So sorry it has been 10 months since I last wrote about our adoption, but getting three kids at once has kept us pretty busy!
The six-month period where a case-worker comes once-a-month to monitor you until the adoption is finalized stinks. I hated it and so did the kids. I know they do it to protect everyone and make sure the transition is smooth and working, but it stinks!
First of all, the agency doing the monitoring switched the caseworker after the first month, so my oldest totally freaked out because she thought the new one was there to take them away since this had happened every other time she got a new caseworker. The worst part was they never explained why they were there or what happened to the kids, despite my begging them to, so it was rough each time they came.
We finally told the kids to act normal or they would lose their daily reward that day. This finally worked by the fourth visit. Last couple were okay but we were all grateful when they stopped!
Our adoption was finalized January 9, 2012 and it was such an awesome experience! The Judge gave each child a teddy bear to adopt and they have loved taking care of those bears, especially my middle child who is such a mother hen! We have constant conversations with her about the right order to do things in: meet a wonderful man, get married, get to know each other a couple years and THEN have kids. Her birth mother wasn’t the greatest role model for this, as you can imagine, so re-training!
Once the kids got our last name they could not stop telling people who they were! So sweet!
My oldest girl just had her Kindergarten graduation and we are so proud of the progress she has made this year having not been to pre-school. She is reading above grade level and her teacher is amazed and so complimentary of her progress. She asked her how she learned so many words and to read so well and she answered, “My Mom worked with me.” That is true. We worked hard every night because the teacher expected her to learn sight words, but had not taught all the blends, phonics skills, etc. to help the kids learn the words so I taught her all 100 by teaching her the skills. Frustrating experience and one of the reasons we are moving.
So in January we put our house on the market. You cannot move during the six-month monitoring phase unless you want to do another home study (which no one wants ever!) so as soon as the adoption was final we called our realtor! We need one more room since the grandparents come to visit a lot more, and having the kids all at home made me realize we need more indoor play space, as well, so we started looking.
It took us finding a foreclosure and being in a multiple-offer situation to get the right house for our new family, but we finally got it and now have to sell the one we’re in! We have an open house this Sunday, so please pray it sells!
The kids love the new house but moving with adopted children has been an interesting journey. They have never moved with a family–only away from their family in a situation where they didn’t get to take their stuff with them, so they have lots of questions. “Do we get to come, too? Are we taking our food? Can we take our clothes? What about our toys? Are we taking the cars?” Lots of questions and lots of answers, but I think they finally understand we’re all moving to the new house and all our stuff is going with us! Whew!
My middle daughter has thrived since I switched her from her original MDO to the one at our church. The other one was a little shady and she hated going and once I saw how they spoke to her I let them have a piece of my mind and moved her. Don’t anger Mama Bear!
She is VERY smart and creative but pretty shy. She has gotten a lot more confident as the year has gone on. She used to throw huge fits that lasted over an hour where she screamed at the top of her lungs and destroyed her stuff, but when she finally realized she would not get rid of us that way and we would not let a 4-year-old be in charge, she quit.
Some “wise” well-meaning person tried to tell me if I was just consistent with the time outs, she would stop. I told her I am a child psychologist who knows that time-outs have a limit and the Bible says many things about spanking as part of discipline and when she is mine, it will be utilized in a fair and safe manner! That lady and anyone else who does not have an adopted child would best serve adoptive parents by nodding their head rather than trying to give us advice. Just sayin’.
Anywho, as soon as the honeymoon period of the adoption finalization wore off (about a week later) the kids got their first spankings. Let me say this: spank with structure and it works like a charm. Don’t spank in anger and don’t use your hand. We have a three time-outs rule. If you get three, you get a spanking. That’s all I will say but I disagree with people who say it should not be an option. Our adoption worker told us most parents end up spanking their kids on the way home from the courthouse after the adoption is final! This is simply because time-outs only go so far. Period.
Okay, off my soap box and back to the progress. Our middle child has not thrown another fit since the adoption was finalized, has stopped trying to be in control and has started spontaneously hugging us and telling us she loves us and loves living here and going to church. Praise the Lord!
This happened sooner for our oldest. She was quicker to realize the difference between us and her birth parents and so she was saying “I love you” and hugging and kissing us before the adoption was finalized.
It took our boy until after the adoption finalization to say, “I love you” and hug us, but he does so freely now! He has had the hardest time giving up his fight for control–mainly because his foster grandparents treated him like he was a baby and let him run the house. When we got him, he was three, but could not potty in the toilet, could not eat on his own and could not walk very well. He does have cerebral palsy, but he had a brace and they did not work on anything with him so he got carried everywhere.
His pre-school has been a huge help. They helped us get him potty-trained in 2 1/2 months, and he now eats on his own and is walking so much better! While he was fighting for control, though, especially before the adoption finalization, he would give his teachers huge fits with screaming, throwing his shoes at them, kicking and hitting them and trying to bite them. They hung in there though, and we worked together to stop this behavior. After his first spanking, it stopped almost immediately. His foster grandfather would spank him all the time, but neither we nor the school were allowed to and he knew it and took advantage. He is very smart!
Now he does so well in school and has grown up so much! He comes home and tells me about his day. So sweet!
Due to his cerebral palsy, we got a great pediatrician and pediatric optometrist who take Medicaid (hard to find) and the pediatrician referred us to Scottish Rite, which is this amazing not-for-profit hospital that exclusively provides free treatment for kids who have orthopedic issues like our son. They have the top doctors and treatments in this field and we are blessed to be able to take him there. They gave him a new brace that has helped tremendously and we meet with the neurologist later this month there to plan for his future treatments.
Before I close this update, let me speak to those adopting or thinking about it. Adoption is a calling. It is not for everyone. It is not easy and there will be many times where you want to give the kids back and go back to your other life.
Do not feel guilty–that is normal! Even parents who have their own biological kids feel this way, but it gets better. “This too shall pass,” as the Bible says. Just remember that love is not a feeling; it’s a commitment. You have to make the daily choice to love your spouse and your kids. People who don’t make that commitment to love don’t survive their marriages or as parents. The only way to succeed in this commitment, as I have continually learned over the last 10 months, is prayer. Talk to God–He’s your only hope and the best parenting example we could ever have! I have enjoyed watching how He parents His people in the Bible and felt less guilty when I am doling out punishments for my kids’ hair-brained schemes!
Please keep praying for our family and thank you for your investment in us! The kids participated in our church’s baby blessing this past Sunday (my first Mother’s Day and my oldest’s sixth birthday) and did great! Praise the Lord! The oldest two have asked Jesus in their heart to be their Lord and Savior, but we do not think they are ready for Baptism yet, so we are waiting. Praise the Lord!