Thursday, December 1, 2011

Possible Things to Come

I asked another adoptive mom (who just brought home her 7 year old son 6 months ago from China) to give me the good, the bad, and yes even the UGLY about bringing home an older son.  Here is her email/thoughts she sent to me. 
here are a few tips and thoughts.....

If I really have to analyze him I would say he definitely struggled at the beginning especially.  The first several days really shocked me as far as his grief response.  He SOBBED for hours at a time.  He was stubborn sometimes and would not move away from the window in our room and longingly looked out to wait for his "friends" to come (we didn't know that was what he was looking for until several days in--made us a little mad actually cuz the nanny thought it was a great idea to tell him they were coming to ease his pain on adoption day.---I kind of want to smack her for that, but alas I cannot..)  

He did not eat much for several days.  That surprised me too.  I had the whole "adopted kids eat everything in sight" mentality.  He went on a hunger strike.  

The language barrier was big, but not undoable.  He would find his own ways to communicate with "signs" of his own and attempts to make words.  It was challenging but really didn't take many days/weeks for us to start to understand one another.  We quickly figured out "show pia"  (not spelled correctly, but it means "I gotta pee"---and "I will drop trau whereever you put me down outside so you better get me to where I need to go")  lol

I think at age 7 I didn't really fully expect him to want to play with toys at such a younger level than he was.  Think simple and almost preschoolish stuff.  

Nor did I expect, once he got toys, that at the beginning he would not play with anything at all.  He just organized things and put them back in his suitcase.  By the way....theTWO things he LOVED and totally got into---a beach ball in the room, and glow sticks.  But, he sort of took over the suitcase where they were and broke all of them in 5 minutes.  I would have liked to save a few for another day, but hey.  We ended up indulging him while in China and bought cheap dumb stuff like plastic phones, sticker books, sunglasses, etc.  I think that is a better way to go than to bring too much along. He took more ownership of that stuff.   And it was a little more familiar to him.

On the topic of toys, I would not take a ton along.  Our son just was too overwhelmed with everything.  He wanted "real" stuff--and dare I admit, he LOVED the HOT pot in the room.  He would make tea for us, etc. (all supervised of course) but "toys" i brought just were hard for him to connect with.   skip it -- he's not an infant---(sorry if that sounds mean or harsh, but I waisted weight room in our suitcase with well intended gifts.

On that topic--after 6 months of being home ---he has TRULY learned the art of PLAYING with toys.  I LOVE IT!!!!!!  He plays pretend, etc.  HIs obsession is Fire trucks, Police Cars, Ambulances, etc.  Not sure if that is universal with these guys, but may be something to consider taking--a few matchbox cars or something.  He did come to us saluting police officers.  =)

So my list of "difficult" would probably be:

Language barrier--we used Google Translate, An app for my husb IPhone and a sweet phrase CD for adoptive families ((SImple Language For Adoptive Families-)

Unable to play with toys

Heavy Grief

Food strike (or I've heard it can go the other way around and they eat till they get sick)

OH Here's one we didn't find out about until after week ONE...UGH!!!---Kids this age still take NAPS!!!!! Some of his crabbiness at times and meltdowns could have been averted by 2 hours of sleep in the afternoon.  Something to consider.  Even a down time or rest time of some sort.

Not sure if this is good bad OR ugly but he was very much into self grooming, orderliness, having his backpack with all his possessions close at bedtime, having clothes laid out next to him for the next day (and wanting to wear the 3 layers of clothes he came in --often!!!) 

Only read this next part if you are in a "good" place in being ready for some meltdowns and fierce ugliness....(this has significantly resolved so find comfort in that)

We struggled a lot with Spitting in my face, hitting, kicking, biting, sneering at me and saying what we have deemed "Chinese curse words" in our house, clawing at me, etc.

These issues seemed to creep up a few times a week at the beginning, then slowly have faded.

This sounds sort of dumb and basic, but when life normalized I got lazy with things that I think are HUGE to these older kids---ie a specific bedtime, and routine for the day, food at regular times with snacks at his leisure (I'm not finicky about snacks), letting well meaning friends take him for a day/or half day and then bringing him back (he would meltdown at the beginning because he wanted to go live with his friends).  He is more flexible with some of these things now, but food was huge....low blood sugar (he is not diabetic) just created a monster in him.  My fault many times, but we've worked it through.

We really do believe he was well cared for and not abused in China.  He shows a lot of affection toward us but in his anger he has said some pretty mean things.  He does apologize now.  He really has come a long way.  Writing this really has reminded me of that.  

If I think of anything else I'll write more.  Right now he is on my lap giving me a kiss.

Let me close with saying....I'd do it all again in a heartbeat if we had the finances....

These are just a few of the "things" we are preparing ourselves for in a few months.  This adoption will be drastically different than our last 3 for sure!  So I am preparing myself for seeing Ian more like this the first few days and months.  No one ever said adoption is easy.


Sally-Girl! said...

And then again it can all be very good!! Gio's adoption was one of our easiest adoption at age 7! Language barrier the hardest at first, because he is a smart boy and had lots to say but couldn't. Even after a year home and his English is great, he can still have trouble finding the words in English to say what he wants.

Love my boy and you will love yours!!!

Noreen, Emily and Abbey's Journey for a Son and Little Brother said...

I guess I will forge this path a few months before you! Let's pray that both our boys are resilient and adaptable, and expect the worst, bracing with prayers!

Love you! Noreen

Sharon Ankerich said...

God is preparing the way and although I agree you need to be prepared, God tells us not to worry about tomorrow~ today is the important. You and Ian are going to do great!!! I just know it!!! XOXO

K said...

I had it sooo easy with my daughter. You were there and saw it all. I would not bring as many toys and no markers or little part toys - nothing that requires fine motor skills. My daughter had terrific fine motor skills, but it was too much to keep track of in the tiny hotel room and there was enough to do already with getting to know each other. I'd have stuck with stacking cups, a beach ball, and one coloring book with 8 crayons had I known better. With a boy, I'd go with a toy car instead of the coloring book. The scooter I bought in China that folded up was the best purchase there, perfect for the long hotel hallways.

I'm very excited for you!