Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Older child adoption - Our Time in China- Part 3

Sarah insisted on wearing her orphanage pants. I decided not to fight that battle.

Thank you so much for your kind comments! I truly appreciate them!

One of the topics I forgot to talk about is the language barrier. It is an overwhelming thought knowing your new child speaks an entirely different language than you do. I was determined to TRY to learn Chinese so I went out and bought R*setta St*ne Mandarin Chinese for the computer. To make a long story short, it didn't work and I was out a lot of money. If you think you will have the time, go for it. Mandarin would take hours of practice each day and I did not have the time.

I purchase some books from Am*zon that showed pictures,the English word, the mandarin word in pinyon and the chinese character. They were kind of helpful but not all that necessary. Sarah was 8 when we met her. She had gone to school but not regularly. She often chose to stay home and care for the babies. Since she missed so much school she was not a good student and knew very few characters and no pinyon.

I also ordered from Am*zon "Simple Language for Adoptive families". It comes in many different languages. The person that came up with the idea is an adoptive Mom herself and it has a CD to help with pronunciation.

We also used our guide a lot! She was great! Right away we set up hand signals and simple words for potty, hungry, drink, more, help, yes, no, etc. Through her, we let Sarah know what we were doing next and what Sarah should expect. She also had a few "talks" with Sarah which I appreciated! Especially since our little girl had been described as "strong in personality"! A couple when we thought Sarah misunderstood us our guide helped clarify things for her. It really worked great and we did not feel like the differences in language was a problem. Smiles, charades, hand signals and a few words did the trick while we were in China!

Going to China to pick up your new child is NOT a vacation. Do not bring anyone that is expecting to relax or has a lot of needs. While you're in China you will be spending most of your time meeting your new child's needs and then if you have a moment you need to try to take care of yourself! We treated ourselves to Starbucks and had a hidden stash of chocolate in our suitcases!! We also took turns on the computer and the comments that people left were so encouraging and they even helped us problem solve while we were there!

Our daughter Katie did not know what she was getting into, she was very surprised at how hard and how much work it was. I knew that Katie could and would adjust. I knew that she would help me have fun even in the challenging moments. When you go to China make sure you are armored with lots of prayer, a sense of humor and low expectations! You will have fun and you will be exhausted!

I was so bossy during our time in China- I was concerned I would drive Kate crazy. I was giving our dear oldest daughter an education on older child adoption while we were in China. Kind of on the job training! She took it like a trooper, enjoyed making fun of me and we would both end up laughing!

Sarah was always in an orphanage. She had no idea what a family was all about and why they were even necessary. Although I wanted to keep things light hearted in China there were a few issues I had to deal with- defining family and safety were two of them.

One evening... Thanksgiving to be exact, we were at a grocery store that had a few play pieces- an area with balls, a bouncy area, slide and some riding toys. Sarah's new Mommy ran out of quarters (or whatever they were in China). I had given her many so I was fine with the fact that I ran out of them. My new darling daughter was not... oh my, she was mad and she decided I was going to pay. I got many dirty looks, she would not obey me or walk next to me, she ran from me, she held hands with all the other grown ups and asked for money from them. I kept her in my sight. There were two all time lows and that was one of them. I had to walk up to everyone in our group and ask them "Please do not hold my new daughters hand. She is just learning about family and you are not her family." I found one grandma opening up her purse to get money for Sarah. It was interesting because the people we were with did not understand- they were adopting a 3 yr old and they just didn't get it. We ended up not going to dinner with the group, we decided we needed to go back to our room. It just wasn't feeling very safe with how Sarah was reacting (It sure would have been nice to speak mandarin that evening!). I felt like I needed her in an enclosed environment where she would be safe. We ended up eating cold rice in our room. There were many tears from our new little girl. I think this was all part of her mourning and adjustment. She desperately wanted some control. She had none. She took her anger and frustration out on me ( that was okay). I ended up in tears too. It was just an emotional day.

We carried on from there but the next day was one of the times that our guide (an experienced Mom) talked to Sarah.

This is all for today. I may have missed a few topics I was planning to write on. I will have a part 4 tomorrow.


Karen said...

Thank you for sharing. I will be traveling (alone) this fall for our
4 1/2yr old . While I know there is a great age difference between a 4 1/2yr old and an 8 yr old hearing how you coped with your Sarah's frustration gives me hope.

Jill said...

I am loving this series you are doing! My hubby and I have been considering older child adoption for a few months now, so THANK YOU!

Karin said...

I have so enjoyed this series of posts. You have so much insight and wisdom. I know it will help so many parents who are adopting older children. Sarah MingMing is a sweetheart. :)

Nancy said...

Thank you for your honesty!!! I love your mini-series. I followed you on your trip to China, but never realized all these other things that transpired. Thanks.

Kay Bratt said...

Very good post. I know your adventures will be so helpful to other parents out there!