Tuesday, July 12, 2011

They Are Ours? Part 3 in a series

The first portion of our journey was in Nanning- the capitol city in Guanxi Province. It was July and the heat was unbearable. It seems when the heat is high so are the tensions and that is the way it felt to all of us.
We woke up to the same craziness that happened when we went to bed. Emma yelling, both girls jumping on the beds and running in the hallway

We quickly got everyone ready for the day. I tried to tenderly help them get dressed but my heart was not into it.

Inside I wasn't so sure we had done the right thing and I wondered if we should even sign the papers to make the adoption official.
I couldn't even talk about it. We just moved forward as we were "supposed to".
There was little conversation between hubby and I- we just tried to work together and get our tasks completed.
Katie was not as helpful this time around and I could tell she was stressed, too.

Sarah on the other hand was incredible. She was our mini trip director and kept up the level of fun. She didn't know enough to question the behavior we were all seeing and she welcomed her new sisters with open arms. She was actually a good influence on all of us- we were thankful that we brought her!

Anna played well and was excited for the whole experience BUT she sensed something was not right and often would seek refuge in the arms of an adult.

Emma and Ellie loved Sarah and clamored for her attention. They didn't have much time for Anna. She got in the way and was a bother to them.
We later found out that they had a baby bio sister that was still with their birth mother. We wondered if Anna reminded them of their little sister and because of that had feelings of resentment toward her?

Meals in the restaurant were interesting. The girls had no idea how to serve themselves food in a buffet, eat with utensils or even sit in a chair in the dinning room. They would stuff so much in their mouths at once and then choke. They looked like little chipmunks! 

At their foster home they ate with their hands or chopsticks and would sit on the floor. We helped them get their food and get settled at our table. In no time they would be up again and roam the dining room interrupting other families. People did not think their actions were cute and endearing- they were not little children. They were almost 8 and 9 yrs old.

Usually what other think would not bother us but since we were already struggling- it ate away at my already confused mind.

We went ahead and finished the paperwork. They girls were ours- we were confused but happy. When conversing and trying to figure out how to handle everything we always spoke positively and tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. We knew that the older children come to the families with very few experiences. They have so much to learn and we were up for being their teachers and parents!

The girls were always hungry. I am sure Emma was because she was 12 lbs lighter than her younger sister. Food was used to punish her and was constantly taken away from her. On top of that, the two girls had learned some unhealthy dynamics between them. Ellie got her food and she got what ever she wanted from Emma's plate too. That was the way they operated and it was understood by both of them.

Ellie was used to having something in her mouth all the time and when she wasn't eating she would choose to sleep.

Emma and Ellie would quickly grab the food as soon as it was placed on the table so we implemented the "all food comes from and is served by the parents" rule. We needed to do this in China with Sarah, too. It seems to work well and helps establish authority with the new adoptees.
We even served Katie!

The heat was so bad and we were very challenged so we chose to go to the local children's museum- that was a good choice! It was air conditioned (although they should have turned it up higher) and a relief from the the weather outside.

Ellie wanted Sarah all to herself and her allegiance to Emma quickly evaporated. 
Emma was in a world all her own and Anna was the outsider.
The girls did look cute in their matching outfits- it was a good choice. People would smile at them and comment on the 4 girls dressed alike! It was nice to have some positive feedback- we needed it!

Katie(big sister), Hubby and I were reconnecting. We added in some humor to lighten our load, we problem solved some situations and we prayed.

I felt completely confused. I was not drawn to these two girls? I didn't feel love for them although I did feel admiration? I didn't feel like I understood them- they bewildered me and my mind would spin off on a tangent thoughts.
I questioned God- what was he thinking? Is this what he wanted? Would I someday love them?
Did we make a mistake- no Jean don't go there, don't think that thought...

Of course then came the thought- What kind of creep am I? They are orphans, they need a home. They need love and a family?

I knew God guided US to them. They were supposed to OUR daughters and WE were supposed to be their parents. I knew that GOD does not make mistakes and HE would not leave us high and dry in this situation. I tried to put serious thoughts out of my head, for now we would just put one foot in front of the other and move forward!

I am sorry if this is hard to read. It needs to be said and it is therapeutic for me to write about it.
Families entering into older child adoption need to know it is a "journey" and it takes time to "arrive" at the desired destination.
FYI- We are still on the journey but we are happy with where we are at and happy with where we are heading!

Plus not to worry- ya'll know there's a happy ending!

Oh yes, and this night was every bit as bad as the previous night!


Dina Klink said...

You are amazing for sharing this and it does need to be said. Older child adoption is hard and has challenges but is so worth it. I too adopted an older daughter and had many of the same thoughts that you did. Thank you for putting this out there to educate future adoptive parents of older children. I wish someone had told me.

Lynne said...

Dear-Dear Jean..........you are so precious. I know it is so hard for you to share your story - but helpful for you at the same time. I just cannot imagine, just cannot......all your family went through on your trip, and all of the adjustments once you were home. I have to say it again, I am so thankful Emma and Ellie are with you...exactly where God intended for them to be. I know you are travelng a very long and difficult road - BUT .......their beautiful smiles, and the life in their eyes......is the wonderful story of how far they have come - because of the love they are receiving from being your daughters, and with God's love. God bless you, God bless and be with your most beautiful family. xoxoxo

Vicky said...

As I prepare for my journey to China, I find your blog so helpful and this series an amazing story of love! While you questioned that love you acted in faith and I can't wait until your next entry. Thank you for sharing!

Sue said...

Jean, as you have said adopting older children can be very challenging in a different way. As you and I have talked about and eventhough my major challenges happened after we got home, if they had happen in China, I would have question whether it was the right thing to adopt Erin. I know God is on my shoulders helping me along the way....Reading other people who have adopted older children and preparing what to expect because of what they wrote or told me, has helped me through all of this.

laurajonesjournal said...

Dear Jean,
Thank you so much for going before so many on this journey.
When I was first introduced to your blog it was the day we said yes to the 2 girls we would later adopt. It was also the day you got E and E. I needed to read every detail then and it help me lower my expectations, to parent with grace and to learn where they are coming from.
I have LOVED watching your journey, the first year with these two lovely girls.
Thank you so much for blogging and letting us see a small glimpse of your big beautiful heart.
I will never forget meeting the two of you outside on the island. I just about died!
God started my journey to my 2 with you via your blog and ended it with seeing you in person. Honestly. I can't get over that. Crazy.
Anyway, i remember looking in your eyes when you asked me how it's going...smiling wearily and then you said, "just wait, get them on your turf and things will get better."
I hung on to that and how true it was.
Our two were WILD in china, not even the same two that we adore now.
I was scared and nervous. I clung to Jesus and your statement. I couldn't wait to get them on our turf, what a difference it made! And I new it would be okay. Thanks for that, jean. Bless you.

Sammie said...

Great posts and so glad you are sharing the challenges. I personaly get so tired of all the blogs that seem like fairy tales in that everything is beautiful and so easy. My adoptions were not that way, and its been lots of hard work. It helps to know this, as then people are really more prepared and they also know, that while tough, things can and do get better, but it takes some hard work and patience and a steep learning curve for the new parents.

Lori said...

Jean...it is amazing that you are being so honest with your story. It is SO helpful.

Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

Love you!

Jennifer said...

Jean, thanks for sharing how falling in love is different for each child. And two is definitely more than twice the work with the dynamics they already had in place. A lot to learn from your story. Thanks for the food tip. I would have never thought of it. Our son is in an institution and I've seen a video of him shoveling it in as fast as he can. A good reminder that they have not experienced many tings.

Sophie said...

I think it's great that you're sharing your journey, there's no reason to apologize, parenting is a journey filled with many bumps in the road. It's as painful as it is beautiful.

I admire your courage and faith, you are an inspiration to many Jean, and I also want to say how fortunate you are to have a daughter like Katie, she sounds like she's your right hand.

God bless you and your family

Sammy said...

Your honesty is great. People can read what the "experts" write all day, but you really learn from people that have actually done it.

Cari said...

Jean, it is very therapeutic for me to read this as well. Although, our older child adoption showed different behaviors than your girls, I can identify with all of the thoughts from your perspective. I have come to realize that it's okay and normal to have questioned "did we do the right thing"? No, we are not creeps {lol}...just human beings trying to be obedient to our Heavenly Father...and He understands our fears and concerns. I can't wait to read the rest as you candidly share this journey.

Pam said...

Jean, thank you for sharing your heart so openly and honestly. I am so glad that Emma and Ellie are YOUR daughters, to see how they have blossomed and flourished this year in YOUR home, has been nothing short of amazing. And your faith has become much stronger, hasn't it? I can see it in your writing. You are such an encouragement to others.

Lisa said...

God bless you for sharing your story. You have so much courage. People who are considering older child adoption DO need to be informed, and that doesn't mean they should be scared away because the blessings are HUGE!

We had a wonderful social worker who told us the harsh reality of older child adoption -- she said that we many never feel love for our child (we adopted a 12-year-old), but that we may only ever feel like her caregivers until she is old enough to be on our own. With the knowledge that it's OKAY to not have overwhelming feelings of love right off the bat, we headed for China.

The night before our Gotcha Day I sat on the floor in our hotel room and cried. I was terrified that we were not doing the right thing, and terrified of my feelings. That next day, our daughter came to us with a huge smile and open arms, so ready to have a family. All my fears melted away and we've never looked back.

That's not to say it's been an easy road, though. This has been the most challenging year of my life and I went through some very dark times. But I can honestly say that I love my daughter with all my heart and I don't regret one thing.

Jean, you are blessed.


Tracy said...

I commend you for being so blunt and honest! Thank you! I can so relate to alot of what you are saying and almost cryed reading your post because it brought back those feelings that I too experienced when we adopted. There was no blog at the time that I could relate to because everything I ever read was all GOOD, and then when we experienced the same things that you did. I was ashamed that I was feeling the way I did. I felt so alone. As far as I knew everyone else who had adopted had a happy fairytale beginning and ours was so far from fairytale.
The first year was a rough one. A marathon I thought would never end. But the beautiful part is that it did end and it was seriously like a new birth. The bond is there, the love is there, and I do believe because of all the struggles that we went through together that the Lord has blessed us with something more than I could have ever hoped for.

Shonni said...

I have been catching up on your posts. I am so glad that you are writing these! As we prepare to go to China for our children, I feel that I am gaining insight from you because you have “been there”. Thank you so much for sharing these.

Tracy said...

I left a comment earlier but just wanted to add that when we adopted our son he was raised in a foster home. He only spent the first four months of his life in an orphanage. He knew the love a family, and they did love him very much. It was very evident.
So I guess my point is that its not just the children that are raised in an orphanage or the ones who come from a less than loving foster homes, but it is the ones who also feel the pain of being ripped from the only momma and baba they have ever known. They are acting out because they are hurting and scared and they want for more than anything for you to know that.

Dawn said...

God bless you Jean. It is so important to be real in our stories about adoption.To do so helps future adoptive parents and children be able to heal and love. There are very real issues involved in adopting older children and adopting any child. To pretend kids will just walk in and be what some parents may dream they will be is so unfair. All the honesty you can give here on your blog will help future kids and parents.


Jennifer O'Cain said...


I think it is so helpful for you to post this. Adoption is wonderful but can be very hard. So many times we are scared to share the hard parts with others. Thanks for your honesty.


Hunan Mommy said...

Thank you for sharing all of this. You are doing such a wonderful job of sharing this for families of older kids. My little is only 3, but during the wait all I wanted was to know the truth. The real stuff. You have done this amazingly and so truthfully about your own emotions. I am catching up on your blog and can't make myself put the laptop away!