Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Julia, my first daughter

My daughter Julia has a unique place in our family. She is my only biological daughter. When she was born, I had to keep checking her diaper because I couldn't believe that I finally got my girl. After her birth, we went on to have three more boys. She was our princess for seven years.






We always hoped to give her a sister, so when we decided to adopt it was only natural that we wanted to adopt a girl. Who knew that we would eventually end up with four more girls--- all within a 31 month age span. Needless to say, Julia was no longer the princess of the family. Now there were five!


During the beginning stages of our very first adoption of Anna and Sveta, we got some very hurtful comments. "You don't know what you are doing. You are going to forever change your children's lives and possibly screw them up. Why would you want to risk bringing in someone else's child to raise when you don't even know them?"

For us, it was a wake-up call. Quickly we knew which friends were supportive and which ones were not. For us, the idea of an adoptive child ruining our family was as ludicrous as saying that one of our six biological children might ruin our lives. We believed then and believe to this day that a child whether bio or adopted are exactly the same and therefore any sister that we gave Julia would be a blessing no matter how God joined them to our family. A biological child can just as easily cause problems in a family, and to avoid adopting for fear that an adoptive child could mess up our perfect little family was essentially saying that God was not big enough to get us through the hardships. I know better than to doubt my God. I think having this attitude from day one is what has carried us through the good times and the bad.

Anyway, Julia has handled our growing family with such an unselfish attitude, that at times I feel like it is just to good to be true. I mean how can she just be totally fine with sharing all that was once hers with four sisters now---all of whom could be totally annoying to her (and vice-versa)? There is a balance that I feel like as a mom I have to maintain with all of my children---- yet they each need something a little different. I am totally up for this challenge and find it very rewarding to be able to help each of my children feel special in their own little way.

With Julia, it is making sure that she knows without a doubt that she holds a special place in my heart (I will never forget those first seven years where it was just her and I) and I understand that she might struggle with feelings of jealousy while still letting her know that her sisters are just as important and special as her in their own way. I want her to know that I am aware that it is not only her sisters who have had to adjust to their new family, but it her that also has to adjust to them now being a part of our family. Make sense?

The other day Julia was very emotional after school. She was quiet, irritable and a time bomb waiting to go off. I picked up on it and right away thought that it must be one of the times that she was regretting having so many sisters. I was waiting for her to tell me about some huge fight she had had with one of them on the walk home from the bus or something.

As I was sitting with her on her bed, I kept trying to guess what was wrong. I was sure I had it nailed and was rehearsing how I was going to address her feelings. I wanted to be sensitive to how she was feeling yet I knew that I would have to remind her that wishing for them to be gone was wrong because they were forever a part of our family just like her brothers---- though I am sure she would like to snap her fingers and have one or two of them disappear at times.

When she finally told me what was wrong, a huge sigh of relief came over me. This had nothing to do with her not wanting sisters-- nothing at all. A big shame on me for automatically assuming that this is what was wrong. I should have given my daughter more credit.

"Today we were weighed in groups of three. And I was the heaviest, and this girl told everyone in class." Julia was devastated. I was angry that the school was still weighing the kids in front of each other after all of these years knowing full well how sensitive weight issues are in this day and age. Julia is not fat, not even close and she is very tall and beautiful, and fast meaning she is all muscle, yet now because some insecure girl decided to shoot off her mouth to embarrass Julia, now I have a daughter feeling that she is too fat. Did I mention that I was angry?

But at that time all I could do was to try and pick up the pieces of my daughter's embarrassed, broken heart and help her to realize that she is one beautiful girl. I shared with her my experiences as a very overweight girl in school that always tried to wear the lightest clothes that day just so I would weigh less. I remember those days of being weighed and they were very devastating to my self-esteem.

I am so sorry that Julia of all girls had to experience this (even when it shouldn't be an issue), but at the same time, it was a beautiful moment that the two of us got to share. It reminded me that maybe, just maybe I don't praise my children enough or tell them how beautifully and wonderfully made they are.


And just like my other daughters, Julia is amazing from the inside out.

36 comments:

  1. Dear Christine,
    I would be pleased to be the first to say that what the school did to your beautiful daughter absolutely stunk. They must seriously have lost their minds, and hopefully letting them know how hurt she was will make the point without having to give in to the anger that is so hard to avoid when someone harms your baby (my husband calls me "mama tiger" at times like these and I have to watch my temper!) Julia is beyond trim, so can you imagine how the truly heavy girls felt?
    Of course, there are many lessons to be learned here. About being more Christian than the teaser; about what Dennis might feel like when he gets to that age and how everyone will need to support him like you are supporting her; about not being disdainful of fat people; and about how even models and actresses hate their looks. Everyone can find something to hate about the body God gave them (the grass is always greener...).

    All of my boys are gorgeous, yet I, too, have been shocked when they expressed serious dislike of various body parts and were so insecure. You can never assume someone knows you love them, and you can never assume they feel confident in themselves. Some things are like mother's milk; you can never get too many expressions of love or too many "put-ups" (as compared to put-downs). The good thing is that once one is reminded of the need to dish out compliments, it's lots of fun to do! So, enjoy the homework assignment you gave yourself, and I am so sorry Julia had to endure such a hurtful experience! Totally unnecessary and wrong of the school. Sherry in Ohio

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  2. Please tell Julia I think she's radiant and beautiful, inside and out! Her light shines through her pictures!!

    I can't believe they are weighing kids in school. I feel the mama bear coming out in me! I would be angry too!

    I have to share one more thing. When we brought Linzhi home from China the guilt nearly killed me as I watched my Rachel struggle with "who is she and why is she here". I know God does not make mistakes so all I could do was cling to the truth and promise of my faith. I look at my babies now and see how God specifically chose these little girls to be sisters, it's such a blessing to watch them grow closer everyday. In fact, they are both asking for a brother...LOL... Your sister story touched my heart. Thanks for sharing.

    Hugs,
    Amy

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  3. I echo Sherry in Ohio's comment. It's totally wrong of the school to do that, they should be more sensitive to those issues in this day & time.
    What a beautiful daughter you have, inside & out.
    I mentioned you on my blog today. I am really moved by your family and wanted extra prayers for Dennis! =)

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  4. Hi. Found you at dysfunctional mom's blog today.

    Prayers for Dennis in the the upcoming weeks...and for Julia as well. She did not deserve that treatment from the school or the child who embarrassed her. You handled it beautifully though.

    I just read through the last week or two of your blog. Loved it. Truly inspiring. I can tell God's love is surrounding you and your family. It comes through in the grace of your words. Blessings.

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  5. She is an absolutely beautiful girl.

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  6. Hey there,
    Thanks for you sweet comment. I think we are feeling better. =) I hope Dennis doesn't get sick either. It's a real stinker. I honestly can't believe how the school is handling things. Especially when the whole world is acknowledging the problem we have with diseases like anorexia, and bulimia. Shame on them, but shame on that little girl too. Her parents should have a good talking to her also. I think one of the most important thing we could do for our world is make the girls understand how precious they truly are. If we were all good at that, what an amazing world we'd have. I hope she can overcome this quickly. Things like that are hard to forget. Hopefully she learns and grows from it though. My first instinct is to act. lol I wanna go and rip into the people in charge. I guess that's every mom's protective side coming out. You are such a great mom/woman/wife/friend. I hope you're well, and that all your children are as well. Emotionally and physically. I pray for you every night. Love your face.

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  7. Weighing kids shouldn't be an issue. Letting kids tease is. Julia is not 'bony-skinny', she shouldn't want to be... she is athletic and looks beautiful and healthy the way she is! Some people try to choose a shape/weight that does NOT work with their body type, and it NEVER looks good. Sounds like the other girl must have picked up some weight issues - probably from home; very sad for her.

    Muscle weighs much more than fat. Tell Julia that when we were in the Army, we had mandatory weigh-ins all the time... anyone who works out more than average, ALWAYS weighed more than the charts recommended, and often, the hugely muscular types (men and women), went way OVER the recommended weight for their height. They would have to be measured with a tape measure to see that they met the 'body fat' chart (measurements of arms, neck, waist, etc.). You could look at the person, and all you'd see was a healthy, rock-solid muscular, soldier, no fat, but the scale said they were overweight, in the 'obese' range. How stupid is that? These were soldiers! They were supposed to be strong and muscular! Average weight charts do NOT take the muscle weight of someone with an athletic build into account.

    I always liked being tall and strong - a very handy physical trait. Who needs to say anything when your mere presence gets attention? I was called Amazon a couple times by people trying to tease. How is that an insult?! I thought it very cool. Wish I could lose some excess weight now that I am older (fat is more persistent, darnit), but when I was young, active, and trim, I still usually weighed more than most of my peers. Who cares? I didn't. Stand tall, square your shoulders, and be an Amazon. Be proud of how God made you.

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  8. I'd be at the school this morning complaining about that. I remember the dread of being weighed in front of my class 30 years later.

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  9. I would be making a call to the school nurse about the group weigh in. Can't believe the insensitivity. With all the issues that kids have about body image, why would they submit kids to this?

    Julia is just fine and definitely not overweight. The girl that teased her needs a talking to from the school nurse.

    If this affected Julia so much, just think how the child that does have a few extra pounds must feel.

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  10. Hi Christine,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for the kind comments.

    I can relate to your daughter's embarrassment so well and I hope this is something she can truly put out of her mind.

    Best of luck to continue confirming her beauty. God has given you great insight in dealing with your children.

    Is there any particular book you follow or recommend for adoptive parenting?

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  11. I'm not sure why a school would even need to weigh a child. I can understand that they would do eye screenings as vision could effect school work but it is no one's business what a child weighs except the parents and doctor.

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  12. That makes my blood boil! At this age, there is so much variation even in height that there can't be a good comparison of weight. Of course Julia will weigh more if she is taller than someone else, or more muscular. I agree with the commenter that said the other little girl must be struggling with some weight issues, and also with all of the comments that said how BEAUTIFUL Julia is!!

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  13. There is absolutely no reason for the school to weigh the children. I remember that also and more then one girl in my class had a very unhealthy body image and complications. I would be one the phone with the school and the school board this am.
    Your Julia and my Julia are both strong, beautiful girls. Weight is never an issue as long as they are healthy and able to do what girls need to do!
    I've always expressed concern about Julia being the only girl. I know that if we do adopt again, my husband would like a girl (2 of each, even set). Your thoughts certainly make me reconsider my position on a third boy.
    Please tell Julia she is absoultely beautiful!

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  14. Julia is adorable! I always wonder who was biological and who was not. They all look so much alike. Just like you I continuously get comments about what I am going to do to my other two kids by adopting two older kids! Like you said, you know who is supportive and who isn't. Unfortunately for me they are family members. It really hurts to think they can't just support my decision and go with it. It isn't their business. My kids are so excited! Every birthday wish is for a new brother and sister.

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  15. Hi Christine,
    I can relate to everything you said. Julia is a beautiful young lady and it's horrible that the school weighs the kids. My son thinks he's fat because of a comment someone made. He isn't fat he's just tall and stocky. I spent hours trying to convince him there is nothing wrong with him. My husband and I are thinking of adopting. Most of my family is against it and two of my friends think it's a wonderful thing. What are your feelings about adopting out of birth order? Can you email me? My email is junebugfamily3@gmail.com
    Thanks DJ

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  16. I am very disappointed with the school publicly weighing the children, especially girls with all of the body image issues they face from our society.

    Julia is just beautiful.

    We have one couple who we were quite close to who do not support our adoption. They have refused to discuss Sophia or support her quilt or anything else to do with her.

    We have slowly drifted away from them over the past couple of years due to other things, but it still makes me sad that they don't acknowledge our future daughter.

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  17. What! Julia is not fat at all, not even chunky! Kids at school can be so cruel.. She is beautiful just the way she is!
    I have a question about Anna. She is 10 years old correct? I am just curious about her height because I remember in a older post that you mentioned she had a problem.. I am wondering if my daughter has the same issue. Can you please ilaberate (SP)in Anna's issue.. All your children are gorgeous! My prayers are with you and your family while Dennis goes through this trying time. He will do great!

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  18. i don't understand - why is the school weighing kids? i've never heard of this???

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  19. I Christine--I just found your blog through Dysfunctional Mom and I absolutely love it! You are amazing and I can't wait to read more about your family.

    I'm sorry that "weighing incident" happened at school to your daughter. Why would they be announcing their weight to other kids anyway?? Weird--but it sounds like you both handled it well!

    I only have one sister--but I wish I had more! I think you can never have too many sisters!!

    I'm adding you to my blogroll...

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  20. I remember being weighed in school. How humiliating. I, too, was a "big" child, larger than any of my friends. That is so damaging to a young, impressionable self esteem. I truely feel bad for Julia.

    On a side note, we, too, have faced lots of negative reactions concerning our adoption. Our doctor (at the time) even said we should worry about receiving a child with "bad blood"!! Can you imagine how cut off some people are? I realize adopting is not an option for most people, but please.

    We have no bio children. We felt adopting and sharing our lives and love with some children who have been given up on or who have no family of their own was our calling. So many people have commented that having no bio children was weird, we must not be able to have kids, you can't love adopted children, etc. I try not to let these comments discourage me, but it is hard to listen to some opinions.

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  21. The memories started flooding back, I too, was a "big" girl and will never forget when we were weighed in jr. high. Standing in a long line praying that know one could see my weight. Thankfully the school was sensitive becuase they would put a piece of paper over the scale while you were weighed. You are a wonderful mother and I am sure that Julia will one day look back on this time and remember the love that was given during her time of hurt.

    I will continue to pray for your gorgeous little baby that the surgery goes well.

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  22. That was really stupid of the school!! They really need to re-think their method of weighing the children!!

    Your daughter is beautiful!! She has such a big heart. I love the pics with the baby!!

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  23. Julia is so beautiful. There is no reason she should have to encounter stuff like that. I remember those days in school. I too was always picked on because of weight. It's sad really to see that schools are still doing that sort of thing.

    You are a wonderful mom to let her know she isn't alone in this area and that she is beautiful. Good job mama!

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  24. Oh, I`m so sorry Julia had to go through this. Please tell her that yet another reader thinks she is beautiful inside and out. You can see in those photos that she is a loving big sister. It can`t have been easy to go from being the princess to one of many! But she seems to be doing just fine.

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  25. I remember those awful days too, but I was referred to as "bag a bones" cuz I was the tallest and skinniest.
    They took us in groups of 5 and starting in 7th grade weighed and measured our height and then the most embarrassing question of all....
    When did you start your period?"

    AHHHHH!!!

    I never did. I didn't until college so every year, I was laughed at and had people gasp at my awful news.

    They really need to get a grip and stop this stuff. (I was in CA)

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  26. An unbelievable story. I cannot really add much that other commenters haven't already said.

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  27. Christine, I am also Krisinte,and the mother to 6 beautiful bio kids and 2 beautful adopted daughter, Like you I had 4 sons and then finally had a daughter, we named her Julia. :o) 8 years after she was born we had Meghan, or second daughter and as you know Meghan had Down syndrome. It was hard on Julia to suddenly have a sister and have a very ill sibling who needed a lot of attention. Then mom got sick and that added to her confusion.

    Happily I am Ok and she is a sophomore in HS now and doing well. However, the issue of weight always comes up with her. She is very thin but weighs more than most girls her size. We have big bones in our family, it makes us weigh more than other folks. Everytime she was weighed she would have issues for weeks, I hate that society does this to our children. I have gotten fluffy since chemo, and I am older, but I was thin and fit most of my adult life, I truly understand how she feels, I am struggling with this older and larger version of myself. I wonder if I would care as much if folks did not keep telling me I was larger than I used to be?

    Hug your Julia for me. She is beautiful in every way.

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  28. I'm sorry your beautiful daughter was made to feel anything other than the perfect creation of God's love, that she is! She is fearfully and wonderfully made and is perfect just as she is! (By the way, you're right, she is FAR from heavy!) Thankfully she opened up to you and you got to use it as a teaching session, so that some good came from it!

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  29. That is a shame. Maybe it is time to go have a heart to heart with the principle. There is surely a better way to do that whole thing! I love the pic at the bottom on Julia and Dennis! So precious!

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  30. Julia is, without a doubt, beautiful. In every possible way. She is loving. She is caring. And she has a mother who will serve as a good example.

    To hear "You don't know what you are doing. You are going to forever change your children's lives and possibly screw them up. Why would you want to risk bringing in someone else's child to raise when you don't even know them?" is beyond belief".

    BEfore I gave birth to my kids, I didn't know them either. Based on your (very pathetic) logic, I should have given them up because of this. Wow ... isn't this close to a call for abortion???

    Children bicker ALL the time. That's what children do. I did that for 16 years with my brother and neither of us is adopted. Yet today we love each other with a strong solidarity. Not because we are of the same blood, but because we have a life-learning-curve in common.

    I DO find inspiration in watching Christine's children interact. And I am BEYOND inspiration at my admiration at her adopting such a numerous family. Her life is one of my dreams, but I have finances and a husband who won't let me do it. So I do it by proxy through you.

    Thank you.

    To forever change a child's life is not necessarily a bad thing. I have two boys aged 10 and 8 who two years ago were introduced to a handicapped little sister. In no way am I equating handicap with adoption. What I AM saying, is that my boys have adapted (how close that word is to 'adopted'!!) to their little sister with wonder, admiration and furious love. All her personality and achievements have been theirs, as they watch her evolve, progress and grow up. My sons, through their enjoyment, love, nurturing and play with their sister, are growing up to be responsible, caring, loving human beings. Alleluyah!!!!

    To hear that this reader thinks that changing a child's life can screw them up is ... beyond belief. I admire Christine's accomplishments enough to not use other adjectives. But "cowardice' and 'bullying' and 'not knowing what the F you are talking about" are some of the expressions which leap to mind beyond my sense of diplomacy. Sorry Christine for letting them escape!!!

    Why can't you people just leave this blog alone? This family is doing a fantastic, inspirational, exemplary, selfless and wonderful job of bringing up a huge family.

    Why oh why oh why would anyone want to criticize that? Unless of course, they are just very evil .....

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  31. oh that sucks. ((HUGS)) for both of you.

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  32. Christine-
    First let me say that it is really stupid (can't think of a better word that would not offend folks) that the school is weighing kids... it really is none of their business - and to do it in front of other kids - absolutely stupid!
    Obviously - love DOES have a weight and your daughter must be overly loved!
    What a beautiful girl! You said all the right things! Go Mom!

    Amy

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  33. That really stinks!!!!! I am mad, too. I remember my girls weighing the most because they were so tall and not "twiggy", but more muscular. It still makes them feel badly for weighing more than the other girls. Julia, you are so beautiful and perfect just the way you are:)

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  34. I agree with all the other posters. That's messed up. I would guess they're doing it as part of a "health" class or something, but why? Why not just focus on good nutrition and the importance of taking care of our bodies and stuff like that?? If they MUST be weighed, why in front of other kids? Schools are hyper-paranoid about confidentiality when it comes to grades, but then it's OK to WEIGH a child in front of others? Pure, ummm, bovine poo. And I'm guessing if it's for health class they're probably going to learn about BMIs...which are not a much better indicator than weight of someone's health, because it does not take into account body type, just like what the previous commenter said about the "obese" soldiers. I started weight training a couple months ago to help protect against icky effects of osteoporosis, and though all my clothes fit EXACTLY the same, my weight has increased enough that my BMI is now "overweight." Ummm, I think not. That's all added muscle, just like with Julia.

    Keep up the good work, Mom! I love reading your blog...you inspire me. (I don't have any kids, but I still learn a lot from you.)

    --Sarah

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  35. I don't understand the "weigh in" thing. Something new, neither of us remember doing this - although it has been 27 years since high school!

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  36. Thank you for fulfilling my request to hear about Julia :) that was sweet. As I suspected, she too, like the rest of your girls, seems like a beautiful (inside and out) young woman. THis post (like a few others) made me tear up!

    I am absolutely appalled by the weighing in at school. I was never weighed in school. That is a pediatricians job! None of the kids I know have been weighed in school. I was doubly appalled at work today (I play with kids in the water) when the 7 hear old told me she was upset a boy teacher was covering for me while I was on vacation. I asked why because he is really fun! She said she did not want a boy to see her in her swimsuit. I again asked why and she said because she is fat. I couldn't believe it. She said her mom called her chubby. This girl isn't one of the tall slender types but she is by no means Fat! Her 9 year old friend then said she was fat! She happens to be tall and slender. I could not believe such young girls I mean, 2nd graders were telling me they thought they were fat and didn't want to be seen in a swimming suit! Appalling.

    Even if the school has good reasons behind a weigh in, why on earth would they do it in groups? HOrrible!

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I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.