I’ve said in the past, as I’ve heard, “adoption isn’t for the faint of heart.” Neither is being home with a 7 year old girl who has spent her entire life bullying other children (she was the oldest in her groupa house) for their toys and hiding them for herself.
Maybe she was the center of attention.
Maybe she never got any attention.
Maybe she never got a hug.
Maybe she’s never been scolded and told she was still loved.
Maybe she’s never been reprimanded for anything.
We will never know the details of her day to day life in the two orphanages where she spent her first 7 years.
We only know we try not to treat her too differently than the boys.
We only know shortly after a scolding we need to reinforce love.
But somewhere there is a line we don’t want to cross.
Too much scolding and she’ll never attach to us.
Too little scolding and she’ll never be responsible.
There are times when my 7 year old daughter crawls up into my lap, wraps her arms around me and I rock with her. She lets go, looks up at me and studies me for a minute or two and goes back to snuggling. This goes on for about 20 minutes each time. Maybe 1-3 times per day.
We also learned after being home the first week, Mayah will attach to anyone. So we’ve been keeping her to ourselves as much as we can.
With that being said…we’ve let her join some activities with her younger brother.
*gymnastics-I’m there with her/them the entire time and help the instructor with Mayah. She is a natural and incredibly flexible. Alexander enjoys his sister being there.
*AWANA-they had their Christmas party, and Alexander has been asking and asking for his sister to go, she always wants to go where he does (sounds like classic big brother/ little sister) The church where AWANA is, supports adoption and understands where we stood with hugging and bonding and such with Mayah—they commented on how well she did and how much fun she had. They don’t have AWANA for a few weeks because of Christmas break so we figured we’d let her go to the party with her brother. She stayed in his age class with him. He was very happy she decided to stay with him.
In the beginning we decided no Russian, English only. WHAT? Whose idea was that? mine. We’ve been home for 2 weeks and 2 days, the no Russian rule was lifted immediately…today.
I’ve heard someone along the way it takes 3 weeks to form a habit.
That’s an absolute minimum of 121 habits (didn’t add the weeks past her 7th birthday, you get the idea) that I can find incredibly annoying.
If I begin to list them, I’ll get cranky.
Admittedly, I’m stuck in my ways. It’s hard as a parent who has not changed standards for any one of the first 3 children to change almost immediately. I’ve got to change. Mayah will eventually change with proper love, structure, support and prayer.
It’s hard, I’m not going to fool anyone. Adoption is hard, and in my opinion adoption of an older child is even harder. To top it off, adopting a completely new sex into the house, I imagine is just adding difficulty to the mixture. My whole life I wanted more boys than girls. Having only 1 girl (besides myself, of course!) in the house is crazy hard! Are they born with attitudes? She’s mouthed off when told to clean her room countless times. haha
Each night, over ice cream-Dan and I tweak some things in our day to improve the next. He’s gone for all of the day and into the evening, only leaving him with maybe 3.5 hours (tops) with the kids Monday-Friday. So I suppose, I verbally tweak my day, my experiences, my trials, my errors over ice cream with Dan. Each day we’re able to see and feel improvements. Our love for her is growing. We’re all getting used to her presence, she’s getting used to us.
Things we forget:
She’s not a typical 7 year old girl who has grown up in a stable environment.
She grew up without hugs and love.
She’s never had anything of her very own.
She’s never had a family.
She doesn’t understand English. (yes you may think that’s obvious, yet it’s easily forgotten)
A language barrier makes life incredibly difficult.
Going out in public, to a store, and being told “NO!” because she doesn’t understand how a store works and she can’t put everything in her purse, is stressful on everyone, mostly her.
We pray over her nightly-as we do the boys-and pray she understands we’re not going anywhere.
My heart hurts for her. It hurts when she tries to speak and no real words come out. Not in English, not in Russian. She doesn’t speak either language coherently.
I will be making her a new appointment at the ENT at Children’s Hospital after the new year. Barriers will get smaller.
Thanks for the prayers, friends! We feel them and couldn’t press on without them.
(maybe someday soon I’ll add pics to the blog…or maybe tomorrow I’ll just post pics!!)