Sunday, November 8, 2015

Should My Children Be Grateful For Being Adopted?

Adoptive parents are sensitive folks.  Really, every group is.  There are some things that will get us all revved up.  My "triggers" are asking about "real mom," asking if I have my own children, or really anything that suggests that I or my children are "less than," in any way.  I've tried to lighten up over the years.  Luckily, the people around me are supportive of me when I don't succeed.  But, one thing that I see a lot is adoptive parents or adoptees complaining about people saying that the kids were lucky to be adopted or that the parents are saints/angels/heroes for adopting.  They say that children shouldn't have to be grateful to have a family or feel like they owe their parents something for being their parents.  The theory being that it puts a lot of pressure on the child to be good enough to deserve such a gift.  It's a valid theory.

But, I never knew that this was supposed to offend me.  I can't count the amount of times that I've heard that I'm an angel.  Quite frankly, I enjoyed being called an angel. ;)   I have always said, though, that we are lucky to have each other whenever someone would tell the kids how lucky they are.  Because that's what I think.  We ARE lucky to have each other.  In this world full of random coincidences and confusing, complicated universe plans...we found each other.  How lucky is that??

So, here's my take.  I do think my kids are lucky to have us.  I do want them to be grateful to have been adopted and have a family.  And, I do think it's ok for random people who mean well to point that out.  But, not because we are such wonderful, perfect people.  We're not awful, but we sure aren't perfect.  Not because they should be perfect.  How could I live up to that if they were?  But, because everybody should be grateful for what they have.  And, everybody should be aware of what blessings are in their  life.  Because like one of my favorite books as a child reminded me, it can always be worse.

They should be aware that every child will not be adopted so they should be grateful to have a family.  Because every child won't. 

Do I want Kaleb to understand that while he's upset that he contributed $26 to his $150 replacement phone after he broke his...again; his oldest biological brother is working his butt off on the other side of town, just trying to make ends meet, save for a car so he doesn't have to walk an hour to work every day, and do it on his own with no support (except us, but that's for another blog)?   Yes. 

Do I want all four of them to understand that while they are making up excuses not to wash their dishes, they are fortunate to even have food to eat.  And, that there are kids who aged out of the system living on the streets or kids in foster homes who don't get to eat what they want when they want?  Yes.

They should be grateful for that.  But, they're not always.

But, here's the thing.  We should be grateful, too  We should be aware that every adult will not be a parent so we should be grateful to have children.  Because every adult won't.

When my kids are driving me crazy or I am frustrated with how demanding this whole mom gig is, I try to remember that.  Sometimes, Brian and I will just sit and talk about how it was before (you know, when we had more money and freedom, haha) and how much we wanted this.  We remember the moments that we met them and the relief when we knew that they were 100% ours.  It's important to remember these things and feel grateful for how fortunate we are. 

So, yes, they should be grateful.  Yes, they should count their lucky stars that they don't have to doubt that they will be loved forever.  Yes, they should try to be the best little humans that they can be, but then feel secure in the knowledge that they will be loved no matter how many times they mess up.

Because we all should.  We should all be grateful for whatever we have.  A loving family, a great job, or the elusive jeans that actually fit.  We should all be grateful and we should all try to do our best.

So, no, if you tell us we are lucky, I won't get upset.  If you say that I'm an angel, I won't be offended.  Because, again, who doesn't like hearing good things about themselves, haha?  And,  the reality is that we did do a good thing that not everyone would (but, more people should) and I am proud of that.  But, we weren't trying to do some great selfless act.  We just set out to build a family.  And, my kids should be proud of how we came to be that family and they're part in that.  And, they should know that we are all so very lucky. 

I can't guarantee how others will react, though, so if you're not looking to be an angry topic in some other adoptive mom's facebook post then you might want to stick with safe comments like "your children are beautiful" or "congratulations on being a family." ;) 

They have a point.  Every child really does deserves a loving family.  They really are entitled to that and should have the luxury of taking that for granted.  But, sadly, that is not the reality.  No matter how much I wish it was. 

So, I'm going to keep trying to raise happy, healthy, and, yes, grateful kids.  Because we sure are grateful for them. :) 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Home School, Take 2.

Wow, homeschool.  I've been homeschooling since August and I've learned a few things.  I've learned that I have much to learn, I've learned that homeschooling takes up a lot of your time (hence the serious shortage of blogging and posting), and I've learned that I really do love having my kids home with me. 

In the myriad of facebook homeschool groups that I joined, I have read many times that it's normal and ok to try different things until you figure out what works for your family.  So, that's just what I'm doing,  I'm trying something different.

We started out with the virtual school.  It really is a good program, but for the elementary school age, it is very structured.  I understand why, but with 2 days of skype class time and specific assignments on the other days; one long weekend trip and we were behind on our work.  One of the best things about homeschool was the idea of being able to make our own schedule. 

But, we hung in there and tried to adjust to the virtual school schedule.  But, I found myself giving them a lot of worksheets to do and struggling to make sure that they got them done so I could send them in to their teachers.  And, I didn't find myself doing a lot of the creative learning projects that I had planned because there  wasn't time or the kids were tapped out when they were done with their official work.  This was all very different from William's much more flexible middle school schedule.

There have been some fun moments, though.  Like when Lizzie's teacher assigned the Ivory Soap microwave experiment.  She had to put a bar of Ivory Soap in the microwave for 90 seconds.  And, it turns out, it doesn't melt.  It expands like a souffle!  Go to your microwave and do this now, right now.  It was cool. :)  It was so much fun for all of us, including my parents.   That made me realize that I wanted more of that. 
Experiments are fun for grandparents, too!
Lizzie was impressed! :)

Then I started hearing more and more about unschooling.  At first, it sounded odd, then it sounded cool, then it sounded perfect.  Unschooling is what you make of it.  I have the option to be creative with education, but also to be as traditional as I want.  They can have more control in what they learn. We can do crazy experiments and still use the workbooks that Grandma got for the kids.  (The ones that I hadn't had time to use much yet). I can keep William in his virtual classes but take Lizzie and Antwan out.  Because I may not be able to find creative ways to teach Algebraic equations, but I can creatively teach elementary school math. :)

I'm really excited and feel very empowered.  Since making this decision, I have taken a nature walk with the kids, worked on several pages of the workbooks, watched educational videos on skip counting and the Spanish alphabet, took them to 2 doctor appointments (without ending up behind in school) and written two blog posts.  (Admittedly, blog posts have nothing to do with home schooling, but, man, did I miss writing!)  Not bad for 3 days.  :)

So, I feel like I'm just now starting to homeschool.  Because as Brian said, with realization, as we discussing it, I wasn't so much homeschooling as I was doing their regular schoolwork at home.

Not anymore.  I'm all in. :)

And, another new adventure begins!