Friday, October 10, 2008

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad...

Sorry I have been relatively silent this week, I have a lot going on right now and am struggling to remain caught up. I am trying to get everything done before I leave for California on Sunday to visit my mom for a week. I am flying out compliments of United Airlines and their continual booking errors when Kenny and I traveled to Chicago to go to Shriners and ended up bumped so many times I lost count!

It will be wonderful to have a little time alone to visit with mom, which I haven't really had in almost 10 years. In our case, it has been a real sacrifice for our moms as we have adopted as we have been unable to afford to spend time with them as we would have hoped to do all these years. We simply couldn't manage the airfare...and the distance we are from where they are makes it almost the same cost as driving. If we were further it would make more sense to only fly, but we are at the "tipping point" when we consider one or two of us flying versus driving. If several of us go as when I took all the kids, driving then becomes a bargain! So we will have a "Girls Week" as Dominick and I both realized this may be the last time for a long while that I can ever really easily go out alone.

We had an up and down day yesterday, as I received a call from Kenny's teacher that she needed to talk with me in person before she realized she would see me in the hall later that morning! It seems that Kenny has been "zoning out" in class when things get challenging, and that he started arguing with her in class the other day. She tentatively told me this and what her response was..."Young man you will NOT be disrespectful with me"...and as she saw the smile creep over my face I could see her visibly relax. I told her she handled it perfectly and it is almost word for word what we say at our house. I explained that we have inordinately high expectations in the Respect Department and would never tolerate any of the kids arguing with us, rolling their eyes, or even speaking to us with a disrespectful tone of voice. She said she hoped she hadn't stepped over the line and was glad to learn it was ok. "Ok?" I said, "It was PERFECT!!". She then added that Kenny ceased immediately and understood HE had crossed the line.

This is all stemming from frustration with math homework that he is really struggling with and doesn't understand at all. He is also just having one of those cyclical weeks we have which are growing further and further apart, thankfully, but do still occur. I guess because it is not THAT hard, I don't always discuss it on the blog, or maybe because I just don't have time to share every single detail of what happens in our daily lives and tend to just hit the highlights. But for those considering older child adoption and reading this to glean some nuggets of insight, perhaps that is not really fair. Things have improved dramatically since Kenny's arrival, but as I explained to his teacher yesterday, we still struggle with control issues periodically. He still thinks he is the "Adult In Charge" sometimes, and has to be strongly reminded that HE is the CHILD and WE are the ADULTS. Is that due to institutionalization? Personality? Lack of trust in competent adults? Or a combination of all 3? Probably a combination as Kenny does have an innate sense of leadership, it is built into him and can't be denied. Harnessed it will take him so far, unharnessed he will be able to write the book "How to Lose Friends and Turn People Off".

I then asked his teacher if she had a moment to be with me while I pulled Kenny out of class and spoke with him with her present. She said "sure" so we went to class and I called Kenny out. He was filled with trepidation as he walked towards the door as he and Matthew had both already been in trouble that morning for not doing as they had been asked (Don't grin as you read this, but they were playing with Legos instead of brushing their teeth 2 minutes before we had to leave...minor infraction!) and he had been testing the limits a lot the past few days, so no doubt he knew more was to come.

In front of his teacher in the hall I told him that I knew he had argued with his teacher and was not paying enough attention in class. I made it clear in no uncertain terms that he is NEVER to argue with his teacher again, and if he did he would get in trouble at school as well as at home. After a good chewing out, he returned to class while his teacher and I talked...she said "I can do that myself, but why is it so hard to see someone else do it to him? He has gotten into my heart and it was hard to watch him get in trouble from someone else." I said "I know exactly what you mean, and he IS a sweet natured boy and is struggling against so much, but not doing having high expectations just delays us dealing with it later on down the road and we don't have time to lose". She talked about how incredibly far he has come in the year and half we have had him, how he has matured, how much he has learned, and just how far he might be able to go eventually. We also talked about how, realistically, he hard it is for him to focus when things are over his head, how difficult it is to walk that fine line of encouragement and discipline, and that compassion for just how hard everything is for him still makes it hard on our hearts to sometimes remain firm.

And I walked away feeling so incredibly blessed that Kenny has this remarkable woman as his teacher, who you can tell cares a great deal for him and yet has the strength to do what is best for him, even if at moments it leaves her feeling like the "Big Bad Teacher".

On a much happier note, we were stunned...and I do mean STUNNED to get our I171H in the mail yesterday!! For those readers who are uninitiated into the world of international adoption, that is THE form you need from immigration granting you approval to adopt. It is sort of like the end of the second trimester, so to speak, with the end of the first trimester being the completion of the homestudy. The end of the third trimester is when your dossier is approved a few months down the road and delivery is when you travel! We just went to Denver a week ago to file the paperwork for this form, and were told it would be at least 4-5 weeks at the earliest before it would arrive. I so casually opened the envelope knowing for sure it wasn't the document we needed and thinking it was something on Kenny's paperwork for citizenship or something that I actually had to take a second when I saw the form to realize what it was! I got on the phone right away and told Dominick who broke out in laughter as we both see how God is making this an extraordinary journey, far different from our others. That is twice now that things have moved with the speed of lightning in all of this, catching us totally off guard. So now I can complete the dossier when I return home from CA, which is almost done, send it off the state for Apostilling (unless I drive it over myself, which I might do) and then off to our agency for submission and translation!

I also had another unexpected and wonderful surprise this week, as I was honored to receive an invitation from our church's Conference Office to become a member of their Faith Nurturing Ministry Team. This came totally out of the blue as I don't really know anyone at the Conference, am not really involved in anything Conference-wide, in other words I am not someone who should have come up in conversation with anyone about such a thing. But, for me, it was God speaking again and was an answer to my foolish prayers in which I asked for confirmation that my time pursuing the licensed lay ministry program was not going to be wasted. I had entered into this with Him now knowing or understanding the "why", and I still am not certain in the long run the answer to that question, but it is clear He has a plan and I need to act.

As I work with the youth in our church who are all struggling to understand how He speaks to them, if He really exists, how do you hear Him, I would give anything for them to have just one experience like this so they could feel what it is like...and I feel an incredible sense of urgency to get this across to them, as they NEED it, they NEED to know He is real and present, that walking with Him is the coolest thing they will ever do and bring greater joy and insight than they can imagine. And yet I feel so amateurish in my attempts to express this and help them "see". I want my own kids more than anything to walk through life with this gift of His. Perhaps "Faith Nurturing Ministry" is a perfect fit for my yearnings. Surprise, surprise...God knows best.

Now I am off to do laundry, pay bills, clean house and other assorted mundane things! If you are reading this and still have stacks of laundry waiting for you, good for you for ignoring them! hahaha!


Maureen said...

Congratulations on your quick turn-around on your I171-H. That is awesome!

And yes... I am reading your blog and blogging instead of doing my pile of laundry. :-)

Lenore Ryan said...

Another amazing entry, Cindy! I sit, reading this, loving every word, taking it all in! Congrats on all the good in your week! Have a wonderful visit with your Mom!!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought of going into motivational speaking? You could probably pay for 12 more adoptions and a few new houses for what people would pay to hear you speak if you speak even half as good as you write!
Congrats on the paperwork and have a wonderful time with your mom.

I don't know what I'd do if we didn't go see my mom each year (but I don't have a Dominic to help me out and mom give me that support).

Kim in Seoul (who is moving into her apartment this week after 2+ months in a hotel)

Cindy LaJoy said...

"Have you ever thought of going into motivational speaking? You could probably pay for 12 more adoptions and a few new houses for what people would pay to hear you speak if you speak even half as good as you write!"

I am actually awful at public speaking, as anyone who has seen the training video made of me speaking at an Adoption Alliance training could attest to. Not my forte by any stretch :-) But I am honored you would think so and for your compliment on my writing!!! It's just me and my family, that's all. me. I must have your email wrong and tried to write you but haven't heard back. I want to know more about Korea!


Anonymous said...

I have co-presented with Cindy at an alternative school for high schoolers about adoption issues and is NOT true that she does not do well with public speaking! They LOVE her and she has soooo much of great importance to say that even the teenagers listening paid attention and were clearly moved (they show it less obviously - to me the fact that they didn't fall asleep and even asked questions is HUGE! You are a motivation, Cindy, like it or not! Miss Joan

heather said...

Turn your blog into a book! there is so much knowledge for adoptive parents. Most of the books I read before I adopted were either so rosy it was a joke or so scary you felt like going to washington to find your adoption papers and destroy them. People who want to adopt need to know the reality of RAD but the beauty of the healing process and all the stories in between. Please consider putting your words in a book for all those parents that might not know what adoption really looks like. I use your blog as encouragement when I have difficult days and I can't figure out why God thought I was strong enough for this.
Thank you Cindy,