Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 28, 2010

11 Month Update--- sort of

Eleven months ago, we brought 3 charming, unruly Ethiopian children into our home. Life hasn't been quiet since, although there are certainly times when my mind does go blank... guess that's the only "quiet" I can absolutely count on!

Not too much new to report this month, other than feeling the need to reiterate that adoption, bonding, and discipline is a long, often intense process. Leaving your new kids in that first year, whether it's for work, for a much needed personal break, or for an emergency is going to be more difficult than you might imagine. Even after almost a year, many kids simply don't have the necessary emotional skills to "continue on" when the main caregiver leaves. It's rather like taking a vacation with toddlers: it takes them weeks to get back into a routine, and makes you wonder why in the world you attempted to go on vacation in the first place!

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to California to spend time with my family; my father had emergency cardiac surgery. He is now recovering remarkably well--- Praise the Lord! However, the point I did want to make here is how my absence for 9 days impacted the adopted kids.

My sweet husband attempted to take care of the kids, shuttle them to their various activities, maintain the peace, entertain the children who were not in school, and work from his home office--- all at the same time. He did quite well, bless his heart! (And my darling teenage daughter managed to cook a fair number of family meals.... Oh, and lest I forget, my oldest even managed to do his own laundry! Pretty amazing feat!) But I sure did find some disasters waiting for me upon my return.

First, I found multiple "hidden" messes all around the house. Without the constant chirp of mommy saying "pick up your _________" (fill in the blank), "clean up your own messes", "stop hitting ________ (fill in the blank), etc., I found that the kids really struggled with disorganization, anger management, and hyperactivity again. It took me about 14 days to find and clean up all the disarray... and I'm not a clean freak! Let's just say I need to buy some additional locking cabinets for DVDs, CDs, art supplies, paper, games, etc. Sigh. Lesson learned.

Second, because the new kids were not in school for all the time I was gone, their minds simply checked out. They forgot they aren't supposed to eat on the sofa--- or do front and back flips on the sofa, for that matter. And learning? Two of them forgot a large portion of the alphabet; math suffered considerably, too. They were all back to not being able to focus longer than a few minutes on an assignment. I hope this next coming week will be "normal," after a couple of rough weeks.

Third, while two of the new kids were more affectionate, one withdrew. It took him a few hours of following me around, from room to room, to get comfortable with me again. It took him a few days to really hug me again. During my absence, he repeatedly "forgot" to use the bathroom, brush his teeth, and flush the toilet. Poor guy!

Fourth, sleeping deteriorated. Missing a regular bedtime routine = more meltdowns and less desire to comply with authority. Of course, my sleeping deteriorated, too. Not being with my babies is so hard!

And finally, all the adopted kids took several steps backwards in terms of taking too many liberties. They reverted back to taking care of themselves, and then continued to reject established rules even when "the law" was back in place. My bio kids were rather exasperated with the lack of respect they received, too. I now understand why the big kids and Dear Husband threw me a party upon my return!

Yes, any child can regress when a caregiver is absent. Kids are kids, and they will take full advantage of any number of situations. (What's that saying? "When the cat is away, the mouse will play?" Yeah, something like that.) But I think the issue here is that these kids are 7, 8, and 9--- not toddlers. I may not have to chase after these kids like you would a toddler, but I do have to be constantly and unwaveringly vigilant in areas of discipline. A little slack yields a lot of trouble!

The sweet, good news is that my daughter who has been home just about 3 years now, didn't have too much issues with my being gone. Yes, she missed me, but her behavior didn't get very out of sync. I was very impressed with her level of maturity in this situation.

I suppose the saving grace to this story is that I knew life would be messy upon my return. I'm so happy that I didn't have any expectations of picking up where I left off!

Thank you, Lord, for these exuberant, healthy, crazy kids! And thanks also for the energy you give me to be up to the job!


  1. Oh Kristen-Can you believe it has been 11 months? Remember when you gave me your last valium in ET to help me sleep ( ; I can't believe how far we have come either. You are right about the littlest change in routine. My neice came from CA for Thanksgiving and they were pretty good until SHE left. And, it took 2 days to get the Christmas decorations up because they were not handling things well. I have a feeling this coming month will be a little hard with all the celebrations and such. They have such a hard time dealing with change and extra stimulation. It really wears on my patience sometimes, but we are tying to work through it. You are amazing!! So glad the Lord allowed our paths to cross. God Bless ((hugs))

  2. Kara,
    I discovered it wasn't Valium or a sleep med, but it was an anti-anxiety med. Too bad it didn't help you sleep; knocked me out for a good 4 hours :> I didn't realize that a person could cope on 4 hours of sleep! Yeah, we've come a long way. I'm so proud of what you've accomplished with your ministry. God is Good! I just wish others could understand the incredible joy associated with doing the Will of God. Hope to see you again, but pray for you and yours.


  3. Hi Kristen,

    The responsibility can be heavy knowing that some of your children depend on you so much hour to hour. We drove by your way on I-10 on the way to Scottsdale for Thanksgiving and I thought of you all. Hopefully, some day we can get our families together.

  4. wow! I wish we lived a bit closer so we could have helped a smidge while you were gone!

    I'm so sorry for the "chaos" that ensued your departure, but thankful your kids have a mommy who understands the whys behind the behavior AND the strength to handle and correct it!

    Praying that although this was tough on you, it will be a growing/milestone sort of experience for your 3 new kiddos.

  5. Wow. That's a lot to come home to. I would have never imagined.