*Xiaoyun, what would you want to say to someone considering adopting an older child?
There are a lot of advantages to adopting an older child. For one thing, you get to skip the potty training phase and the middle of the night feedings ;-) . Of course, adopting a teenager means you get to the attitude phase faster- lol. I think a lot of that is a language and culture issue. You might be saying ' I love you', but they don't truly understand what you are saying. That takes time. There is so many things that are thought about differently in China, and it takes time to learn how you want them to behave. My first year home I didn't think a whole lot about other people. I was pretty selfish. That is what I saw in China and I didn't know that that was not the right way to act. For example, if I put my dog Sammi on a leash, she can only go so far and only sees those things nearby, but if I let her go one day without that leash, all of the sudden she has a whole world to explore. I didn't know what was good and what was bad, until I was adopted and my parents taught me right from wrong. During those first few months home, if one of my younger sisters pushed me, I'd push her back. I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
*What advice do you have for those first months home?
First patience ;-) . Try to be involved with day to day things they are interested in. Build that relationship with them before they are put in school if at all possible. I felt insecure when I first came home. My parents sheltered me as much as possible and that not only made me feel safe, but also helped us form closer bonds. Try to look over the bad attitude when you can. Sometimes it's the language issue- nothing more than a misunderstanding. Other times they are missing their old life, friends, or foster family.You need to set boundaries of course, because they will try to see how much they can get away with.
*What do you think are good things to take to China or have when they come home?
Try to find out what they are interested in and have those ready. I like to read, and my parents bought some Chinese books while we were in China (and on other trips to adopt since then) and also ordered some online. I like photography and they brought a camera for me when they came. An MP3 is great because I could download my favorite Chinese music and listen to something I was familiar with when I was having a hard time. Google translate really helped with the language barrier. Ask them while still in China (using the guide to translate) what they are interested in and try to get some of those while in China. Mama brought nail polish and hair accessories and that helped us bond those first few days.
Skype or WeChat is great if not all the family is traveling. I was able to 'meet' my dad and siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents before I even got home. That helped me not be as anxious arriving home.
Xiaoyun, what was the hardest part of being adopted?
For me, it was making friends. Communicating was difficult. The kids here seemed to have known each other all their lives. Their bonds were so tight that I felt I couldn't be a part. Learning English is especially hard when you are older. I felt like I should be learning it quickly, and it was frustrating for me when I didn't. I feel like I don't have enough time to learn all I need to learn before I graduate. The kids in my classes are younger than me. If I was still in China I would be graduating this year, but instead I am a sophomore. I feel like people might think I am not smart because I am older than the other kids. My parents encourage me by reminding me that I have only been home 5 years and that I am now fluent in two languages. They have also reassured me that they don't care how old I am when I graduate and head off to college.
One important word of 'fashion' advice for the kids- let your mom help you match your clothes, or at least don't let them take a picture of you and then show it to you 5 years later - LOL!!!!!!
|Xiaoyun and Emily|
|Xiaoyun and Baba|
|Melody and her 'Aunt Queen'|
|Sammi and Xiaoyun|