Friday, March 26, 2010

Give 'em a Break

We have adopted before from China but brought home a 10 month old. We have never had any issues whatsoever with her. The neatest part about the whole process was how unconditionally my three bio kids accepted her into their band of brothers.

I expected the same reaction from my children, who were so excited about the rospect of their new six year old brother. However, the transition was not anything close to seamless this time. In the midst of our first three weeks home, the worst three weeks of my entire life I think, my children not only did not make things easier. They seemed at every opportunity to make things worse.

I was so tired and frustrated and overwhelmed, I saw their behavior as only a means to annoy me or to annoy their new sibling or to annoy one another. After some serious soul searching, I realized that I had been so focused on myself, that I had not seen their behavior for what it really was: cries from those I love most telling me to stop looking at myself and look at them.

After homeschooling for five years, I had decided to put them all in school a few weeks after we returned from Ethiopia. The changes (and chaos) in their life that arrived with their new sibling along with all the nervous uncertainty of a whole new school adventure was taking its toll on them. They were not trying to be bad, but they were trying to get me to see their needs.

I was so self consumed, I was expecting way too much from my kids.

The realization made things so much better. I stopped getting frustrated at the behavior and instead tried to tune into what they needed from me: the reason for the behavior.

I had posted on my adoption blog earlier on a discussion about pets not to assume a pet will react in the way you think they will to a new child. Yet, I was not smart enough to realize the same thing may hold true for a child. Especially in the case of an older child who has a personality, strengths and weaknesses. How kids have reacted to a baby or new child in the past may not necessarily be how they react the next time around.

And that is okay. They don't know one another. They are tied by an unseen bond whether they know it or not, and one day they will know it. But for awhile, I needed to give em a break. Not expect too much from them.

After I realized what I had been doing, I went to confession. I took my eight year old along, as he had been unusually unkind to his siblings. When I exited the confessional I was crying. He asked why. I said, "Because I was so selfish, I did not see that you guys needed me. I expected way too much out of you and I feel just awful."

In the car on the way home he said, "Mom, God doesn't just forgive you... I do too and I know the other kids will too."

You can't be forgiven until you know what you have done wrong. It took me nearly three weeks to figure it out. Thank you God for showing me what I was doing wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Aw Shelia - I send you a BIG HUG! You are doing the best you can. It's always good to grow but don't be too hard on yourself - it's a lot of change for you also. This story is a true testament of how closely you are walking with the Lord - some might never have even noticed.
    Hang in there, girl.