Gazing Upward



The last few days have shown progress in bonding and promises of a beautiful mother-daughter relationship in bloom. Four memories stick out in my mind:

– Grace and Caroline were sitting side by side on the kitchen stools. I stood in the center, wrapped my arms around them, and kissed them each on the forehead. In a spontaneous act, Caroline reached up and kissed me on the cheek. This is the first time she has ever kissed me or spontaneously initiated affection!

– I dropped Caroline off at church where an older Chinese woman is discipling her each week. I watched from the car as she walked in, and she looked back at me no less than 6 times! There seemed to be such comfort in the fact that I was there watching over her rather than just dropping her off and driving away.

– Caroline and Scott were sitting down on the couch to watch the movie “Annie.” (She saw the littles watching it earlier and was interested in it.) I was exhausted and announced that I was heading to bed. Her response was, “Awwww.” Scott’s eyes widened and he gave me a big thumbs up. Disappointed that I wasn’t hanging out with her?? This was new! 🙂

– Beginning the first week we arrived home, Caroline asked continually to get her ears pierced. We didn’t want to give her too much right off the bat, so we told her she could get her ears pierced when she finished all the levels of the Rosetta Stone English program. So last night, we celebrated her milestone with this:

And as we walked around the mall afterwards as a family, she had a beautiful smile and a look of pure joy. I don’t think it was just because of her new earrings. I think she realized that we keep our promises. That I hold her hand when it hurts. That Scott and I are just as giddy when she is happy, and that a Friday night at the mall with her family is fun because we all enjoy being together.

In a post last week, I mentioned our realization of Caroline’s lack of cause and effect knowledge. While this is common in adopted kids, I somehow didn’t anticipate dealing with this issue. Shame on me! I have to admit that this problem has begun to annoy/scare/frustrate me because occurrences happen on a daily basis and I have no idea how to prevent them. It can be something as silly (and gross) as Caroline picking up a can of carbonated milk (a Chinese drink) from the day before, and taking a swig of it. (She had left it in the car and, you would think, would realize the milk had soured. The littles even recognize when their sippy cups have old juice/milk in them and will not take a sip.)

Or it can be as potentially dangerous as what happened on the soccer field Thursday night. Carter had his first soccer practice. The field was FULL of kids, parents, and coaches, as the league has tons of teams sharing the area. Scott gave one of the soccer balls a gentle kick to head it back in the direction of Carter’s team. Caroline said, “No daddy!” And then proceeded to kick the ball with full force. Let me remind you that were in a field FULL of people. The ball went flying and nailed the leg of a dad! The dad was very understanding, and we were thankful the ball hit him and not the head or body part of a 3-year-old. But we were mortified!

In one other instance, the littles were swimming in our inflatable pool outside. Caroline ran up behind Grace, scooped her up, and threw her into the pool! Grace landed on her back and head on the hard bottom! She could have been seriously injured, and she was scared to death!

So you see, the issue is never that Caroline is trying to cause trouble or be mean. All of her actions are out of a quest for fun or simply out of ignorance. She has a really bad habit of just darting out in to parking lots after exiting the van. She doesn’t think through the consequences, some of which should just be common sense, and thus many of the situations have been potentially dangerous. I am not sure how to correct this behavior because what I certainly don’t want to do is discourage her from playing with the kids, touching anything, or having any fun. But I have no idea how to stay one step ahead of her. I am looking through my adoption books and have posted my concern to an adoption yahoo group I’m a member of. But I welcome suggestions and insight from anyone – adoptive parents or not. I’ll also do a follow-up post with the information I find. Parents soon to adopt older kids….just keep in mind that this can be an issue.

Some of the best advice I received this week came from Caroline’s pediatrician (Dr. Amy McCollum) who is also a college classmate of Scott’s. She and her family adopted a little boy from Africa a couple of years ago, so she is familiar with adoptive issues. This is what she wrote to me in an email yesterday, and it spoke to my heart:

“I know you are already doing this, but just taking it day by day is probably the best approach. Being loving, consistent, and present every day, praising her when you see little blips of the character traits you are hoping she will embody as she grows into a young lady – these are the same things any parent can do to guide their “tweens”.
Trust God’s choice for her as your daughter and you as her mother – I know you already do this, but there might be days you have to choose this willingly.”

I’ve been so focused on the “end” result, and what milestones that I need to help Caroline reach, that I’ve become discouraged or overwhelmed at times. The concept of taking it day by day right now is so simple and wise. So that’s my new motto: “day by day.”


  • Comment by Martha — September 10, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    Yay for Caroline getting her ears pierced! We had so much fun the other night. She's really making progress and I loved getting to talk to her and hear about school and her friends. I will be praying for you as you take it “day by day” and for God's protection over Caroline as she learns how to make good and safe decisions.


  • Comment by Chinazhoumom — September 10, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

    I like the day to day approach…maybe on the things you have noticed(like darting out…) tell her when you park – you will open the door, take her hand (like you would a small child) then teach her the lets look both ways – lets look – oh see that cars back up light is on – or that car is on – we have to watch out for them…these are all new things to her…I bet after you do that 2-3 times you will not need to…and remind her “gentle” gentle” again like you would a child to an animal…these are learned things – cause and affect…and yep sometimes she just has to learn the lesson…breather – day to day – and a walk around the block….ahhhh better…
    Carol in FL

  • Comment by April and Matthew — September 10, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

    You are so eloquent at describing what so many people can just think about and feel but can't quite express or understand. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You inspire so many!

  • Comment by The Mom — September 10, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

    Your post got me to thinking about the fact that when I worked in a center with autistic and delayed and sometimes disturbed children, we did a great deal of modeling appropriate behavior with doll play. Rather than singling Caroline out, perhaps you could do doll play with Carter and Grace and ask your husband and Caroline to participate. You could cover how to behave in a parking lot, how to sense danger from strangers, how to behave in a crowd, appropriate physical contact with younger children, etc., and what to do at a stop sign, yield sign, traffic cross-walk, what the sign for poison looks like, etc. These were actually the kinds of topics we covered in role play with the children. Another idea would be to find a video series (Veggie Tales comes to mind) that teaches safety and appropriate behavior issues (sharing, not touching, etc). Hope this helps! You are doing a GREAT job!

  • Comment by Kelly — September 10, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    I needed to hear and be reminded by your motto…a wonderful truth as to how we all should live. I am very encouraged by your love and dedication to your children and loving them through the “day to day”.


  • Comment by This High Calling — September 10, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

    Ok, that reminder of cause and effect was just HUGE for me. I've been struggling with similar issues with one of our gang. That's exactly what's going on. I had completely not put that together. Thank for being vulnerable sweet girl!

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