Tag Archives: Reed

The Truth

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about adoption and attachment. Two things tonight really got me thinking– one was a great blog post by my friend Kelly and the other is a fantastic Facebook group for parents of hurting children by Courtney.

I’ve gotten plenty of advice on parenting over the last few months. I’ve heard comments about how my kids are doing very well considering, they’re just great children with all that they’ve been through, etc. On the flip side, I’ve also been warned that they have a lot of baggage and pretending it’s easy won’t do any of us any good.

Those first few months home were so hard. Harder than I let on to most people– really anyone but Aaron. I didn’t want to go to sleep at night, because getting up meant doing it all over again. Is that post-adoption depression? Perhaps. Is it adjusting to the new experience of parenting? Partly. But I think that there were a lot of experiences and emotions I didn’t fully understand or share that also came into play. It’s easy to tell you how my child wets his pants and that is frustrating. It’s hard to tell you how my child picks any adult over me and how painful and difficult that is.  Not just as a parent trying to move forward from the past and resolve an issue, but as a human being choosing to love somebody and feeling pushed away.

In many ways, we have had it easy. I know their are families who struggle with far more difficult than we do. But the truth is, that we do struggle.

A large part of my own thinking was that it was all in my head. Feeling jealous, feeling upset that my child picked another adult over me, that was me being controlling and insecure. I didn’t generally want me and the kids to spend time with other people, because of the sort of behavior and emotions I’d get out of the kids and myself. Manipulation, triangulation and a tantrum thrown in for good measure once everyone leaves. Those are awfully big words to throw around– we’re talking about preschoolers here, right? But, for a child who spends their young life needing such survival skills, it’s not far fetched at all. Dealing with those sorts of emotions and behaviors always leaves me feeling frustrated and inadequate.

I don’t want to make our situation out to be worse than it is. But, the truth is, parenting a hurting child is different and in some ways more difficult than your typical parenting. The truth is, it’s not all in my head. I am acknowledging this, because I know I must not be the only parent who doubts themselves and thinks perhaps it is normal or just age-related, like other parents say. I also don’t want to give you the impression that our life is all cute kids and fun outings. It’s not. We are slowly making progress and it’s really only in retrospect that I can see how hard I’ve been on myself over the past few months.

Looking back, I remember one of the first posts I read on Courtney’s blog,

Why can’t I love my adopted child? 

If you tell me you haven’t said it out loud or at least thought it, then either …. 

A. You don’t have a kid with attachment issues and your kid is just one of those kids that came out of trauma unscathed. (which like never happens)

B. You are lying. 

C. You are in denial. “

I have certainly thought that before, especially in the midst of everyone else saying how much they loved my kids, and I guess I just figured it was all me. Someone suggested maybe it was just Post Adoption Depression. I think I personally just thought it was some failure of my own. But, I’ve just long been in denial of my own emotions and the real reasons behind our struggles. 

Where are we going to go from here? Well, first of all,  I’m going to be a bit easier on myself. Friends, especially those of you coming home soon or right now, the last thing you need when you get home is to be hard on yourself. Secondly, I need to do some re-considering what attachment and parenting mean for our family. And third, I might punch the next person who tells me that it’s normal age-appropriate behavior. 

(P.S. Please don’t take it personally if you have told me something like that. I know it is easy to see things that way and to think that something sounds like an age-appropriate behavior or to only see how well our kids are doing, when there is actually more to it.)

The Dom

Ilya and I had a good talk about “the dom” today. Dom is Russian for home and it’s what he calls the orphanage where he lived. We had been talking about our family, and he really enjoyed hearing how we were all related– son, daughter, husband, wife and how we loved him. Then he told me how he used to be little and I asked him where he lived when he was little like that and this conversation started.

Here is what I remember of the conversation. I tried to let him lead it for the most part, but there were a few things that I wanted to know.

I like living in the dom. There’s peoples. Lots of peoples. There’s food. There’s babies. Water. Juice. Coffee.
Did you drink coffee?
No. It’s hot. Coffee for grown-ups.
Did you wear a diaper or underwear?
What happened if you went pee in your pants?
No pee in the pants.
What happened if your bed was wet?
I wake up, I look (acting it out). It’s not wet.
Oh, did you drink a lot of water or just a little bit of water?
Just little bit water.
What kind of food did you have at the dom?
I have potatoes. Burgers. (what we had for dinner last night). No cry at the home… dom.
They have beds.
How many?
Lots of beds. I have pillow and blanket. One blanket.
They have chairs.
How many?
Um, let’s see… eight chairs.
I go in a red car.
Where did you go?
There’s people up high. I have to stand like this (puts arms out). They go like this (pretends to cut hair). Like scissors on the leg.
Did they cut your hair?
Yes, um, it’s kind like a shower. I go in a bus.
Where did you go?
Dasha, Liva (which can either mean Olivia or Alina),… Lena.
Where did you go?
The grocery store. We buy apples, bananas, cheese, grapes, pineapple, peaches.

I don’t remember too much of more of the conversation. He just loved telling me about it.

If you want to…

Preschool is all set up. It is a private, Christian preschool. We would not qualify for the free preschool through the district and this is a bit cheaper than the district preschool option.. plus we don’t have to wait to find out if we qualify for this.

We went to meet with the teacher today and ended up staying for about an hour. Her grandkids and niece’s daughter were there too and Ilya and Lena were just having a lot of fun playing. Ilya had been hesitant to begin with, so I wanted him to remember having a good time with the other kids. I think Lena is going to be very upset that she doesn’t get to go, but she still has another year before she starts kindergarten and I don’t really want to juggle taking them both (one would be in the morning and one in the afternoon) and the cost for both of them. I think we’ll probably send her when she’s 4, too.

When we asked Ilya yesterday about going to school and what he thought, he told us “Maybe later.”

We’ve also been talking to Ilya about his name and what he wants us to call him. He seems to be leaning towards “Reed”. I am not sure if it’s because it’s a new name to him, or if he’s tired of people mispronouncing Ilya (he’s corrected people before). He told me twice that he wanted the teacher to call him Reed, so that is what she’s going to do. He also said he wants me to call him Reed, but I’m having a hard time getting used to it. When I asked Lena what she wanted to be called, she told me “Reed.” When I told her that wasn’t an option, she decided to stick with Lena.

Now that we’ve set it up, I’m not so sure that Ilya needs preschool. He might have to teach the class himself. Here is a video of him reading to Lena… it was a bit longer, but Flickr cuts if off at 90 seconds…

The New Stroller

I’ve gotten pretty terrible at blogging, but my sister told me to. Truth is, the weather is awesome here. We spend every free minute outside. We bought a stroller which is really fantastic. I am trying to lose weight, so it is nice to be able to go for a very long walk and just push them in the stroller. Today, on two separate walks, I walked between 7 and 8 miles. And, it was 90+ degrees out today. I get extra points for that, right?

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We’ve been blowing bubbles, drawing with chalk, riding tricycles, going to the playground, grilling burgers– all the good summer stuff. For the most part, everyone is loving it. Sometimes we don’t find the time for naps, which is not so wonderful.

I am still trying to figure out preschool for Ilya. I will hopefully have the final answer soon. Life is just… normal. I think we are slowing finding the right routine and feeling settled. After almost six months, I guess I thought we’d be there sooner. But, I think we’re finally getting somewhere. Ilya and I also seem to be bonding more. I think it really helped having company for quite awhile and getting a break from being just the three of us all day. It was a nice break for me, but I think he needed that break too. The other day, out of the blue, he told me, “Mama, you look pretty!” And, he has been much more interested in doing things together lately… asking me to read him books and such. This is really good for both of us. He has had a good bond with Aaron for quite some time and I feel like we’re finally getting there now too.

A Very Busy Week

We’ve had a busy last week. Ilya and Lena met all their cousins for the first time, as well as two of their aunts and their uncle. Their cousins are 11, 8, 5, 3 and 6mo. They stayed with us for a few days. I wasn’t sure how it would go… I figured they’d all have fun together, but I anticipated some conflict. Nope, not at all. They all got along wonderfully. My sister’s older kids were great about helping my two. There was wrestling and rough housing and then there was hand holding and stories. Ilya and Lena really loved meeting their baby cousin and would often run up to him and give him kisses or a big hug.

It was a week for a lot of firsts… we went to Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary… a really neat place in Louisburg, Kansas. They have tigers, lions, wolves and other animals. We also went to Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead… if you are in Kansas City with kids, GO THERE. It is free Monday-Thursday, and only $2/person on the weekend. They do have other activities which you must pay for, but it is all very reasonably priced. My kids rode on toy tractors, fed baby goats, tried out fishing, saw all kids of animals and spent a ton of time on a very nice playground. Everyone, grown-ups and all ages of children really enjoyed Deanna Rose. We spent 5 hours there and easily could have stayed longer if it wasn’t closing for the day!

We also had some other adventures during the week, like trips to the dog park or up onto the University of Kansas campus. Our other very exciting adventure was our first trip to the pool! We have a couple of very nice public pools here in Lawrence. One which is indoor and one which is outdoor. My sister and her family had gone to the indoor one earlier in the week, but I wasn’t comfortable taking two kids who had never seen a pool before without an extra set of adult hands. But, with my other sister in town and Aaron free to join us, we went yesterday.

Ilya just loved the pool. He just walked around for hours, he wanted to try everything out, including stuff like the big slide, which he’s just too little for. Lena was more hesitant. She did not like to get her face wet. She clung to me or my sister most of the time we were at the pool. Occasionally, she’d waddle around in the kiddie pool, coming to check in with me every few minutes. Both kids had a good time, though and did not ask to get out once during the 3 hours we were at the pool.

I really enjoyed having my sister and her family here. It was a great opportunity for Ilya and Lena to get to know more of their family. I also think it was a very positive experience for them to see how families function in day to day life. I also felt like I got to experience another side of both Ilya and Lena, seeing how they acted with other members of their family, especially how affectionate both of them were with “the baby.”