Making Progress? Yes

Ladybug made the best Irish Soda Bread ever!

On Tuesday I shared Melissa’s question; she asked if those of us who adopted older children are seeing positive change and growth.  I have loved reading your responses and found them very encouraging.  If you have not yet responded, please take a moment to add your thoughts to the original post.  If you haven’t read it yet, you will love seeing the positive answers from families.

Earlier this week I was talking with my friend Jennifer about the ways that our families are coping with some of our children’s needs.  We came to the conclusion that it is essential to look back at where we’ve come from rather than worry about where we are headed.  It is easy for me to let my mind run anxiously to the future, worrying over details I cannot control, rather than recount the amazing progress we’ve made.

Are we anywhere near where I thought we would be with three of our children home nearly four years and one home 2 1/2 years?  Honestly, no.  We are still parenting at a level I could not have imagined.  I wish we were a more cheerful example for you — If only I could write this post filled with all happy stories!

That being said, we do see healing and progress, sometimes in very dramatic ways. Russ and I are keenly aware that Dimples longs to be connected to us now in ways that made no sense to her before.   She longs to set things right and seek forgiveness when the day has gone terribly wrong.  That is by far the most significant change we are marveling at right now.

In all of our children who came to us from “hard places” we see:

more eye contact

more affection

more self-control

Use of calming tools and techniques

sad tears – rather than angry tears

greatly increased desire to set things right with us when they have wronged Russ or me

somewhat increased desire to set things right with siblings

decreased aggression

decreased raging

more age appropriate behavior

greatly increased ability to use words to express feelings

I could go on and on, but what keeps coming to my mind as I write this list is how much Russ and I have changed in the way we parent these children.  We thought that they would fit into the life and parenting style we had, but it simply was not true.  We had to learn new ways of parenting and understanding, so the improvement has come as ALL of us have learned new ways of thinking and relating.

We are still learning how to make our home a happy place for all of our children.  This requires that we think far differently than we have in the past about meeting the needs of everyone in the family.  Having Honeybee and Dimples in a small, Christian school has been a win-win for them and their siblings. Structuring all “tech time” (computer, Wii, movies) is essential now.  Requiring creative play time, outside play time, and even independent play time is necessary.  Limiting food choices helps.  Staggering bedtimes is necessary in order to eliminate unkindness when a parent is not present to monitor conversations.  Providing structure on weekends improves behavior, in fact, providing structure improves behavior nearly all the time.

I could go on, but I’ve got to tell you, Spring Break has taken a lot out of me.  Russ has been working crazy long hours all week and I really miss knowing he is going to come through the door at 6:00.  The kids miss him too and it shows. I will be glad when this “Break” is over and we can get back to our regular life.

I hope your weekend holds some unexpected blessings.  God is faithful and He is good!  What on earth would I do without Him?

Blessings friends,


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Jess
    March 18, 2011

    You are amazing. Your love and your honesty….you make me want to be more. Thank YOU. I hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Kathrin
    March 18, 2011

    I love the progress our kids and we made. Thank you for sharing.
    All the best. Ladybug is so gorgeous!
    Waiting for spring!

  3. Dana@AdoptionJourney
    March 19, 2011

    Lisa, I notice that you mentioned requiring "independent" play time. My new son from China (now 8 yrs.) doesn't seem able to entertain himself for even the shortest period of time. It makes our homeschool days difficult. I allow my young children who've finished work to play quietly, while others are working. He whines and cries and distracts everyone, unless I send a sibling to play quietly with him. Is this a common thing wih older adopted kids? The only thing he'll do independently is the computer or Wii – and I want to limit both those things.

    1. Linda G
      March 19, 2011

      My 11 yo son who came to our house at 3 also cannot independently play outside of the computer. It is one thing that hasn't changed much over the years. He also was prenatally drug and alcohol affected and had a lot of trauma before coming into our home. He still doesn't like to be in a room alone, but it still doesn't answer the problem of not being able to play quietly near the rest of the family.

  4. Margaret
    March 19, 2011

    Yes! I know how important structure is to my kids, but haven't yet done enough to structure our weekends. How have you done that? Thanks so much.

    1. Abbey
      March 19, 2011

      Hi Margaret-

      Lisa can certainly answer this better than I can, but I just wanted to comment on the "structured weekend." I think that Lisa will identify with this, but sometimes it can feel like a loss all of its own if you happen to be the type of person who likes to have a "go with the flow" kind of weekend. I am. Weekends feel so much nicer to me when we can just free-flow…HOWEVER, it backfires every time if you're parenting a child with a need for structure. We learned this lesson many times over. I guess the challenge is to shift the paradigm from "relaxing weekend=go with the flow" to "structured weekend=relaxing weekend." My brain still does not readily accept this. 🙂

  5. Phyllis
    March 19, 2011

    I so appreciate what you wrote. We, too, thought we would be further along than where we are. We, too, are having to look to change everything we knew about parenting. But we are at the very beginning of that process. And we are so confused. I have found structure to be good, but that was one of my weakest areas before the Lord added them to our family! : ) I'm making progress there, but still have a long way to go. But I like some of your ideas about structured play, creative play and such. I do need to focus on the areas of their improvement instead of worrying all the time about the areas that I'm not seeing progress in. Thanks!

  6. coffeemom
    March 19, 2011

    I'm looking down the barrel at my second spring break week, back to back (diff kids, diff schools). THis one ahead is the hard one w/ two of the kids who REALLLLLY need structure. And I'm kind of shivering with dread. So, I know exactly what you mean…….That said, I've been mulling over my own list of good changes and am letting a post stew into fruition. Thanks for this thread…it's great great stuff. and perfect for spring.

  7. Fiona Geiger
    March 21, 2011

    Can you elaborate on "Structuring all Tech Time"? Thanks

    1. One Thankful Mom
      March 21, 2011

      Hi Fiona, I have some kids (one is more extreme) who are most happy when they are entertained rather than having to engage with people or entertain themselves. One constantly asks if she can play on the computer, with the Wii,or watch a movie. We've established lots of rules, such as "No Wii on school days" and we use a timer to control the length of time on the computer. All of these are used only when all responsibilities are completed including homework and chores. It's nothing special, but it is much more extreme than we needed with our other children.


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