Two China Dolls and a Prince!

This blog chronicles the story of 2 of our adoptions, both older children when they came home. It begins in 2008 and will continue in the hopes we can be of encouragement and information to anyone thinking of older child adoption.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holiday Happenings and other stuff

The holidays have come and gone and generally went well for the Cavender family.  Overall, everyone was very happy with their gifts, yes, even NingNing!  He anticipated it quite a bit more, knowing what was coming....not to mention the fact that he had asked for a PSP and got it.  However, that was another misstep on our part, as once again, he tends to use electronics as a way to avoid speaking and personal interaction. So we have made the executive decision to not give any more electronics to him for Christmas!  Unless they are toys or games or something interactive.  He has an iPod and now his PSP..that is plenty.
James and Jessica are into Black Friday now and helped me out as I had to work.  James stood in line for an hour and a half waiting to purchase an Xbox.....his had died in early September and it wasn't practical to buy a used one for just a few months, so he waited all that time for another one....and then we made him wait until Christmas to open it!  Nothing like prolonging the anticipation, lol!
The girls are always happy no matter what we get them....Jaz got some neon green basketball shoes and a green shag rug, and she would have been happy with just those, but of course they got more stuff.
Ning also got some of his Chinese snacks and i think he was happier about that than even the PSP!  Soon I will post a video of when he opened's the most excitement I've seen from him since he arrived.
We have been SO busy since October!  James, Jazmin, and Judi are in basketball, and the girls also do dance 3 days a week.  Jaz just informed me she got selected for the honor choir at school, so that will be another thing during February.  Some things have changed with my work, and in not a good way, so the stress was really getting to me and spilling over into home.  I have really  had to work hard at letting it go so I don't come home all snappish with the family.
James is a captain in varsity basketball and has really stepped up his game.....he made his career high the other night of 24 points in a game!  We are so proud of his effort this year.  Jess continues to do well at college and after a month home, was ready to get back to her "life"!  She did call twice the first week and said she missed her mama!  She's my sweet girl and we are so happy college is going well for her.
Ning continues to keep us guessing and STILL not talking to any major extent.  We have just passed the 17 month mark.  Sometimes, like in September and over Christmas, things just seem to "click" and seem to really start moving forward, and then it's almost like he catches himself acting like one of the family and stops again.  He is a hard kid to figure out.  His continued unwillingness to communicate with us to a great extent remains our one big stumbling block.  We have a lot of misunderstandings and unexplainable issues because we don't know what he's thinking, what he really likes, or why he's upset or unhappy.
One bummer...we recently had to end piano lessons.....this was such a hard decision because it was the one thing Ning asked for....we went and bought a piano just because he didn't like our electronic keyboard.  The only problem was, Ning doesn't seem to realize that to be good at something, you must PRACTICE!  He would, but would only play what he wanted, not what the teacher gave as homework. The teacher talked to us about it in front of Ning and it embarrassed and angered him.  We gave Ning the chance to show or tell us he wanted to continue the lessons...asked him 3 times over a week what he wanted and he always said "I don't know".  He took his anger out on me as usual..........someone told me it might be because I was "safe" to be mad at....I would still continue to be there and love him......maybe.....
So instead of piano, he gets to try Taekwondo which he's not happy about.  If he doesn't like Taekwondo, he's going to baseball.  I told him the other day I knew how it was for him in China, that he didn't have to do anything and his foster parents let him be, but this was not China anymore, and things were different here.  I also told him I simply could NOT allow him to lay in bed and play PSP all afternoon and evening as it wasn't good OR the best thing for him....we didn't allow the other sibs to do it, so not him either!  Until the piano thing, everything has been going fairly well, if incredibly busy.

Enjoy the pics....then below those I expound on as somewhat more serious subject.
December School Concert and a rare smile from NingNing

James and Jaz clowning around

Practicing his 3-point shot in pre-game

Flying down the court

We are so proud of his effort this year!

Ning on his iPod - he does this every game -says watching basketball is "boring" -but we make him come sometimes anyway to have some family time
My lovely family (with Dad and Carol)

January 2014
The above link is a family's blog who stopped their adoption due to fraud.  What, fraud in adoption, you say?!  Yes, as in all things, there is corruption here also.  Over the last month, through Facebook, Yahoo groups, and emails, I have become aware of a growing trend.  MANY older children are now being adopted, especially from China.  But wait, that's a good thing, right?  Not always, my friends.  I hear of so many families that are struggling because the son or daughter they were told wanted a family so bad either a) actually have family still in China and are therefore a "manufactured" orphan, b) are coming specifically told to "get an education and come back", c) or were coerced, lied to, manipulated into agreeing to being adopted.   The families as well are misled.  Many files are embellished, falsified, changed, or altered to make the child more "adoptable".  Let's face it; these are teenagers.  How many people are DELIBERATELY wanting to add an almost grown-up to their homes??
We were.  We stepped out in faith that this was what God wanted us to do.
We adopted NingNing based on the information we had in his file. Because his friend was doing so well, we had high hopes for Ning's transition. We were naive.  Most of the information in his file is false and when we tell Ning some of what it says, about his likes and dislikes, he looks at us like we're crazy.  He has told us no one ever asked him any questions.
Was there absolute fraud with Ning's adoption as I've heard of in others?  I would call it more of a "deliberate intent to mislead".  It was evident when we got to China Ning was not in any hardship.  He had clothes, food, friends, an education, and complete control of his free time.  Granted, he did lack a "real" family and as we've learned more in bits and pieces, his foster parents did no actual parenting...of Ning at least.  Because Ning showed a penchant for laziness (his file said only he didn't like to study), they let him be and required nothing of him.  Is it any wonder his also-unknown stubborn streak rears it's head when we ask for interaction, effort, communication, etc.
We also have recently come across information as to Ning's reason for coming to America.  For privacy's sake, I will only say that a family, a home, or an education were not his main considerations.  And as will happen, life moves on.......if a person can't move with it, they are left behind or "stuck" in between the new and the old.
I know of at least two families that are or have dissolved their adoptions because you can't maintain a healthy relationship if it's built on lies.  Lies to the children, and lies to the families.  In some cases, the children know about it, but are admonished to keep their secrets.  While we believe that Ning did indeed spend most of his life in the orphanage and is a "true" orphan, we also think there are some secrets as yet untold.   There have been times dissolution has crossed my mind (I will not sugarcoat it) ONLY because Ning has sometimes seems so lost and above all, he deserves to just be happy.  He rarely smiles or laughs and so far, has resisted embracing his American life.  What stops us is God telling us NOT to give up, NOT to give in, to persevere, that he is SUPPOSED to be here with us.  Our whole family loves him and can't imagine life without him.  I send up prayers every night for God to open Ning's heart to his life and family.

Having said all that, I STILL believe in the miracle of adoption.  I would LOVE to adopt another child.  My heart cries out for the children who truly long for a family and home.  For the ones left behind when an "aging-out", healthy, teen who doesn't really want to come is adopted instead.  Every child DOES deserve a home and family, but NOT every child WANTS one.  There are plenty of great  stories of adopted teens doing wonderfully (I personally know a few) and I am ecstatic for them and their families. Those great stories can be hard to hear however, for those of us experiencing something different , you don't know why, and people point fingers and ask what YOU are doing wrong.  It is truly an amazing thing to see a child blossom under love and care they've needed for so long.  We've experienced it twice with our daughters; we still have hope we might yet see it with Ning if we just.....keep.....going.
I would never tell someone NOT to adopt a teenager, but I would caution them to not be naive, question everything, read between the lines, don't believe the sob stories, be wise.  And be ready....for anything.