Thriving In the Trenches

Today has been another demanding day with the girls.

If I say we’re going to have lunch, they say they’re not hungry. If I say we need to wash our hands, they say, “No.”

If I ask them to do their English on the computer, as soon as I walk out of the room, they stop doing it.

They stomp their feet like little girls.

In the beginning it seemed like they didn’t know how to play at all. Now I do see them playing, but completely inappropriately.

They think it’s funny to tease the littles. They bring up something the younger ones can’t do, offer it as an option, and then run away laughing when the littles run screaming behind in disappointment. And they do it over and over again no matter how many times I correct them.

They roll their eyes. They bang their silverware on the plates. Last night at dinner I thought we may have hit an all time low. They each refused to pass the food to their neighbor. They purposefully would pass it in the opposite direction or completely across the table spilling everything in their way.

When we ride in the van, they unbuckle as soon as they think I will not check again. They poke the kids and cause loud screams while we are driving.

Evangeline is terribly manipulative and turns her head and walks away defiantly MANY times a day.

Some of our bigger children are completely frustrated with their antics.

I think Evangeline is misbehaving primarily for attention. I could be wrong, but I think she was a favorite in the orphanage, and I think she was always the exception and never had to follow any rules.

And she is precious. Don’t get me wrong, but she does whatever she can to get attention. If we are walking in the parking lot, she makes every effort to walk away in the middle of the road where the cars would hit her.

She must know I will tell her to walk with us.

I think she gets a lot of attention from all of us. I also think she is in the perfect family to expunge the attention getting stuff because Mark is really good at not responding to any of that.

A friend asked me on fb to share how we handle the behaviors.

I say no and insist they do what I ask. I just stand there and wait until they obey. When they return to the negative behavior as soon as they walk away, I go over to them and tell them they need to stay with me for a while because they didn’t obey.

They usually balk, stomp their feet and slam doors, but I continue to insist and they do eventually accept my terms.

As soon as they comply, I completely return to my happy self and don’t refer to the negative behavior again.

I do feel like I am making progress, but it is extremely time consuming and exhausting.

Even so, I would take these exhausting days over the early days when I could not reach Eliza at all. I am reaching her now. We laugh together. Work together. Clip the cat’s toenails together, feed the dogs together, do crafts together.

It is enormously better than it was in the first few weeks home.

It is just that they are kicking at goads, testing the waters.

I’m thankful this stage has begun because it is all part of their healing. They are hurt little girls. They have so much to deal with.

We have so many family pictures all through the house of every Christmas together. Eliza pointed to them today, and said with an angry face, “no, not me, not good.”

I assured her this year we would have a picture of ALL of us together, but somehow that doesn’t undue the past. It doesn’t make it all okay that she wasn’t here.

I grieve the years we lost too. They are gone. We have only just begun our lives together. We can look ahead, be thankful for what we have, but I will always share them with another country, another mother, another life.

They are so sweet.

They just desperately needed us for so many years.

And I wonder, why did it take us so long to find them? Why couldn’t we have brought them home years ago?

I may never know the answer to those questions.

But they’re home now.

And they’re here to stay.

And we are up for the task!


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  1. Karen says:

    Hang in there Diane ! My friend survived this stage with her daughter and you can too ! Em can get manipulative too but not quite to the level a teenager can.

  2. Claudia says:

    Hi Diane, the girls’ beaviour sounds so familiair to me… Been there with my kids too. They are testing you… Will mommy stil love us when we misbehave? Will she stay? Negative attention indeed. What I found really helpful is to consistently name ALL their behaviour (negative and positive), start every sentence with theceord ‘you’. F.i. ‘You are unbuckling your seat belt, you know that is dangerous and not allowed and I don’t want you to do it again.’ And leave it at that. Certainly do the same with positive behaviour. ‘You are now playing with you little sister. You really like that, you are such a sweet big sister’ . If you keep using this ‘naming’ approach, eventually they will feel acknowledged and loved and that us really all they are looking for. Works like magic 😉 Good luck!
    Greetings, Claudia

  3. Karen Mateeff says:

    Christmas Greetings Diane! It has been so long since I last checked on all of you. Life has been so busy for us too. I can’t believe you manage to keep up the blog. Every single day you can start again. There are stages in the adoption journey for all of you. They are testing and you are in a stage too that I remember all too well. That stage of grief, anger, questions……why you couldn’t have had them sooner. All a bit frustrating at times. But, through it all the troubled times are mingled with joy, growth and victories. Blessings to all of you in this season of celebration! He lives! -Karen

  4. Mama D.'s Dozen says:

    I have walked this walk.

    One of ours was “the manipulative one” . . . the “favorite” at the orphanage . . . the one that would do anything for attention.

    Keep seeking the Lord for His strength and grace to make it through each day.

    mama of 12
    Mama D.’s Dozen recently posted..Happy AnniversaryMy Profile

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