July 9, 2013

Life at Home

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting — Adam Heine @ 1:46 PM

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything. This job has got me pretty busy.

On the plus side, it means we’ve had the funds to, for example, increase Da’s pay for the first time since she started working for us. She’s pretty excited about that. Heck, I’m excited about that. I feel terrible that we haven’t been able to do that for her until now. She more than deserves it.

The boys are all at school now, along with Pan, Lu, and Sarah. They’re doing really well. Even those I was afraid would have trouble in a long-term, sit-still-or-get-in-trouble kind of setting are doing really well. Nathan, in particular, is trying really hard to be on his best behavior, and he’s EXCELLING at it.

So the house is much quieter — mostly. It’s just me, Anica, and Asia most days, and while Asia is usually content to swing outside or play on the piano, Anica wants my attention.

ALL of my attention.

It makes it harder for me to get stuff done, but mostly I don’t mind. Not only do I get a ridiculous amount of FB/Twitter material from her, but look how cute she is on the throne she made for herself:

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Yeah, I’m screwed.

May 14, 2013

First Day of School

Filed under: Parenting,Personal,Pictures — Adam Heine @ 7:36 AM

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In Thailand, school starts in May. So today is the first day of school for all but our oldest girls.

And for the three youngest boys — Josiah, Nathan, and Isaac — it’s the first day of school EVER. Since Cindy teaches English at their school two days a week, that means it’s just me with Anica and Asia a lot more now.

What’s weighing on my mind the most is Isaac. We’ve sent lots of kids to school, but Isaac is our firstborn. One of us has always been with him for nearly all of his life. We had planned to homeschool him. Really, we had planned to homeschool all of them, but Thailand’s Ministry of Education won’t let us homeschool foster kids. And as Isaac saw his brothers going to school, he smiled at us and said, “I get to go next year with Nathan and Josiah, right!”

What am I supposed to say to that?

It’s a good decision. I know it is. But whereas you see six ridiculously cute kids in school uniform, I see my worst fears come to life.

At least I still got Anica, right? RIGHT?

September 18, 2012

Sleeping Arrangements

Filed under: Funny,Our Work,Parenting,Personal,Pictures — Adam Heine @ 2:38 PM

Cindy drew this. It is 100% factual.

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July 19, 2012

Perspective and Troubled Kids

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting,Personal — Adam Heine @ 12:53 PM

I’ve been having trouble with one of our kids lately. Nothing as serious as we’ve had in the past, but still: a lot of anger, pride, arguments. I’ve been doing my best, but it’s at the point where anything I do will make things worse — it’s kind of up to them.

And I’m trying to have peace with the idea that they may never decide to change. That we will just struggle through the next few years together until they’re old enough to leave. I don’t like it, but what else can I do?

What keeps me from that peace is I don’t want them to be this way all their lives. I want them to learn, to apologize when they’re wrong, to see their selfishness. And I’m afraid they never will.

To that end, God gave me some perspective this week. A friend told me his story about a reunion he had with his foster parents. As a teen, he resented them, spurned their authority, and basically did everything I’m always afraid of my kids doing. Now, a decade or two later, he was able to forgive them and accept their love.

I love this because it reminds me that my kids’ childhood here isn’t the end of it. If they leave here hating me, it doesn’t mean they’ll hate me forever. If they leave with ridiculous ideas of self-centeredness, it doesn’t mean they won’t learn to care for others later.

I was thinking about this story the other night, but then all my old fears came back. See, one of the things I’m most afraid of, and have been for four years now, is that we will have a repeat of what happened to Alaypa. That was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever gone through, and every time one of our kids gets angry with us, I think it’s going to happen all over again.

Then I had a thought (or God gave it to me, depending on your point of view): “How are you and Alaypa now?”

It stopped my whole train of thought. Alaypa’s been back a couple of times, and the thing is, we’re totally cool. It’s a little awkward, sure, but only because we haven’t talked much. He doesn’t hate me. I’m not mad at him.

And his life? The woman who first brought him to us called me recently just to say Alaypa is now attending Bible college. I know he had some rough patches the past four years, but to me, that sounds like he’s doing pretty good.

I have to remember this, when their childhoods stress me out. It’s not the end. I am not the end of their education. And really? We’re not doing that bad a job with the part we do have.

It’ll be okay.

May 24, 2012

Sam and Joel Go To School

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting,Pictures — Adam Heine @ 1:14 PM

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Joel and Sam started school last week. So far, they really love it. I hope that never changes.

The school they go to is pretty cool. It’s run by missionaries and tries to keep education standards higher than Thailand’s baseline, especially with English. Foreign volunteers come to teach the kids in English. It’s a small school, so Sam and Joel’s class only has 8 or 9 students, and when the kids split up for English class, they are separated by skill level as opposed to grade (meaning fluent 1st graders, like our boys, wouldn’t be stuck learning English letters just because they’re in 1st grade; more likely they’d be placed with older kids at their same level).

The teachers keep complimenting them on their English, though one teacher admitted their Thai wasn’t very good. But I have no doubt they’ll learn it fast, along with tricky concepts like “homework” and “listening to the teacher.”

We’re still not used to having them gone all day everyday. It’s much quieter around the house, but when they come home, we suddenly realize we haven’t seen them in a while. It’s weird, but as long as they’re doing okay, it’s great.

April 26, 2012

Village Visit, 2012

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting,Pictures — Adam Heine @ 2:13 PM

We spent last weekend in the mountains with Sean and Prang and their family. It was pretty cool to see how much Sean has gotten done since last year. His farm is constantly changing as he learns new tricks and rotates in new crops (and holy COW but organic farming is complicated; maybe Sean can explain it to you sometime).

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Sean has made a lot more room in his house (which is good, cuz our families keep getting bigger) and has plans to make it even bigger. There was no pig this year, but somehow Cindy and Prang managed to feed 18 people without a problem (geez, is that how big our families are?).

The boys spent most of their time collecting sticks and rocks and building “fires.” The rest of us did our best to manage the tiny and/or crying ones while playing Five Crowns (which I lost) or Phase 10 (which I lost horribly).

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It was Asia’s first time up in the village. I wish I could say she enjoyed it, but poor little Asia is not a fan of new things. She spent most of the weekend in tears, asking to go “outside” (we already were) or “downstairs” (there wasn’t any). Basically, if she knew the words for “Can we go home now?” she’d have been using them.

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But boy was she excited when I said we were going home. She’s been nothing but happy since. Hopefully she’ll feel a lot more secure in her surroundings when we go back next year…

You can see more pictures here.

March 22, 2012

Accepting Someone (a Savior or a Father)

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting,Religion — Adam Heine @ 6:34 PM

Until very recently, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to accept Jesus as your Savior. Did it mean you prayed a specific prayer? You were baptized? You actively told people about Jesus so they could do it too?

I understand a lot more because of what I do. I am constantly faced with whether or not these kids accept me as their father, and I realize it’s the same thing.

Very rarely, one of our kids will not accept me as their father. They’ll throw it in my face that I’m not their “real” dad or that they don’t belong here. I still give them everything, but they resent it, even when I try to love them. They pull away from my touch. They refuse to answer me when I ask how they’re doing.

Sometimes this is just teenager stuff, as they try to figure out who they are and where they belong. I get that. But for others, there are deeper issues. They might see themselves as unworthy of love. They might see me as some kind of usurper dad, when their real dad is still out there somewhere. They merely tolerate me, when they acknowledge my existence at all.

But what a difference when they really accept me! They smile, they laugh, they play. The house does not darken when they enter a room. Even when I have to discipline them, it takes much less time for them to rebound and for our relationship to be all right again.

And this, I’m thinking, is what it means to accept Jesus as our savior. It’s not some nebulous thought process, or a prayer you say once as a kid, or a signature on some dotted line. It is (as we are wont to remind ourselves) A RELATIONSHIP.

Jesus is always right there, giving us all he’s got and trying to have that relationship. But we still have to respond, to say, “Yeah, you are my savior/lord/father. I trust you.”

It doesn’t work if we don’t want it.

September 20, 2011

A Letter to My Son

Filed under: Parenting,Personal,Pictures — Adam Heine @ 1:31 AM

Dear Isaac,

I would like to apologize for your DNA.

Not that you aren’t awesome. You totally are. But, well…it’s because you’re part of me that you get upset when you don’t excel at something the first time. I will spend my whole life trying to teach you what I learned only a few years ago: that you can do anything if you work hard at it. But it won’t make you feel any better when you fail, and I’m sorry for that.

It’s my fault you can’t sit still. I know, I know. Daddy is the most inert, quiet, non-silly man you know. But as a boy, I was exactly like you. When you get in trouble for it as much as I have, you’ll learn to keep it inside too.

And it’s my fault you feel everything must be in perfect order. That’s why you have to put your Go Fish cards back into pairs before you can count them. That’s why each piece of your orange peel must touch none of the other pieces. In the future, you will straighten stacks of cards every time you take a turn, and your friends will mock you by knocking things out of place (see #4).

It’s okay. They still love you. And I’ll help you fix it.

Keep in mind that for all our faults, you are still an incredibly handsome genius. Most of the credit for that goes to your mom, of course, but at least I didn’t screw it up.

Though if you grow to hate your widow’s peak, well, I apologize for that too.

Love you, buddy.


August 9, 2011

Four Heines

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting — Adam Heine @ 6:47 PM

If we’re talking about the strictly legal, biological family, this is it.

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I’ve talked before about how my feelings for these guys differ from the rest of the kids. We try not to admit that we have favorites, but well…

Sometimes I find myself wondering what our life would’ve been like if we hadn’t moved out here. If it was just us four back in our condo (or whatever) in America. Sometimes I worry that I’ve wrecked their development somehow by sticking them in a huge family where they have to fight for attention. Maybe not wrecked their development, but I worry that maybe it’s suboptimal, that maybe they will have been much more well-adjusted had we not done this.

I know it’s ridiculous, but hey, I’m a parent. (I’m pretty sure worrying is a requirement). They learn more having all these brothers and sisters than they ever would have living with just us. Even if we can’t give them all our attention, we have the freedom to be at home with them — both of us — all day. Those things are pretty cool.

And I know Isaac loves having all these brothers. He’s told me so. And I think he knows that he gets my attention more than anyone (much as I try to be fair).

I don’t regret coming out here, but it’s the same feelings I get when I miss friends and family, or certain American conveniences. I just wonder what it would’ve been like if we hadn’t come. Foolish. I love our life here, and the advantages — especially for the kids — far outweigh what we’ve had to leave behind. I just wonder, you know?

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”
“Oh dear,” said Lucy.
“But anyone can find out what will happen.”

July 5, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Filed under: Our Work,Parenting,Personal — Adam Heine @ 7:06 PM
  1. The sound of Anica’s feet padding across the tiled floor.
  2. Sam and Isaac arranging magnetic letters and trying to read what they spelled.
  3. Watching So You Think You Can Dance with Cindy after everyone’s gone to bed.
  4. Hearing the boys laugh hilariously at the funny parts of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  5. Pan’s smile every time she wakes up or comes home from school.
  6. When Asia’s sitting on the floor, smiling and laughing at nothing at all.
  7. Anica putting Mr. Potato Head’s stormtrooper helmet on her own head.
  8. Playing Sorry with Isaac, Sam, and Joel.
  9. Every single one of Nathan’s facial expressions.
  10. When Josiah shows me the race car he drew, more or less like I taught him.
  11. Those nights when Sarah hugs me before she goes to bed.
  12. Joking around with a smiling Lutiya.
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