Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I woke up this morning ready to try again!  It took approximately 45 minutes after James walked out the door for this to happen:

You know that I no longer care one tiny bit what anyone thinks of me if I am posting this.  I mean - could I look worse?  No shower in two days, Red face, swollen eyes (no sleep for two nights.  James finally slept on the 1 foot by 8 feet of floor space between the kids' beds to comfort them every time they woke up crying) and I'm barely keeping my shirt on.  It's ugly.  Now that I think of it, that may be why Sasha kept making vampire faces at me and saying "vampira!  vampira!"  I kind of hope so, other options might be more frightening.

So... the good news is that tonight my ugly, ugly video is making me laugh.  When it happened I was devastated and sobbing on the floor, and the poor kids just looked at me like the world ended.  Dana just climbed in my lap and hugged me and made soft cooing noises and Aloysia froze and stared at me from the corner.  Sasha left and then waited, listening for my big gulping sobs to end, and finally crept back up and put his arm around me.  It was very tender really.  I should cry all day in front of them, and believe me, I would if I didn't think the magic of it all might wear off.

I see small signs of progress.  In particular breakthroughs with the oldest and youngest. The middle child leaves me at my wit's end.  There is no way to punish him that can top what he's experienced.  So us putting him in a chair for time out for 2 minutes has zero effect on him.  Sasha told us we were being pushed around - that back home his punishment is one hour kneeling.  Good grief.  We obviously can't do that - but it leaves me scratching my head.  I mean if we don't want to be scary, or spank, or oh-I-don't-know, put someone in a closet on their knees.  I mean - how do they know they've done wrong?

As soon as he gets out of timeout, I make him say "sorry" then I hug him.  And then he runs somewhere to try and get my goat again.  Tonight James held him in timeout and he bit James' arm.  I have no idea.  Open to suggestions here.  Especially if you are an expert in this kind of background and psychology.

Any-old-who, I just keep telling myself I am grateful for progress.  And I am ashamed now of every single time I thought less of parents who spank their kids.  I have never felt so much rage in my life as one tiny little peson can cause in a mere moment... and it took every bit of willpower not to cock my arm back and let fly.  Oh how I hate learning lessons.  Especially about being judgmental - I've enjoyed it so much.

One more day until Michigan.  It's the only thing keeping me going.  It's a short-term goal in reach.  One more day.  36 more hours.  I've got this. 


  1. Shauri, I don't know what you're talking about ... you are seriously the most gorgeous person I know. Maybe with the exception of my mother.

    I have no idea how to approach discipline with kids I didn't raise (do you know Adam drove me completely crazy whenever we were on the coast? I could not figure out how to tell him to STOP TOUCHING MY CROSS STITCH STUFF) ... when they are little, it's so easy to gently redirect them. And, I don't know, we got lucky with Carmen ... she puts herself in her room when we tell her and comes out when she's better. I have no idea what I would do with a misbehaving half-grown child who doesn't speak my language. All I have to do is *frown* at Carmen and she feels punished!

    So, here's lots of e-love and hugs and well-wishes and hoping you'll be able to figure things out. I have no idea how I'm going to teach/discipline my future kids ... just see what encourages them presses their buttons and use those against them. ;)

  2. Shauri, I think you are doing great and I am praying for you. What an undertaking. You look so much like your mother, Delsa, when we were younger. I really think you should call Jim's nephew, Troy Keller and his wife, Carlin, who are in Utah. They have experienced what you are going through. I think they could be of help. They have three adopted children from the Ukraine who were in an orphanage, couldn't speak the language, etc. It has now been three years. Things do get better but it takes time. His brother, Brett Keller, is the bishop of the little girl, Emile Parker, who was killed in Conn. this past Friday at the elementary school.. So you can tell these brothers are both kind, sensitive, and very giving. I think it would be great if you talked to them. I don't want to post their number for everyone to see, but maybe you could email me and I could email you back. Good luck!

  3. Sweet Shauri, honestly I think you look like someone who just brought home three darling, Russian, totally confused, flipped out children, and doing everything you need to be doing, which equals exhaustion. look good. You are setting boundaries, you are being as consistent as chaos allows, and doing your very best. You are even crying consistently. So at least they know what to expect that way. ;) Listen, I know you don't want to cry when calling people, put people out all that, and i get it, but if you run into obstacles behaviorally, or emotionally with the munchkies, and feel stuck, please call. I will do my best to help trouble shoot. I was actually thinking about you guys today on my way home, about a few things you could try that would help give the kids a better sense of control right now, help them regulate themselves a bit, and don't require words. Call me, I'd love to help if I can. The job you are trying to do right now is messy, and demoralizing 98% of the time, hang on to the 2% moments when you feel encouraged and see the progress. It will always be hard, but it will get better, and it will be worth it.

    call, i'm up late most nights, and at your disposal.

    Sorry, this turned into a super long comment.

  4. One of the biggest revelations for me was that "spare the rod, spoil the child" refers to the shepherd's staff. Shepherds don't beat their sheep, they just reach out with the rod and nudge them back where they're supposed to go.

    My own philosophy with child discipline is essentially that it is my responsibility to tell the child when they do something wrong and teach them why. The bad behavior brings its own bad consequences otherwise. Physical intervention is for emergency situations and when things escalate (like your visit to the dentist).

    I don't know how to apply my advice to your situation with the language barrier, but essentially I don't think you need to do more punishment. Just stay consistent and keep shepherding them.

  5. Shauri, my brother-in-law is a child play therapist. I called him tonight to get some ideas for you... I'll send you an e-mail with some of his thoughts and recommendations. XO

  6. Regardless of what you might think, you look great (considering what you're going through) and you're doing great! You're a strong person and you can do this. I believe in you.

  7. Isn't it amazing how writing about something so painful...even when you explicitly state, "this is horrible" never communicates remotely how horrible it was? Writing about pain makes the pain seem funny, cute, insightful. MAKES ME NOT EVER WANT TO WRITE!! :)

  8. you know many Kristin's -- that was from Tina 2.

  9. Look up a lady named Becky Bailey who teaches Conscious Discipline. One of her main ideas is that it's important to 'discipline' (which comes from the Latin word meaning 'to teach') instead of to 'punish' (which comes from the Latin meaning penalty or hardship). One method of discipline, which may also help teach some English, is to not just tell them "No" or "Stop doing that", because they have no frame of reference for what they're doing. Also, young children's minds skip over the "don't" and just keep focusing on the act that you're telling them to stop. So instead of telling them what NOT to do, give them two positive choices of what they MAY do - in your case probably combined with some demonstration or miming of an action. For example, instead of "Stop running!" you could say "Walk slowly" or "Walk quickly" and demonstrate it. Then repeat it, telling them they may choose, until they choose one of those options. Or "You may not run, but you may walk in a straight line, or in a zig zag line" - still leaving walking as the option but leaving them the choice of how they want to walk. See what I mean? It involved a lot of repetition - research shows it takes 1,000 times in context (that's key) and so you will feel ridiculously repetitive and often as though you're not accomplishing anything, but it will sink in eventually. It will not be easy, but it may provide a fear-free and pain-free alternative to what they're expecting and anticipating. Or send me your address and I'll send you my copy of the book. It's directed to classroom management, but when you have three children at the same time whom you are trying to teach in a new language, that sounds a lot to me like when I'm trying to teach one of my languages to either my junior high or high school classes. I wish you well! Seriously, please let me know if I can just send you the book...

  10. Hey Shauri. I wish I had some magical strategy, but I think it will take time to get to know the children and their needs before you'll find the right discipline strategies. They are still in shock and fairly disregulated. You have a lot more than behavior coming into play...there is attachment trauma so you have to account for that. Typical behavioral modification isn't going to work like it does for other kids (that's my guess). Part of this process is healing wounds which will take time. My instinct is to say cut yourself some slack and cut them some slack. Time, time, time. You are doing great. I'd be happy to come over and talk more with you about it when you get back. I don't care if you cry. :) Enjoy Michigan! I have a list of books I could there time to read them? LuAnn

  11. Shauri,

    I watched this and just saw a beautiful mom! Parenthood is challenging in so many ways that we never expect and is so unique for each of us. You have the best attitude - one day at a time, and sometimes one hour or one minute at a time. Here is one of my favorite little meditations: "Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
    May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use
    the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content
    with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the
    freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

    Hugs and love to all! Merry Christmas!

  12. Hi Shauri; Sterling and I did the first batch of foster care classes last year (and maybe you did something similar in prep for this?) but I remember them saying how common it is for foster children to act their very worst regardless of discipline as a way to alienate you before you can reject them. As if they are trying to see when you will decide you don't want them anymore. I think you just keep trying what makes sense to you and realize there are other issues at play that just need a long period of time and love :/ I hope that's not too trite.