Friday, May 14, 2010


we're off!!  We are getting ready to leave w/ the normal over amount of excitement and chaos that usually preceeds one of our trips.  I don't have time to download pictures but will when I get home Sunday.  Can't wait.  Kids were great yesterday coming home from school and getting everything ready.  Decided to have something easy for dinner so turkey, corn on cob, stuffing and baked beans.  Yeh, so the baked beans were leftovers.  LOL.  Anyhow, good dinner, some last minute shopping and busting Yana for trying to use the computer.  Don't ask.  I will explain later.  Just know, disappointed.  It was going so, SO well.  URGHH!!!  Poor judgement is no excuse is what I told her.  She did apologize and we've discussed it but still it was going so, so well.  Can't have a trip w/ out a little drama, right? 

Everyone is looking forward to the trip.  Can't wait to share it all with you and maybe some of what we learn.  IEP info was quite helpful last time.  Hope I get some more of that as I have 4 of them next week.  Yikes!  I will leave you w/ one picture.  Of course, Nik drew it.  Here goes:

Notice in this picture the nice, happy faces?  I like this much, much more!  He said it was our van, the mountains, the house & us leaving.  Notice the packed bags?  He also told me he put some rock climbing in there.  Love it.  Enjoy your weekend.  I know we will.  Be back on Sunday evening. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

 I will have to make this rather quick as we are getting ready for our trip.  Kind of hard to do w/ two toddlers running around here but I'm sure trying.  So, thought I'd give some credit where credit is due to some of my kids.  With having FAS/FAE and RAD dx's, you have to really find the good sometimes.  That is what we try to do every week here.  I truly believe there is good in everyone.  Here goes:

Irina--  knew Warren was working late so she made him coffee right before he came home so it was ready for him.

Max-- he was offering to help Warren all weekend.  During Mother's Day, Max took it upon himself to dismantle the old fountain and put up the new one!  Wasn't even asked to.  Just being thoughtful.

Yana-- Has been playing with the two toddlers I watch after school.  This is wonderful as usually she wants no part of playing w/ any of the younger kids.  One night, she also knew Warren  & I were up late working on a project w/ one of the other kids.  Bedtime was not normal.  She was thoughtful enough that the next morning she had made all the kids' lunches for me.  Very sweet.

Bojan-- Was helping Alyona to learn to read.  Really taking the time to work w/ her.  Thanks!

Alyona-- She has been sharing ALL her stuff w/ Sarah(a little girl I watch).  She used to be very selfish about it.  She is really showing she is going to be a big sister & share.  Love it.  Alyona wasn't even asked to do this. 

Alex-- This one impressed me.  Yana had taken Ethan's (one of the little ones I watch) banana nut bread.  I had made enough for the 10 kids to each have a slice.  Ethan was not happy.  Alex right then and there said here Ethan, you can have mine!  I was stunned.  Alex (one of our RADishes) showed quite an amount of compassion and empathy.  Very happy about that.

Nik-- Cleaned up his room.  Of course, I think this is more due to wanting to go to the mountains versus wanting to be thoughtful.  LOL

That's what I could think of off the top of my head.  I may post tomorrow if Im up early.  The mountains get no reception for cell service and plus, when we go on vacations or somewhere, we don't like to be technologically connected.  We like to literally get away from it all.  Just enjoy nature or whatever it is we're seeing.  This month, we are also doing our annual zoo trip.  Next month, D.C. and the beach as well.  So, it is really nice to take it in w/ out the distractions of technology.  We do let our kids take mp-3 players on the trip but limit usage so they HAVE to talk to us.  LOL.  So, next post will most likely be tomorrow morning and then again Sunday night or MOnday.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. 

Nik's drawings & a quick update

Today there is much activity as tomorrow we leave for Camp Cheerio!!!  Excited, can you tell?  Social worker has another appt. today so she is coming out on Monday instead.  I'm very ready to finish this process so that we can really move forward w/ this adoption.  The homestudy is always the first really big step.  As soon as the homestudy is approved, we send it off w/ that wonderful 16 page document, which currently has NO stains on it...yet.  Give it time.  LOL.  We may be the only family that sends off documents to a foreign country w/ jelly on it.  Hey, at this rate, I'm not putting it past anyone.  That is why the passports are currently up high & hidden.  Those are our next two very big hurdles... completing the homestudy and then sending off the I-800A.  Well, those hurdles and of course the financial side of it all.  Writing that in another post.  For now, I'd love to have some pictures.  And, since Nik's pictures seems to be very umm, interesting last time, I'll do a few more he made in school.  Hope you find the humor in some.

Nik told me the wind was blowing hard in this picture.  The people do genuinely looked concerned.  However, then there is this mean man telling them he can't go past the roadblock.  I have no unearthly idea why.  Again, what is he thinking?!

I don't quite get this picture.  Okay, Nik had baby chicks hatch in his class.  So, there are baby chicks in the picture.  For some reason he and his girlfriend Ava are handcuffed together.  When asked him where they were going & what that house was:  jail was the response I got.  What kindergartner sends their best friend to prison?!  who does that?!  The yellow is the police car he told me.  Yet he writes he's sad about baby chicks.  Yes, I foresee therapy session at some point in the future.  LOL.

This is more of a normal drawing.  I like it b/c I asked him about the person on the right in the flowers. He said that was me taking pictures of them swinging.  Sweet picture to balance out some of the others I guess.

Love this one too.  The farm is busy is what it says.  He told me he was milking the cow and it was yucky.  He also told me the cow is saying it hurts.  You can clearly see the different animals which I think is so cool.

This one just cracked me up.  He explained that the dog was being blown out of that instrument.  Too funny.  I have no unearthly idea what those two things on the end right are supposed to be.  
Any idea what you all think this could be?  Give you a hint.  Never, ever let your son watch the movie Twister and then go to school the next day.  Not a good idea.  Yep, these are people being swept up by tornadoes.  Yes, my disaster drawing son strikes again.  Should I be concerned?  LOL.  

I do think some of his drawings are sweet and cute.  But boy, sometimes that child has a "darkside" in there.  He loves drawing his siblings being arrested and he's the arresting officer!  Crazy kid.  

We are all very excited about our upcoming trip.  We just learn so,so much when we go there.  Everyone has so much fun.  Trouble is, we return late Sunday and have to get ready for school.  We'll have 9 sleeping bags that have to be washed one at a time & then about 4 loads of laundry on top of that.  NOt to mention clean up any accidents the dog had in the house.  Bear protests while we are gone and always, always refuses to go outside.  URGHH!!!  We'll also have to grocery shop and get stuff ready for school that evening.  And, clean up.  I'm thinking the social worker coming here on Monday is going to be interesting b/c I'll have meetings all day Monday for IEP's.  Yikes.  Should be very interesting in what she sees here.  Maybe she can put some blinders on before she comes the day after returning from a trip.  LOL.  It is what it is and we'll definitely do our best.  Got to go.  Need to pack for sure. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Legacy of an Adopted Child

This is a poem I have framed in my dining room.  I think it speaks volumes and hope you also enjoy it.  I have no idea who the author is.  Just want to thank them for writing it.

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember;  the other you call Mother,

Two different lives, shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first gave you life and the second taught you to live in it.
The first gave you a need for love, 
and the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality;  the other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent, the other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smiles, the other dried your tears.

One gave you up, it was all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me through your tears,
The age-old questions "heredity or environment?"

Which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling, neither, 

Just two different kinds of love.

Tidbits here and there

I have many things going on that we're trying to get organized and done.  I printed off the I-800A yesterday and will call the agency.  Or, maybe some of you on here know the answer.  According to the instructions, unless they are sibs, you must file two seperate apps, which would add an incredible cost for us.  I'll find out soon how true this is.  Adoption paperwork is always a big question mark even if you do it over and over and over again.  Rolling w/ the punches.  Social worker comes out Thursday for another visit.  Should be interesting as the kids will be totally hyped up on their pending trip the next day.  they are already talking about packing.  Umm,no.  Not yet.

Now, the big thing is trying to get everything ready for end of year school stuff and celebrations.  Lots and lots of dates to remember and appointments to reorganize.  We'll get there slowly.  Nik graduates from Kindergarten this year and then Max graduates from 8th grade as well.  Awards ceremonies for us last all day and all week.  Classroom parties and the like.  We have many things to plan for including sending out invites for Alex and Alyona's birthday parties as they occur in the summer.  Usually, they have a joint pool party.  However, Alex is clearly passing her intellectually and it is hard for the two group of friends to find common ground.  Plus, boys and girls really separate at this age anyhow.  So, Alyona will invite her close friend over to spend the night and do girlie things.  I think Alex still wants a pinata and pool party.  We keep everything simple.  We are also planning for our adoption reunion trip to D.C. in June.  Busy, busy time.  Also, trying to get organized for them being out of school.  We kind of do a mini school session in the summer each day as well.

Warren and I have been slacking on some vital paperwork for some of our children and we're kicking it into high gear now.  We're getting 3 of them passports.  IRina and Max came in on a different type of visa than what is issued now for adopted children.  Yes, they are indeed US citizens but this happened over 11 years ago and paperwork wasn't as it is today.  I've already spoken to immigration and the social security administration to see how to "fix" their social security card that reads "valid for work in US only w/ INS authorization."  Sounds as though they are ailens and not US citizens.  Not the case at all.  Just to fix this thing is crazy.  Easiest and most cost effective fix is to get Irina and Max passports I'm told.  Then, I go down to SS office and ask for new cards.  Again, I do want to stress they are indeed US citizens.  They are completely legal.  Just doesn't sound like it on paperwork due to a glitch.  Working on fixing that glitch.  The other passport will be for Bojan just in case we decide to stop by Serbia.  It would be a once in a life time deal and I will post more about it in the future when I know if it is a possibility.  Our goal is to get all the kids US passports but two right now are immediate priorities.

Another paperwork nightmare is finding out about SSI for Irina when she turns 18.  We've made a mistake by NOT getting every single dx on paper.  Now, need to go back and make sure an MD has it all on paper for her.  FAS/ OCD/ asthma to name a few.  Yet, has to be on paper.  AND, it has to be recently on paper.  So, going to work w/ her regular neurologist who has treated her for 10 years now to help us. Theyn, start the application process for her.  We aretold she can receive SSI even if she is living w/ us when 18.  This will help out immensely as we will save it for her in an account to help w/ living expenses as she gets older and out on her own more.  She will most likely never fully live indepenently.  She will always have to be checked on in some capacity.  Learning as we go. 

Well, started this yesterday and as you can see, still hadn't finished it.  Went ot story time at church today w/ the two tots I babysit for.  We had a good time.  Still, lots to do today w/ paperwork.  Tons of stuff happneing.  Bojan went to his prosthetic appt. today.  Knee replacement.  Wahoo, no more squeaking.  Also, go some new liners.  Need to make him an appt. to see about his possible amputation of his other clubfoot.  More about that another day as well.  Alyona has another stubborn streak.  I think it is the end of grade testing that is throwing her so out of whack lately. 

Just thought I'd say why we've been so out of the loop lately.  I can not say enough of hte excitement by all of us for the upcoming weekend.  Camp Cheerio!  Such a fun, leanring experience.  Can't wait to share the beauty of this place w/ you all.  Enjoy the week. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

My husband asks me every year what I want for Mother's Day.  I always say the same thing...for everyone to behave, no yelling necessary, no outbursts.  He always says besides that dream.  LOL.  Mother's Day was yesterday.  Many mothers are allowed to sleep in.  Well, a mistake we made the night before was allowing Nik to go to bed early instead of watching the movie.  actually, it wasn't early, it was just his bedtime.  Anyhow, Nik comes in the room screaming to wake us up.  (one of his deaf sounds that sounds like screaming).  Lovely.  So, couldn't get back to sleep and it was only 6:15am.  Got to love it.  A little while later, I was dealing with this one:

This is Alyona in the front yard.  Being stubborn.  Very stubborn.  Back talking and not listening.  So, she was told to go pick up sticks.  She said we have no sticks in the yard.  Umm, we live on a wooded lot.  Not that hard to spot a stick.  Out of the bunch, for being so tiny, she is by far our most stubborn one.  Eventually, she realizes she has to do what she is told and does it and then is proud of herself.  Got to love it.  Still, I'll take this over a RAD rage any day.  Then again, Warren had to put her in a therapeutic hold for the first time yesterday.  Very first time.  She's been home almost 4 years now and this was the first time ever in a hold situation.  So, as you can see, you can never let your guard down w/ older children.  Things will pop up from time to time.  Don't worry, she was fine the rest of the day.

So, after dealing with her, Warren thought we should not cook and got us a surprise.  

Something a little sweet.  We rarely buy donuts so this was nice.  Took the picture way late as we had a box and two bags full of donuts, mostly chocolate covered w/ creme inside.  Yum!  I have no idea what documents are laying next to this box.  What I do know is something other documents I filled out today for Camp Cheerio were covered in chocolate.  Nice.  Peanut butter on FBI fingerprint cards and now chocolate on these for deaf camp.  Can't we ever hand in paper w/out stains on them?  

After breakfast, it was time to just work at home and get things organized.  So, we started w/ some garden stuff:

What other way is there to move dirt than to have big brother tote you around on the lawnmower?  Yep, this is how they moved the dirt.  

Alright, we admit it.  That big garden we were going to build this year never transpired.  Some other events/ issues got in the way.  Sooo, we went out and bought the pre-made garden beds at Sam's.  Max built them.  Nik "helped."  Warren and I filled the dirt.  First, we'd put the bags down as a barrier over the rocks.  Will have the plants in in a few days.  We also have a whole row along the fence of containers that have already started to grow.  We had chives on our baked potatoes tonight actually.  Next year, there will definitely be a huge garden... at least that is what we are hoping.  LOL.  Can't wait to see it grow.  

Oh, while in the backyard, I discovered something on our new picnic table we had made.  I peeled it off.  Any guesses what the kids left me?  No.  Here you go:

One of my flameless candles.  The kids had eaten outside the night before and grabbed some of the flameless candles.  Of course, left in the sun, they will melt.  Maybe it was another Mother's Day gift.  Who knows.  Again, expect the unexpected here.  Hey, nothing was on fire, I should be happy.

Well, the girls did indeed surprise me though.  Much needed too....

This may not look like a big deal to you, but it took over two hours to clean!  (well, the whole bathroom they said).  No, we don't live in filth.  However, we have not seen the bottom of our masterbath tub for years.  Why?  Because it happens to be the laundry room over flow.  We don't have a laundry room(biggest pet peeve of ours) but a laundry closet in the hallway.  Yep, you heard it right.  A family of 9, soon to be 12 w/ no laundry room but just a closet.  So, overflow goes into our tub.  I've dreamed of taking a bath many times.  Kids know this so Yana decided to do something about it.  It was so wonderful to see.  Honestly was surprised.  I had been working in the yard all day.  So, I didn't even know it. 

Everyone worked hard yesterday.  It was indeed nice to see.  So, some of the boys went over to my neighbor's house.  For what you ask?  Remember, it is called Southills for a reason.  We have the BEST hills for sledding and just about anything else.  Dont' have a slip & slide.  No problem.  Do this:

A homemade slip & slide w/ soap and water!  Down a hill, it'sthe best.  Kids had a blast.  We have the best neighbors, we really do.  Thanks Tony for making the kids' afternoon!  It was fun to watch.  A bit cold, but fun.

Nik was done w/ the fun.  Nik, Bojan and Max played w/ the neighbors.  Alex was sound asleep on the couch and we just couldn't wake him up.  When Alex goes to sleep, he is out.  He was just zonked.  Great way to top off the Mother's Day.  A great weekend spent w/ my family.  Who could ask for more for Mother's Day?  Not me.  I've got what I need & want right here.  (well, here and waiting for me somewhere in Bulgaria).  My kids made it a great Mother's DAy despite the little bit of a rough start.   Turned out fantastic!  Now, I have to get really creative for Father's Day for sure.  

More posts to come.  Have much going on this week so been busy.  We are all counting down the days till we live for the mountains.  We'll be in Roaring Gap for 3 glorious days.  no tv, no computer, no cell phones, only nature and friends.  Can't wait to share through pictures. 

Happenings and updates

My, oh my so much to catch up on.  Guess we'll start w/ Friday and work our way to today.  Last week was teacher appreciation week.  Don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate the teachers.  But, at the bare minimum, I should make at least enough stuff for 11 teachers.  That's quite a bit of time and effort, not to mention money for all.  The schools(room parents) here seem to want gifts for teachers at Christmas, gifts for teacher appreciation week and gifts for the end of the year.  For all the classes.  It adds up quickly.  I remember growing up(I know, years ago--LOL), that we never did that.  I feel guilty if we don't but I can not do all 3 things every year.  It's just too much.  I had 25 gifts to buy for teachers this year for Christmas.  And that was just for my 4 kids.  The teens don't take gifts for teachers any more.  My kids have more than just the typical one or two teachers each so it adds up and I just want to be fair.  I'm working on ideas for next year as we'll have more kids and more teachers.  So, ideas would be wonderful here.  Anyhow, here is what we came up w/ for this year:

Banana nut bread...homemade.  My trouble was getting my kids to stop eating the loaves as they came out.  Not kidding.  They went through 4 loaves.  I can only make two at a time as I need more loaf pans.  Nik was giving these to his 3 main teachers, including his interpreter.  I was not able to get one made for his resource teacher or his speech teacher in time.  Now, I need end of the year ideas.  Some rooms here do the chip in thing of $5 each child.  That is not bad.  For some reason though, none are doing that this year.  The teachers here mean a lot to my kids and to me.  We've given them cards but would love to be able to show appreciation in another way.  I am truly tempted this year to cut and plant some of my hydrangeas and give them as container gifts next year.  It would be an experiment but if it does turn out, I will have found a niche for gifts that continue to grow.  Just an idea.  Again, send some good ideas my way.  End of year is fast approaching.

Well, before they headed out the door w/ banana nut bread or cookies, I made them something I usually don't in the morning.  Yogurt smoothies and sausage.  They loved it, can you tell??  Alex had the evidence on his face.  Picture's not all that clear but you get the idea.  
Later that day, they just played and Irina had a friend spend the night.  Next morning was yardsale time.  Well, Irina and her friend decided they wanted to sleep in as well as Yana.  So,  made Bojan's day w/ me and he and Alyona went this go around.  We went to our first yardsale and the car was literally full.  No joke.  Two of the items we got have been a huge hit.

These were free so better yet.  These two have not stopped playing w/ them nor have the 2 toddlers that I keep during the day.  Fun hits for everyone!  After we dropped stuff off, Irina and her friend decided they wanted to go.  We had a good time and found some awesome finds and deals.  Came home and I made everyone pancakes, sausage and smoothies.  Great way to kick off a day of play and work.  Kids were thrilled we weren't going anywhere and they played w/ friends mostly.  We all watched a great movie that evening.  Angels and Demons starring Tom Hanks.  Based on a book.  We never did get to see the DaVinci Code first but hear it was also a great movie.  Very suspenseful.  Nik had gone to bed and we let Alex "stay up."  We weren't going to let him watch the movie just b/c he is 9yo.  However, told him he could b/e we knew he'd zonk out w/in minutes.  Sure enough, sound asleep soon as it started.  Well, Alyona was not suited to watch this.  she ran out most the movie but remember, she is our "chicken little" and even runs out at Goosebumps movies.  Anyhow, later that evening Warren and I were in bed for awhile and both woke up a little creeped out.  Look up and "minnie mouse" is there saying she's scared and can't sleep.  URGHH.  Thanks for scaring us too kiddo.  I told her to grab some of the flameless candles and use them as a nightlight upstairs.  She did.  It had looked like a sayounce(literally do not know how to spell this word!  Never spelled it before.  LOL.  Dont' tell my kids please).  Alyona managed to get to sleep though.  

That same Saturday, Warren went to get me my Mother's Day gift early.  Here is what I got:

Isn't it beautiful?!  I LOVE it!  Okay, what some may not know is the other fountain that was here Warren had made.  It was great except for the fact that it greeted folks w/ the sounds of...someone using the toilet.  Yes, that is exactly what it sounded like and became the joke of this family and some other friends that would visit us.  This fountain sounds like a fountain should.  very quiet but nice.  Warren and Max got it all hooked up.  What was even sweeter is I had no idea that Warren had been trying to get this thing for over 2 months and it was always out of stock.  Well, Saturday he ended up going to two different stores and was able to get the very last one!  Asked him where he had gotten the money & turns out loose change and a dollar here and there he squirreled away at his office.  Very thoughtful and really made my day.  To think he cared enough about me to save a tiny bit here and there was amazing.  Means, he thought of me all year long.  

That was pretty much our Friday and Saturday.  Yesterday was Mother's Day.  I will have something on that later.  Right now, need to get some of these kiddos to bed.  BTW, thought I'd go ahead and print out the I-800A.  Had no idea it was 16 pages long.  When we got Irina and Max, it was a total of 2 easy pages.  Ha!  I can't believe I complained about it OR the price back then.  URGHH.  It was $400 back then and it is now $670.  I should do a then & now cost comparison of adoption in 1999 versus adoption in 2010.  It is unreal & that is just so far.  It is what it is and must be paid to bring the kids home so that is what we do.  Time to go.  More to come on MOther's Day.  Umm, wasn't all roses is all I'm going to say.  But, alls well htat ends well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Older child adoption --part II

I knew I'd eventually get around to making this post.  For those new, we have always adopted older children.  It was never intended to be that way but that is how our family was formed.  We don't mind a bit.  I think a major, major misconception of people adopting an older child is that they somehow will "miss out" on their firsts.  I can assure you, you will not.  There are so, so many more firsts that you will see and it will be a different perspective.  It means more to them.  You can see it on their faces.  I will never, ever forget the first time we gave Max pop rocks gum.  I so wished we had video taped it.  He thought his mouth was exploding and his whole body started shaking.  Then, he realized it was gum and could not stop giggling.  Just priceless and a first for us.  The first english word they speak or the first sentence they speak.  You remember.  The first time they taste something new.  That is always such a fun time to experiment w/ them on new foods.  For Irina and Max, once they got some language, I told them we were having dog food for breakfast.  I bought Reece's Puffs cereal, which by the way looks just like the Pedigree dog food Bear eats.  They are horrified.  Reluctantly, they try it.  Sure enough, they love it.   We got to teach all our older kids to swim for the first time w/ the exception of Yana(she already knew how).  They are terrified of the pool at first and then they discover they can do it.  It's wonderful to see that first.  I've gotten to see all of them lose their teeth for the first time w/ the exception of Yana once again.  So, as you can see, there are so many firsts for a new parent of an older adoptive child to experience.  There really and truly is. 

Now, let's get to some nitty gritty stuff.  Behaviors of an older child.  Okay, the mouth when they first get home.  This is something I noticed w/ my first two older children home.  In the orphanages of older children, you will have much older children mixed in w/ young children of 7 or 8 years old.  Well, the 16 yo's will cuss like sailors.  True.  This is learned behavior by the younger ones.  When Irina and Max first came home, we let them watch a Nickalodeon cartoon named Hey Arnold.  Well, there is an old man in it w/ an Eastern European accent named Mr. Kakashka.  That's right.  Mr. Shit.  I was wondering why Max and Irina were laughing so hard.  Found out my two were also cussing like sailors though it looked like innocent conversations.  They were 4 and 6 at the time.  Again, learned behavior at the orphanage.  Next trips to Russia we nipped that in the bud right away b/c we learned all the cuss words first.  LOL.  This wears off quickly though.  Just be prepared if it happens. 

Another thing you will find with older children a lot of the time is lack of discipline.  Again, this is very learned behavior at the orphanage.  In an older child's home, they pretty much can do what they want, when they want.  They are left to their own accord most of the time.  Yana recounts everything there and there really was no supervision.  It was quite sad.  When their is no supervision, it becomes more survival of the fittest.  They learn to be quite aggressive.  They will slap, hit , push and whatever else they can once home to get what they want.  Not because they are bad, but really because they honestly do not know any better.  Consequences as soon as behavior has occurred is what we found to be most effective.  If they hit a sibling, they immediately have to apologize.  Now, orphanage kids are usually used to getting physical punishment.  We don't use that here but have more of a punishment system, all written out. They use that.  Even the new kids.  But, first time I raised my voice to Max or Nik(when they first came home), they were absolutely terrified.  Now of course I could scream across 3 football fields and they still wouldn't listen. But when first home, I think htey are scared of whatever happened to them at hte orphanage would happen here.  They quickly learn it won't.  I know Alex was terrified at 3yo of being thrown up in the air.  You know, like you do w/ little kids and they giggle.  He was also afraid of the trashcan b/c he was afraid of being thrown in.  You just don't know w/ older kids all the kids all the things they have been through.  Their reactions may seem odd at first.  Take time to observe them and figure out the why of it all.

Eating and hygiene(or lack their of).  Eating.  Many times(not all) kids come from orphanages malnourished.  So, when they arrive here, they lose all control.  Why, b/c they are so used to food NOT being there, that they feel the need to gorge and hoard.  I have found food many times hidden when our children come home.  I honestly thought Max and Irina could have entered a food eating contest of some sorts.  The only reason Yana didn't eat a lot was because her teeth were so messed up from no dental care, no brushing of teeth, no flouride, etc.  She couldn't eat w/out pain.  Another common thing is the lack of dental care of orphans.  Older children come home needing thousands of dollars of dental work done.  We have the best dentist in teh world!  He does work on Moldovian orphans every single summer.  He takes his own equipment and everything.  Just a wonderful man.  He too has donated to our children and we could never repay for all he has done.  He has help to rescue several of our children.  A generous man that we can not thank enough.  there really are angels among us.  Like the song says "There are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above.  They come to you and me in our darkest hour.  Show us how to give, teach us how to live, guide us by the light of love."  I love that song.  Don't know who sings it  But I love it and it reins true for me.  I digress.  Food is a real problem when they come home.  New textures they are not used to.  Our kids were scared to eat a McDonald's burger at first.  Now, you wouldn't e able to tear them away from one.  LOL.  Older kids are a little more willing to be adventurous though.

The hygiene of older children from orphanages...yuck, is all I can say.  For one, they don't believe in toilet paper.  I'm dead serious.  Then, when you teach them, they must use an entire roll per flush.  Or the other thing is when they poop, they then throw the paper in the trash can versus the toilet.  This was not just a one region thing for our kids.  It was pretty much all of them.  Drives me crazy to this day.  They get home and yes, you need to be prepared to teach them the basics like brushing their teeth and how to use the restroom. 

Older kids will catch onto things pretty quickly.  Especially, if they have others to follow.  When Bojan came home, he did not dress by himself, eat by himself or use the bathroom himself.  4 days after being home, he did all self care.  Older kids will tend to be a bit more emotional.  Yes, they will.  Phew!  The girls drove me crazy when first home.  Seemed like I was living in drama theater all the time.  No way out.  I rolled w/ the punches then and intend to this go around as well.  One thing you have to remember when you adopt an older child is not to take things personally.  I know it sounds hard and somewhat near impossible, but it is true.  They will act out to you.  I've had some of mine slap, kick, punch, bite, break my glasses, etc.  It happens.  And in the moment, it is hard not to want to react back but you must.  They are searching for a reason in the beginning not to like you.  Remember, you are the one that took them away from their entire life.  They are more aware of this when they are older and look for ways in the beginning to not like you for doing that.  Acting out is their simple way of expressing the grief they feel since they really don't have the ability to communicate that thought clearly yet.  Calm talking and sometimes stepping out of the situation for a moment helps us.  Grief is very hard to watch these children endure.  Just take solice in the fact that it doesn't last forever.  And, you are not alone.  One thing that I learned helped my kids heal a little quicker is taking all their possessions away that they came with.  Let me explain b/c that sounds so horrible.  When Yana came home, she slept w/ the pictures and religious icons she had brought home w/ her.  We thought this would help but quickly learned it was hindering her healing.  She would run to her room , whip out a picture and talk to that instead of us.  So, one day I took everythign away and put it some place safe.  She was devastated at first but we noticed after awhile she came to us for comfort and not her memories.  AFter her grieving process, I gave the photos all back and regret doing that.  Not b/c of healing or anything like that but b/c her and Irina then took the photos, cut out the people and stuck them to things.  These, were photos by her Godmother that could NOT be replaced.  URGHH.  Lesson learned for us was not to let the kids keep anything we don't want ruined.  You'd think we would have learned that by now.  Nope.  They need the memories to not be flooded every single second of their day so that they can start their new life in their new family.  You need to be their sole form of comfort from the get go to help w/ bonding.  A few months after being home, the kids enjoy those pictures/ things w/ much more ease and are able to talk about hte people or the item then.  I love those conversations and do wished I'd recorded some of them. 

I know I only touched on a few things for older children.  There is so, so much more.  I will eventually get to more of them.  Again, these are things that I've noticed after7 kids home.  It may be different for you.  You just never know w/ kids.  Some of ours have been surprisingly smooth transitions and some of them you wished you could have a "do over."  LOL.  Good luck to all those adopting older kids.  It is challenging but so rewarding as well.  Mother's Day post to come.