Monday, April 30, 2012

Advice Needed

I asked a good friend of mine, Liz Steinberger, who just happens to be a developmental/attachment specialist, what her best advice for me is for Ian's integration with our family.  She was kind enough to allow me to post her email here on my blog, as I told her it might help someone else as well.  Thanks Liz, lots to process :)

At this age- I would focus on games- Skipbo, Go Fish. Cards- A special project to do together- By 8 everything needs to focus on age appropriate activities. You can not take away the years of pain and loneliness, you can just focus on the present and the future.  You might find with the boys- he is all grown up, but with the girls, he lets a little bit of the baby in him out. I'll be curious if that is the case- let me know. 

A few things
  •     let him know the rules of your home - in simple terms or pictures
  •     Stick with a good schedule- he is more likely used to a schedule and will do better with one than not
  •     Expect a honeymoon period and enjoy it
  •     When the honeymoon is over- there may be some testing- (with everyone- not just Ian- your oldest, your second, the girls) be patient, allow a little pouting with everyone, including yourself.
  •     Expect hording and hiding of food and items - when at home (it may not happen, but be prepared when it does)
  •     Expect some jealousy and potential hiding of others items that are coveted

You may want to do Christmas in the Summer of used gifts- let everyone find something from their private stash that they love and would love to give to Ian- Take Ian shopping at goodwill to find items for everyone else. Then play Christmas in the Summer- Where Ian can be Santa for the day. Show him he has something to give.  I think this would be a good team family moral booster and give him an idea of what it feels like to give and to take- plus I would love to see the pictures of this with your cute cute family. 

Ask each kid what memory they would like to create with Ian- Their own special Ian date- for example- Shelby and Ian make cupcakes together, or one of boys has a day at the races with Ian - on bikes, take pics and build an Ian memory page so he can look back and see what a great memory he had with that sibling. 
Recognize - kids will hook up to their favorite - expect him to pair up, and recognize that one left out might feel rejected, that is where the Ian date night would come in handy.  Ian may bond quicker to one of the kids than to you as his parents. Recognize this, accept and remember God is in this -, so he knows what you can handle.

Find a way for Ian to skype with his friends in China- and maybe write to them.  He may experience survivor guilt and feel guilty that he was chosen and some of his friends are still in the orphanage.  This may be one of the most difficult things to overcome.  Let me know if you see signs of this- he may not share his feelings about that. He may ask you to adopt one of his friends (don't be surprised). 

If you see a severe tantrum ( for some reason I do not think you will) let me know and you can always call me.  You may see more nail biting, food hoarding, stealing, etc (the typical stuff) I think for some reason, you are not going to see any of this- I just get the feeling that this kid is awesome, sweet, and will just fit right in. I never say that easily, but sometimes you just get a feeling about a kid. How does he do in school?

Thanks for asking - it makes me feel like I give back a little - You truly are amazing and I know God is smiling on your family.


So I am all ears for anyone else who has BTDT in adopting the "older child".  Any great advice?!?!

1 comment:

K said...

I have had a great time with my daughter from the start, but after two months home had a revelation...

Keep your new child's world as small as possible. Very small. Very, Very, VERY small. He will be bombarded by things you can't even imagine he notices. My daughter noticed the shading on the windshield of my van and it scared her. When did you last notice the shading on your windshield? Make sure he gets plenty of rest. It's exhausting keeping up with a new language, food, customs, siblings, parents, etc... Stay in charge - all the time. He will feel secure in this. Don't let the kids mob him. Tell them ahead of time to remember his personal space and that it's not a competition to see who he'll play with first, or the most, or whatever. They are going to want to show him everything. That's your job - at least at first. Remember attachment and bonding 101 and stick to it. He might be 8 years old, but he's not had the same experiences as an 8 year old in the US, though his experiences with Kobe did expand his world more.

You'll know what to do once you meet him and have his cues to guide you!