It’s More Than Just Clothes!

September 12th, 2013

ClothesWhen my daughter moved in with us last year school was already started.  Not only did she have to get used to being with the new family, she also had to get used to being at a new school.  She had quite a few clothes that she could still wear, so we didn’t have to purchase many things for her. She grew like a weed right before our eyes during the summer and of course it was time for new clothes. She struggled with the idea of giving up her old clothes.  She knew they were too small for her, but they were hers and no one else’s.  I had taken a class once before she moved in and it talked… [more]

Why Don’t They Learn?

April 22nd, 2013

hot stoveI am so very frustrated with my seventeen-year-old son. Ever since we adopted him nine years ago, he pulls the same stunt a dozen times a school year. He lies, says he doesn't have homework, ends up with multiple missing assignments which he must then make up, and digs himself a deep dark hole of no TV, no Playstation, and no friends while he catches up. In nine years, he has had only two or three real holiday breaks from school because he usually has to spend all that time catching up. We've tried counseling, heavy structure, essays to help him connect with the feelings that drive this behavior, meetings with teachers, positive rewards when he stays caught up, and negative consequences… [more]

Our Most Important Job?

June 23rd, 2011

picture frameMy dear sister-in-law was a chiropractor, and she was one of the smartest people I ever met.  I remember her once talking to one of my nephews who had recently suffered an ankle injury and telling him about the scar tissue that develops around the site of the wound.  She talked about how vulnerable and inflexible the surrounding muscles are even after the original wound heals because they have to adapt to the inflexible scar tissue.  She was telling my nephew that he was going to have to be extra careful because that ankle was now going to be more prone to future injuries because of different tissues. My sister-in-law's lesson on injuries led me to think about that primal wound of… [more]

Teenage Denial

May 16th, 2011

teenAs scary as that moment was, the thought of being adopted into a stranger’s home to be my “forever family” sounded pathetic, as if I needed a family or anyone else for that matter. Several times I was asked if I wanted to be eligible for adoption and every time a confidently said no. The same questions were asked when family members expressed interest in adopting my younger brothers, but given the familiarity with our foster home and the benefits that the state offered once we aged out of foster care I convinced them that adoption wasn’t necessary for any of us. Despite how difficult it was for my brothers and I to maneuver through college the thought of wanting a family was… [more]

Boyfriends!!

March 27th, 2011

romantic_proposal My seventeen-year-old daughter has a boyfriend. This isn't one of the many "boyfriends" she had when she was in junior high, the kinds of boys who came and went from her life as quickly as a bag of M&Ms disappears from my house. I didn't care for too many of the boys that my daughter liked during this period, and honestly, I was worried about her choices and what these kinds of boys meant for her self concept--and I think poor self concept is an issue that plagues many older adoptees. Her first boyfriend turned out to be a real creep, and after they "broke up" (after being together all of three days), he and his friends taunted her, and made her life… [more]

What Doesn’t Kill Us….

March 12th, 2011

musclesMy husband and I didn’t know much about our older daughter when we adopted her ten years ago.  The first record was when she was picked up from a police station on Aug. 31, 1999 and taken to an orphanage. On September 1st, she was admitted to the hospital with “failure to thrive” and came back to stay at the orphanage six weeks later.  The videos and notes from the individuals working with her after she left the hospital all suggested she was a happy, carefree little girl.  Very resilient, they suggested.  She bounced back from her illness and from all of the events that led her to the orphanage. Resilience: … [more]

Time for Bonding

March 6th, 2011

bondingBonding and attachments are topics in adoption that get a lot of press—and I understand why.  Lately, I have been reflecting on the process of coming together with my children.  I have three kids who have all been adopted at different ages, and I know that connecting with them was different for each. I was in the delivery room when my son was born.  Someone put him in my arms and that was it.  I was there—invested completely—at an emotional, physical, cognitive, and psychic level.  No effort was required.  No thought processes activated.  It was magic. My two daughters were adopted internationally and were older when they came home.  One was seventeen months old and the other seven years.  With the “baby” it was… [more]

Getting Needs Met

February 7th, 2011

photoI just finished a book for my book club tonight—the book is Janusz Bardach’s Man is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag. It is a powerful book about so many things, and I am really looking forward to our discussion. (An interesting note about Bardach is that after the war he came to the U.S. and worked as a plastic surgeon. He developed a surgical procedure for dealing with cleft palates, the Bardach palatoplasty, a procedure still in use today--so all of those international adoptees who undergo surgeries to fix their cleft palate can thank this man.) Before he was to come here, however, he lived in Poland, and during WWII he was sent to the Soviet gulag. His… [more]

The Stuff That Matters

February 3rd, 2011

828567_galeria_krakowskaLast November I was at an adoption support group meeting and one of the moms was doing respite care for a family who had adopted a ten-year-old from Ethiopia.  This little girl had not been in the United States for very long and both she and her new parents were struggling in their new lives together.  The girl was not violent, per se, but she was prone to fits of crying--almost to hysteria--so I was told. This little girl’s predicament reminded me so clearly of my own daughter’s adjustment period ten years ago.  During the first six months of her time here, she would periodically find herself so overwhelmed with her environment that she would collapse into a puddle of tears.  Of course… [more]

Dear Teacher,

January 30th, 2011

898946_depressed I was hoping for a minute of your time because there are some things that I would like to share with you about my daughter.  I know that there are a lot of demands on your time and that you have curricular standards to meet, but this won't take long. Please be sensitive to my daughter.  School is not her strong suit.  She spent her first seven years living on the margins in a country in the developing world.  Because English is not her first language, she still struggles with the nuances of the language even five years later.  Her penmanship is not like the other kids’ because she didn’t spend hours and hours coloring with crayons.  Because she never learned those fine… [more]