Driving in the car with my girls one morning, listening to the radio, we heard the station call and congratulate a man celebrating his 100th birthday. "What advice can you give for a long and wonderful life?"
"Well... only have one woman, don't smoke or drink alcohol, and eat one bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every morning."
Words of wisdom in my mind.
Feeling convicted for serving cold cereal most mornings, which happen to be a fave for most of my kids, I resolved to serve oatmeal more often. Two weeks passed before I finally made it for breakfast-- better late than never. The pot of oatmeal was finished-- mission accomplished.
I found out that Rachel and Anna had thumbed their noses up at it. When I asked them about it, they came up with many excuses for not eating it so I simply said that they had to have a small bowl for their snack. Reluctantly they ate a small bowl with sweet milk on it. Mission accomplished--- this Mom fed all her kids oatmeal-- so why didn't I feel too good about it?
Why did I make such a big deal about them eating it? Was it really about making sure they reaped the benefits of eating the oatmeal? They are my best eaters (eating more fruits and veggies than any other child) so why should I make them eat one of the few things that they dislike? Why did I sometimes interpret what my girls do as an "adoption related issue" when in fact every child does it? Why don't I make Adam or Caleb eat borscht now that they have tried it and said they don't like it? Maybe I was the one who was in the wrong.
You can say, I called my Counselor.
I confessed everything to Him and He agreed that I should apologize to my girls for having them eat the oatmeal. I should let them know how I was wrong and how I wouldn't make them eat oatmeal again if they didn't want to. I should ask them to forgive me.
I pulled them aside and pretended that I had to tell them something that I had seen them do. Probably my way of "breaking the ice." They were a bit worried that they were in trouble so when I told them that it was me who wanted to apologize for the oatmeal incident they were all smiles-- and quick to forgive.
So, what is it about your family that is different enough to bring about these changes in Galina? I'm not being sarcastic, I really want to know. I have a almost 17 yo son, adopted at 9 mos thru the US foster care system. He's wanted a new family for years - and I know he'd go absolutely anywhere with anyone to have it. His bio sister (adopted at the same time - 12 1/2 mos older than him) won't say it, but she feels the same. She was recently dx'd with BPD and we grieve for both of their futures. After years and years of intense work, therapy - and ultimately, rejection, we are distancing ourselves emotionally from them both as they near 18. I will always wonder if I had thrown in the towel years ago, if they might have had a better, healthier relationship with another family. I loved them too much to give up, but maybe that was selfish as well. I just wondered, from your perspective, what the difference is. Can she truly love all of you when she's not been able to love her family of 6 years?Also, do you believe in therapy for any of your kids? You've never mentioned it (as far as I remember) and just wondered what your opinion of it was. I'm not thrilled with it since it's not worked so far (after many years, and many different therapists), but we feel it's necessary since our two challenging kids have made comments like, "I will make sure I get a new family - no matter what it takes" or "I wish you hadn't adopted any of us, I will make sure we are all taken away". Scary stuff.
January 24, 2011 3:43 AM
This is not meant to be offensive and I hope it not too personal, please excuse me if is...I was just wondering if any of the children you have adopted, from disruptions or on your own, have received any professional help adjusting? I'm not asking for names or specific situations....it just seems hard to believe that you have adopted several children from disruptions, that were obviously happening for valid reasons, and that the children would turn around and fit and act so differently in your home... I'm just wondering if you and family have ever utilized services available and if so what and have they helped? or ever considered doing so....Just wondering if like the rest of us, you need some help from time to time(or if this is not the case, why do you think your children behave so differently in your family?)I haven't seen much on your blog about this topic (outside help) and it might be sensitive so I apologize if it is, but i was curious. Thanks!
January 21, 2011 8:13 PM
Congrats!!! Just curious.. what country was Galina from? I'd also like to hear your thoughts on outside therapy. Our foster son is in it and I feel like it's making things worse.. but the agency is "making" us take him.
January 24, 2011 8:00 AM
So often Christine, I read and don't comment simply because I just don't know what to say.I am so sad for Galina's other family, they must have so many broken dreams. I see that many of your readers are intrigued with what it is about you and John that allows wounded children to thrive in your home when they have failed in other homes. I'm not sure if that is something that you feel like writing about but as you know there sure are a lot of families who WANT to make it work and are struggling.Whatever it is, I call it a GIFTING from the Lord, I am thankful that You have hearts for parenting...hurt children especially. Blessings,Holly
January 24, 2011 11:25 AM
I figured I would group these four comments together since they seem to be asking the same questions.
Yes, our family receives counseling from our Heavenly Father. He is very much a huge part of our lives-- He is who John and I turn to countless times a day. He not only provides solid words of wisdom to live by, but He is the only One who actually is what He desires for us. Outside of Him, we do not seek additional therapy. Not only have we seen how little it actually helps when talking to some other families, but for John and I-- He changed us in ways that therapy could never have. Why would we seek out anything else at this point? With that said, we have seen two different psychologists at diferent times for two of our children at the advice of the school-- both with differing opinions. Which one is right, and why would we trust one over another-- and why would we go with either of them when our God has never failed us before? Oh, and we are not against medication either-- been there done that. But what little improvement we saw did not outweigh the side effects. Live and learn.
As for why our three girls (adopted through a disruption) are doing so well in our family-- well we do just that-- make them know and feel like they are in this family-- forever and ever and ever. This can be so incredibly hard to do because it requires tearing down our own feelings of failure when things are not going so well, our own feelings of rejection, our own feelings of inadequacy, our own feelings of saying the wrong things, doing the wrong things--- but we have to do it. AND NO MATTER WHAT WE DO NOT LET OUR CHILDREN'S PAST DECLARE WHO THEY ARE TODAY AND WHO THEY ARE GOING TO BE TOMORROW.
That means-- no excuses. Period.
So you were abused in the past. Let's talk about it, come to terms about it, pray about it, talk about it some more, pray about it some more, learn from it, and come out stronger in the end. Let's all agree that you have seen some of the worst in people but let's conquer with love anyway. With God anything is possible. Let's choose love... forgiveness... and count the blessings we have today. What we can't do is use their abuse as an excuse for them to treat me like I am the enemy. That doesn't give them the okay to curl up into a little ball in the corner from me like I am going to beat them when I raise my voice to them just because they don't like what I am saying. After all, they are the one who lied, or "forgot" how to wipe off the table, or chose to disobey when they knew better. (But at the same time, raising my voice is something I have to work on.) That means that they can't misinterpret my refusal to give them a second piece of cake as witholding food from them just because they had to beg for food at one point in their lives. I promise the cake will be their tommorow-- just take a chance and trust me.
So you didn't get to celebrate many of your past birthdays. I am so sorry, and I wish I could have been there for you to let you know how much you were loved even then-- but not having very many birthday celebrations before doesn't give you the excuse to be entitled to numerous gifts now to make up for lost time, or be ungrateful for not getting what you always wanted, or acting like a brat because you never learned how to handle being the center of attention, or have a birthday celebration at all if you have lied, disobeyed, and lived in opposite land for the past few months. (At the same time, I have to constantly be asking God to work on my heart like in the case with Annalyn's birthday.)
I think you get the picture. Now that may sound really harsh to some, but you asked-- and it works-- and by not enabling our children to live in their past we are freeing/enabling them to live for their future! Some things you just have to let go of or they will eat you up and prevent you from accepting the love of a family. I remind my girls of this often because I don't think they should deny themselves from forming healthy, long lasting relationships with God, with us, with their future spouses... children.
In addition to parenting this way, we have tried to live our our lives parenting outside of conflict before it happens. This is where adopting through a disruption has its advantages. When you adopt from an orphanage you don't really get an accurate picture of your child's behavior. For the most part, that kind of information is glossed over or omitted all together. But when you adopt from a disruption you will most likely hear everything-- not always but most times. This gives you the chance to address behaviors before they happen-- the real question is though-- do you have the guts? Or do you fear rejection, saying the wrong things, and conflict in general? This is where you have to be the parent and step up to the plate. Sadly, this is where I see most adoptive parents fail.
Trust me, I don't have all the answers and though we are thriving-- it does not mean that we do not struggle from time to time. We go through our seasons. We sometimes get so caught up in the behaviors that we lose sight of what is important and why we are doing what we are doing. I myself forget that God is right there with me, and I cause myself frustration and grief that I could have went through with Him or avoided all together.
And that is where grace comes in. I ask for it daily-- actually numerous times a day. I give it to my kids daily. That means not keeping a record of wrong. Not completely forgetting, but completely forgiving. That means not reacting until you have walked away from the situation for awhile and cooled down. I promise that if you walk away, and simply call out to God, when you come back you will be less angry... cooler.... calmer... and what seemed like a big deal won't be anymore.
Now does what all I have said mean that I only think there is one way to raise kids (No) or am I just speaking from our own experience? (Yes) Do I think less of someone who benefits from seeing a pyschologist? (No) Would I be willing to change how we do things if I saw that my children needed something more? (Yes)
Do you normally punish all your children when one does something wrong? That seems very unfair, especially when you already know which one did it. I mean, it's good that you convinced her to own up to it, but punishing all of her siblings because of her failure to 'confess' just doesn't seem right.
January 24, 2011 7:05 AM
First of all I am not answering this question because I feel like I have to defend myself, but I would like to help you understand why I do this. Have you ever heard of Adam and Eve? Did their sin not pave the way for all of us? And what about if someone in a company embezzles hundreds of thousands of dollars? Do you think that no one else in the company doesn't get punished when they don't get the bonus they had been promised? And what about if a spouse cheats and brings home a sexually transmitted disease-- is that fair? The fact is-- sin does not play fair. And sin affects everyone it touches. So maybe it seemed unfair, but it is how I have handled situations like these before we even adopted for the first time. And it has cut down on lying incidents quite a bit because facing "wronged" siblings just isn't fun.
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
P.S. Galina is from Russia.