Monday, July 25, 2011

A Rough Morning

Monday morning started out like every other morning. I wake before the girls, update the blog and check emails, then hop in the shower. We get ready for the day, then Skype Brent and the children back home, then head to breakfast.

I'm not going to go into alot of details, for Johanna's sake, but the rest of the morning wasn't good. We had our first big "conflict".

I struggle between comforting and empathizing with her, to establishing my authority early on. I tried to do both, but I'm not sure I was successful. :)

My heart goes out to her. I can't imagine all the changes she's going through, and how out-of-control her life must seem right now. I truly think it will be better when we get home, she has other children to play with, and life settles into a routine.

For now, though, we need to get through this week---together! With our guide Helen's help, we were able to communicate some about what happened, and hopefully it won't happen again :)

I am open to all advice in this area. I am new to both teen adoption AND teen parenting, and I certainly don't claim to know all of the answers. Also, please continue to pray that Johanna will learn she can trust me to make good decisions and that I will LOVE her, no matter what she does-or doesn't-do.

The rest of Monday was better. She's enjoying practicing English. She's already picked up the tune and many of the words to "Jesus Loves Me" and "My God is so Big" as she's listened to me sing to Gabbey. I LOVE that she loves to sing! I can't wait to introduce her to our children's choir. Not only will they love her, she will love the music! :)

I'm afraid I was overwhelmed yesterday and failed to take any pictures. I will try to do better today!


  1. Hang in there! There will be lots of ups and downs even as you get home, but I think its harder in China to establish parental authority, etc. Looking back now, I realize Haleigh, though not a teen, was terrified and acted out much because of this. I'm sure Johanna is scared as well and nervous about what her new life in America will be like. She can't even begin to imagine it. I have noticed that Haleigh and a lot of the others from ZCWI don't seem to understand "NO". It's a constant challenge at our house. Haleigh will do it anyway even though she knows there will be a consequence! After fourteen months at home, we are still learning!

  2. Hi Selina. I read your email on this topic in the "Z" group, too. First, I want to give you a virtual hug! Second, I want you to know that I don't have all the answers about parenting teens, either, since our oldest is 7. I am, however, a teacher of teenagers, and one word popped into my head as I read your post--"compromise." Maybe if a similar conflict comes up again, you can tell her she needs to do what you ask her to do, but then offer her the chance to do something she wants to do (like watch tv) afterwards. I don't know if this will work...but maybe it's worth a shot? Anyway, keep loving her and praying for her. I believe the Holy Spirit will work in her heart and help her to trust you more each day!
    Praying for you in Idaho,

  3. We have four children so far, ages 29, 27, 20 and 7 (with a 7 year old coming home in a few weeks). The first three are biological. So we have had three teenagers. I am also a high school social studies teacher and have been teaching teens for 16 years (two of those years were middle school, 6th through 8th grade).

    Where to begin? Don't approach her from the back or side. Keep physical contact to a minimum and make it light and consistent, such as a pat on the shoulder-a single pat or squeeze-do not rub your hand or move it from one part of her body to the other. Maintain eye contact while doing this. Let her observe affection between you and Gabbey and learn from that. Even if she is hugging you now, it's just pretend, just copying. It does not mean anything. She is doing it because she is expected to and believes that you expect it of her.

    Do everything that you can to make it clear to her that you determine the order of the day, that you will take care of her bodily and safety needs. You can't promise to take care of her other needs yet; you can't "make it better" because you are the cause of her pain in her eyes. You can tell her that it will get easier, though.

    Let her have control of small things; she needs some control. Let her select her outfits. This is extremely important because of her age. Let her have a time each day when she chooses what you watch or listen to. She has a personality and tastes and needs to be able to express them. Again, she may love your music, but she is copying you and she is not a copy of you. If she dresses like you and Gabbey and listens to the music that you listen to, etc., she is lost and no longer exists; she is nobody.

    If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask.


  4. Will be praying for you and your sweet girl! :)

  5. Praying for you Selina. I can't even begin to imagine what you must be feeling and going thru. But please know that I am here praying for you girls. I have loved your updates and pictures.... Hugs and Love from AZ! Miss you!

  6. So sorry your day was so rough! We love you and pray for you a lot. Naomi even stopped playing today and told me she was going to pray for you. So sweet!

  7. I believe with any child that is being adopted at a 'later' time in their life, they will struggle with lots of things. I don't doubt J is struggling with guilt, she was finally adopted but not some of her friends. She is doing everything different now. Sleeping, eating, talking is all a change and/or challenge in her life.

    It can't be picture perfect or we'd be in Heaven. :) Someone asked me one time if I had all the answers to raising Seth. I told them yes! They looked at me like you would expect. I said, "it's ALL God and it's ALL prayer". Those two things will keep you.

    You know this 'problem', not sure what it was, will be something small that you remember later down the road. I'm sorry to say, but I think it will get worse before it gets better. Satan certainly isn't happy about you taking her and knowing the percentages of her being saved and serving God are very high. Not only are you going to have to deal with just plain old flesh, but Satan also.

    I have been praying for you and Brent regularly. I'm just amazed at where God has taken you over the years. I can't wait to hear of Brents trip in Dec.

    "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee". Psalm 9:10

  8. Been there! We are one month into parenting a teen so I'm only far enough ahead of you to say that it does get better!! We had some harrowing moments in China, and a couple the first weeks at home, but each day gets better. I am convinced that God is trying to keep me on my knees, and learning to parent a strong-willed, hormonal teen will do just that! I was stern with Hope when she was disrespectful or disobedient, but tried to pour out grace for everything else. I admit it has been through gritted teeth many days, but less and less all the time.

    Remember that it will not always be this way, and remember that the One who called you to this will equip you each day with sufficient grace. Also, I read Isaiah 43 every day in China and it really helped my perspective.

    In His strength alone,

  9. Praying for much wisdom and strength for all of you! It is very brave of you to make this trip by yourself, and I think you are doing a great job. My Z girl definitely has a hard time accepting my authority (she does better with men), and I think it's good that you establish that in a kind and loving way right away.
    Sending hugs,

  10. You are my hero right now. I am only four months into motherhood with my 7 year old, while waiting for my original referral, and I feel a strong call to a teen daughter, too.

    You and your daughter are still so new to each other. You have ideas and tools to try out in your relationship with her, but you don't know her well yet so you don't know what will work best. Just keep doing what works and keep reaching into the bottomless "tool bag" for something else to try when needed. As you get to know her and tailor your parenting to her, things will definitely get easier. Being on your own turf with the physical support of friends and family and what is familiar will make a huge difference.

    This is way off topic, but I also suggest that you ask your guide to explain menses to your daughter, if she doesn't know already. I read on one blog that the mother did this and it worked out very, very well so that there wasn't the risk of fear or miscommunication when the time came.


I welcome any and all comments as long as they are Christ-honoring. Please let me know what you think!