Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conversations that Wear Me Out

I'll probably never publish this post.  This is probably just a chance to vent a little and then hit "delete."

A lot of my conversations these days end up wearing me out. 

It usually starts with someone asking a "why" question about Wenxin's adjustment.  I try to briefly explain things about older child adoption that it's taken me over a year to learn.  A year of reading tons of books and blogs.  A year of talking with other adoptive parents.  Plus two months of actually getting to know my new son and reading more and asking more questions of folks who've "been there done that."

I offer my best "short answer."  Then. . .

Raised eyebrows.  An objection.  A concerned look.

The most tiresome are the conversations where I feel the need to defend something that goes against what a person would normally think.  Like . . .

- the fact that Wenxin would not like to meet the Chinese person they know and talk to them in Chinese. (I got this one wrong initially.  I thought he'd like to talk to Chinese people in Chinese.  Not sure what it triggers in his little mind, but right now he doesn't seem to want to go there.)

- the fact that even though he's 7 1/2, he's still terrified of doctors and dentists.  And strangers, even when they are family friends.

- the fact that we don't feel it's best to force him to switch to an American name unless he wants to switch.

- the fact that while Wenxin faces many challenges, learning English is not one of them.  Language learning is coming naturally. 

- the fact that we aren't going to "spank" for the behavior they just observed because we are starting from square one teaching Wenxin how to live in a family.  We're also not going to send him to his room.

It's probably tiring too because it brings up all kinds of insecurity in me.  Because while I've read a lot of books and talked to a lot of people, Wenxin is a unique individual with a unique history.  There are no "cookie-cutter" answers.  So when someone questions my judgement, I wonder, "Am I doing this wrong?"

And that's exhausting.


  1. I hear you....

    It gets better - you just have to walk through it.

    Hang in there.

    Everyone wonders and second guesses things with their biological kids. In the end we all just try to do our best, hope its good enough and let God's grace make up for the rest!!!!!!

  2. Don't delete. You are not alone. The hardest thing for me, when our girls came at 4 and 5 1/2 with some serious behavior issues, was different rules for different kids. Each child IS affected by their past and needs their own tool box of skills. Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of helping Wenxin to be who he is by understanding and loving him through this transition time.

  3. Glad you posted, and you are not alone...keep in touch with us "normal" people...
    don't you love trying to explain that the stuff that worked on your other kids and THEIR kids, will probably not work on this one...and "No, I'm not going to try it."
    keep your blog or journal going, so you can look back and marvel at the progress.

  4. Dana,

    Loving your blog. Great post. Glad you didn't delete. Those who know you will trust your "why's" and "why nots" and refrain from putting you in a place where you feel the need to defend your position. Those who know and love you want you to be refreshed and not exhausted during this time in your life. Enjoy it my friend!!

  5. Hang in there. Our current youngest had lots of emotional issues to work out after we adopted her. We got lots of "just spank her" comments. We did our best to spend time with those who supported us in the process and minimize time with those who didn't. The transformation in her has been a true miracle and is such a blessing to see for those who who stood with us. I agree with the other post, keep up the blog, it'll be a wonderful testimony to look back on and see God's provision for your family.

  6. Wow! Thanks for the encouragement. Glad I didn't hit delete.

  7. Dana,
    I have been watching your blog quietly but with much interest and even prayer. This post has made me feel most ashamed for not actually telling you my thoughts and not sending you words of encouragement before now. But I will not wallow in that... I'll let my tears bring me to write you now.
    I am an English As a Second Language teacher. I have worked with parents of adopted children a time or two and hear some of the same things that you have explained. You have gone to great lengths to learn about adoption and even more lengths to listen the needs of your children (the latter takes more energy). I have enjoyed reading your blog because of your insights of another culture and your sensitivity to respect who Wenxin is.
    I have learned through your blog that I need to do that with my own children. I need to meet them where they are instead of being so frustrated that they are not where I would like for them to be. I have three girls and while they are so kin to watch how I treat the other sister, none of them really want or need to be treated as I would the other...things would be easier for me if they were.
    Now back to you. :)
    There isn't anything so sensitive, so enduring, so personal as our name. I think that it is wonderful that you are so willing to not demand that Winxen give us his name.You are even kind to answer people who don't realize what they are saying or suggesting when they offer their opinion.
    I'll even say sorry for those folks. :)
    Then I want you to know my girls and I are applauding your work. I have shared your story with them and we will continue to lift you up in prayer.
    Press on Pressing on, My sweet sister in Christ! The Lord is good and His mercy is everlasting!
    Your "secret admire" in Alabama. :)
    Renae and girls

  8. Dana - you are not alone. It's one reason that adopted parents tend to "hang together" especially ones with older children. Trust your momma instincts - and just let those comments go. There's no need to justify anything to anyone.

    You are doing an amazing job - guided by the perfect Father.

  9. Dana, I think the one truth that encourages me the most when I'm thinking about raising our adopted daughter and our birth children as well is this- Jesus is the way. Sometimes when it can seem overwhelming I just have to go back and remind myself that the Gospel is powerful enough to bring about saving and lasting change. That means that there is no history too bad that it cannot be redeemed. And it also means her success in life doesn't rise and fall on me doing everything just right. You are daily incarnating the love of Jesus for Wenxin to see. Jesus always responded to the individual. You're just following in His steps when you do the same. Praying for you during your time of transition.

  10. Incarnating Jesus - Thanks Terri - I love and need simple but profound ideas like that to shape my parenting and keep me on track.

    I was thinking this week that I'll be happy when we have the language to really teach him more about God. All he knows now is that we pray. At night when Mike lies down with him, he'll remind Mike to say, "Thank you for Wenxin. . ." He reminds everyone to hold hands around the table before we eat. And when I finish reading him a book, he slams it shut as he loudly declares, "Amen!"

  11. Dana,
    I too am blessed by your openness and honesty! Regarding Wei Xin's spiritual path, you are clearly on the right track. Most things our kids learn are 'caught' not 'taught'. As you model Jesus' love around him, he will get it! You are doing an amazing job. Don't let the nay sayers influence you. Just cling to God and all else will flow out of that relationship! <3 ^_^ <3

  12. just thought of one more thing while reading what someone wrote about different rules for different kids....I don't have that problem with just my one but I worked with juvenile delinquents for ten years and one time you do something different the little police come out and call you on it. Someone shared with me that "fair" is doing what an individual needs to succeed and not all rules are fair by those guidelines so I had to re stress with the kids that they would want to be treated "fair" under those guidelines if they were the ones in need of being successful and it really helped the others to process when they saw "unfair" things done for one and not for the other...

  13. Good point, Heather. My other kids seems to be handling the variations in rules ok - but we have a lifetime of trust built with them. Wenxin is definitely the rules police. And he has a strong sense of privilege based on age. He constantly points out that he is seven and Katherine is six. If he is put to bed and she's still brushing her teeth, he points out that he is seven and she is six and yet he is being sent to bed first. Not fair in his book. Not fair at all.

  14. Dana, I am so proud of you!!!!!

  15. I never had a child, adopted or otherwise and have always had great advice for parents, especially mothers. When I read your first sentence, I thought, oh, no, don't delete, share, tell me your story."

    I'm hooked and will be praying for your family when you come to my mind so keep blogging, sharing and embrace your experience. You have a slew of anonymous cheerleaders, cheering you on, so just keep, keeping on.


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