Monday, September 30, 2013

Update--- 3 1/2 years after adoptions

Just a quick update...
We adopted John and Ben 3 1/2 years ago. After not knowing a word of English and being told John would never graduate from HS, John is now full-time at Genesee Community College. Not only did he catch up, but he's already (age 17 1/2) taken 12 credits and maintained a B average. Ben is completely at grade level now too. Both are happy, happy, happy kids! And all four of our adopted sons are our pride and joy! We'd do it again in a second.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Three steps forward this time!

All along, we've been going two steps forward and then one step back with John. He will make fabulous progress and seem happy, and then he will suddenly get into one of his "moods" and reject us all. He might sulk for two days, refusing to eat, just because I told him that his next reading book needs to be in English. He'll stomp around the house saying that he's never going to learn English, and that's that. Why did we take him from China anyway??
But this week, I'll go so far as to say we took at least 3 steps forward!! A few months ago, at my request, John translated a letter from English into Chinese for an adoptive parent (I met in a yahoo group) to send to her waiting child. He labored over it for days, and he was thrilled to receive $10 from the parents. Then this weekend, we finally took the translation business idea to a new level. John not only translated, but actually composed, a few letters to waiting children (all older children) from himself to them. He told about his fears prior to adoption, and how he worked through them, and how wonderful his life is with a family. I spent hours at John's side, helping him get his Chinese thoughts into English (he writes the letters in both languages). We just had lots of quality, constructive time together, working on these letters. Yesterday, John spent nearly an hour watching a video of a little girl (12 years old) who will be adopted soon, before he wrote her a letter. And he's making money!!! Wow! Making money of his own has really boosted John's confidence and self-worth. The fact that writing about adoption experiences is therapeutic for him, is an added bonus. Yesterday, John built his first website, and I happily paid for the domain and hosting fees.
Yes, John, I believe in your business. Yes, John, I will do all I can to help you be successful. And, yes, my son, I am proud of you. No matter what. All the time. Dare I hope for 1/2 a step back this time, and four steps forward?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top Ten Things I Learned Adopting a Teenager

10. All teens think their parents are stupid. Eye-rolling is universal.
9. All teens think everyone else has it better. In the adoption circles, this is, "Mommy shopping."
8.  Public schools are just NOT prepared/equipped to school internationally adopted teen children
7.Teens are not grateful. Not foreign exchange-students, not foster children, not adopted children and not bio children. Get over it.
6. Block all international telephone calling. (We had a $700 phone bill from hotel in Guangzhou)
5. Internet must be 100% monitored AT ALL TIMES. Teens can bypass any and all kidsafe software.
4. All teens want to sleep all day and stay up all night. I won't get over this one.
3. Teens want you to show them affection, just not in public. A pat on the head works wonders
2. 80% of parenting a teen is just being there, 100% of the time
1. Sharing a weekly activity together goes a long way in building relationships. I run 5k races with them, take martial arts with them, and attend every game/event.
1. Don't do anything the first week that you are not prepared to do forever! See post on
1. Siblings fight. I can't prevent it or stop it, and I still don't understand it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Schooling children who are adopted as teenagers

I've had several people who visited my blog ask about schooling our children after their adoptions. Ben was 6.5 and John was almost 14 when we adopted them. If you read our entire blog, I stopped blogging when the children were going to begin public school. Well, public school was a big, big mistake. Really. IF it is at all possible, do NOT send your older adopted child to public school. First of all, John had to spend a week testing, as mandated by the state of NY and our Federal government. He didn't understand two words of English, of course, so the testing itself was upsetting, confusing and frustrating. Then, the school decided to place John in 6th grade (age 14--normally 8th grade), and (becauseof his test results) he was required to take 3 periods of ESL a day. His ESL class was made up of Spanish speaking migrant workers' children, and it was a complete and utter waste of time. I sent in several hundred of English/Chinese flashcards that I bought, and I purchased an expensive English language learning program for Chinese speakers that I gave to the school. The teacher basically babysat the kids all day and did not even look at the resources that I provided. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the only English he learned at school, in  the 10 weeks he attended, were profanities. His first full English sentence was to tell his brother to "F off." In addition, John latched on to the kids who would readily accept him, and naturally they were the losers, dealers, and delinquents. John was almost 14 years old upon adoption, but, like most institutionalized children, he was several years behind socially, emotionally and academically. John looked, and acted, like a 10 year old. Also, attending school all day also slowed down John's English acquisition. Sitting in a classroom most of the day with kids who did not speak English (and had no intention of learning English) only made John resist us more. In addition, it took away from the time that we had with him to establish our bonding etc. In June, after 10 weeks of public schooling, we called a meeting with the administration, guidance office, ESL teacher etc. I have never seen my husband go absolutely bonkers (he is an attorney), but I thought his head was going to explode when the vice-principle bluntly announced that John would never graduate high school. He'd be 21( and age out) first because John was going to miss 3 core subject classes a day, in order to attend his federally mandated ESL classes. John would not get enough credits to graduate, according to the administer, in four years of schooling because of the ESL classes. I had to almost physically restrain my husband when the principle said that, by the way, HE was going to make the educational decisions for John, since John was at school 6 hours a day and ultimately the principle is responsible for the child's education and the principle knows what is best. Umm. No. Sorry. You just happen to work here right now. Our son's education is way more important to us, than it is to you, jerk. You might have him for a few years, but he is our son forever!! And we know him better, understand his needs, and you know virtually NOTHING about children adopted from China, or their needs! I am certified in NY to teach Reading K-12 and English 5-12, so I could at least speak the school's lingo, but the administration was practically trying to bully us!  As I said, I'd never seen my husband go ballistic, but he went nuts when the school told us that they were going to make all the decisions because they knew what was best. And that John would never be successful because it was just too late for him. The next day I started a search for a private school. Our oldest son (now age 16) has been attending an all-boys college prep school,ince 7th grade, and at that point I was homeschooling our son who was 10. The college prep school has rigorous admission requirements and costs 2 arms and a leg. And I just didn't feel that I could homeschool a defiant, angry teenager, who didn't know English. Then, I found a Christian school that offers a K-12 program. The school also works with several agencies in Asia (China and Korea) that sends students to their school to master English so that they can get accepted into American Universities. They understand how to work with Asian students, and the other ESL students are highly motivated to succeed. The school placed John in 8th grade, at our request (only one grade below age appropriate at age 14.5), and arranged his schedule so that he had the ESL teacher all to himself for one period a day. He also had a study hall where he was peer-tutored every day. The teachers held him to the same standards as the other students, but did provide extended test taking time when necessary. We received weekly progress reports, and we spent hours with him at night doing homework. The school jumps through hoops to make certain that we are happy, and they check with me before adjusting his schedule or giving him modified assignments.  Now, John is in 9th grade and he works independently most of the time at the 9th grade level. He maintains a B/A- average. At my request, we continued the one period a day with the ESL teacher.  She makes certain that he is "getting" everything. Next year he will join the regular English class and will no longer be considered an ESL student. Ben (age 8.5 now, 6.5 upon adoption) never received ESL classes. He's completely fluent in English, and almost at grade level reading and writing.. At the private school we are the consumer...they will adjust the curriculum to meet the child's needs because if they don't we can find another school! Our son Connor, who was home-schooled, would be in 7th grade in public school because of his age. He is in 8th grade at the private school because of his abilities, and in 10th grade math and science. Of course, he has a 95 average too. With a graduating class of 16, the school can be flexible and meet all our children's needs! Hooray!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New blog

If you just found this blog, welcome! We adopted two children, ages 6.5 and almost 14, from China March 2010. We feel called to adopt again, and our new blog for our new sons is

Please leave comments or join our followers!

Friday, December 16, 2011

20 months later

It's been 20 months since we adopted, and I feel that an update is long overdue. The boys are doing FABULOUSLY. John is currently in 9th grade at Lima Christian School, and he is maintaining a A/B average! John competes (and medals) all over the country in taekwondo, and he'll be testing for his black belt in April. Yes, that is a year faster than normal, but he is a phenomenal athlete and he trains at the taekwondo academy 12-15 hours a week. He also plays basketball, runs cross-country and rocks on the electric guitar and drums. Ben is in 2nd grade at Lima Christian, and he also takes drums and taekwondo. Ben had a tough first year because of his severe asthma and dental problems, but he is blossoming now. What a charmer!! Both boys have doubled in size and weight, and they are fluent in English. John is, in fact, writing a book about his experiences as an older adopted child. We will post it for sale on Amazon when it is complete. Here is a teaser:

My name is John, but my Chinese name is (JiangFengHong). When my mom adopted me, 20 months ago, I was almost 14 years old. I think I was pretty lucky because in China they have a rule that if a kid doesn’t get adopted before age 14, then the kid can’t be adopted anymore. When I found out someone was going to adopt me, I was mad because I have so many friends. I was worried about if I will have friends in America. Will my new family like me? What if they don’t like me? Will American people keep talking about how I was an adopted kid. I don’t know a lot of things. I don’t remember being born. I can’t remember being a baby. But there are some things I know.  I know I was born in Beijing. I don’t know who my birth parents are, and I don’t know why they couldn’t raise me. But I think they can’t raise me because they are very poor, or they don’t want me live with them, or they are some crazy people. Anyway, I don’t blame them because they can’t raise me. I just want to say even though they couldn’t raise me, I still love them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Really my last post

Ok, I know that I said I was done posting, but this will REALLY be my last blog post on the Peter's adoption blog. We've been home with our sons two weeks as of today, and I just wanted everyone to know how amazingly well things are going. We anticipated lots of adjustment issues, and instead our family has melded together almost seamlessly. Ben LOVES kindergarten, and he already has everyone charmed. John will begin school on Monday, after a week of ESL testing. The testing must have been extremely frustrating for him, but he accepted the fact that he had to sit through these tests before he could attend school. And John absolutely wants to attend school. We originally planned on keeping both boys home until September so that they could learn English and get comfortable here; however, they both told us that they wanted to attend school immediately. I am just thrilled that they are adjusting and seem happy. Last night all the boys were outside playing nerf guns, and it was as if we always had 5 boys in the house. John has also started Tae Kwon Do with Connor, and he is an absolute natural. I don't have much else to say; I just wanted to make certain to document that we are delighted with our children and feel that we've done a great thing for our entire family.