Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great Expectations

I'm not all into the original work by that title.
I like some of Charles Dickens' work.
Most Americans have at least been exposed to his work.
I mean, who hasn't use a fake English accent to quote the diminutive
Timothy Cratchit (a.k.a. Tiny Tim)
"God bless us, every one!"

But Great Expectations, the story, seems a bit depressing, don't you think?
In the Dickens story, Pip sets his "Great Expectations" on the wealth of an unknown benefactor 
and eventually, finds himself penniless and nearly friendless because of his self-absorption, and ambition. 
As with many novels with social class and ambition as a theme,
Pip then makes good.
Yeah, Pip. 

That was a total digress from a point I hadn't even made yet.
I have spent the beginning of this week 
contemplating Expectations.
Today marked our 12th day home together.

What did I expect? What did Maylin expect?
What are appropriate expectations from the siblings? 
What should I expect from a child who is processing so many things on so many levels?
What to do when I realize I had expectations that I didn't know I had?

These are the things weird dreams are made of.
Or a Dr. Seuss book.

When you ask me (as some of my six blog readers have,)
Is her behavior what you expected?
I have honestly answered, I had no expectations.

I was well-read on older child adoption. I have considered lots of aspects of international adoption. I read several books regarding Ch*na adoptions and the multi-faceted social/political issues that are involved.
I've lived adoption; I've raised six year olds; I had lined up resources for potential problems we may face.
I covered lots of ground.

 I was as "prepared" as well as almost anyone who's never done this before.
My "expectations" were that Maylin would fall somewhere in a range of
potential scenarios from really psychotic to well-adjusted
That was reasonable, don't you think?
I think (pause here with pursed lips and nod head slightly...)  
I did okay with those expectations.
Maylin's behavior does fall within that spectrum, and I am very thankful that she's on the "easier" and "normal" side of that continuum. She acts like a six year old. She sometimes acts younger. She is bright, and inquisitive, and a funny card. She can be unreasonable (which I think is perfectly reasonable in her position.) She enjoys charming people, but doesn't turn it off and on in a manipulative way. She reacts with "justifiable fear" and is learning to manage the angst her fears might cause.
She is really pretty normal
(except, she fits in with this family, which may negate that "normal" assessment.)

But, now that we're home, and beginning to learn each other, and interacting, and beginning the long range goals of adult-rearing...I have to create expectations...goals.

In our daily experiences, I know I need short-range goals
("get through this tantrum without being angry with her")
and long-range goals
("move her toward talking her emotions out with me.")

I worked so hard at NO Expectations
that switching gears to assessing where we both are, and how that fits into this family, and what situations I need to create in order to facilitate her growth in healthy ways, (in other words: Expectations)
is just hard work!

I need wisdom in finding the balance in where Maylin is (or any of the kids, ages 9-23) and where they, age appropriately, ought to be. With Maylin, my learning curve is a little skewed by the fact we only have a 24 day history, and I have no information about her previous training. My arsenal of child-rearing tactics is on hold tentatively while we try to move forward without overwhelming either of us. I think we're distilling all the niceties of life into two key points:
Learning to Trust and Learning to Obey.

I hope I can create an environment encourages Maylin to Trust and to Obey. She needs to know that Baba and I will do our very best to give her what she needs, not necessarily what she wants (whoa--possible tantrum ahead...) And we'll lovingly insist that she will do what we ask (while we lovingly choose our few demands wisely.)

I cannot escape the parallels to my relationship with my own Father, 
the One Who sends me flowers so routinely.

So, if you see me staring at one of the children with my eyebrows a little squinchy and my head tilted, pray for us. It means I'm in the assessing mode and am searching (a.k.a praying) to recognize the heart issue, and how to promote the heart change needed to produce the behavior that pleases God. 
I really want my Expectations to be Great ones.

I should be in bed, prepping in my weird dream world, for tomorrow's issues.
I also have more thoughts on expectations to share.

Writing my posts multiple times a day (in my head) may be my one weakness.

1 comment:

  1. A blessing, as always. Thanks for sharing, my sister.