Why haven’t I met your kids yet?
Because you don’t work in Lamb’s Club or at their schools, babysat, or haven’t brought us a meal. 🙂
In all seriousness, you all still freak them out a bit. Palmer still cries. every. single. Sunday. after church. Even if he appears happy when he’s there, he is still getting freaked out by all of the attention. He knows how to survive for the moment — smile, participate, etc. but when he gets in the van or at home, he lets us know that church is HARD.
I’ve heard that in Kinshasa, there is a folk story that they tell children, “If you are naughty, the white people will come and steal you in the night and eat you.” Now whether our kids have been told this, I’m not sure, but if they have, can you imagine how they must feel walking through a crowd of 700 people staring and smiling at them?
“Do they like me, or do they think I look delicious?” may very well be their thoughts. They may even still be thinking this about Ken and I.
They are at church every Sunday, but we will not parade them around and do lots of introductions. There will be years for you to meet them and watch them, just like you would with any other child. They are 4 and 5 and didn’t ask to be mini-celebrities. They’d rather just blend in, which is already hard to do. Please try not to stare, be overly friendly, or treat them any differently than any other child in the church you don’t know.
Can I hug your kids?
Please don’t. We’ve actually tried to be flexible on this, but the adoption books all recommend that no one else should hug or kiss them for months as they transition into their new family. Our flexibility has backfired.
If you go to our church, parents, please talk to your children about this:
Every week, at least a 1/2 dozen people ask Palmer for hugs. Often, the same person asks Palmer for a hug a 1/2 dozen times. Palmer is not a hugger. That’s his right. Frankly, it takes a really special moment for him to even hug us, his parents. Remember back in Kinshasa? His birth family hugged Ken and I good-bye, but NOT Palmer. Please allow him some space to heal in this area. To Palmer, your kids are strangers.
Addie Rose has the opposite problem. She hugs everyone. She also calls every woman over 30 “mama.” She had 15 caregivers, called “mamas” in the orphanage, and every preschool teacher, Sunday School volunteer, babysitter, etc. is another “mama” to her. I am her mother. She needs to learn that — even though I’m not the most fun, or the prettiest, or give her as much candy as others. She needs to get her needs for affection from Ken and I, not from a dozen other people, and especially not relative strangers. She may even spontaneously want to hug you. Please remind her that you bet that her mommy or daddy would really love that very hug the next time we see her. This is a vital lesson for a young girl to learn. Please help her to heal in this area.
Do your kids speak English yet?
Very little. But don’t be mistaken, they understand almost everything you say. They are just a little shy in speaking it. School is helping. Don’t be surprised if you ask our kids a question in English, and they respond in Lingala. We think that Addie Rose doesn’t realize that there is a difference between French/English/Lingala quite yet. If you speak French, you can speak to them in French, and they will likely respond to you in French. But we’re encouraging English in our home, and only using French for emergencies.
What do your kids like?
Curious George has been the biggest hit with both of our kids! They love to read all books, but especially Curious George. The Curious George cartoons on Netflix have been a huge hit too.
Palmer loves to learn to write letters. He is way ahead on his homework already (second week of school). I always have to MAKE him stop doing his homework (parent of the year) in order to eat dinner, get to church, etc. He always tells me lots about what he has done at school. I wish I knew what he was saying, but I can catch his enthusiasm!
They love toys that make noise, move, or wind up. It’s almost like they like the cheapest toys the best. They are learning how to do basic puzzles. Lincoln logs and Lego are a hit as well. Putting things together and taking them apart is very similar to what they are experiencing in real life, so that’s how they prefer to play.
Palmer loves soccer and is great at it. Addie’s motor skills are improving in this area. She’s going to be great with people.
Mostly, they play with each other. They are not used to having toys, so learning how to play with toys has been hard for them. We’ve had to push them a bit to practice fine and gross motor skills by playing. We don’t really know very much about what Addie likes to play with because she just likes to play with whatever Palmer is playing with!
Why were your kids brought to the orphanage?
That is their story to tell. When they are old enough, they may tell you, but Ken and I will not. No orphanage story is a happy one.
Isn’t your life like a fairy tale come true?
We more liken it to a Biblical tale in which we’ve done something dangerous enough to get Satan’s attention. Make no mistake, there is still spiritual warfare going on for the hearts and minds of our kids. We are so thankful to have them home, to have the waiting over, to know them and their unique personalities and giftings. But they are grieving deeply and in their own ways. One responds to deep grief with laughter and dimpled smiles, and the other responds to deep grief with tears and tantrums. And as much as we want to help them, it’s difficult without a shared language. But every day is a smidge better than the day before. Every day, Ken and I earn a little more trust. Sometimes we laugh at how far we’ve come from when we first met them, and it’s only been two months. The best is yet to come.