You want to know why we feel it is imperative that Angela and Olesya are not enrolled in public school at this time? Do you want to see how different it is being 12 and 10 versus Kenny's 8 years old? Let me share some of our conversations yesterday, and perhaps it will be as obvious to you as it is to me...
Coming from Angela on the drive home from school yesterday afternoon:
"Mama...drive machina Kazakhstan?" and much to her surprise she learned that we could only fly there, and it was impossible to drive to Kazakhstan. Hmmm....something that by 12 years old most kids know, but maybe not for a few...we continue on...
While reading together last night a book with pirates in it, from Olesya:
"Mama, pirates America?". Well, no Olesya, pirates with peg legs and eye patches don't really exist today (I of course didn't go into the whole Somalia thing). I was then questioned for several minutes about when pirates lived, and with astonishment she finally believed me that there were no pirates like that today.
Later in that conversation, Angela asks:
"Mama...America...woman fish tail? Can we see aquarium?". While I was very happy to see she remembered the word "aquarium" from our visit to one in Astana, I was blown away to be asked in all sincerity if we could go see a real mermaid. At 12 years old, she doesn't understand that mermaids are a myth.
My children appear so wonderfully average, so normal on the outside...and they ARE...and yet their life experiences are decidedly NOT normal. Can you imagine that kind of innocence and naivete in a modern day public middle school? Can you imagine the utter confusion of modern life thrust at them with iPods, gangsta rap, making out and the one-upmanship in attire? My daughters still need to learn to discern between reality and fantasy, how could we possibly thrust them in that environment and expect them to discern whether pot is safe or not, or if a guy's advances are sincere or not? So sad to me that I would even have to say "guys advances" about CHILDREN who are 12 or 13 years old, but that is the way today's world works.
Maybe now our decision to homeschool them makes a little more sense to some. Not that we have to justify it, but there might be someone reading this blog considering adopting an older child from overseas who would have no idea what to expect with their soon-to-be child. Maybe all of these blog posts about our life post-adoption will help pre-adoptive parents understand a little bit better just all the deficits that their children come with.
And hopefully, I have done an equally good job highlighting their amazing resilience and internal resources.
However, to deny that our older adopted children come to us with a very different background than the children they will be interacting with does them a disservice. I have met many adoptive parents over the years who want to wipe the slate clean and pretend their lives started with them, that there was no history prior. Sorry, try as hard as you might, that is impossible. You are getting the whole child, not just the parts you prefer. Frankly, I prefer ALL our kids' parts...the trauma, the neglect, the sorrow, the grief...all of it, for it is how they were formed into the fantastic, triumphant kiddos I now parent. But it does bring challenges with it.
Like how to explain a mermaid is not real :-)