In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Overdue Thoughts and Tough Decisions

I have heard that the definition of an idiot  is someone who does the same thing over and over and hopes for different results. That is the point I feel I am at with some of my children and their behavior. While I haven't written about Julia and her challenges in some time, I assure you they are alive and well. The toughest thing about Julia's behavior is that I really don't have a clue what is causing it and how to improve it. We have tried many, many things (even professional) and nothing seems to make much of a difference. Her issue manifests with screaming and crying. On any given day, she makes tons of demands that are not doable and when she doesn't get what she is demanding, she cries and screams. There are days that she cries and screams three to four hours of the eight that JD is at work. There are other days that it may only be a few rounds of 20 to 30 minutes. We also have issues of her just picking trouble with the other kids; she seems to have the goal to make them angry and then will come and tell on them, (often telling me that they did whatever she actually did). 

I am also not able to ever leave Julia in the care of Moriah or Alyssa; I do with Gabriel and Alei, but it's tough on them (as it is on me). JD is really the only person that she doesn't perform her extended screaming displays for. This presents quite the problem when I need to take other children to places that aren't equipped for Julia. 

Over time, it is obvious that Julia does the best with complete structure. She does great when she works with me in the kitchen or out at the garden and I keep her completely busy. While I do that as much as humanly possible, it is REALLY, REALLY difficult to home school the other children with her present. If my attention is not on her, she is usually screaming. We have done hours and hours of school with her on the couch screaming. To put it nicely, it tries all of our nerves and seldom helps with a learning environment.  

I decided that I want to provide as much structure for her as possible in hopes of "resetting" her habit of demanding and screaming. I also want a home environment that is more  conducive to learning for my other children. The only logical combination was to send Julia to school. While I would have loved to send her to a Christian Montessori school, there is nothing of the sort in our area; so for the first time in 20 years, I enrolled a child in our local public school. 

When I told my mother-in-law, she seemed rather shocked. That is because I used to be one of those people that thought they had found the superior method of education and was planning on homeschooling all my children all the way through. It may of taken 20 years and eight children, but I am far less sure of my beliefs at this point. It is easy, easy to see that some of my children have done well with the experience. I am also quite convinced that homeschooling is the only hope for James and Ben to actually get an education. I also have a few other children that all my energy is put into constant power struggles and arguments and I often wonder if the strain of homeschooling them will intimately hurt our relationship. 

The reality is that I have many children from  many backgrounds and traumatic beginnings. There is not going to be a clear "best" that fits all of them; I am really just going to have to pray for them and do what I feel is best for them as individuals. In Julia's case, right now, it's going to school. I am only planning on sending her to 1st grade next year and then I hope to be able to pull her back out and home school her along with Elijah and the new little girls. 

Since yesterday was Julia's first day, JD stayed home until Julia was at school. She was very excited heading to the bus with her new back-pack and lunch-box, but the bus never made it's scheduled appearance. JD took her to school and I went to the transportation office to work out the kinks. 

First day - I pinned a note on her with her name, the teacher's name, the bus number and "This is my first day" plea to anyone who saw her standing around looking confused. I figure that they aren't walking kids to class at this point and she would need a little extra guidance!

Today we walked down the drive way and the bus indeed came at the scheduled time. Julia hopped right on and I was relieved, (because there would be little hope of me getting her on unless she wants to go).

She sure is cute for being such a stinker!

Julia still carries Magnum around like when we first got him; it won't be long that he is as big as her.

I intended on taking a picture of Julia boarding the bus, but I was too distracted trying to remove Lincoln and Magnum from in front of the bus wheels so the bus driver could actually drive off. 

Tori, Elijah and I took a little walk on the way home from the bus stop (and I only cried a little). 


  1. You know I have come to respect those families who aren't totally rigid with their homeschooling. We have a few that have done it off and on, for some kids but not others, and just been flexible to what is best for each kid and the family each year. To me it reflects a great desire to do what is best rather than doing one thing just because. We also have a friend who has sent two kids to preschool for the sake of the older children's homeschooling. Do what is best for your family and the Lord will always make up the rest.

  2. Being a family means doing what is best for the whole as well as each member. You're doing it.

  3. Oh, Jenny! Congratulations on the first successful day getting Julia to school! How proud she looked and happy -- will be anxious to hear how she was when she came home! You're doing a great job, Kiddo! I'm sorry if I sounded shocked-- just surprised if anything! Lots of love to all of you--day by day and step by step!!!Love Love Love MOM

  4. Jenny...kudos. you are doing what is best at the time for everyone. Like Mrs. Foringer said.....step by step, day by day. These are the situations where the rubber meets the road....in your trust of the Lord to protect & care for our children.

  5. We are considering this for our child who is very similar to how you describe Julia. It is very stressful on everyone to have a child screaming(or whining)in the background for most of the day. Once we get moved, we will see what there is available and whether or not she qualifies for special help. Please keep us posted on how the school is handling her or if she is different there. I hope you are able to bring her home. Tell us what the other kids think too. I'm afraid, they will want to go, too, and I'm really not ready to deal with that issue again.

    I have had similar beliefs about homeschooling and avoided any government help or programs like the plague. However, now I'm glad that we live in a country that has help when it's needed.

  6. The youngest in our family reminds me so much of Julia. Both can be so incredibly charming is the interesting thing. If they're the center of attention (and boy can they ham it for the camera) everything's usually OK. Speaking from an older sister's perspective, it was difficult for me as well, who was put in charge in the absence of my parents. And like what you describe, it's worse with me. My mom found it easier to just take her along places, but that's a drain on my mom. We can especially identify with the picking trouble with siblings. THE MOST draining part of her behavior is the "need" to stir up the pot in whatever family activity is going on. Like you said, structure is good, but it's exhausting to try to keep such a busy person busy. I hope that school will be a positive experience for her and a good break for the rest of the family!