Before Aliya came home, I was really prepared for a challenge. I mean, how could she not be challenging...she's 14, she's changing cultures and everything she has ever known is changing, she is starting a new school with hard curriculum and all in English to boot, she must learn to live within a family-all of whom she doesn't know, she's losing all her friends...see what I mean? People always think, "She's gaining so much-a loving family, a warm bed, schooling" and all that is true but from her perspective, she's lost a great deal.
I expected a lot of crying, tantrums, sassiness, disrespect, hoarding food and her wanting to be alone in her room.
We were prepared for this.
I read about adoptive families having these challenges all the time, especially when they've adopted an older child. My heart breaks for them and when I read about them, I say a prayer for them to have the strength and stamina to persevere. These kids are worth it and deserving of parents who will go the extra mile (or a million miles in some case). I have so much respect for parents who are going through these difficult times with their kids.
That's why I stand in awe of Aliya. We expected all of these things, not because we're fatalists but because we're realists. But we haven't seen ANY of these things with her. And we can take NO credit for this...it's all God. It's nothing we've done.
When I wake her up every morning for school, she is happy. She gets right up (even though she's not an early morning person) and comes down for breakfast. She gets dressed, brushes her teeth, I do her hair, hug her goodbye and Blaine drops her off at school. I pick her up from school and she always greets me with, "Hi Mom!" I ask her if she's had a good day and she always tells me, "Yes." Then she tells me about her day and we usually have some laughs and I find out how much homework she has for the night.
She always looks forward to Katie coming home from school! She loves her so much.
That's our days and our evenings vary but always include eating dinner together, working on her homework...if it's math, it's Dad, everything else is me.
She LOVES her dad. She doesn't hesitate hugging him. She loves him to laugh with her. She trusts him... I can see that.
Aliya has a great sense of humor and she's funny everyday.
Yesterday, when I picked her up from school she told me that she got her science test back and that she got 13 wrong out of 42, I think. I was shocked! I asked her if she did it all by herself. She said that she did.
"With NO help??"
"The teacher read it to me but didn't tell me the answers."
This test was on 'protists'. What the heck is that? I don't even know.
My 14 year old daughter, who only learned speaking English just over a year ago and has only been in America just over 8 weeks and who is in 7th grade got a 71% on her science test...all by herself. We didn't even study for it...I didn't know it was coming! How did she do this?? I saw the test. She did do it.
All I can say is she is incredibly observant and a great listener. She picked this all up in class!
She wasn't happy with this grade. At the Layla school (her orphanage school), she got "better grades than that!" That's her new word for now, "BETTER." She uses it all the time! When she says it, it sounds like, "Baaayder." Blaine teases her about that and she laughs and loves it!
Oh, my goodness...this girl! We reassured her that this was excellent and then I think she realized just what she'd accomplished. We are so proud of her!
I don't know why we've had such an easy transition with Aliya. Maybe God thinks we've already gone through enough challenges for now.
Please be encouraged if you are considering adopting an older child. I always say, "Be prepared for a challenging transition" but you don't necessarily have to expect it:)
I can honestly say that it seems like she's been with us forever (other than language issues). She is THE perfect fit for our family and having her join our family has been an absolute breeze. Piece of cake. One of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives.
And I think hers, too!