Category Archives: Q&A

Babies vs. Toddlers/Preschoolers Question

Here is my one and only Q&A question…

My husband and I have two young bio girls and we are planning on adopting at least 2 in the near future. In one of your blog posts, you wrote that R&L had a much more difficult transition home, but Gus was more tiring to keep up with all day. Sorry if I got that wrong, but that’s how I remember it. Can you explain more what you mean by that? We feel drawn towards toddler adoption (2-5 years) rather than a newborn or infant, but I am anxious about how the transition period will go.

First of all, you feel drawn towards toddler adoption… that’s great! I think whatever route you chose, you should feel like it’s the best one for your family. And what is best for us may not be what is best for you. I know some people feel strongly about adopting older kids, some people will only adopt young babies, others of us are somewhere in the middle. I feel the same way about that as I do for domestic versus international adoption or country versus country. There is no best option for everyone across the board, only the best for YOUR family.

Anytime you adopt 2 children it is going to be more difficult. And, learning to parent the first time around was harder than adjusting our techniques for a younger child.

There are a few things that are inherently harder about parenting a toddler/preschooler versus an infant. First of all, the care that a baby needs is good for bonding. I pick Gus up countless times a day. I change his diaper, I dress him. I feed him. I can put him in a baby carrier on my back for walks or to make dinner. He learns to rely on me to get his needs met.

You can do some of that with a toddler or preschooler. I can still technically wear Reed, at 5 years old, but I don’t. He’s just too heavy, I get too tired and I want him to burn off energy himself. I am more likely to wear Lena, but the fact that I don’t need… it doesn’t happen often.

I don’t find the same behavior on a preschooler as cute as I do on a baby or young toddler. Eg. Toddler smacking me and smiling VS. 4yo smacking me and smiling. Even if I know that they are both dealing with the same attachment struggles, it is just easier to put up with (for me) on a toddler than a preschooler.

The fact that Gus needs more sleep and I can contain him to a crib makes life easier. It makes it easier for me to take a “time-out” if I need it, because I can put him in his crib and sit with him, without being physically touched or needing to help anyone stay in their beds. There have been a few times when he has napped a bit earlier than normal, just because I was frustrated and starting to need a break.

Gus IS more tiring to keep up with all day– because he’s 18 months old. I also have probably put most of my exhaust with Reed and Lena out of my mind. But, Gus can literally disappear in a minute, while I am occupied with something. He will go out the doggie door or up the stairs. He is also, age appropriately, into everything. We baby proofed our house, but there are still things at his height, like shoes or toilet paper, that he will take and move… making it hard to find them later. I spend most of my day chasing him or cleaning up after him.

Even at 20 months, our social worker still considers Reed and Lena pretty early into the attachment stages. And, when you think about it, that makes sense. Reed has still spent  only 1/3 of his life with us, and Lena has spent less than half of her life with us. When Gus has been home for 20 months, he will have spent more than half of his life with us. Now that Reed goes to school and spends the majority of his waking hours with other adults, we’ve seen some old struggles return. I don’t share this to discourage you, but just to keep it real. The hardest parts of our post-adoption process is over, but there will be life-long parenting that is specific to adopted children. Life-long questions that we are helping our children answer, as it pertains to their past and their adoption.

I hope I answered your question and didn’t over-do it.

Superman’s comeback and calling all questions

Reed starts full-time kindergarten on Thursday. FULL-TIME. This was a big decision for me… I made the big mistake of mentioning it on Facebook. But, ultimately, he is eager to go to school. There were a lot of factors which played into my decision– the personalities of the 4 of us who are home all day, how our day typically goes, etc. and I think this is the best decision.

We spent most of last week preparing for school– physical at the doctor, getting all of the paperwork together, buying school supplies… we were pretty exhausted at the end of each day. We also had our first post placement visit for Gus. Basically the social worker came to our house and chatted with us about how everything is going.

Gus is still teething. He is getting at least 3 teeth right now, 1 canine and 2 molars. He doesn’t love me poking around in his mouth, so that is just what I have seen and felt. Gus and I both have colds. Actually, I think have cold-ergies. A cross between a cold and allergies.

Do you remember those super cute shirts we sold back in the fall? My kids love these shirts. Lena tries to wear hers every day and Reed has been known for wearing it and then putting it back with his clean clothes, so he doesn’t have to wait for me to do laundry.


Gus looks pretty cute in his, too, right?

Well, my friend KJ is selling them now, to bring home her son, also from Eastern Europe. If you want one, NOW is the time to order. Go to KJ’s blog, read the details and buy a shirt! On sale until August 31.

I haven’t been blogging a ton, largely because I am just too tired to put together a post which makes a lot of sense. I just gave up with this one. But, does anyone have any questions you’d like me to answer? About adoption? Or anything else? I will try my best…

Q&A 4/3/12

 “Would you prefer a predictable God who does things just as you think they should be done, or would you prefer an all-knowing God who sometimes baffles you?”

When I first read this question, I wasn’t sure if it was intended as a genuine question, or a rhetorical question intended as a prod that my whining is a bit out of line, or something else entirely. Then I saw who it was from. 🙂 Sometimes I forget it’s not my job to be in control. I think that life would be pretty boring if things always went as I planned and there was never anything greater in store. This whole adoption process has been a test of me letting go of control and practicing patience.. Apparently I need a lot of practice. Does that answer your question? I definitely prefer to be baffled.

“How do Reed and Lena compliment each other and/or drive each other crazy?”

When I thought about how I wanted to answer this question, I thought about our gotcha day, the day we took them from the orphanage. The day it stopped being just playtime for them and became real. Here is part of the blog post I wrote from the next day:

“Obviously, we love both of them and can’t imagine leaving either of them behind. But, I am SO glad that they have each other. In the car, just after leaving the orphanage, Ilya[Reed] was obviously upset. Lena reached over and started stroking his face. The two of them were a riot in the train cabin together. Going back and forth, teasing each other with food. Most of the time, they play very well together and seem to enjoy each others’ company. We are convinced that they are going to be the kind of siblings who are best friends.”

15 months later, this is still so true. I adore their relationship.

Reed is a natural leader and Lena is a natural follower. I think that helps a lot. They love to play together. They do fight over toys sometimes, or they fight for attention. They’re both human beings, so they obviously don’t always get along. But, they love each other A LOT and have a very close bond.

I was wondering if you and Aaron would consider having a biological child?

Well, this is an interesting topic. The question everyone wants the answer to, but I am not sure my answer will be satisfying. Aaron wants to have bio kids. I am kind of indifferent. I can’t really imagine having more than 3 kids. A year ago, I said I couldn’t imagine adopting again, so whatever I say may or may not happen. Sometimes I feel so adoption-centric that I forget we’re not normal and things we deal with are not typical of raising kids. That it would be a different experience with bio kids. For me, it still seems to be something way off in the distance.

My husband and I have been talking a lot about adoption versus having biological children and the unique challenges that a family has when they try and blend the two (which is what our plan is).  I would love to know your thoughts on the matter, and anything that you feel like sharing when it comes to the personal decisions that you and Aaron have made.

As long as we’ve known we were considering adoption, I’ve had this thought in my head. I think I’ve thrown everything I’ve ever thought out the window, the more families I meet. Once you adopt, your child is your child, no matter how they are added to your family. If we have bio kids, they will not share the same history as R, L & A. It’s hard for me to imagine adding a new person to our family who wouldn’t arrive out of a place of loss and hurt… an addition who wasn’t in some way, bittersweet. It really is weird for me to think about. If we decide to have bio children, I am not too worried about how that will go, apart from normal new sibling emotions. I think it would open up a lot of discussion about how families are formed and I think with thought and preparation, it could be a very healthy experience for everyone.

Have the 3 grey fur kids made anything for baby A?  

Just some holes in the backyard. I think they’re devising an obstacle course for him, to test how well he can walk. Oh, and they’ve been trying to get him a cat, but I keep thwarting those attempts.

And do you make them wear shoes too when you photograph them? (I’m picturing miss J in a pair of high heels for some reason;p)

Come on, Amy. We all know Josie is way more of an engineer boot kind girl. Or maybe minimalist sneakers. I can definitely see her rocking some Vibram Four-pads. In Hot pink. Cache is definitely the heel wearer in our family. I thought about taking a photo for you… and then I thought about it some more.

Any other questions?

Hi :)

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in so long. I was sick for about a week there, and apart from that, blog posts just haven’t been coming to me. At least nothing I feel really compelled to share. We’ve had good days and bad days recently. I should update you on some fun things we’ve done sometime.

We’re all missing Baby A. Not a day goes by where we don’t talk about him. That’s actually not what we call him around our house; it’s not what R&L call him. I’ll have to share the name we’ve chosen for him sometime soon.

One thing I’ve been struggling with lately is jealously. We’ve watched families get their court date, travel to pick up their kids, receive referrals, while we wait. I am happy for families who are still making progress, but it is very frustrating for me sometimes. Especially if it is families who we were ahead of in the process before. Honestly, this adoption has been SO fast. I think the reason why waiting any longer is so hard for me is because of all of the ups and downs we’ve had. I feel like we need him home NOW before anything else changes.

We did have an opportunity to send him a little package earlier this week. Reed and Lena colored pictures for him and I took a picture of them with their pictures. I also included some photos of us together from our first trip, a little teether/rattle and a disposable camera. I’d love to get the camera back, filled with photos, but I figure it’s a long shot. I actually don’t know if any of this will reach him, but I hope the orphanage staff will see how much we love and miss him.

This is the first photo I took of R&L. Then, I made them take a new one, with shoes on. 3/4s of our family likes to be barefoot. Who can guess the one who doesn’t?

Linny just posted asking for questions for a Q&A post. I am feeling so uninspired and I wonder if any of you might have questions for me– about our adoption process, how R&L are doing, or whatever? You can email me or comment and I’ll make a post answering questions. 🙂

Name Change Question

Through the grapevine, someone asked me why we’d change Reed and Scarlett’s names. This is a great question and I am so glad it was asked! Please, please, please, feel free to leave me questions like this in the comments. I’d much rather that they were out there, and we had the opportunity to answer them, than you all are just left wondering why we do certain things.

First of all, Erika and Ilya are not their real names. Erika and Ilya are names which Andrea over at Reece’s Rainbow makes up to list on the website. This is so people can’t look at them, think what cute kids they are, and go into the agency in their country and request to adopt them by name. If someone did see our blog and fell in love with them, they would have to call around to orphanages, looking for a cute little red-headed girl and blonde haired boy. Much harder than searching the files for Erika and Ilya.

We do know their real names. Their legal names. However, we have no idea what they’re called in the orphanage. When trying to decide what to name them and researching this topic, I found that a lot of children in orphanages are not called their real names. In Russian orphanages (no, we’re not adopting from Russia, but a nearby country), it is common that orphans are called a nickname… someone which translates to “cutie” or “beautiful” or “sweetie”. We have no idea what name they identify with.

Another consideration in the name change is that we likely cannot pronounce their name how they are used to it being pronounced. We probably could learn (although there are sounds in languages, which I simply cannot make– like rolling Rs!), but Ana in Russian doesn’t necessarily sound like Ana in English.

But, none of these were our #1 reason for changing their names. Erika and Ilya’s real names do not sound like American names. Sure, with people naming their kids Apple and Banjo, lots of kids have odd names. But, I do think that it could be nice for a kindergartner, on their first day of school, to have a name which the teacher doesn’t stumble over, which classmates don’t think sounds weird. From what I understand, most adopted children go through periods where they are very proud of their home country and periods where they just wanted to fit in. Where they don’t want to be known as the kid from Eastern Europe. That’s why we’re giving them names that we chose, which sound American, and keeping their Eastern European name as middle names. 

I know a few kids who always went by their middle names. And if Reed and Scarlett chose to go by their middle names, that is fine. But, we want to give them the option of having a name to fit in, and still being able to keep their heritage.

I hope that this makes sense, and answered questions that you all have about this. This is something we’ve researched, talked about and even brought up with our social worker. As much fun as I think naming is, it is not something that we would do if it wasn’t in Reed and Scarlett’s best interest. I actually think this is very common. I think lots of Reece’s Rainbow families keep their RR name and drop their first name.