Monday, February 28, 2011

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE

I had an odd experience yesterday.  I was talking to one of the parents of a child in our program, and she was explaining some things regarding her child's behavior and suddenly it was like a light went on - I recognized it all.  It was a bit difficult to phrase the question, so I said something like, "That sounds a lot like my daughter, but I've been putting it down to her being adopted..."  and as I somehow knew she would, the mom said, eyes opening wide, "My daughter is adopted!" 

Only this little girl was adopted as a 15 mo. old.  That just goes to illustrate what I've been reading lately - all the newest research seems to show that it is within the first hours, days, weeks and months after birth that much of the harm (which we later label "RAD") is done.  It explains why Sergei (who never can buy that Anastasia's early experiences cause her behavior) has none of these problems despite undergoing a lot of trauma after the age of four.....abandonment, neglect, loss, not being fed, being physically attacked, etc.  But, none of that could undo the healthy influences of a loving mother during his first years.

I immediately invited this mom to join the book study I am leading on The Connected Child.  I now have two groups going - due to people's time constraints - so I ought to be pretty immersed in this for the next couple of months.  And - for the first time will have some IRL people to talk to!  I'll see how that works for me.  No one can replace you great e-friends, though. 

(e-friends?  I know you are all realer than that sounds!)

Friday, February 25, 2011

FRIDAY FUNNIES

I borrowed this title and idea from Deb Walker, but two funnies came to light today that I wanted to share. 

One was related by the mom of one of our Russian school girls tonight.  This sweet child was talking about how much she would cherish and care for an automobile if she had one....she said that she'd take it to the car wash and get it cleaned, and waxed, and get a blow job.  That took her mom up short!

Meanwhile, at church there will be a dinner/dance tomorrow evening and my assistant and I are both going without husbands.  The parish secretary exclaimed, "So, you're going in drag, then!?"  We were stunned, both imagining which one of us she imagined going in drag - until we realized she meant "going stag".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MY DAUGHTER'S TEACHER

Me. 

I am my daughter's teacher.

I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy- being your own child's teacher - homeschooling is do-able - but being your own child's teacher in school is just asking for trouble.  When your child is a little radish. When she is at the age to be 100% humiliated by her mother under any circumstances,radish or not.  It is so asking for trouble.

In previous posts I related how the perfect teacher for Anastasia, the one who brought her up a couple of grade levels in reading, who made her shine in math, who could motivate her, make her feel safe, help her focus on school.....that teacher was let go, leaving two months of absolute chaos in her stead.  Several students left the class, including Anastasia's best friend, and the only other girl her age.  So, we have about six kids, all about 10 or 11 years old (it was a 5/6 split) and a new teacher, who lasted only a couple of weeks before she was told she needed surgery.  At that point I removed Anastasia from that class because she was clearly under such duress there....just being there was a reminder that she'd been abandoned by someone who was there to take care of her. Radishes don't need that kind of thing.

It was as well, honestly.  For at least a month there was an array of teachers cycling through the room, with the permanent one not coming until after Christmas.  Educationally that would have been a wash-out, and emotionally a nightmare.  Meanwhile, Anastasia's teacher started her own school - sort of a one room school operation.  Actually, it looked good, apart from the social element - the only other students in that class were all boys, and apart from one 5th grader, all much younger.  I could see why she recoiled.  And, as she recoiled, at the same time the transmission on Craig's car went out.  There are a couple of days a week when there is no possible way that I can pick all the kids up, at two locations, and still do my paying job.  So, there was nothing for it.  Back she went - to what had been her temporary placement in the 7/8 class..... 

And that is the group I teach for Bible and English.  As a reminder, I teach at the school in exchange for the tuition, but I've also found it totally, wonderfully rewarding.  I love it.  I loved it a lot more without Anastasia, though. 

For the first month or so, it was fine.  Fine-ish.  Anastasia maintained her studiousness; she was on the periphery, socially, of this small group of generally nice kids.  Then, somehow she began to interact more with the kids - there is no point in trying to describe all the ins, outs, ups, downs.....middle school culture is so painful to observe closely.  In any case, she had good days and bad days socially, but in class she did a nice job of pretending she didn't know me; and I did the same with her. 

Then things began to get more intense for her.  She began to behave in her radish ways....which right now means being boy-crazy (she doesn't want a real relationship, only one after another invitation to "go out").  She is totally self-absorbed.  It isn't attractive, however much she seems to think it is.  I've talked to her, and she's gotten a bit better, but people (especially boys) got fed up with her.  I can't blame them.  As part of a basketball bet, one boy bet another that if he didn't make a basket he had to invite Anastasia to the Valentine's Dance.  He lost; he invited; she was thrilled then found out it was a joke.  The boys were not intending to harass her; they just didn't understand how mean it was.  Overall they are good boys, and they don't understand her fragility, as she seems anything but.

I knew nothing about this.  I only knew that for some reason, one afternoon, out of the blue, instead of following directions and being a docile student, suddenly my daughter was being openly defiant in class.  I don't even remember the precise circumstances, taken as I was by surprise.  Well, obviously, I can't let any child be defiant.  I gave her just the same opportunities for a "do-over" that I would have given anyone, then had to have her removed.  By the grace of  God the pastor was sitting not far outside our door.  I don't know what he said to her, but she didn't return to class.  Turns out that was disobedient in and of itself, as she was hanging out in the restroom.  But when we got home and I expressed my dismay in no Heather-Forbes-terms, she started to accelerate to anger, but then collapsed and told me what had happened....the false invitation and all.  I comforted her; we talked.  I tried to get her to see that she'd turned the anger in on herself, and onto me.  And that wasn't healthy - was it?

But the next day, to my amazement and horror, she did something equally terrible.  She had her feet in the chair and refused to take them down.  I thought I handled things well, honestly.  I didn't confront her, I joked a bit, directed my comments about respecting the classroom to everyone - but I could see that she was deliberately trying to disobey.  Long story short - this time I had to get one of the BB coaches to remove her. 

There are complications.  After that second event, I just about lost it in front of the students and ended up explaining in very short form how Anastasia behaves as she does because of her early life, and not being loved.  By some miracle, my "short form" explanation of RAD-for-kids, actually made sense to them.  That night three of the nicest girls chatted away with Nastia on facebook and committed to "helping her"....  And, surprisingly, it has actually seemed to work to a great extent.  We've had a few school days go by without incident. 

I'm ready to put her in Mrs. Allen's no-social-life school, if there is one more incident.  Whether she has gotten a grip on her behavior because of that viable threat, or whether the behavior occurred initially so that just such a move would occur, I don't know.  Perhaps her friends are truly helping her be a "good, Christian girl".  One of the girls is such a sincere, sweet, loving child.  Maybe you can get by with a little help from friends.  We'll see....

Monday, February 21, 2011

A CHURCY THING and A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE

Last week I got a rare chance to exercise a bit of creativity at work.  Years ago, creativity was a daily occurrence, but somehow most of those bits have been excised from my job description.  The event last week was the first confession service for our second graders.  For years I had so much fun with this, making it a really child-oriented prayer service, with special music, preparation in the classroom and symbolic action.  Our present pastor prefers a different approach - a more typical prayer service experience, but very, very brief.

I can certainly buy that.  It works well, but - hey, it takes away all my fun stuff.

For the most part, anyway.  I did decided to jam a bit of the symbolic action in at the end.  The opening song (actually the only song, as I later had reason to be glad of) was "Lift Up Your Hearts", so after the children completed confessions, I had them come to the back and find me, sign in - as is usual, so they can get a certificate - and then select a heart from the basket.  Then we "lifted them up" and hung them from a banner stand, making what became a banner of hearts.  The next night (we do this event twice) was vastly better because I'd discovered that the hearts wouldn't hang straight no matter what we tried, and some of the white backs would always be showing, so I went back and watercolored the back side of all of them.  The effect was nice even the first night, as you can see, especially as the hearts were always softly swaying and twisting about.  I got the idea from a blog I stumbled on.  My hearts actually looked as good, if not better, than those, but the light in the church wasn't conducive to proving that in my photo.

The trauma?  Well....  Let me tell you.  I do not sing.  I don't supposed I've ever sung a song when my voice didn't crack and break.  That doesn't stop me from bellowing out songs in church to the horror (and discouraging frowns) of my children, though.  Anyway, come Wednesday night and the penance service, and everything was ready except - where is the musician?  Not present, and after I made a foray into the music office downstairs and found it dark and drear,  I realized to my dismay - not appearing, either.  Now, this was upsetting.  Our pastor likes things to go well.  He doesn't look for (as I mentioned) creativity or novelty or anything of that nature, but he wants things right.  No mistakes.  No glitches.  So, though I'm not really in charge of the music - only in charge of organizing it, which I'd done - I knew this wouldn't go over well.

Indeed, it didn't.  It turns out, in the end, that the musician who committed to the occasion, simply forgot.  But, at that point all we knew was that we had some 300 people out there holding a worship aid which began with an opening song.  There were five priests for this event, and we conferred in the sacristy.  The pastor was for announcing that there would be no opening song.  The assistant (who has a strong and gorgeous voice) was for doing our best without it.  And that was what was decided.

Part of my role is to welcome the people, and ask them to stand, and announce the opening song - which I did.  But, our church is enormous; let's start with that fact.  It seats about 1,700.  And, it wasn't daytime, as in the photo; it was darkish and as I stood at that podium up on the left in the photo.....I couldn't even see the priests who were standing where this photographer was, and about to walk up the aisle.  And even the 300 people were way up front by me, not back by the priests.  Then, I realized that with the priests way back in the back, I had no choice but to get the opening song started..... Who would hear them way back there?  But, surely, people would begin to sing, once I got things rolling.

No sooner had I begun singing, however, than I noticed that if anyone else was singing - priests or people - I certainly couldn't hear them.  So, immediately it came to me like a drop into an icy stream, that I was committed to singing that entire song - on the mic - all by myself.  Maybe Fr. Anthony was back there singing somewhere, but you sure couldn't hear him. Perhaps a few of the parents were giving it a shot, but an un-mic-ed voice goes nowhere in this space.  And the only mic-ed voice was.....mine.

But, all in all, a miracle occurred.  While in that life-passing-before-my-eyes set of moments, I could clearly remember every time I'd sung and my voice had broken, cracked and been discovered to be totally in the wrong key (or whatever), I also noted that somehow, miraculously, I'd begun to sing in the one key in which I was actually able to get through every verse and every note of the song without anything totally ghastly occurring.   I lived through it.   And, God's people lived through it.  I never, however, want to do that again!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

EDGY?

 I found myself a bit stunned when this billboard appeared on the route to school.  Can you read it?  It's a "play" on the Jim Jones cult tragedy, with a "fun" reference to kool aid "to die for".


I found myself wondering if this is the definition of "edgy"....meaning on the edge of tasteless.  In this case, I can't help but think it went well into tasteless.  But.....

I ask myself if it is just me.  Could it simply be because I am old enough to vividly remember the news of this tragedy?  And have some of the images imprinted on my mind?

If, for example, the playful reference was to the Alamo, or to Custer's Last Stand - would I find that distasteful?  And, if not, why not?  Large numbers of people dying is not generally considered amusing, yet certain situations are so unique that they almost become plasticized - not so real, or touching, or heart-breaking as they undoubtedly were in reality.  Why would some situations or events come to be known as almost cartoon-like [and less grievous] versions of themselves?  Pearl Harbor?  No.  Lincoln's Assassination? Maybe.  Sinking of the Titanic? Sure.  9/11? Of course not!!!   Great Chicago Fire?  Possibly. 

Somehow, I don't see this situation as having climbed to the level where it is suitable for amusing image.  But, perhaps it does just depend on how long ago whatever it was happened....  Could that be?  If it is remembered, but made less horrible because images and details have been lost over the years.....  Maybe that makes it "all right".  That would mean that for one generation something could be amusing, while for another it could still carry, if not a full weight of repugnance and terror, at least enough to make its use as an advertising gimmick distressing.

That's certainly the case here.  There is no way I would now go to La Senorita and order whatever drink this is.  Humorless old woman that I am.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

REAL STORIES ....

My blog (and new IRL) friend, Rachael, just had an extraordinary opportunity to be part of a trip to Ukraine with the crew of New Horizons for Children.  NHC arranges hosting visits for children in Eastern European orphanages to the US in the summer and at Christmas time.  This post nearly broke my heart.... It finds me wondering if there is anything I could promise Craig that would inspire him to say yes to one more.....  Please, please read this post, and pass the word.

Real Stories, Real People...

I think the thing that surprised me most about this trip was that the kids that tugged my heart the most were teenagers, and so many of them boys! Their kind and tender hearts, somehow miraculously preserved through their lives' hardships, shone through in our interviews and interaction time. Their hugs and their smiles and their eagerness for affection and interaction were so genuine. I never saw that coming in a million years - I thought it was the little ones I'd gravitate to. But, my heart ached for these teens to have the chance to stay kids for just a few years longer.
There are a handful of kids whose cases are most urgent: these are the ones that are turning 16 before the host program starts this summer. If by some miracle, a family already called to adoption and paper/immigration ready sees their story and acts quickly to file an I-600, sight unseen before their birthday, there is still hope for these kids to experience a family. Alternately, if these kids are not matched with adoption ready families immediately, they will still be available for summer hosting as "host only" kids. Having those 5 weeks to experience American life and the love of a family (many of which keep in touch long-term with their host-only kids) would be an adventure of a lifetime for them and a real confidence booster, before they are turned out into adulthood.
Here are their stories (re-posted from LeAnn's FB page, with some of my own comments added in italics - and more bios coming in the near future...):
"His is the most urgent... Birthday 2/25 he will be 16. His name is Vladimir L. and he is in L. Ukraine. (I can supply region details to those interested, but blanking out here to protect his identity.) He went to a foster family where he felt it was his chance but after a year he was brought back by system as it was realized the foster dad had him sleeping on a sofa and had bought nothing for him. (Nor sent him to school, fed or clothed him...he was only fostering him for the money.) He has really low self esteem now (because he thought that was his big chance...) and is a gentle spirit but oh how he needs affirmation. He is the soccer team goalie, would like to learn accordion, he is a painter and dreams to become a famous painter someday. Loves to read in school especially foreign Lit. Shy but not too shy. If he had money for a present, he would buy a painting for his director for her birthday or he would buy supplies to make a painting for her. He has no siblings and no relatives. 8th grade now. Director especially says he is a great boy. He admitted he knows no English but wants to learn and promises to study!" (I cannot find a picture of this boy, amongst my 900! But I remember him clearly - he was the first to start to soften my heart towards the teen boys. I did not interview him, but watched as LeAnn did, from across the hall. He was tall and thin and sat nervously with his shoulders hunched during the interview. He was soft-spoken, but shyly eager and made good eye-contact. His hair was cropped short and slicked down, except for a little unruly shock that stood up in the back, and the mother in me wanted to reach out and smooth it down for him, and reassure him.)
"Next urgent is Julia who is from xxxxxx (again, can supply details to interested parties) orphanage in Ukraine.

Her birthday is 3/20 when she will be 16. She sings and dances and also speaks some German. (They are taught German at this orphanage in school.) She wants to train to be a professional singer and would love to see a Broadway show. She would really like to learn English and committed to self study online between now and when she comes to the USA to be more prepared. We explained about modesty in our host families with dress as compared to E Europe and she said that was not a problem as she dresses modestly already. She has two little brothers w/mom and new husband. Mom chose husband over her. Great eye contact, plays basket ball, dances Ukraine traditional on team. Very sweet, open, friendly, positive thinking girl w/ beauty from within that shows on her face!"
"Next is Anastasia (Nastia) who is from a new orphanage where we met the most awesome group of last chance 15 year olds ever!

(Nastia - left - with a classmate and friend.)
Her birthday is 5/15 and she will be 16. No siblings and has been in the orphanage for 6 years. She is also behind in school in 6th grade and needs a patient mom who can probably homeschool her through gaps to catch up. She has patience of a saint as she was our last interview and literally waited hours before her turn. Her friends would describe her as a great athlete and good in any sport. She is the ping pong champ in an orphanage full of older teen boys! Freckled face and light brown hair with hazel/gray eyes. She is somewhat shy but open to us and very interested in the program and coming to America. Of course, her favorite subject is PE but she also likes math and Literature. Loves dogs and is responsible for orphanage dog who has a litter of pups. Likes to draw and has lots of friends but no 1 best friend. Other awesome kids said everyone loves her and claims her as their friend. Enjoys especially small children and said she understood family rules would be different and knows she would need to follow them. Very calm and quiet at first, but once we got her going, she opened right up and shared easily."
"Next is GQ super model young man, Rostik! (He goes by Raj)

(Rostik - right - with a classmate and friend, Zhenya 14 - also about to age out of the orphanage, as he's in 9th grade, the highest grade offered at the boarding schools/Internats in this region.)
He is 15 and his birthday is 5/31. He is actually "gypsy" descent so he is clueless as to his future or current ability to be a model! In his country there is great prejudice against people of gypsy culture with darker features and olive skin. He learned about weight lifting at a summer camp and really enjoys staying in shape now but there is no equipment at the orphanage. He is an excellent soccer player and wants to play on a competition/city team. As for a future trade, he hasn't decided but shared he has 2 options: metal cutting in a factory or welding, but there are no jobs. (He was very thoughtful about his interview answers.) Would like any kind of family but especially would like to have a brother around his age. Very interested in cars and especially liked idea that kids in America can drive at 16 as its 18 in Ukraine. He is already 5'7-5'9 and will probably have more growing to do. He was one of the best huggers we met there and he has a smile that melts a mom's heart. Loves horses and would like to learn to ride; also likes all dogs! He has been in this orphanage 6 years and is in 9th grade so he is done in a few more months and will be on his own. Very kind, appropriately affectionate, smart, happy and hung out most of the day with team member Darren, our NE coordinator."
"Next is Genady who is 15 and birthday is 6/1 when he turns 16. (Same orphanage and class as Rostik, and this is the orphanage where all the boys washed out very, very dirty van in 20 degree weather til it sparkled.)

(Genady - right - and Ivan/Vanya - left. Vanya also turns 16 in June - I will post his bio as soon as I get it from LeAnn - another GREAT kid.)
He is small for his age and is probably 5'2" or 5'3". Brown hair, brown eyes and possibly Armenian or Georgian descent which gives him olive skin and darker eyes. He loves all sports, especially Basketball with dreams to attend a pro-basketball game and attend a basketball camp. Favorite subjects in school are PE and chemistry. He was quiet yet very friendly, loves ALL animals and was helpful and very polite to our team. When asked what he would do if he had 3 wishes, his first was "to be adopted", 2nd to be a basketball star and 3rd to have a happy family. When we asked what kind of family, he said one with other children if possible. When asked what we could share with a potential family that is unique about him, he floored us with his..."tell them I am kind and believe in God. I pray 3 times a day for Him to find me a family." When we explained we would also be praying for him, he said thank you and expressed his gratitude. He wears a black leather cross necklace that he bought and he never takes it off."
PLEASE feel free to re-post and share any of this information and spread the word about these great kids!!! Please pray for these kids as well. More bios coming...
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Friday, February 11, 2011

FAVORITE COMBINATIONS?

:)De shared recently that she likes carrots and sharp cheddar.  Reading that made me want to try it immediately!  I am not that fond of carrots, generally, but love cheese - so maybe I'd be lured into carrot-eating if I tried that combination.

But, that made me think of a particular combination of foods that I stumbled on that I love - apples and red licorice.  Who would think that the two would be so complimentary?  I just happened on it one time when I was a teenager, and have liked it ever since.

Reminds me of the Thai combination of cucumber and peanut butter.  I love those flavors together, but who first thought of that?!

A great combination from my childhood, isn't so counter-intuitive.  My mom would always put peanut butter, as well as syrup on waffles.  That's really good!

The other one I thought of, I actually used to have in a restaurant in Portland; at Davidson's they have a sundae called a "Dusty Road".  It is vanilla ice cream with malt powder on it, and whipped cream.  At the restaurant they may also add hot fudge; I don't remember, but I don't at home.  Wow!  That malt powder - both the taste and texture is just the thing for ice cream!  Add the texture contrast of the whipped cream and ice cream.  Sublime!

Do you have any combinations of food that you have stumbled on that we should know about?  Share!

Monday, February 7, 2011

AN AWARD

I was honored to get a little award - The Stylish Blogger Award - from Christie.  (Thank you so much!)   I really love Christie's blog about their three adopted daughters, homeschooling and an enviable "country" life.  Christie has written some of my favorite posts about adoption. 

Here are the rules that accompany the award:

Recipients are supposed to:



1) Thank, and link back to the person who awarded it.


2) Share 7 things about themselves.


3) Award 10 great bloggers.


4) Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

Well, seven things about myself that I haven't shared before....since that is so broad, a topic I will daydream: 

If I had all the money I needed what would I do?

1. I'd have a dacha in Russia near Ivanovo, and an apartment in Moscow.  Frankly, I have my eye on an apartment in the top of the Ukraina Hotel.  I'd get fluent in Russian.
2. I'd adopt at least one more child.  A little Russian boy, about 8 or 9 years old. 
3. In our house here, I'd build on a nice den for my husband, which would enable him to cope with the chaos.
4. I'd continue teaching at Summit for nothing, and I'd volunteer to teach English at the Interdom in the summer. 
5. I'd also have a place out in Virginia, near Aidan and Lydia.  I'd get to see Cal and Patrick lots.
6. I'd donate to everyone's adoption fund.  In fact, I'd start a foundation and give grants that would completely finance the adoption of older children from Eastern Europe.
7. While I'm at it, I'd get a built-in dishwasher and have someone in to fix the garbage grinder and all the little snafus with our electric system!  (Had to bring myself down to reality there, somehow.)

 Now - I always cheat on these things.  I've kept my blogging circle a bit small, so I'm only passing this on to seven other bloggers.

Here you are - you stylish ones:

Tina in Connecticut
Deb (Slava Bogu)
Solnichka Babies
Fioleta
Stephanie
Mom from Ireland
Wind of Change

If I left anyone out who'd enjoy doing this, please join in!  All my blog friends are stylish, without a doubt, only some seem to have bigger fish to fry (only meaningful posts, no messing about), or they are in Ukraine for various exciting reasons, or they just had a baby, or.......   And, Stephanie, Katbat and Sharon - I chose you all because you need a kick in the rear.  Get blogging, ladies!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

ADOPTION AS SACRAMENT - A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON DISRUPTION

Sorry - couldn't resist....
Though the Sacraments we receive the Grace of God to do something so difficult that we could only do it with His help.  The most obvious example of this is marriage.  It is almost insane to think that without God's help we could stay true to and love one, possibly boring, and certainly difficult human being for an entire lifetime.  But, with God's help we can do it, and even be happy. 
We make a commitment, and God co-signs the check.  Like it or not, we're locked in. But we have back-up.

To my mind adoption is the same thing.  An absolute, do-or-die, commitment.  A commitment not based on our own happiness, or convenience, or even the happiness or convenience of others. But, a fact.  A truth.  An unbreakable bond.  A bond made with God's help.

It is a commitment so sacred that dissolving it cannot be considered. 

And, here is where I think some adoptions (as some marriages) go wrong.  That level of  commitment is lacking.  There is always a sort of "loop-hole" in the back of someone's mind that if things get really bad.......

These thoughts came to my mind reading Christine's recent post on adoption disruption.  I really don't doubt that most families who disrupt experience heart-rending grief.  Still, I think.....that somewhere in there, there is some tiny crack where the possibility of disruption was always there - or, the adoption wasn't really a sacramental-level commitment to begin with.  If this doesn't work out ...   Another family.... 

I think people often go into things - such as marriage and adoption - with the idea that they are doing it primarily for the pleasure and happiness of those involved.   Well, yes.  But, if you don't also recognize that it is a great deal more than that, that it is a commitment, a commitment to stick together through thick and thin, to be ONE no matter how it hurts, trusting that with God's help, while the happiness will not always provide the ephemeral day-to-day "enjoyment", it will lead to a deep and abiding trust and satisfaction......  Well, the temptation is there to abandon ship.

I always feel hurt that Maxim is not with us.  I feel deeply guilty that I abandoned him.  As I was reading Christine's post I also began to believe that, had we adopted him, he would be with us.  Because there is no way I would have let him go, no matter how hard it was, and no matter what he said about wanting a "new family".  I would just have laughed and said, "Well, this is what you're stuck with!".  I would have made that sacramental commitment before God to be his mother and with God's help and that sense of our relationship being under sacred oath, there would have been no crack through which the idea of separation might have crept. 

Like the girl that Christine and her husband will soon adopt from a disruption, Maxim implored us for a "new family".  But, maybe what he was really asking for was not a "new" family, but a "true" family.  If our biological child begged for a different family, would we take that request seriously?  Of course not!  And I can't help but think that that's the way an adoptive family should treat such a request, too.  Which one of us hasn't at one time thought we were in the "wrong" family - not rich enough, or in the right country or area, not athletic enough or "bookish" enough, or whatever....  But we are, for better or worse, placed by God in a family, be it by birth or adoption.  So what if it doesn't "feel" right? 

If we had adopted Maxim, I would have laughed at his "new family"pleas.  Equally important, I believe he would have felt that difference.  I don't doubt he would have tested us; having been through two failed adoptions he would have had to.  But, soon he would have realized that the knot would hold.  And, I think God would have been there to bless and strengthen the covenant.  Children will test.  If a child is adopted at an older age, they have had a family disrupted.  Just like anyone who has fallen through the ice, they will push and test to see just how safe they are.  But when they feel safe, they will go forward.

Perhaps children from disruption do better in large families because they see proof all around them that these parents mean business.  Family is the focus here - not the talents or personality of any one individual - but the family as a group.  Or, maybe it is just that the child whose background makes him or her feel very uncomfortable being the center of attention (as is often the case with "RAD" kids), need not be.  Or, is it that the big family offers safety in the stability and regularity of schedule and rules, whereas the smaller family is not so safe - too many unexpected situations and changes of plan.  It could be any of those things.

But, I just have the feeling that children feel safe in Christine's family because God Himself seals and blesses the bond that holds the family together.  Separating what God has brought together just isn't an option.