Once again it has been a VERY long time since I posted on my blog. Time simply goes by and trying to raise six kids effectively doesn't make for a lot of time to sit and post about it. I did, however, want to write about the progress we make, but sometimes forget we are making. It's like watching someone lose weight everyday. You don't notice the changes like you would if you didn't see it everyday.
Our girls have been home now for 1 year and almost 8 months. When they came home they knew very little English, had no idea of what living with a family looked like, was academically behind, socially behind....it's exhausting remembering. Some days it is still exhausting, until I remind myself of the progress we have made.
When Mia started school last year, we put her in the first grade. We had major concerns because it was obvious that she was WAY behind. She didn't know A from Z, and couldn't add 1 + 1. The school assured me that she would pick things up quickly and that we would be surprised at how well she would do. To their surprise, by the end of the year she was still not getting her papers graded. They were only using stickers and smileys so she wouldn't get discouraged. She was barely able to read the word cat and this was after tutoring, working with her at home, you name it we did it. There was talk of a learning disability but they couldn't put their finger on it. The plan was to leave her in first grade and see what happened this year.
This year.....wow the difference. She is reading great! Math GREAT! She has an A- in Language Arts, A in Math and an A in Spelling. She does most of her homework independently now, no tutoring, nothing! Wow, what a difference! We also have grown in leaps and bounds in her social skills and she is learning what it's like to live with a family. Family life has been a little hard for her. She has been hurt so much in the past that she has some pretty tough walls, but little by little they are coming down and she is learning that we are here for the long hall. She is also learning that every choice has a consequence and to receive good things we must make good choices.
Hope, well, she fooled us for the first few months. We thought, "she is so easy." She listened well. She was behind in all the areas Mia was but she seemed to always do what we asked and wanted to learn. THEN....she realized we weren't going anywhere and she should test her boundaries. ; ) All kids do this, so it was no surprise really. Little by little she also has learned about consequences, what is socially acceptable here, and she has finally learned how to play. I remember in the beginning one of the hardest things for her was what to do when the kids were at school. She could not play alone. She didn't know how. When everyone was here she could make believe with the rest of them, but when it was just her, her imagination left when the kids left. I would tell her to go play in her room for a little while(trying to force her to play alone), only to find her laying on her bed......every time. It brought me such joy the other day when I was downstairs ironing and she came out with her baby in the stroller just talking up a storm on her "phone." She asked me to watch her baby because she had to go to work. She even told me how to pretend play with her baby saying, "Mom, when I'm gone say...'it's ok baby. Mommy will be back.'" I had flash backs of that little three year old laying on her bed waiting for me to tell her what to do next. Wow! How far we have come!!
She is doing great academically too. She went to preschool August-December, but in January I began teaching her at home. She now knows all her colors, most of her shapes minus weird ones like crescent, diamond, etc. She knows all but about 3 letters. She can count to 50 with very little help, and recognizes most numbers through 20. I am amazed at how far she has come!! We are still working on choices, but we are working on that with all 6 kids. I'm not sure that ever ends.
For Noah, transition has been a bit easier. He was behind in many areas, but having spent time away from the Orphanage he appeared to settle a little easier into family life. His life away wasn't pleasant, but he did at least understand a little better what a family looks like and being accountable to a parent or parent figure. Noah seemed to have more food issues than the girls. I'm sure he experienced far more hunger than they did, or at least it seems that way with the obsession that he had and still has at times. He would take food from the kitchen and lie about it over and over and over again. We would discipline him for it and explain that he simply needs to ask and if we say no then he cannot take it. We also would assure him every time that we would always have food for him to eat. He also didn't know any English when he came home and was obviously behind academically.
Only a year later, he is reading, speaks English clearly, and is no longer taking food from the kitchen. His teacher is amazed at how well he is doing. His last report card showed everything they tested him in as being mastered! He does so well that when he doesn't know something he gets very upset. We are so proud of him and his hard work!
So, although sometimes we take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, we are still gaining ground and the Lord is with us every step we take. Jeremy and I are constantly praying for the Lord to give us wisdom, knowledge and understanding as we parent all six of our children, and He is faithful to answer our prayers! We are not perfect, but we hope someday to have 6 adult children that are responsible, respectful, and loving. We pray they will serve our awesome God with their whole hearts all the days of their life! We look forward to being this family of eight for eternity. For now, we are blessed beyond measure!