Friday, February 21, 2014

Finding Our Way

Proverbs 29:15 “... a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

Just a  little over a year ago, I adopted a 16 year old girl.

Lots of people told me to my face I was crazy.  Lots of people thought I would be sorry.  Lots of people thought I would do damage to the children already in my home.

I was pretty wise in my own eyes - or at least, I put on a VERY brave front that I was.  I never felt a check in my soul that I was doing the wrong thing.  I prayed a lot.  And I had raised up 6 children through the teen years already, and had a daughter the very same age as this 16 year old girl.  And I had loved her back when she was 6 to 8 years old, living in my daughter Rachael's group foster home.  And she was the sister of my son, Luke, after all...
And she and Luke had a very cute half sister that was included in the package:

The picture above is the first time we saw Cynthia again after we were called and asked to consider adopting her and Selah (then named Selena).  Cynthia had completely forgotten she had a baby brother, she had not seen him since he was a year old.  Her red eyes in this picture are the aftermath of much sobbing when she brought forth a dim memory of that forgotten baby brother, and remembered him...

So here we are, a year later.  We've done a lot of learning about each other during that time.  And I admit, I really DON'T know much about beginning to parent a child AFTER they are 16 years old.  There's so much I've missed and so much I never got to teach her.  It took me a bit to truly realize this girl was not Mary Susannah and that I could not expect the same behavior from her.
Even if they were only two weeks apart, and we celebrated birthdays both together and separate!

I took 6 year old Selah out of school the very day of the adoption.  I wasn't sure what to do with Cynthia.  She wanted to finish out the year in public school, and since it was more than half over, I allowed it.  When school started up again in the fall, I still wasn't sure what to do.  She wanted to go back.  Because I didn't know what I would do with her all day, I let her, although I never felt good about it.  I felt like I was taking the easy way out, when I should have been parenting her better.
But then Cynthia began to tell me she wanted to stay home more and more.  She would ask to skip school and go do the things we were doing.  I always said no.  If she were going to go to public school, then she needed to go.  If she wanted to stay home, though, I would withdraw her.  Her refusals got less and less strong.
Then she began to have stomach aches.  Finally, one day after picking her up just one hour after school started, and the school nurse had called to tell me she was sick, I said to her, "Cynthia, just come home."
And she did.

But how was I supposed to keep this already 17 year old busy?  Mary Susannah was finished with school and had a job two days a week.  I hadn't schooled a high schooler in a while. I found all the books and gave them to her.  Since she insisted she wanted to go to college, I told her it was her responsibility to take those books and really learn.
So she took them into her bedroom, but I was pretty sure she was not "doing school".

The holidays were upon us, and that kept me busy.  Then just after Christmas, Angel-Leah got sick, and was sick for a whole month.  It was a terrible, scary time for me, and took all my energy, just trying to tend to her and do the minimum for everything else.  School suffered a lot that month.

Then we came out from under that cloud.  But during the time since I had withdrawn her from public school, Cynthia had gotten into the habit of NEVER coming out of her room except to eat meals.  Never.  And laying in the messy room, all day long, tended to make her grouchy sometimes.  I knew it wasn't good, and no matter how much easier it was to just let her do it, I knew I was "leaving her to herself", the very thing the Bible warns us not to do.

So one night, I spent some time just thinking.  How could I change this?  What could I do to make things better?

And I came up with a plan!

I got all the kids together and told them that from now on, no one was allowed to be in their rooms between the hours of 10 to 2.  I made out a schedule:  From 10 to 11 was school time (that had Cynthia working for one hour.  The younger kids did more school in the earlier morning, but from 10 to 11 everyday, I read to them: Bible, character building, history, science...etc)  From 11 to 12, we listened to the younger ones read and then cooked and cleaned.  Cynthia and Angel-Leah could make desserts if they wanted too.  They could make a big lunch if they wanted too. And we got some housework done.  From 12:30 to 1:30, the ones assigned to the dishes did that, and the rest of us worked on a cleaning project.  So far it's been the addition/laundry room.  We have just about filled the dumpster with the cleaning out we've done.  From 1:30 to 2, we work on the outside - right now our project is getting the yard clean, and making a sitting area on the side.  Soon we will plant flowers and tend those.

The first day of this, Cynthia started out a bit grumpy.  But then, she and Angel-Leah made cupcakes.  They were a total flop looks wise, but they tasted alright, so we scraped them up off the tops of the cupcake pans where they had overflowed and put peanut butter in the holes in the middle where they had sunk in and they mostly got eaten.  After lunch, we tackled that addition. We actually had fun working on it.  We talked and sang - okay after a while, the grown up of the house - ME - gets a bit tired of "this is the song that never ends", but I will grit my teeth for the better good of it all.  Then we went into the yard and we picked up and laughed and talked some more.
And I asked Cynthia:  Doesn't it feel better to get out of your room and actually do something?  We did a LOT today!  And she admitted yes, it felt a lot better.  In fact, she might play with the kids for a while after it's done.

I bought her a GED book, and that's what she began to study today.  She was interested in the practice tests.  She is very good at English, which didn't surprise me a bit.  I gave her a choice when school time was over: she could do housework or bath our little Yorkie, and she choose to bath the Yorkie:

Then we worked on the addition once more and cleaned the yard a while, and around 1:45 I told her if she would brush out the little dog now that she was dry, she could be finished and have the rest of the day to do what she wanted.
So she brushed the dog, and then she decided to groom our Pyrenees, Goliath.  And he was a MESS!  She enjoyed it, though, because she is the only one Goliath is affectionate towards.  She did a really good job cleaning him up.

She's a very good girl.  She's a very hard worker.  She is almost always cheerful, and I think she's going to do well in life.  I am so glad I didn't listen to the people who tried to discourage me.  I always have felt like if I stayed close to the Lord and prayed about things, I could trust my gut instinct in everything, because I think that's the way we hear the Lord.

I am blessed she's my daughter.  I'm blessed they are ALL my sons and daughters!  God has been good to me!


  1. I love reading about your family, both the good and the bad. It shows that life isnt always perfect but it can be meaningful and good.

    1. It's rarely perfect here, but always good!!

  2. I found your blog a few days ago and have spent two evenings reading about your family. I have so enjoyed all of your posts! We also have adopted quite a few times. We can't do foster care anymore because of the size of our family -- which is sad to me. So, feeling sad that we could no longer do foster care we adopted two children in 2012 from Bulgaria -- they arrived in the states in 2013. They were our third international adoption. We have been blessed. I am so glad that I found your blog and will definitely be returning frequently to read about your family. Your family is an inspiration. God bless you.

    1. How exciting for you! International adoption is amazing and very hard, I've heard. I'm glad for you and for the kids!


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