Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lots Of You Asked For It, So Here You Go 5 people asked for it.
But since I am a stay at home mom and interact with exactly no one most days during the day
5 people is like a lot

So here you go
my thoughts on older child adoption.

The question of how we "do" older child adoption
how the intricacies of that play out in our home
how their adjustment is
quite honestly sets me back a bit.
When asked about "Older child adoption" I have to wait for that "older child/hard to place" label that used to define them rise up from the recesses of my brain and come back into my frontal lobe....errr...cerebral cortex?.....I that I can remember
because I truly don't look at them as "older children". 

They just fit.
They fit perfectly into our family.

I don't know that it is harder.
I don't know that it is easier than adopting younger kids & cute squishy lil babies.

It's just

In the beginning in China it was fabulous.
They were old enough to somewhat have a grasp on what was happening.
All 3 came right to us.

(other than Joshua apparently thinking he was going to live in Italy....sorry buddy)

There were
No tantrums.
No tears.
Just pure
adrenaline induced
For them
for us
we were one big group of really, really excited people.

Yet, ironically, if anything illustrates the udder brokenness of these orphans
it is that moment
because really,

children should not be that excited to be handed to
and walk off
with perfect strangers. 

But they somehow know.

They know that what is to come

a future
a bed

simply must be better than what they have now.
Because when I try to picture my biological children being handed over to strangers at the age of 7
and the definite opposite reaction that they would have
it illustrates just how big a void these kids sitting in those orphanages have.

There is nothing like a family.

There is
like a family.

Practically, older kids just aren't as needy in the physical sense and since we were far beyond diapers and nap times this worked well for us.
They could walk, go to the bathroom, understand that it was time for bed, shower, dinner.
(Man I am SO good at charades now. If anyone ever wants to play, let me know. I'll kick your butt.)

This I knew was a key to our families successful transition.
These kids were in the same phase of life that we were already in so the adjustment on our part was minimal. (Not to trivialize adoption itself but in this specific context(as it pertains to age) it was a minimal impact.)
I think had we chosen to go back down baby lane it would have been much more difficult (for us).
We just weren't there.
Our hearts weren't there.
Our sports filled evenings and weekends weren't there.
Our older kids weren't there.

I knew how to do 7 year's old.
Our youngest 5 are all within a 21 month block of time.
The twins are 6 minutes apart.
Push em out, push em out, waaaaaayyy out!
Sorry, that was a throwback to my brief cheer-leading days in high school.
But I digress...

Jacob is 14 months younger than the twins.
Joshua is 3 months younger than Jacob.
Joey is 4 months younger than Joshua. 
If we could do anything,
we could do the 6-8 year old age range.
I knew what their maturity level was, what would appeal to them, how to speak to them.
We were there.

Granted, some of it may have been lost in translation but I think the message is this...
Kids are kids.
Red, yellow, black and white they, at their core, are kids.


Experiences will color that,
Trauma will cover that,
Abandonment will change that,
Institutionalization will harm that

but somehow I could see right through all of that muck and mire
and  I could see that underneath it all
there was a little boys heart.
I didn't know how long it would take to unearth.
I didn't know the hardships would come along
I didn't know how much pain was in the process
but the heart
the heart is there
it's just waiting. 

It's the uncovering of all of the "stuff" that comes along with adopting older kids that is where the challenge can rise up

So though I don't change diapers
or warm bottles
or wake up for 3am feedings
and I don't hurry home for nap time
I fight a battle that is larger than myself.
A battle that will consume them
if it weren't for love.

So yes.
It's hard.
I do sleep all night
They do go to school all day
but I  have to be ever mindful that though their neediness doesn't lie in the physical sense
there are still 3 little hearts under my roof that are still in a state of mending.
Because not only do I have my own parenting wisdom, tips, techniques and training to impart on them,
I am simultaneously un-parenting all of the bad habits, harsh words, and lack of love that they endured when I wasn't there.

Have you ever tried un-parenting and parenting at the same time?
Pretty sure that's not the word I am looking for.

It's not just "Hey buddy, this is how we do this."
It's "Hey buddy, I know that was how things were done before and I'm sorry that happened, ~ hug ~ hug~ but here's why that's not ok. Now let me show you what we do. ~ teach. train. model. ~ hug ~
Then it's "Good job! I knew you could do it!" ~ hug~
All whilst speaking Chinglish and having about 50% of what you are telling them get lost in translation.

8,000 times a day. 

They will be 14 years old before we ever even break even.
They will be 14 before their time in our family becomes longer than their days spent in an orphanage.

This is a marathon.

I am not who I used to be.
My patience is bigger
My heart is heavier
My joy is tempered.
Just like a normal marathon
it's exhausting. 

It takes an inordinate amount of energy
of patience
of love
of patience
of patience
of teaching
of training
of patience
of love
to bring these kids out of the darkness.

And if I'm being honest....


And if I'm being more honester. (yep I know, not a word)
it's the reason I haven't been blogging.
It takes SO much to be continually pouring love, encouragement, discipline, and training into these kids that I often find myself


And most days
when the sun has set
when 7 sleepy heads are happily snoring on their pillows

I have nothing left to give.

Are we happy?
Would we do it again?
No doubt, yes.
Is it the hardest thing I have ever done?


Are there moments when I think to myself,
"Am I being punked?"
7 boys? Seriously?

I vastly underestimated the amount of life training that they would need at their age.
Things like

A stove is hot.
You knock on the door before you walk into people's houses, you can't just walk in.
Walk on the sidewalk, not in the street.
Kindly do not remove the food from your plate that you don't care for and place a big blob of it directly on the table.
Don't walk down the hallway from your room to the bathroom stark neked. You're 8.  

Small things of course.
But when each and every moment,
each and every action
each and every transition
requires explanation it takes awhile to get the hang of that.
it took me awhile to get the hang of that.

But last I checked my goal isn't to take up residence on Easy Street,
I think that is a crowded, overpopulated neighborhood. 

be more like HIM
It's what I want to do.
It's where I want to live. 

So is older child adoption really more difficult?
I don't know.
It's just


  1. What a great post! YOu inspire me! I was just sitting here thinking how tired I am and how time consuming parenting these 2 is....and I only have 2! I agree with everything you wrote. We did go back to diapers with Wesleigh and that was a VERY hard transistion for me, but there are things about Gracie being older that are hard too (yes...throwing the food off your plate!!! UGH!!!) I get it. You are amazing!

    PS...I had 4 extra boys here Sunday night and 3 extra on Monday. I thought of you as I was feeding them all an ungodly amount of food!!! You'd better be saving for that food bill NOW!!!

  2. You rock. I love your honesty and the fact that you freely share your heart. I want so badly to not be on easy street and continue to walk in His will.

  3. hehe...'life training' makes me laugh (with you, not at you!) Can I add to that: you don't have to say what you're thinking; when you decide to hug someone you do not need to throttle their neck; if you wish to ask me a question about someone i'm talking to, please wait until they leave our presence :)
    Thank you, Sonia, for taking time to post!

  4. Where is the like button?

    This needs to be linked to, re-posted, SHARED. Can I link to it?

    I really need to get real on my blog about older child adoption. It is not that I've been romanticizing. I just haven't talked much about it.

    Thanks for keeping it real. BTW, I met one of your IRL friends, Alisa, and it was great fun getting to know her. She speaks very highly of you BTW! :)

    Great to hear updates on Joseph (and his heart). Thanks again for sharing.

  5. LOL! "walking down the hall stark neked" At least you're the only girl in your house!

    Yes, unparenting and parenting at the same time is hard. Some of it is just cultural stuff, too. (Like chewing with your mouth closed and not talking with your mouth full!)

    But I'm with you. I wouldn't change a thing. And I would do it all again. Just not anytime soon; I'm exhausted at the end of the day with my 6.

  6. Annnnndddddd that's why we ask you to blog. Because you write with honesty, humor, and the truth. And you do it well. Thanks for sharing, my friend. Once the boys get to 14, promise me you'll write a book. Okay? Good. I'll be your agent.

  7. Awesome post, thank you so much! Love that last picture! :)

  8. Agh! What is with the food thing, why can't it just remain in their plate uneaten? Luci always points to some random piece of food and says " me no like eat this" and wants it off her plate?? Throws it right on the table! We don't make them clean their plates so not quite sure what is up with that. Maybe our little ones can explain that one to us one day. Thanks for writing and keeping it real.

  9. Well, this one has produced a dam of tears that are trying to break free from my eyeballs. Sonia Martin, I miss you! When I think that you are raising 7 boys without screaming, and yet the older will say, "He doesn't know what he's dealing with.", well, it just makes me want to sit with you again. Thank you for being willing to empty yourself every day for those boys. They are going to make great men.

  10. Then endless talking we get to do. My voice sounds like a teen boys these days..I think because I'm constantly talking when the kids are home from school.And I have only ONE boy that age.
    Keep going...and please keep blogging!

  11. Thank you for returning and thank you for this blog! As a single mom about to bring home two older girls I needed to read this! Thank you for giving your all for your family! Thank you for taking time out for us in the blog world! I pray that your strength will be renewed and you will be refilled each night as you rest to keep on keeping on! Bless you!

  12. I have to say this is refreshingly honest. Thank you for that.

    We adopted 2 boys from foster care at ages 4 and 6. Our little man who was 4 was abused and neglected to the point that he was emotionally a 2 yr old. We're 2.5 yrs later and STILL untraining and retraining.

    Trying to change the heart from "victim state of mind" when disciplined and discipled to a personal responsibility state of mind. Its downright hard. The repeating over and over...and the having to be "on" all the time is exhausting.

    It is also a lonely road. The average parent doesn't parent a child with attachment issues, anxiety or past trauma and they don't "get" why we have to parent a certain way...They don't get why I might say no to my child seeing a certain movie or doing a certain activity (because my child will NOT be able to handle it!). I can't vent about the issues with just anyone. Special needs are not always seen, especially when they are emotional special needs.

    Anyway, thanks for the honesty. Parenting older children (and yeah I consider 4 and 6 with lots of abuse to be older) is not for the wimpy or weak...and it is definitely the most beautifully painful thing I've ever gone through. I would NOT change my decision ever...I just would have humbled myself way beforehand because I came into this underestimating things too. Now I have to be real...very real. Its an awesome thing and we're glad we did it!

  13. BEAUTIFULLY written and from what I can see as a veteran mom (bio and adopted kiddos) you are doing an AWESOME job!!! Sure it is exhausting but when they emerge into lovely young adults all your labor and exhaustion will be SO worth it! Trust me! Keep up the great job mom! You got it goin' on! P.S. three little girls would turn your brood into a nice round number :):) :)

  14. Thank yoiu so much for this post. I read it over and over. We are bringing our 7 year old son home from China in late Summer. We have two bio daughters 10 and 7 and an adopted son from China who is 3. So, we will have 10,7,7,4 by the time our son comes home. Keep posting when you have time. Your honesty is preparation for many of us waiting families. Blessings and prayers to your family.

  15. There ya done went and did it! Ya done talked me into adding another one to our family. Golly..thought I might catch up to your family..but we still be laggin' behind with only 6. Cotton pick! I done thinks that the ole' man won't be too appreciative of ya blazing ahead like that!!

  16. Well, It sure is nice to have you back! Happy to see that living in a house of 8 boys/men hasn't dampened your sense of humor! God is faithful. Welcome back.

  17. The "EMPTY" part....I so get it! And my precious little from China is only 3!! So my unparenting isn't even to the level of yours X3...but it does empty me...every day!
    Thank you for your honesty....thank you for your humor....thank you for being willing to share! God Bless You...and I pray that He continues to fill you back up each day!!

  18. I LOVE this post! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You have such a great attitude. That means so much. We are adopting an older child...waiting to bring her home, sometime late this fall.

  19. Oh, Sonia, as always I find myself smiling and nodding as I read your post. I have thought of you so often as we've been here in China these past two weeks, knowing the challenges of adopting at ANY age, but particularly the different challenges of adopting older children. You amaze me, my friend. I have missed your blog posts, but I have known in my heart that you have indeed been focused on much more important--and demanding--pursuits than informing and entertaining your posse! Praying for you as you empty yourself daily. May He fill you faithfully as you depend on Him.

  20. Great post, thank you for your honesty as we consider older child adoption!

  21. Can we use this on We Are Grafted In? Great, great post.

  22. Thank you for explaining life with older kids. I have three: 11, 10 & 8. Two boys, one girl. My daughter has repeatedly asked for a sister and God has called us to adopt. We haven't taken the plunge yet, but reading this post has helped to confirm that older adoption is for us. To adopt a girl between the ages of 6-8 would be wonderful. I am sure challenging, but God has called us to it, so He will certainly make a way for us to do it. We are an AF family, too. I need to get up and jump in. Waiting on my better half to join me on this wild ride! :)