I am sitting here with my sixth internationally adopted child. And I’m thinking about the question Marcy put to me, “I homeschool because…” Why do I homeschool my international kids? Why would anyone choose to homeschool teens adopted internationally? Honestly, that is something I ask myself almost daily. It’s not been an easy road.
My internationally adopted children all came to me as teens. They came from the fourth poorest country in the world, Liberia. My first five survived wars. They came to me from a lot of personal trauma.
My newest daughter lost her mother at the age of three. She had to revert to survival skills and has had very little opportunity for any education.
Why Homeschool Teens Adopted Internationally?
All of my children have had huge learning gaps. They’ve not had the opportunities my biological children have had. Things like early learning activities — legos, play dough, coloring, scissor work– those things that we take for granted.
When they came to us, they had to learn things almost from a Kindergarten level, even though they were older. Things like puzzles and coloring in the lines.
And how to live in a house.
Coming from Africa, they have to learn to live in this culture. And most importantly, they have to learn how to live in a family. How to have a mom and a dad. How to relate to parents and siblings. All of that required, really, 100% of our time and energy.
If they weren’t home they wouldn’t be learning those things with us.
Making a Home and Homeschool
So during the first season of their adoption, we homeschooled so that we could become a family. We believe it takes at least two years of daily practice of just living together in order to get over culture shock. And we have to get over our reverse culture shock. And for us to get to the point where we really know, love, and trust one another.
It’s almost like a grief, where you have to go through all the “firsts.” Whether it be the first Christmas, holidays, and birthdays. But, also you have to do it with the stability of home.
We also chose to homeschool our teens adopted internationally to not only become a family and get to know one another, but to find those gaps, and lovingly close them. When you homeschool teens adopted internationally, you have time to get them interested in reading, math, and school in general.
This takes a lot of time.
Which is why, again, I find myself asking myself the question daily, “why am I doing this?”
But, then I think of the alternative, which would be free public school. A lot of my friends did not have a successful bonding with their children. And it’s not like I would never put one of my internationally adopted children in school if that’s what was needed and best for them, but not during that first season — when they have just come to us and there’s so much to learn and discover about one another.
We’re establishing relationships.
And we homeschool because we want to introduce our teens adopted internationally to the most important relationship of all. The one with Christ.
Alicia Ahlers lives on 45 acres in Pendleton, Kentucky with her husband, Glenn, and their 12 children. Both Glenn and Alicia came to salvation in Christ during their teen years and found each other in ministry in 1986. Glenn began his own business in home improvement and real estate investing, allowing Alicia to stay home and care for their children, Shepherd (1989), and Prayse (1991). They quickly decided to homeschool, and though the journey wasn’t easy, God was faithful to continue leading them toward truth.
During the years 1997-2003, five more children were born (Joshua, Robert, Hope, Noah, and Liberty), they moved into their current home, which Glenn built, and both sets of grandparents died. A season of quiet reflection and study ensued and using a two-year self-paced process of learning to study the depths of Christian liberty, the Lord was equipping them to adopt orphans from a place called Liberty.
Botianna (18), Andrew (16), Lightning (15), Cherish (13) and Kabiera (13), arrived home Oct. 5, 2006 after living through 14 years of civil war in Liberia, West Africa. The Ahlers are active members at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and Alicia is pregnant with their next blessing.
In 2017, the Ahlers family started Pepper Coast Missions to serve the people of Liberia with medical care, basic needs, education, and economic development.
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.