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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

53 questions when you know know

There are a lot of things about older-child adoption that you learn about when you are preparing to adopt. You read about, and other adoptive parents tell you all about XYZ, and you think to yourself Okay, so I know that. I can do that. I totally understand and I'm prepared for XYZ to happen to me and my family. But then in reality you find out that even though you knew about XYZ, you didn't actually know know about the reality of XYZ and how it would play out in your family and in your reality until you're in the heat of the battle. And then you think, Oh so that's what they meant by XYZ! Now I so get it! Of course the reality of it all makes sense now that I'm experiencing it! 
One of those things that we knew, but we didn't know know the reality of was it is common for children who have been adopted (via international adoption) to display a developmental age different from their chronological age. And more specifically children lose approximately 1 month of linear growth for every 3 months in institutionalized careIn other words for every month/year a child grows up in an orphanage, at best he/she loses 1 month/year of development. For example a 1-year-old baby who is growing up in an orphanage is developmentally closer to a 9 months old, a 4-year-old child is closer to a 3 year old, and an 8-year-old boy is more like a 6 year old. 

So practically speaking what is a child like that spent 7 years growing up in an orphanage without a family? 
In theory that means that Ru, at best, would be developmentally be more like a 5 year old when we got him. Of course we educated ourselves ahead of time about what this would look like in our family, and we though we were pretty prepared. We knew it. We prepared not only ourselves but also our children for the reality what that we though that would look like. But did we really know know what it would be like? 

Did you know that the average 4 year old ask 437 questions a day? That's a lot of questions! Truth be told I'm not actually sure this is a proven scientific fact or just an urban myth. I researched and tried to find out if it was, but couldn't figure it out. But I am pretty sure that the mamas of the world would whole-heartedly agree that 4 year olds in general ask an excessive amount of questions. And I will tell you that I knew that 4 year olds ask a lot of questions because after all I've raised 7 4-year-old children so far. But in reality, wowzers I. Was. Not. Prepared. for the reality of our new 7-year-old son, developmentally 4-5 years old in many areas, including in the, you guessed it, question asking department! Ru asks a lot of questions. And I mean a lot of questions! Sometimes rapid fire one after another questions. Often he doesn't even wait to hear the answer to the a question before asking another one... or the one after that. Sometimes he wants to know the answers to the questions. And sometimes he really doesn't. Sometimes he's just practicing his English skills. And I'm convinced that sometimes he just likes the sound of his voice and the power he has to fill the room with it. But it's questions questions questions questions questions questions questions questions questions questions...
All. Day. Long. 
And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, when we're out and about often the questions come faster with less breathing room in between. 

Case in point. 
We went out Sunday to the local Viet market to pick up some groceries and get the boys hair cuts. There was some waiting around until it was hair cut time, and Livy and I decided to figure out just how many questions Ru was asking. We decided record all the questions Ru asked for 1 hour, including in that hour was a 20 minute hair cut where he didn't say a word. We ended up leaving after only 45 minutes, so we actually never got to a full hour, but here are the majority of questions Ru asked during that time period. And I say majority because there were times that we couldn't get them all because they were coming at us so quickly. 

PS - "cut cut" is Ru's word for cutting anything including hair, and we were letting the kids play Pokemon while we were waiting. 

1. What're you guys doing? 
2. What're you guys doing? 
3. Why? 
4. When do we get Pokémon? 
5. Can we get a cookie? 
6. Why no? 
7. Why? 
8. We don't get ice-cream too? 
9. Why can't we get something? 
10. Ma, I'm getting cut cut? 
11. May I come with you? 
12. Why? 
13. Why I get hair cut? 
14. Where is the cut cut? 
15. Jude get cut cut? 
16. What do you do in cut cut? 
17. Jude, all done with cut cut? 
18. What are you guys doing? 
19. Why you say that? 
20. What is Ma doing? 
21. How is Mom working? 
22. Why? 
23. Why.  You.  Working.  Ma?! 
24. Why is Dad working? 
25. Why is Sissy working? 
26. Why we need to wait? 
27. What do they do when cut cut? 
28. Can they just cut here? 
29. Why only person with Mimi is Jude? 
30. Why does only 1 person spin? 
31. Why can I spin now? 
32. Why you have to pay him? 
33. You have lots of money, Daddy? 
34. Daddy, are we same, me and Jude's hair? 
35. Are we same? 
36. Can we get noodles? 
37. Why not? 
38. Why can't we go in? 
39. Why they in here? 
40. Are we go home now? 
41. Why are you... He didn't finish that one 'cause he got distracted.
42. Can I go in sissy car? 
43. Can I go in sissy car, mommy and daddy? 
44. Why?
45. No one go in sissy car? 
46. Why not though?
47. Why not kids?
48. Where are you going? 
49. Why? 
50. Why get in car now? 
51. Why Mimi not get in car? 
52. Why not? 
53. Why? 

So let's analyze this and do some math. Because surely that's why you came to this blog, right? To do math? Remember that that's not even a full hour's worth of questions. That's only 45 minutes of questions, and minus the 20 minute hair cut it's actually only 25 minutes worth of questions. 53 questions in 25 minutes! Let that sink in for a moment! Just answering that many questions is challenging! 

I also want to be clear that we don't ignore any of Ru's questions, even the ones that he clearly doesn't care about the answers to. He's still very much learning about his new world and (obviously) eagerly devouring the English language. Incessant question asking is one very good way to do all this, and we are so grateful it is happening! But we do have 7 other children who also like to ask an occasional question or 2, or participate in a discussion with their parents, or enjoy some moments are are not continually filled with noise... and it is a challenge for all of us to say the least to field all these questions! Heck it would be a challenge even if Ru was an only child! 

Back to the math... 
Even if we leave in the 20 minute golden-silent haircut, we can compute that that would be 
1.78 questions per minute, 
or 71 questions per hour, 
or 852 questions per day assuming that Ru is sleeping a whopping 12 hours per day... which has never actually happened.
And that gives us the grand total of 852 questions PER DAY! 
852 questions Every. Single. Day. 
And don't let the pics of this quiet serene boy showing off the mask he made fool you! 

THIS is the reality of what I was not prepared for. 
This is my XYZ. 
This is my reality. 
This is one of many things that I knew, but I didn't really know. I didn't fully appreciate it until I was in the midst of experiencing it, and that's often how adoption goes. One prepares, and one knows, but then one day you're in the trenches and suddenly you know know!

This is the little boy I'm growing to love, day in and day out, incessant questions answering and all. 
Because he is very very much worth it. 


  1. Yes, yes, and YES. Our son came home in January of this year, newly turned 8 years old. So. Many. Questions! So much learning going on every second, but I know you didn't exaggerate even one of those "why" questions. ;)

  2. Nope, not one single exaggeration in there. Not even one tiny little "Why?" added via artistic license. As you know, it's a crazy! Thank you for commenting. Sometimes (often?) I wonder if it's just us?!

  3. It's not just you two! I read every blog post. :) But I guess because I don't usually comment, that makes me a lurker ?? O_O
    This blog made me laugh out loud and made me want to give you a big hug.
    You must be exhausted !! I think Ru has our Mason beat in the questions department, but this was such a great reminder to me that Mason, also age 7, has *much* growing to do. Sometimes his Daddy and I forget that he is developmentally younger. He is so bright in many ways, that we are often surprised by how young he acts
    Thank you for this reminder. Hugs to you, mama!

    1. I really feel the same way. In some ways Ru is older than his 7 years, anything having to do with independence skills! But in many others, like the question asking, he's much younger AND I think just a really inquisitive boy on top of that. And learning English. And and and... Thx for commenting, Megan. It's good to know we're not alone in this struggle!

  4. So funny!! We brought home a just turned 5 year old who is very verbal. He talks and asks questions constantly as well. Sometimes I just tell him that it is not his turn to talk and he needs to be quiet. He is the youngest of 8, and like you, I feel that the other kids needs an occasional turn. That has been somewhat effective. He has learned that I really do mean that, yes, he really does need to stop asking questions sometimes. When we travel the 6 hour trip to visit with my family and we take 2 vehicles because we can't all fit in one, he ALWAYS rides in the vehicle my husband is driving. The male brain processes differently than the female brain and my husband honestly doesn't even hear him talking!

  5. Oh Nancy! Yes, yes ,and yes we have and are still there. Gabe came home the same time as Mimi and was 23 months but once he started talking...He. Never. Stopped. I can remember one time driving 45 min home from work with him in the back seat. He asked so many questions back to back that I could not even answer so finally he said "!" SERIOUSLY. I used to pray and thank the Lord for giving me a child to call me "mommy" because he would also begin and end every single sentence with it. He is 7 now and still talks nonstop but now he knows how to play "the quiet game"...well sort of. LOL! I also think their voices were probably not heard much back in the orphanage, so what a blessing to be the listening ears now for them. Thank you so much for sharing about older adoption. We have been considering an older child next time so I have been following along to learn as well.

  6. If only we knew what didn't know...but then we probably wouldn't believe it anyway, right?
    There's a new book coming out on older child adoption that I think will be an amazing resource for us all. I'm reviewing it and about half way finished now.
    I interviewed one of the authors on my podcast. You may find that you relate!


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