Laura Elizabeth Writes:
I've been following this blog for quite a while, and I too have been encouraged by the love that you are showing to Katya and the wonderful progress she is making. I can imagine how difficult taking care of her and teaching her must be at times, but I know at the same time that it is very rewarding (having had a little brother who for the first two years of his life was special needs).
I would like to ask a question or two, now :)
Do you homeschool any of your children?
Also, is it mandatory that Katya be in school, or did you just feel that it would be better for her to go to a school at this time?
Thanks! I will continue reading your blog :D
The Duecks Answer:
Thank you for your kind words . . . yes, every day with Katya is a challenge. Much more than we usually blog about. But we love Katya dearly and are super excited to see the progress she is making. It is lovely watching her blooming into the child that God created her to be, and leaving more and more of the damage from 6.5 years of neglect and abuse behind.
Up until we added Katya to our family, we had always homeschooled. Our oldest is in college, so that gives you an idea of how long we have homeschooled. But we knew as we went into Katya's adoption that her issues might be more than we could handle on our own. Our tenative plan had been to keep her home the first year for bonding and attachment and learning to understand English, then make a decision about whether or not to enroll her in school. And legally, yes, Katya had to be in school her first year home, whether at home or elsewhere. However, when Katya came home and began to repeatedly physically attack our youngest child, and nothing we or our social worker or other experienced adoptive parents suggested stopped it, we had to make some hard decisions for the safety and sanity of our family. It was clear we would not be able to homeschool both Chad and Katya. By the time school started, Chad was in emotional distress and badly needing his Mommy's time and attention, so we relucntantly made the decision to send Katya to our local school. Even though things have improved now (thankfully) with Katya as far as physical aggression on Chad, she still doesn't understand that Mommy can love two kids. Her experience at the orphanage was that if another child was loved by a caregiver, you were *NOTHING* to that caregiver.
For example, the favored child was held on the caregivers lap during play time and plied with candy. The rest of the kids who wistfully stood around looking?? They were given the EMPTY wrappers. I kid you not. Saw that with my own eyes. Now think about what message that sends to a child when that is what they experience for 6.5 years?
It's very undertandable why Katya comes screeching and screaming and trying to push Chad away from me when I give him a hug or try to sit down and have him practice reading to me. And we continue to address that beahvior, but it's still THERE all day long. And it makes it impossible for me to do a good job being Chad's Mommy AND teacher at this point in time with Katya in the house. That is why after a lot of prayers, advice from others and long and intense discussions the decision was made to send Katya to school again this year.
The good news is that at school this year, Katya is clearly more comfortable and self-confident. She is blossoming in new ways since she is not so scared and can understand more English. She clearly seems to understand that school is a temporary thing for the day, and then she is coming home. We find her eager to go to school, and she comes home ready to relax and play generally in a good mood. Prior to school starting this fall, Katya was so bored and restless so much of the time that she got into a lot of trouble and had a foul mood far too often. No matter what activities we tried to keep her occuplied with, it happened again and again.
While she is at school, our family can function more normally than we can while she is home. I can focus attention on the other childen and help them with their school work. We don't have to worry that the library books we have out using are suddenly hidden, nor that she will come screeching and screaming just because Chad gets a hug. Those 6 hours every day while Katya is at school allow us to do things that need to be done such as Kristina's music lessons that happen via Skype, or a much needed trip to the library, or a field trip. Those things are very hard to impossible to have happen with Katya around.
While we continue to hope and pray that some day Katya can come home to homeschool with all the rest of the kiddos, we are very grateful right now that she can go to school. Her going to school is what enables us to still be able to parent our others, and gives us all a chance to have peace to recharge emotionally so that we are ready to care well for her when she comes home each day.