Monday, January 21, 2013

Our family has been blessed with six amazing children, five of whom have been adopted internationally. Our most recent adoption has been the easiest one yet. But, is it because our new son meets up to all of our expectations?

Well, yes.
And, no.

You see, if there is one thing that I have begun to learn over the past 12 years, it is to try not to have unrealistic expectations of a newly adopted child (or any person, for that matter). I am not saying that you should expect the worst (because in my opinion, that is too negative), but I am saying that you should line up your expectations with the reality of what this child's life has been like, up until the point that he/she met you. And because the lives of most orphans have been pretty chaotic, expectations have to be pretty minimal.

So, in our case, we were told that Kaikai was bright and kind, but we also knew that after living in an orphanage for two years, he may have picked up some negative behaviors. So, even though we had an expectation that kindness and intellectual ability were a part of his personality, we also knew that we might have some work ahead of us in order to bring these things to light.

So, we were pleasantly suprised when Kaikai's immediate behavior not only met our expectations, but also far exceeded our expectations in many areas. He is not only bright and kind, but also loving, affectionate, brave, fun and determined.

On the other hand, Kaikai's behavior is congruent with what we would expect from a child who has lived in an orphanage for two years, who has a significant special need and who speaks a different language. For example, Kaikai often enjoys being contradictory, he pulls at my hair or David's beard when he gets nervous, he gets anxious and silly in a crowd, he can hold a pretty good grudge, and when he's angry he'll rattle off a string of Chinese that you know is not complimentary.

But, we're completely fine with that because we did not expect Kaikai to act like a child who was born into our family and who has lived with us for the past almost 9 years of his life. And if we consider all that he has been through and all that he has overcome, we are amazed by the beautiful parts of his personalilty that we can already so plainly see.

So, when I say that this adoption is easy and that Kaikai is incredible, I am not saying that our son is perfect, or even that he is without significant wounds. What I am saying is that, given what we know about his past, and knowing at least a little bit about what it means to endure trauma, we are absolutely amazed by our sweet son! He has certainly exceeded our expectations!

And that's the sort of expectation that I don't mind giving up!


Kristen said...

Such great words of wisdom Sarah!!!

Sally-Girl! said...

You are a bright adoptive mama!!!
I just explained to some of my friends who don't adopt that I do have treat and raise my older adoptive children differently than my children through birth as their needs are different.

Great post!!!

Peter and Nancy said...

Yes, yes, yes! The same kind of wisdom (hopefully) is applied when two bio siblings have different health needs/temperaments/gifts . . . but it is so, so important not to tack our expectations onto children who have already survived some hard circumstances. I love your heart here, that accepts and loves your kids right where they are!

Cheri said...

I'm always in awe of who god really is. And this is a great example.

Rebecca said...

Great post! So glad you guys are doing so well!!!

Aus said...

And that is the "gift" of being practiced adoptive parents - we "get" the fact that it's OK for our kids to be hurt / mad / sad / angry - and love us anyway...cause God knows we love 'em back!

hugs - aus and co.

Difference2This1 said...

Great words of wisdom. So glad He is in such a loving- and understanding- family!!! Blessings, Jennifer

No Greater Love said...

So good. And like you said, not only of adoption, but for all is so unfair to put expectations on anyone.

Mummy J said...

Well said, sarah. So true about the expectations.

Kathleen @ Kath Ink said...

That's a great way to explain! Such sweetness in your lives after a long season of waiting. Hope fulfilled is sweet.

Miche said...

Love :) And great to keep reality in mind for all of us in the journey. And he is just the CUTEST smiley kid ever :)

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