The very general topics that we went through today: why children are available for adoption, attachment and parenting, loss and grief issues, and education issues.
We got to here from several families who have adopted from Ethiopia. One, of course is Steve and Michelle Gardner. They have 3 bio children and 9 adopted children, covering China, Russia, India and Ethiopia. They kids range in age from 23 to 4. Wow! We got to meet the two youngest today – so cute. One of the other families was Glen and Melinda who brought home two kids last summer. The third was Patrick and his wife who have 7? kids – 5 of whom are adopted. They have had a REALLY rough time with one of the older boys – like we’re talking worst case scenario but it was awesome to see their commitment to him and their family and to hear that things are getting better.
Other stuff that jumped out at me:
- some cool parenting tricks that we can learn to help us and that you do not have to parent your adoptive kids the same way you parent your birth children (that may be hard for them to understand)
- disruption – it’s sad but it happens. That’s when an adoptive family decides at some point that they cannot or won’t keep the child that the adopted and brought home. At that point, if there is not an immediate family for them, then they are placed in the U.S. foster care system. I get that adoption is hard, but heck, parenting is hard. Would you do that to a biological child? No! Get help but I cannot imagine breaking that covenant – which is really what it is.
- subtractive bilingualism – as our kids are learning English it is highly likely that they will start to loose their Amharic. There comes a point in this process where they are actually without adequate language (in either language) to express themselves – very frustrating for them. More on this later. (It needs a diagram)
- language leveling – even if our kids retain their Amharic (because they have each other to talk to) it levels off at their current level and they will have to mix in English for words they don’t know (like “microwave”, etc.) The only way to overcome this is to keep them involved with learning Amharic either through a language program – adult mentors, etc.
- if they retain their language and use it regularly they will actually learn English slower – interesting trade off.
- Child Protective Services – interesting stories that have happened to adoptive families because their child does not look like them. Important tip: Put a family photo in your wallet so you can prove to the police that the child throwing a tantrum and being removed from the store (by you) is yours and you’re not kidnapping him/her. More later on this.
At the end of the day Patrick brought all of his kids in and we got to ask them questions – particularly the 3 older boys who range from 8-10 (2 are brothers). I asked them about names and if they liked having American names or wished they had kept their own (which are now their middle names). Patrick said they were excited about their American names when they first came home. One boy said he wished he was still “Yosef” they other two said they like both and use both. They all said their favorite thing about America was school and learning. Favorite foods – pizza, pasta, lasagna.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about hair and skin care (fun!), medical issues, travel and I’m not sure what else.
We also got a lot of fun goodies today – Ethiopian hats, scarves, necklaces, a prayer journal, stuffed lambs for the kids. We are tired!