Archive for the ‘Adoption and Family’ Category

First Month after Orphanage Life

I just found a journal I kept back when my two kids first came here from Russia.  My daughter was almost 11 and my son was 5.  I forgot I had jotted this list down.  It was a crazy time.  I wrote down the behaviors they had then.  Please realize some just lasted a few days or weeks but some lasted far longer…some a year or more! Remember these two children lived in a Russian orphanage and never experienced many things our birth kids take for granted. I laugh when I read this list as I remember being so exhausted that first year by many of these things on the list.  Here you go–

  • touching EVERYTHING in the house
  • going through drawers
  • shutting doors around the house
  • not wanting bedroom door shut at bedtime
  • can’t take a bath without me being in the room
  • trying on clothes over and over (this was just a girl thing!)
  • the 5 yr. old thought Kindergarten just lasted one day!
  • terrified of the shower when turned on. Jumped out and ran out of the room.
  • meltdowns after saying goodbye to people
  • very loud and needed reminders to tone it down
  • LOTS of crying –when left alone, bedtime, leaving friends, when overtired,many times for reasons we couldn’t understand
  • meltdowns when we were taking them places…fun places like fairs, McDonald’s, movies, etc. They cried all the way there and then would have a great time once there.
  • Alex slept with his shoes on the first couple of weeks, then the shoes had to be right next to him in bed after that. (He never had his own shoes and didn’t want someone to take them.)
  • it took several weeks of baths before the ‘smell’ came off of them from Russia. Not sure what it was but may have been nutrition related.
  • keeping fresh fruit and vegetables in the house was almost impossible.  They ate them non-stop for weeks.
  • terrified of the sound of the flushing of the toilet.

Most of these things I was never warned about.  We adopt these children with no training or warnings and then have to figure out what all their fears and insecurities are about. It is really a tough journey and takes TONS of patience. (and a lot of therapy!)

We have come a long way.  I just wanted to share this list so people currently adopting kids from orphanages can have an idea of what kinds of things they may see once you bring them home.  Obviously, our children were a bit older and had different fears than some little children.

Things do get better—for most things, at least!

Deborah Mumm, Adoption Coach

Everything for Adoption

Oh Happy Day!

Instead of asking the middle school class of kids what they did over summer vacation, my son’s teacher asked, ” What was the happiest day in your life?”  Good question.  This was bound to bring some interesting topics out of this bunch of 12 and 13 yr. olds. She was a bit surprised when my son decided to share his happiest day.

‘The happiest day of my life was when my family adopted me from Russia.  I am so happy to have a family.” Alex beamed while he told the teacher about how he used to live in an orphanage and how he waited for someone to come get him.  The teacher was a bit shocked that he was so willing to share this and emailed me about it. She added that he must really be happy to not be afraid to share this with a bunch of kids he really didn’t know very well yet.

I guess we talk about adoption openly in our home. We share with Alex how happy we are that we have him in our family.  I guess he is listening.

Oh happy day!

If only more kids waiting in orphanages could find families—

Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach

The Prisoner’s Office

In the Prisoners Office

When Alex was in First grade, and not yet having a total grasp on English, would come home telling us about the ‘prisoner’ that wandered the hallways in his school.  He loved ‘the prisoner’.  He was really nice.   We wondered who this was, but figured the school would not let real prisoners roam the school hallways.

As time went on Alex told us about the ‘prisoners office’ which he visited when he got in trouble.  Putting 2+2 together, we learned he was talking about the Principal’s Office.  At the School Open House we met the principal and shared this with her.  She laughed saying she never thought of her office like that before…but maybe a first grader’s perspective is rather eye-opening.

After a year of homeschooling, Alex learned another life lesson yesterday.  You cannot say certain things in public places…especially schools…without getting in trouble.  He was very upset when he came home knowing he’d spend the day in that ‘Prisoner’s Office’ the next day.

We had some good discussions about choosing the words that come out of your mouth.  I couldn’t believe he told the principal that he had ‘anger issues’…which he doesn’t.  So today Alex is doing his school work in the Principal’s Office and hopefully learning an important lesson.

I told him…Don’t do the crime if you can’t serve the time!

Life Lessons.

Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach

Everything for Adoption

Hidden Adoption Story

Here is a great story shown recently on 20/20 about a famous US Olympic gymnast who learns her parents had a secret…they let her younger sister be adopted by another family. It is a powerful story of how ‘nature’ can be as powerful as ‘nurture’. It also shows that being adopted can be the hope a child needs.

This is a great story of hope….

Deborah Mumm

Giving Your Teen Tools for Indendence

I have been a parent for a long time.  I have 5 kids…4 sons and 1 daughter. As a new parent I never thought I’d have to learn so many parenting techniques.  I quickly learned that what works with one kid doesn’t necessarily work with another.

Our oldest son was a very strong-willed little kid.  He would dare us to spank him when he was naughty. He’d laugh when we got angry. It took a lot of times to figure out what form of discipline worked for him.  We learned that taking away things of importance to him like his Nintendo, TV shows, even his bedroom door, caused him to listen to the rules we expected of him.

The next two sons were much easier.  I could just raise my voice or even say I was disappointed in them and they’d burst into tears. They still lost some TV time, etc., but it was less frequent than with son#1.

Then we adopted 2 older kids from Russia. Everything we had done before with the older boys never seemed to work with these two.

I realized I needed to look them in the eye as I spoke to them about consequences as they were quicker to lie to me.  I am guessing lying must be fairly common in an orphanage. Trust is a huge issue for me. If I don’t trust them, then they drive me crazy!

I have helped the older one with job applications…filling them out for her, etc…mostly because she is too lazy and struggles with the language on them. I have coached her what to say when an employer calls her. I have told her what to wear to an interview and tips on what to say and ask. Most of the time she has just blown off the interview and hasn’t gone.  Maybe I am helping too much.  I have backed off a lot the past couple of months but haven’t seen her get a job on her own yet…pretty much a necessity now that she is ‘on her own’.

She thinks she is living independently, but she is really living off her boyfriend’s family. She is happier there than with us…mostly because no one is telling her what to do all the time, I am guessing. We don’t provide for her any more except for necessary medical stuff. Maybe she’ll begin to realize she might like some money and might like to be able to get things on her own without having to beg for it from others.

So…do you give your teens any tools that help them to become more independent?


Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach

Everything for Adoption

Grandpa’s Honor Flight

This week my dad enjoyed the day with other WWII Veterans as they took an Honor Flight to DC and back.  They were treated to tours of memorials, lunch and more.  On the way home they got letters from Family and Friends and then over 2000 people met them at the airport!  Very exciting day for him.

He was delighted to see our teenage daughter there with us as we greeted him back home.  It was her choice to join us even though she knew she’d have to face the entire family…first time since she left our home almost 2 months ago.  Everyone was happy to see her and she behaved herself nicely…helping make it a day for Grandpa.

It hasn’t always been easy to be tough with her and not giving in to all the things she thinks she wants and needs…but she is learning that we all love her and are trying to get her to see what it means to be part of a family.  Right now it looks like it is working and we are cautiously optimistic that we can continue to see more of her and slowly add her back into our lives.

Deborah Mumm

Adoption Coach

Everything for Adoption

Hope for the Future


As I write this I feel somewhat optimistic about our teenage daughter who no longer lives with us. She seems to be feeling better about herself and is acting happier.  We did give her back the phone she earned at discharge from the therapeutic boarding school…so she calls or texts me fairly often.  I was proud of the fact that I took her iphone to an Apple store and had them show me how to shut off all the apps, WiFi, and extras with a passcode, so that all she had was a basic phone.  We just feel better she has a phone for safety issues and for any future employment. She still doesn’t have a job and really isn’t working too hard on that. Bills are stacking up and she will learn the hard way as to what happens when you don’t pay them.

She came home today for just a few hours.  She wanted to see Alex.  I took them both to a local beach so they could hang out there.  Alex was so happy to have time with her…he couldn’t stop smiling. He made her a bracelet out of duct tape and wrote, ‘I Love You’ on it.  It was cute.

He wasn’t as polite when she left with her boyfriend, but he is jealous/mad that she is with him and not here at home.

One day at a time….

Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach

Everything for Adoption