Starting Over From Scratch

Over the weekend, I received a sweet message from another adoptive mom with children from the same orphanage. I have to tell you, the other adoptive mommies in my life have been nothing short of a God-send. Support, advice, camaraderie, and just a listening ear are all things that I’ve been given through my other adoptive mom friends.

One of the things that was in her sweet and informative message, however, hit me like a bombshell. Her daughter, who is now 8, was going through pictures from the orphanage, and telling how old she was and how other children were in the orphanage. She was remarkably accurate through the different pictures, even knowing that her age had changed while she was there.

She got to pictures of our kids, and said that when they came to the orphanage, my little girl was 5, and my little boy was 7. That would now make them 6 and 8.

Now, we’ve had huge questions about our son’s age. They told us at the time of referral that they were 3 and 4, which would make them now 4 and 5. But he is incredibly advanced for a 5 year old, and as the adoption physician remarked, “It is impossible for kids from orphanages to be developmentally advanced.” The physician said he could be as old as 9.

So to hear that he is 8 was a bit painful, but not a huge surprise.

To hear that our 4 year-old– who still wets her pants, needs a bib, can barely dress herself, and tests out at age 3– is age 6 is disturbing. But we can’t accept the fact that he is older, without accepting the fact that she is older too.

I always wondered why starving orphans were at the 95th percentile for height and weight from the moment they were dropped off at the orphanage.

I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.

I’ve lost 2 years of my kids’ lives.

I’ve been deceived.

And either my little girl is extremely developmentally delayed, or she’s been pretending to be younger.

I talked to her preschool teacher today, and one of the things I told her was that we were going to be increasing our emphasis on learning at home. The teacher said, “Well, she knows all of her letters, colors, and numbers when she is at school already.”

She knows none of those things at home.

In fact, the other night, her brother got in trouble for not participating in learning during alphabet flash card time. When he was removed from the room for discipline, she suddenly got very smart and knew all of her letters. In fact, I got up, got my husband and he and her brother came back so we could show them how many letters she knew.

She couldn’t get a single one right.

There are days that I feel like I’m not cut out for this. This is one of them. My children have a pact with each other to not speak English, we are 99% sure. Now we don’t even know how old they are. Discipline and expectations for a 5 year old are much different than discipline and expectations for a 8 year old. The same goes for a 4 versus 6 year old.

My whole plan for assimilating these kids into our family and into our culture has just been ripped out from under me.

Time to start again from scratch.

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