kids the same ages, and our bio. kids would be completely ignored while adults would give lavish gifts and demonstrations of affection to our newly adopted kids. So frustrating!

Keep up the good work! You are doing what's right, even if/when it's hard.

mama of 13