Sunday, February 24, 2013

More responses!

Megan asked-
My (very important) question is- what is your favorite (local) Chinese restaurant?? 

Hi Megan! Our favorite local Chinese restaurant is Yangste in St Louis Park off of 394 and Xenium Lane. It is by the park place hotel and next to A Taste of India.
It opened the year we were married and we used to live only a couple blocks from it. We have been going there for 31 years!
We love their Imperial Beef, Sesame Chicken, Cashew Chicken and then we get the beef lo mien because the kids love it! All of us(11 kids and 2 adults) can eat and be full if we order 7 meals!

Julie asked-
How are the new girls doing with your dogs? I haven't seen the dogs in any pics. Just wondering!

The girls are doing really well with the dogs!! At first it was a love / hate thing with Madeline and the dogs but now she tolerates them just fine and is not afraid of them!
I often find the doggies stuck in their kennel- poor things! I think it's the work of Melissa! She just likes to let them know who is in charge!

I will get pics of the children with the dogs soon! I don't have any yet- oops! 
Our doggies do live in our mudroom and outside. We don't have them run the house.
However, if we did I bet I wouldn't have to vacuum everyday in the kitchen!

Karen asked-
I do love your blog! Could you describe how you've taught the children to read in English? Do you use a certain curriculum? When do you start teaching them?

Every child is so different- one method does not work for all of them and it doesn't work for me either.
I have to arrange it in the schedule I currently have going on and it's different each time we bring different kids home.
With Sarah- home at 8.75 yrs home we worked for the first 45 days on English, family life and enjoyed Christmas! Then we hopped into school because she desperately needed a predicable schedule.
I started with Hooked on Phonics, Saxon math 1st grade, Explode the code and A Reason for Handwriting K. It went well but was more of a time filler as she still was adjusting to language and life in a family.
Sarah could do beginning reading with HOP! She was proud of herself and we were proud of her!
We then found our selves floundering a bit for a curriculum that worked.
She was doing very well BUT there were so many holes in her education partially due to the language barrier so we began Abeka video series (we started her in 1st grade- she is now in 3d grade) and we love it!
She is doing excellent in every way BUT still has challenges with reading comprehension.
We have also done Sylvan for her and it helped but I think more time and more reading is what she really needs!

Some of our children have cognitive disabilities which greatly interfere with reading skills.

The next group was Anna, Ava, Sam and Ellie. We went right into Abeka K4 and then K5- it has been successful for us!
With this group it is evident that some children have an aptitude for reading while others do not.
And we have to consider how long they have been home.
Anna has taken off and is above grade level.
Ava is doing great and at grade level.
Sam(young for the grade) is doing really great in Math and is almost at grade level for reading.
Ellie has a cognitive delay and is a grade behind at reading level.

With the new crew we are doing preschool learning, counting to 20, learning our colors in English, beginning English words, doing our ABC's and the phonetic for the vowels. Mia and Melissa are ahead in math facts- the end of first grade level BUT they have missed so much - skip counting, time, and so much more. 
They are a mixture of grades and as they learn English we will have to figure out where hey belong?

Madeline, Luke, Emma and Abby are preschoolers!
(Sweet Emma will always be a preschooler)

There are so many options- go with what works for you as far as the style and content.
If it doesn't work for your child you may have to switch.

Sherri asked-
I love your blog and this was the first time I have ever followed you. You do have a big family and I too wonder how you do it with so many? I have two children, one bio 12 yrs and one adopted in Feb 2012, been home one year (2) yrs old and it's hard sometimes. My real question for you is, how did you get to adopted 3 at a time? I have a friend who now wants to start paper chasing but is hoping to adopt 5 this time around and one agency that he spoke too, told him he could adopt 2. Any suggestions for him? Thank you! And God Bless

Adopting 3 at a time is not the norm but an aception. Our agency was willing to ask China for special permission to adopt 3.
A few agencies allow families to adopt 2 at a time from China. China allows it BUT some agencies are not okay with it. IF your friend wants to adopt 2 at a time he should go to an agency that allows that in some circumstances.
To the best of my knowledge families can only adopt 5 at a time IF they are bio siblings and that would not include China.

mbcfree asked-
Hello! I want to know what your husband thought when you first mentioned adoption and what does he think now? Has he ever said enough? Is there a final number? I know talking about money is tacky but how do you afford all these adoption? Two adoptions has practically killed us! Thanks!
Adopting was actually my husbands idea and he was the one that started to look into it!
Of course, he knew me well and he knew my heart. I was in shock, disbelief and thrilled all at the same time when he brought it up!
HOWEVER, he had know idea how much this spoke to me and how many treasured blessings this would include!
Hubby has seen the blessing that have flowed freely from our adoptions.
He is happy, peaceful and thankful to GOD!

Is there a final number?
Sadly, yes... there is and then we will work hard to bring the children to others home instead of ours.


Laura asked-
I have been following your blog for several years and only now posting a comment. Sorry! Here is my question: How do you care for yourself and take time for your own needs with so many children? Do you have someone who cleans, cooks, and looks after your children? Thanks! Bless you for providing a home for these precious children.

I do a few special things for myself.
I get my nails done every 3 weeks and my hair highlighted every 7 weeks.
I have a wonderful friend that babysits for us when we have Dr appts, when we go to China and when I have a little me time.
I put ion make up every morning and fix my hair- whatever happens after that... happens!
I really can't worry about it- too many important things going on!
We have a cleaning lady every week and hubby and I do the cooking- BUT we live very close to the grocery store- thank you Jesus!
Our children have blessed us more than we could have imagined!

Judy asked-
Hello! As a mom of 6...only 4 at to you keep all the coats, hats, SHOES, and closets organized? Do you have a chore chart? What do you feed everyone? that in itself seems monumental! Who babysits....and ok this is personal.....but with 3 kids in the in bed with you....HOW do you ever get any "hubby" time? Mine would mutiny! just sayin. your house always looks so picked you have toy rules? or no toys...or are they all in the basement?

We have so so many shoes and in MN they need to stay in the mudroom!
Usually they are put away but sometimes they are a few layers deep ; - ) in the mudroom closet!
We clean the closet out seasonally and often shoes that are in good shape "move on" to the next child!
e have cubbies in the mudroom and hangers in the closet- we hang or hook everything!

Toys belong in the basement or window seats/cubbies in their room.
We will always struggle with things out of place BUT that's okay!
AND we will always try to get things in their place!

Right now our new children need to be with us- they alternate between the bed on the floor, our bed and their bed in their room.
Truthfully they would ALL sleep with us IF they could! 
We often feel more popular that we would like to be!
However, with new adoptees this is major success!
So for now, we do what we need to do for the children.

As far as our time... well, we make it work out!
Sorry, your not gettin anymore info than that ; - )
BUT good question!
wink, wink!

thesleepyknitter asked-
We do something very similar to the color-coded, three-ring binder idea for medical appointments. I love it and couldn't survive parenthood without it.

:-) Thanks for asking for questions! I have a thousand, but I'll just ask three, and maybe one of them will be one that you want to answer.

1) What would you say are the top five most important, *specific* things that you have done to develop attachment in older adoptees (not general, such as spend lots of time, but specific, such as requiring that they hold your hand in China)?
2) How do you handle chores -- do you have a chore chart, and if so, do your children respond to it well?
3) I'm always curious about laundry issues in large families; do you have a "system" for getting it all done and redistributed to the right places?

Blessings! So happy to see things going so smoothly for your family.
Question 1-
While in China we serve all the children's food to them on their plates- so they understand who is in control and who it is coming from. We do not even allow the waitress to put the food in front of them. They will look at pictures of food, point to it and act like they want it and then not eat it. We make the decisions and get the food that we think our family will eat. They have to say "thank you" with eye contact to us in Chinese or English.

We have them hold our hands in when walking down a busy road, crossing streets or whenever we think it is needed.

If they want something- only Jim or myself buy it and give it to them(not other siblings and not other people). Such as gum, candy, a little toy, etc. We do not let them give away what we give them. They will do that to be liked by others. 

No one touches our new children but us. We ask the guides not to touch them. Sometimes the guides want to help the children so they hug them or hold their hands. We ask them not to do that- it's awkward but necessary.

And now the one answer you didn't want- we spend LOTS of time together. We have been with the children pretty much all the time. We have not socialized with others yet because it would get out of control and roles would be mixed up. They would become fast friends with the other mother ; - )
Especially if she is younger and prettier!

And... we are continually re- evaluating our strategy! Hubby and I work together to get the attachment results we need!
We are persistent in our efforts. Mia may prefer not to sleep with us one night BUT if the previous night didn't go as we had hoped we are doing it again! (in hopes that it will go even better the next night- and it usually does!)
It is so worth it, even though it may feel uncomfortable.

Both of us want the love, the conversation, the comfortable atmosphere that comes with attachment- it is such a blessing!

Question 2-
We do not have a chore chart although we may in the future.
Right now they know what they need to do and they do it happily. 
I sometime do a gentle reminder and it gets done.

Oh sweet Sarah- you look oh so young in this picture !
You are such a blessing to us!

Question 3-
We have two washers and dryers- at this point three would be nice!
They are almost always going!
The five older girls help fold and everyone else wants to help too!
We are starting to wear clothes for two days!
Me too!
So I hope I do NOT see you on Saturday and Sunday- I'll be wearing the same thing!!
In the summer we will not be able to do that but during the winter- it works!
Our sitter did it while we were in China- I thought it was brilliant!

That is all I can answer for today!
I will be answering more questions in the next post!
Blessings to you!


Rebecca said...

Great post!

Donna said...

So happy to hear I am not the only one who has kiddos wearing clothes more than one day! LOVE your family and all the ways you make it work :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean,
It´s so nice to read your blog.
I have a question for you. When you started your adoption journey you were already an experienced mum, maby wiser ;-) and older. Is your way of parenting different now than when you started with your five children by birth? In what way and why?
God bless you,

Sherri said...

Thank you so much for the answer. I will forward that to my friend!

Joyce Pinney said...

Hi Jean!
I have a question - I was unable to post the other day because I was on my iPhone and for some reason commenting doesn't work on your blog with the phone.

So, how do you handle religious education for your children? Do they attend the program at your parish, do you home school, does the parish make special accommodation for your family?


Jolene said...

Hahaha...It should be called Mudisota instead of MN! We're in MI so I know what you mean! Also, we wear clothes for 2 days, as well...really helps cut down on the wash. We do the laundry per room and then maintenance loads until the next wash day. Seems to work for us....

lori said...

I was adopted with my siblings when I was 3. Our adoptive parents changed all of our names, which my sister and I were not fond of. I got over it but my sister changed her name as an adult. I'm wondering how your children feel about their name changes and if you gave them any input.

ourchinagirls said...

I appreciate your honest answers. We also have had our kids sleep with us for a while after we have adopted! As for laundry, I have a 5 shelf wire rack that is on wheels in our laundry room. When the kids were little, I would fold the clothes out of the dryer and put them on their "shelf" on the rack. As they have gotten older I put the clothes on our bed and it is their job to fold their clothes and put them away. As they are getting even older they will eventually have their clothes in their rooms and if they don't bring the dirty clothes to be washed, they will have to wear them dirty!! We also wear jeans two days, makes a difference if they are messy!!

Still wish we had the way to afford to adopt two this time, but we will be blessed with our new 10 year old! That will make us have THREE 10 year olds!!

Margy said...

Hi Jean and family,

Did you know JCPenney's salon has free haircuts for kids on Sundays? Thought you might like to know that with all of the haircuts you have to get.

I enjoy hearing about about your beautiful family. Also, congrats on your newest additions. I hope all goes well for everyone in your family.


It's a Wonderful Life said...

OK, so I'm a little late on the question but I am curious to know how people react to you and what your son in law's family initailly thought. We have 16 children and are going back to China hopefully in March for our next son. We get all kinds of reactions but where we live it's not completely unheard of for the generation before us. It's not common at all now but some come from families that big.


thesleepyknitter said...

Thank you for answering my questions, Jean! I appreciated your responses to things that you do to promote attachment--very helpful.

We wear the same clothes multiple days, too! We learned that from our first orphanage, which gave baths two days a week, and the children wore the same clothes in between baths and did just fine. I often wear the same clothes to church that I wore on Saturday, just add a dress jacket, and when I was working, I often wore the same clothes two days in a row because I saw different clients on different days. It's definitely not the end of the world.

Thank you for answering all the interesting questions that people have asked. It is generous of you to share!