The first thing we said when the call from the Lord was clear to adopt older children was that this was not going to be easy, not for them or for us.
This is a post that will illicit many emotions and opinions. So, before I launch in and am transparent let’s agree on something…we are all going to abide by Thumper’s Daddy’s theory, “If you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” 🙂 We cannot tell every detail about our children and not dishonor them so you are going to have to take what we can give and trust that we are following the leading of the Lord as best He reveals His plan to us.
With that said, let’s plow into the past 6.5 months of good news (and there is some great news) and the bad news. You may want a cup of hot tea and a comfortable chair…
Let’s review quickly and get the bad over with first. God made the way after 95 days in Ukraine for us to adopt 4 children, 13 – 16, in June 2011. Two girls (now 16 and 17) and their younger brother (now 14) are bio siblings. The fourth is a young man, 15, unrelated to the sibling group but friends for 8 years in the same orphanage. He was nearly fully fluent in English when we met him April 4, while the others varied in their English acquisition from nearly none to understanding most of what was said but having a limited vocabulary of words to use in speaking.
If you read past posts you know that there was concern about the girls desire to come and ability to bond to us long before we left Ukraine. Even long before our court date. We questioned them in depth through 3 different translators and they assured us each time that this was what they wanted. We trusted that God had called, their adoption was in progress and our prayers were always answered to proceed and stay the course. To this day we have never doubted that was God’s will and we have no regrets of adopting any of these children.
Our early weeks at home were tumultuous, but that was to be expected.
They had expectations of what a family would be and of course reality was far different.
There was a strong power struggle and as a couple who cherishes peace, happy people and lack of conflict we found that difficult.
There is also a dynamic between any of the three siblings and the unrelated boy that made having them together difficult and at times impossible. We have spent the past 7 months attempting to analyze and gain control of this situation to no avail. Anytime he is with any of them in any combination there is incessant chatter in Russian and interrogation of him that quickly spirals out of control. We have identified it as old-fashioned jealousy to a magnitude impossible to define here. His ability in English and cooperative spirit gave him many opportunities academically and socially and we were faced very quickly with the decision of whether to hold him back due to their jealousy or to launch him forward at his level of capability. Their favorite line, straight from Communism, is that everything that happens that does not favor them is not fair. God impressed on us that we should not hold him back academically and socially until they were ready for the same level so we enrolled him in a full English speaking school for homeschoolers that offers classes taught by degreed teachers one day each week in high level academics and many social opportunities. Of course this involves hours of intense homework each day that separates him from them and fuels the jealousy fire. We encourage him to reach his potential and he has excelled beyond what we could have imagined.
Seven weeks after we got home the oldest girl walked out. Dear friends offered her respite one day at a time and she is still with their family. We offered to try to find a family that was willing to take all three of the bio siblings so they could stay together. She refused. She did not want to live with the others and wanted her own family and life. We are learning that she and her sister do not get along and could never be in the same family. She has settled in and is bonding with her new family and doing well.
Her two younger siblings instantly demanded a new family also. In hopes that this would pass and we could prove our love to them we did not pursue this demand. They settled down some but still struggled with the loss. I want to say very little about this but a crucial factor is that in her distress before their sister left she instilled in them a distrust in us. She accused us of bringing them here to be slaves, that we were trying to poison them with food and vitamins, etc. The two boys have been able to put this behind them, bond to and trust us but her sister has lived in distrust and on hyper-alert since that time. It was a second abandonment for her and this time seems worse than the first loss of her birth mother. Being in a new country, a new family, a new language and so many losses of things she loved has been more than she can bear. She lost the mother figure she had known and depended on since at least age 4. She also seems to feel a responsibility for her brother. About three weeks ago she announced that she was leaving the following morning. We assured her we loved her and hoped she would stay but she was adamant. The following morning she did not leave but joined into the daily routine without issue. We thought perhaps this had blown over again but not so. She started in again about wanting a new family and this time she held firm that ANY family would do but she had to have a new family. We tried to talk with her, secured counseling for her that she refused to cooperate with, even with a gentle Ukrainian translator to help, and this past Saturday she walked out. She was back within the hour but still adamant that she have a new family immediately.
We’ve questioned it all…is she testing us to see if we love her and will pursue her? No, she’s not. She truly distrusts us to the point she cannot rest or survive in our home. She wants OUT. Of course she is not realistic in believing any family will be better.
We have sought counsel from many adoptive parents who have walked this path, her counselor and others and no one is advising us to try to keep her at home. She will say nothing we have done wrong. Thankfully the counselor was able to encourage her to consider the unresolved feelings toward her sister and acknowledge that what she feels needs to be directed at that loss, not us, and she is acting on that.
A Christian family offered respite care for her while we pursue a new family for her. We gave her the option to go and she accepted the invitation. It has been heart-breaking to watch her brother vacillate between wanting to stay with us, saying he is happy and our family is good for him, and potentially losing his sister. When she decided to go to the respite family he immediately asked if he could go too. He has been a delight and done incredibly well, especially in light of her efforts to pull him down into her despair. The family agreed to take them both so they spent their first night there last night. Today’s report is that it went well and they are welcome there as long as needed.
There is a family considering guardianship and eventual adoption of this young lady, and her brother also if he chooses to join her. We are talking with them at length and doing every possible check to be sure it will be a good fit and safe place for them before we move forward on that possibility.
How are we? Numb. In disbelief. But resting in God’s promise in Philippians 4:13 that ALL things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Perhaps God called us to be the vessels to enable these children to be freed and brought to this side of the world but it appears His plan for us to be involved in their lives may be coming to a close. It is heartbreaking and certainly not what we would have chosen. But, as we said in those early days and many have said to us, at their ages they have to want this for it to work. At this point they are so disillusioned they have no idea what they want or need but she is adamant she does not want to be a part of our family. The huge gaping hole in their hearts can only be filled with a relationship with Jesus but they cannot see that yet. They cling to their Russian language and Orthodox beliefs to prove their loyalty to Ukraine and refuse to move forward into a new life in America. They are crawfishing…backing into the future looking into the past.
Our only prayer is that His will be done in their lives. Both girls have been determined to return to Ukraine at age 18, of course, they do not realize the reality of what that life will be. We have learned that great orphanages are a blessing and a curse…they were very good to the children, what a blessing, but they were so good to them that that these three siblings do not see the reality that awaits outside that fence. We have talked with the orphanage workers and they say the same. We pray they will have ears to hear and allow God to order their lives. We will be at peace with His will for them, whether that includes us, or a life in America, in their future or not.
Let’s move to the good news!! 🙂 Both boys have done very well. They both enjoyed soccer last fall, have delightful attitudes and are great fun!
Our oldest son has made many friends, loves every activity that is available to participate in and has all A and A+ grades. He has a great attitude and a joyful spirit that is endearing to everyone he meets. As he says, he has worked hard for his English and now his English is working for him. Well said and very true. His English is incredible and has improved dramatically in recent weeks.
We are rejoicing that in early December he accepted Christ and was baptized. He has truly made Jesus the Lord of his life and God’s grace has flooded him. It has been incredible to watch his transformation. He is taking every thought captive and living to honor the Lord. We are always amazed at how God works in this young man’s life placing people in his path for the current situation. I could list countless examples. A few weeks ago he wanted to find a C-group to attend, small groups of teens that meet in a family’s home from our church for Bible study. He knew one young man in the group from his school and we were amazed when we met the other 7 members of the group that one boy was adopted from Ukraine, one from Russia, one girl adopted from the US as an infant, and another girl has a sister that is adopted. Out of 9 kids, 5 of them have immediate ties to adoption. Coincidence out of the dozens of these groups that are available in our area? Not a chance…it is a definite Godincidence. He loves this group and the Bible study.
In December, he had neurosurgery for bone repair to an old head injury at age 5 that left a large hole in his skull and spent 6 days in the Children’s hospital over an 11 day span. His follow-up appt. was today and the doctor was very pleased. He will have a CT scan in mid-March and then see the doctor again and if all looks good he will be released. He is restricted from contact sports for one year and is grieving the prospect of not playing soccer this fall. We talked about helmets and other possibilities with the doctor today so we will see what the coming months bring. He has displayed incredible resiliency to be willing to pursue other interests while he is banned from the sports he loves. He is playing chess in a weekly rated tournament as well as table tennis/ping pong and being in the show choir at his school. Track starts soon and he desires to compete in that as well. He works hard to improve at everything he does and truly works at everything as unto the Lord.
The younger son is full of personality and drama. He loves to joke and enjoys his Dad’s humor and picks up on funny lines quickly. He is affectionate and so very sweet. He is the first one to say thank you and I’m sorry when he has offended. His English is coming along well and he speaks very clearly. He loves to work with his dad, has never seen a tool he does not like and is very creative and artistic. He enjoys 4 classes in the homeschool co-op he and his sister attend each Thursday. It has been incredibly painful to watch him have to make a choice between his sister and us and his new brother. We ache for him.
We continue to follow God’s call wherever it leads. We will be honest and admit that the past two to three months have been rough ones to travel. We are beyond exhausted and emotionally drained. While life rarely looks like we envision it we know He is faithful every step of the way and we are called only to be willing to be used and follow where He leads.
We cherish your prayers for our family during this tough time of potentially following His call to release two more of our children to a new family.
My grandparents passed to heaven from terminal cancer and I was very involved in their care. There comes a point in that journey where you realize that the condition is terminal, the suffering unbearable to watch and the only prayer becomes the need for healing or relief. Several weeks ago we identified our youngest daughter’s condition in our family was terminal and realized we had moved to that place of praying for healing or relief. When she refused to cooperate with counseling to find healing, relief became the only option. Her anxiety level is painful to watch. We did not put her out, she put herself out and her brother has chosen to follow her for now. We are forever grateful to the sweet young family who are open to be used by God and felt led to offer respite during this tough time.
We enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home today talking through all of this and praying for wisdom. We have made it a priority to connect to talk and spend time just the two of us each day but the pressing questions of the day always dominated those conversations. Today we were able to step out of the box and look at the big picture objectively. It was a refreshing time for both of us. We desire only God’s best and the saving grace of Jesus for each of our children. Whether that includes us in their lives or a fresh start for our daughter ~ and likely her brother too ~ is up to God.
Thank you all for the kind notes of concern and prayers for our family through the months. We held off on this post watching and hoping for some resolution and definitive information to post. We apologize if we have caused concern. Please continue to pray for each of us and especially for God’s protective hand and guidance on each of our children. We love you all!!