Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Last Question - Part One

Likeschocolate asked-
So here is my question for you, the other day on a blog called Death by Great Wall in a lecture she went to on having multiple adoptions and having your home become not a home but another orphange how do yo find time or spend time with each child to make sure they feel special. We have 4 children ad will be adding a child from China come fall. While I know this is what the Lord wants me to do I am worried that my children will feel like they have less of me. So do you have a formal system of who gets to spend time with you or what do you do???

I have written many post answering this question but I felt like something was missing?
So I decided to go to the experts and ask them for their thoughts on this topic.

Sarah, Ellie and Ava talked with me about this question.
(Anna too but she was in a foster home and too young to remember)

What was it like being in an orphanage?

Sarah said - 
There is a lot of hitting at an orphanage. Kids hitting kids and nannies hitting kids. 
I didn't have anything of my own and what ever I had, a bigger kid would take it away.
We would eat whatever was served. I never got the food that I wanted or felt like.
I didn't like school because the other kids at school were mean to me because I was from the orphanage. I would rather just stay at the orphanage and take care of the babies instead of going to school and being made fun of...
I never had any money for food or snacks. The other children with parents had money and would eat in front of us. Sometimes they would give me some.
I was always hungry.
No one could help me with my homework and no one cared how I did on my homework.
We didn't have pajamas. We would wear our clothes to bed and then keep them on the next day. We didn't wear underwear. 
There was a few toothbrushes but they were icky. There wasn't any toothpaste. 
The big kid would take all the combs and brushes so I couldn't comb my hair. They wouldn't let me grow my hair long because I couldn't ever brush it and it had a lot of snarls in it. 
So they would cut it all the time.

I slept with a large girl that would push me out of the bed. 
The person I shared a bed with would kick me a lot.

The big kids would blame me for things I didn't do and I would be punished- they would hit me.
They locked me in a room and I couldn't get out- I screamed and screamed to get out.

I watched other kids get families and I wanted my own family so much... it hurt...
I felt so bad that no one came for me...
Look at the little girl on the right...
that's our Sarah...
her friend, the little boy on the left never got a family...

Ava said -
There was a lot of people in the orphanage. Lots and lots and lots of kids.
(Obviously she thinks our family is small compared to an orphanage!)
In China the medicine was yucky.
It was hard to make friends in an orphanage.
 (WOW, I thought this was so interesting. I have noticed that kids come home unable to entertain themselves, unaware of social cues and unable to play with another child. I would have thought they had many friends and decent social skills because of constantly being with other children. I have heard other older children say that "that child" really wan't my friend, I hardly knew them. AND yet they were with that child in picture after picture and even slept in the same room- it is because they are merely surviving in an orphanage. It was because children were leading children with out adults guiding them and teaching them how to behave.)

Ellie said -
No one really taught me how to learn in school and no one cared how or what I did.
Some kids where really mean and took things from me, hit me and made fun of me.
They were really awful to Emma...
They would get my backpack dirty and then I would get in trouble with my foster Mom.
My foster Mom hit me and she wasn't home very much.
People lied to me...

Why we like to be HOME-
we get a Mom and Dad
you get to fix Mommies hair
we get to do school
Daddy brings good food home
we have lots of food at home
mom and dad help me with school
they are proud of me and of my school work
people are nice to me
we can have a nice family
I feel healthier, I feel better
my teeth don't hurt any more
we get to have a birthday with presents!
we learn about Jesus
we have our own clothes
we can have pets
we learned another language
we get to do gymnastics and homeschool gym and swim

you can have some things of your own
at home we have good food and get to have the food we want
nice brothers and sisters
Mom and Dad
big brothers and sister are fun
you go to the Dr and dentist so you stay healthier
we do a lot of fun stuff in a home
meet nicer people when you are home
we get to go places
we get to go out to dinner sometimes
we say prayers
we go to church on saturday evening
we laugh a lot

Why do you like being in a big family?
lots of fun with sisters and brothers
we play and laugh
fun to sleep in the same room
we like to play outside together
I never get lonely
always someone to play games with and play pretend with
we can play family with our brothers and sisters
if we run out of toothpaste we can take it from our brother or sister
holidays are really really fun!
birthdays are really fun and we get presents

(Sarah is front and center)

What don't you like about being in a big family?
sometimes little sisters can be irritating.
little brothers too
sometime they tattle on me

(Sarah is the first child)

Do your parents have enough time for you?
mom teaches us all day
we do fun things every weekend as a family
mom and dad are home a lot

And then of course one said- 
kind of ;-) and then laughed
(because children always want more time and more from you and YOU have to draw the limits on what you can give)

yes, they answer our questions when we ask
we sit on their lap and visit at night 
We get lots of hugs and kisses-
 oh yes, lots and lots of them!

How can I (mom/Jean) give you more time?
get off your computer 
(Ha! Okay, point well taken and it is something I will be doing less of... 
Although I will still be blogging!)

What do you wish would be different?
more candy would be nice
I think we have enough
I can't think of anything...

I have more to say on this topic and I am planning to write more but I decided to start with the children's thoughts, for now.

So... do the experts realize that there are more children waiting than families willing to adopt?
I realize that some may think that a mega family is not the best place for an adoptee.
I don't agree.
although I do agree that not every child is a good fit for a mega family.
It really depends on the needs of that child.

If some of these mega families do not adopt the children, they will continue to wait in the orphanages. You have just heard from the REAL experts- 
They desperately do NOT want to be in these orphanages...
They want a HOME.
They want a FAMILY.
They want LOVE.


Mama Ds Dozen said...

Good question . . . and GREAT answer.

"how do yo find time or spend time with each child to make sure they feel special"

I have been asked that question more times than I can possibly count.

We had our first 6 bio. kids in 6 years . . . and continued on to have 10 bio. kids . . . before heading to Ghana to adopt 3 older siblings.

Here are some of my answers . . .

#1 Because we homeschool our kids, they get MUCH more time with Mom (and attention), than kids from smaller families that spend all day every day at school.

#2 The relationships that each of the children have with all of their siblings is irreplaceable. When we had 8 - 12 kids living at home, we always had the largest and loudest cheering section at every event . . . track meets, baseball games, musical performances. We are LOUD and PROUD. :)

#3 "Alone Time" with Dad and Mom is usually found when Dad or Mom head out to run errands, and take one or two kids with them (often stopping for a special "treat" before coming home).

#4 My teens have always known that "Mama will stay up as late as she needs to, if anyone needs to talk". This has meant MANY late nights (with teens sometimes having to "take a number" for their turn . . . that I wouldn't trade for the world. Deep. Meaningful. One-on-One Time

Your children are BLESSED to have such a large family to love them. They are BLESSED to have a Dad & Mom who take care of them . . . who educate them . . . who celebrate them. They are BLESSED to have so many siblings to grow up with.

Keep up the good work.

It's a Wonderful Life said...

Great Post! This is very real and powerful. I appreciate the time you took for this. It's hard for others to understand what we do offer and that it is good and the kids love it.

My kids want me off the computer as well. :) I keep telling them when this adoption is over I won't be on so much. Then the next adoption comes.

Chouchou said...

thank you very much, it's very interesting to ear your children view of the life in an orphanage.

My daughter was 20monthes when we meet her so she do not remember and we will go to China next thursday to meet our son of 2 a half in Huainan.

Your family seems very happy and it's a happiness to read you.

have a good day
Severine in south France

Karen Twombly said...

Thank you. So powerful.

Sherri said...

I really loved this post! Hearing the words from the children themselves, very heart breaking. My heart so goes out to the children still left behind.

I so PRAY more and more are adopted.

Sherri in Fl

kimjax said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post, Jean. So timely for many.

Emily said...

Wonderful post, Jean. SO insightful.


Shauna said...

Beautiful post, straight from the heart of those who waited and those are the ones we need to stay focused on not the world's reaction to us! Thank you!

Liz said...

this post was so good for me to hear today. I was so sad about JD's recollections of life in China and feeling angry/sad/confused on why he was treated so terribly but sadly see they all were. I'm so thankful for my 2 from China (and 2 bios) and they are home safe and happy. Can't wait to read part 2 (and maybe parts 3 and 4!!)

Eileen said...

What wonderful answers! And the pictures to go with it were so powerful. I was especially touched by the picture of your Sarah watching another child get a family. It just breaks your heart.

Sometimes a life in an orphanage is almost romanticized--I can think of a few different fictional stories where orphans stick together and have heartwarming experiences. While I think there certainly can be some great example of love in an orphanage, even in the best institution, it's still an institution.

My son was nearly 4 when he was adopted and although he didn't say very much about his time there, one night he gave me a little insight into life as an orphan. I was tucking him into his bed and he said, "One night, in China, I need to go potty, but NO get out of bed at night. No, no, no." I asked him what happened? Did he wet his bed? He said, "No, I cry and cry and cry and an ayi get me and take me to potty." I said, "Oh, I'm so glad she did that. I bet when she took you back to bed, she tucked you in and gave you a kiss on the head and said, 'goodnight XiXi'."

He frowned and said, "No." Then his frown turned to a smile and he said, "Only a Mama do that."

Such a little thing. Getting tucked in! Yet that didn't happen in the orphanage. Ever. And it's those little things that add up to a life where a child feels loved and appreciated. It made me realize that there was nothing more important I could be doing in that moment than tucking that little boy into his bed.

Joy Altman said...

THANK YOU for giving your children a home, and family, and love! Thank you for the testimonies of your young ones of their lives before and after being adopted. Amazing. We are waiting to bring our daughter home from JiangXi - our first adoption. Perhaps our house will look like your someday, LOL

Lori said...

Great post, Jean!

Donna said...

My blessings from Liberia, West Africa relate many of the same things that yours did. Though we do not have a mega family, I believe any child would rather have a family than live without one.

Donna said...

Thanks for such a great post! Hoping that others "hear" about real life in the orphanage. If they only knew what the kids go through each and every day.

Although my days of adopting are over, I still pray for the kids left behind and SO thankful to families like yours who take on more than their fair share ;)

Keep up the great job educating your kiddos AND the blog world!!

Megan said...

So interesting and well said! Thanks for sharing!

Stefanie said...

Beautifully said - and with such heartbreaking insights. I am sure this post answers the questions of naysayers better than anyone else could.
Tell them "thank you" for sharing so transparently :)
Hugs to you and your beautiful family!

The McIntires said...

Love this! Thank you for sharing!

Jody and Dani Medford said...

It's time for more folks to get out of the stands and onto the playing field of adoption - kids need families!
Please tell Sarah thank you for the truth on orphanage life and happy birthday from Team Medford in MI.

Wendy said...

Just remember, more people in a family means more love. The biggest difference is "LOVE." What I heard loud and clear by Jean's beautiful childrens' comments is that they are loved....that is the heart of a family, no matter what the number of family members it involves. My daughter wrote of her favorite things for a class assignment. She is in 4th grade and has been home from China for 5 years. She made it very clear in her story that for many, their favorite thing might be a toy or a place to eat...her favorite thing is her home. I applaud all who can and do raise large families. Jean, you are truly an inspiration, not only to your beautiful children, but to others. Thank you for sharing.

L.J said...

We have 2 from China and would love more. Are older children considered waiting children. Here in Canada the waiting children info doesn't mention age as a factor. I know that China has slowed down the adoption of babies to almost a standstill and it makes me cry to read Sarah's memories and know that all those babies will face similiar lives. PEople sometimes ask me if they'd be better off in their own culture, I will direct them to your blog so they can see how wrong they are.

Sarah said...

I found your children's words compelling. Thank you for their willingness to share their perspective. God be praised for what he has put together in your family!
Sarah Risley

Jennifer P said...

Even a "good" orphanage is still an orphanage. What a great post differentiating between an institution and a family. Eternal investment makes all the difference!

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for posting this. We have been home with our older son for almost a year, and he already tells us stories that break my heart. Even the foster homes run by people in the U.S. say that they can't give these children what a family can. Love you guys for just caring and doing. Thank you!

Sally-Girl! said...

Great post friend as I read your blog from home for the first time in what seems like forever!!!

I love that you got the kids perspectives on this question. I get this question asked all the time as well especially now that we are adding another treasure!!

Your post makes me want to add one more so badly!!!

blstmama11 said...

Our daughter was in a "good" orphanage, was loved there and at school and yet she has changed so much being in a family. I almost felt guilty taking her away from all that love...but now she gets tucked in and kissed(in her timing) everynight. Her needs are met by the same person, a mama. And she has learned to care for others by being a big sister with a mama and baba to guide her. The feeling of quilt has been washed away. We only have 5, but according to Jim are ahead of him at this age....YIKES!!! Thank you Jean. Mega families are a blessing!

Natalie said...

Thanks to you and your beautiful children for sharing this. I hope many, many people read this because your children answered with such honesty and love.

Judy Deaton said...

Thanks Jean! Great post. Sara in the picture with the family adopting.... be still my heart. Too heartbreaking, and a much too common feeling for those left behind. And why do kids and adults think it's ok to abuse a child that already struggles? Bless you all!

Janet said...

Great post. AND, we don't kick them out on the street at age 14! As you well know, parenting doesn't end at 18. The love and support is for a lifetime!

Karin said...

This is the BEST post I have ever read on this subject! How can anyone argue with the children who have lived it? Thank you so much for this!!

Anonymous said...

i loved this post jean, i've been thinking about it all's my favorite. thanks.

Sarah said...

Jean, this is definitely one of the best posts I've ever read. Sarah's answers made me cry. All these kids really need is the love of a family.

Heather said...

We only have three kiddos but I can appreciate the question. GREAT insight in your answers. Wow! Incredible post.

Annie said...

AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh dear Jean, you know how much I LOVE this post! WOW!

Lisa said...

Fantastic post! I grew up in a large family, so I'm not quite sure where and why people came up with the thinking that it would be like an orphanage??? The reasoning behind it is actually offensive! Not to mention the math doesn't add up...10+ kiddos in a home vs 600+ in an orphanage...hello?

Yes, we had a lot of children running around when I was growing up, was it crazy? Yes! And fun!! We had built-in friends! Fast forward: today my siblings are teachers, a police officer, an officer in the military, business owners, and a Pastor's wife...I'd say my Mom did a pretty good job with her little "orphanage." Lol!

Hunan Mommy said...

I'm a longtime reader, and I can't see past how happy everyone looks to ever think about size! Though my daughter was 16 mnths when she came home, generalities of orphanage life seem to be universal. Thank you for opening your child's lives to share!

likeschocolate said...

Thank you so much for answering this question. For those of us who have just started this journey, this is great insight to what life is really like for these little ones. I think we can almost put blinders on sometimes when we see photos from certain orphanages and tell ourselves life for them is not so bad. Love is the key and a place to belong is more important than a clean house or riches of this world. Thank you! Kelleyn