Hinkson Family Circle

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scare Tactics

Friends told us that once our adopted children could speak the language that they would tell us things that they didn't know how to explain before. Yesterday we were chatting with the boys and got into a discussion about some of the things that they were told about Americans to try to keep them from consenting to adoption. Hearting these things that were told to them by their trusted teachers made me appreciate their bravery even more. Here is what they were told:

1. Americans only want to adopt them because they will get a lot of money from the Ukrainian government every month. (they probably have this confused with foster care where the families are paid to care for the kids. Vitaly still thinks we are entitled to money from Ukraine and that they are just cheating us by not paying up.) I think this is so funny. If anyone else gets a check, let me know :)

2. Americans will be really nice to you until they get you home and then they will be really mean to you. (OK so we were pretty nice in Ukraine and now we don't buy them Sprite and candy bars everyday but they agree that we are not "really mean."

3. Americans only want you so they can sell your heart and get money.

4. Mormons will make you get married when you are 12 if you are a girl.

5. Mormons are really bad people.

6. A friend says that her kids were told to be really nice to us and carry our bags etc. so that we would be so happy to adopt them.

I had heard that some of these things were spread around to others from other orphanges in the past, but I didn't know it happened in OUR orphanage. So much for that idea :)

Kind of funny to learn what they were up against. It kind of makes me want to have them write letters to their old friends and teachers and tell about how great their life is here and that they still have all their guts inside.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vacation # 1

This year for one of their Christmas presents, we gave the kids a trip with their parents and a sibling. Vitaly and Scott got a trip to Phoenix, Alisa and Spencer get to go to Los Angeles, Devin is going to Italy (Senior trips are bigger and better,) and Tyler and Daniel get to go to NYC. Heather, Joe, James and Alicen will also go to Italy with us. The 2nd week of the trip we will tour the Czech Republic where Joe served his mission.

We took off for Phoenix on Saturday Morning and flew the short, only about an hour, flight and went from freezing cold to a lot warmer weather. We spent Saturday shopping, swimming (yes, the boys had fun in the outside pool and hot tub)and eating out.

Sunday we spent visiting our friends (the Holyoaks)and attending their ward. A note about the Holyoaks: They are AMAZING people. They have been to Ukraine several times to do service for orphanages and even taught a family that was later baptized. Kathy writes beautiful music and composed the hymn arrangements for the orchestra for the Kiev Temple Cultural Celebration. Garth is a dentist and they are some of the kindest,goodly people I have ever met. Everytime I go to Kathy's house I learn some helpful cooking tip and feel very grateful for their friendship and the opportunity to associate with them.

Monday we did some house hunting and found some great deals in the phoenix area. We are buying houses that we rent out to others. So far it has been a good investment. The boys came home tired and a little more bonded. I will post pictures from Trip #1.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What not to expect when adopting from Ukraine.

What not to expect when adopting from Ukraine.

Last year at this time we were anxiously, almost desperately waiting for our paperwork and SDA appointment. We were so eager to get to Ukriane and get the kids and start the adoption adventure. If we had known what this year would bring, we would have taken a deep breath and held our horses a little bit more. It has been a crazy year. There has been a lot of growth for everyone in the family and things are much better now than when we first arrived home 8 months ago. There is still a lot of growing to do in the years ahead.

As the new families are preparing to go to Ukraine I thought it would be a good idea to pass along a list of things to expect or not to expect when you first get your kids home. I know that we had very ambitious expectations and hadn’t listened very closely when others would mention the problems they were having. I think there is good that can come from expecting the best, but there can also be devastation when you have expectations that are not met in any remote way.

This view is from my personal experience and from the experiences shared by others. I won’t mention any names and I won’t mention things that have only been experienced by just one family. This is based on collective information.

What You should not expect when you get adopted children home from Ukraine

1. Don’t expect the child to have an inborn respect for women.

Most of the kids have to learn that women are just as important as men. It is a shock to some of the kids when the mother actually makes decisions in the home and that the parents are actually both authority figures. Don’t be surprised if the child tries to “go above the mother’s head” to get what they want. It takes awhile for the kids to understand. In Ukraine a lot of the women are the breadwinners and the men order them around and have no respect for them. You will probably have better results with a male school teacher if possible for the first year.

2. Don’t expect the child to be completely honest.

Although our boys have been surprisingly honest most of the time, there is a tendency in a lot of the kids to cover their mistakes with a little lie or worse. One mother was struggling with her daughter and trying to get her to explain her dishonest behavior and the girl said matter of factly, “everyone lies.” In Ukraine that is probably the case, and so don’t panic if you get some creative excuses or worry that you are now raising a con artist. They have to learn how it works here.

3. Don’t expect that the child has led a sheltered life.
Most of the children in Ukraine have seen things on TV and most likely in real life, that we would never dream of. We asked about sexual abuse before we adopted and we were told that this is extremely rare in Ukraine because it is so taboo there. That is a huge lie. Absolutely NOTHING is taboo in Ukraine. You can drive down the streets and have people on drugs run into the lights of your car, you can witness drunk people having sex in the streets and you can find drug needles and beer bottles everywhere. Things like sexual assault in broad daylight are just laughed at by the police. Don’t even turn on the TV over there, they don’t have decency laws like we do and don’t assume that your child has been protected from anything, even if the orphanage directors and social services people tell you that they have. In Ukraine anything goes and so be aware that your child may have seen and experienced some horrendous things.

4. Don’t expect your child to excel academically.
In Ukraine there is a huge lack of motivation and drive to accomplish much in life. I am going to call it Post Soviet Syndrome. They are used to having a meager life handed to them and so why push yourself if you are going to be supported all your life. Education is important in Ukraine but many of the kids in the orphanage have accepted the idea that they won’t amount to much. Don’t expect them to catch up to others in their age group for a few years and don't sign the kids up for the MCAT or LSAT. Think more along the lines of celebrating High school graduation if you are lucky.

5. Don’t expect the kids to immediately share your values.
The values in Ukraine are extremely different than ours The things that are cool are having a car, having flashy electronics (phones, ipods, etc. etc etc. ) wearing jewelry., tattoos, and clothes with bling. For girls it may mean dressing like a hooker (since almost everyone does there.) When a boy has been dreaming his whole life of looking like a rock star and “having things” it is quite a change of perspective to consider leaving everything behind to go and sacrifice for 2 years as a missionary. Give them a little time to catch a new vision. In Ukraine everyone is so “out for themselves” it takes quite a shift for a child to think of others first or care about the welfare of someone else. Don’t define their true colors until they have a chance to dabble in some new paint for awhile.

6. Don’t expect hygiene to be a priority.
After a lifetime of being dirty and at best having a weekly cold spray with a pipe for a shower, it will take some time to understand the way we live in America. Go ahead and swallow your pride before you go because it is a sure thing that you will be embarrassed at one time or 500 times or another. If you are feeling the need to be humbled…. Adopting from Ukraine will do the trick.

7. Don’t expect gratitude from the child.
They have to be taught to be grateful. At first they will probably just say it , after you insist, but it will take awhile for them to “feel” it. They are used to “expecting” their needs to be met and having the “right” to basic needs being met (even if they were meager) and that same entitlement attitude comes home with them to America. If you have other children, they expect to have the same as them and to be loved as much etc. They don’t see the need to be grateful because you owe them.

8. Don’t expect the warm loving feelings to always be there.
There is kind of a false attachment that you have when you go to adopt. You just “love” that child and can’t wait to see them and hold them etc. When you get home don’t panic if all of a sudden reality sets in and you are suddenly out of love for the new child. It is kind of like the difference between infatuation and true love. It will come back but this time for real. When you have a newborn baby you have a couple of years to love and cuddle the baby before they can talk back and cause problems and do the things that older adopted children do. Don’t expect to have an inborn motherly instinct and love for the child and don’t feel guilty if you have to grow it like everyone else. It can be disturbing to wonder if you will ever even like the child but it does come with time.

9. Don’t expect them to instantly bond with your family.

There can be RAD issues but even in children who don’t have attachment issues don’t be surprised if your current children or your spouse is viewed as a competitor rather than someone to love and bond with. Many families have had issues with tattling and trying to dethrone the other children in an attempt to make themselves look better and be accepted. This tends to backfire when it is annoying to everyone. Try to create ways for everyone to bond and be patient. The Top Dog mentality will settle down eventually and someday when the children are all playing calmly and laughing together you will breath a sigh of relief and be able to stop taking anxiety medication (just kidding about that part and no offense to those who really do take medication. If you are ever going to need it, it will be now :)

# 10 is up for grabs so feel free to add on to these ideas….anyone?