Taken Hostage or Testing Our Love?

Thank you to so many of you who have sent such encouraging emails and comments, we are so grateful for you.  We have, of course, received a couple of nasty ones too.  If that continues we will likely take this blog private.

Everyone who knows us and our children have been supportive and knows how much we have given and the love we have poured into these children 24/7 since April 1, 2011.  God set our life work such that we could spend 95 days in Ukraine, blessed us with the financial resources to pay their ransom and now the ability to spend tremendous amounts of time with them.  For all of that we are so grateful.

This has been a tough journey but we knew it would be when God’s call came.  People thought we were crazy to even consider adopting 4 teens at one time, but following Jesus always is and He never calls us to easy and sweet.  Spiritual warfare is messy stuff.  And if we have learned anything it is that satan is alive, well and thriving and has his evil eye trained on orphans and former orphans and any who try to bring them to Jesus and a life honoring to Christ.

The first blog post on older child adoption I ever read was titled, “Saved or Kidnapped?”  It really struck me.  How would our children feel?  The big questions we are pondering these days…

Are we not holding our children hostage if we hold on tightly to them when real love would set them free to another family that God has prepared for them?

How do we know the difference in them feeling like hostages and when are they testing us to see if we love them and will pursue them?

I have talked extensively with those very involved in our story and with our children and no one sees the two girls as testing but rather as being held hostage because a piece of paper said this was supposed to be it.  What about when personalities between children, even bio siblings, is so strained that it makes living within the same family misery?  Is it the right thing to insist they stay?  For children who have such stressed histories, if this conflict can be avoided and they can live in peace elsewhere what is wrong with that?

A counselor told us our blessing to launch forward into a new life and family is what one of them needed most. Another counselor gave us no encouragement to try to hold onto the other girl.  The girls have never indicated to anyone that they desire to be pursued or are testing our love for them.

We have one child in this group of 4 that tests us, we know exactly what that looks and feels like.  That child has given us a serious run for our money.  We’ve pursued and fought hard to prove our love to that child as well as each of the others.  That child acknowledges they are testing to see if we will throw them out.  We walked the journey step by step with with that child as they moved intensely through every stage of grief.  We have done the same for each of them as that has played out at different times and stages in each child’s journey into this new life.

We know their losses are huge.  We know they cannot see the longterm gain for the acute, immediate pain of the amputation of all things familiar.  It seems that for the girls we are inextricably linked to the pain having been the ones that took them from what they loved.  Both girls say they were pressured to agree to be adopted and come, that is a major difference in them and the two boys and it plays out in every way.

We have prayed and listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit and we are both convinced as are others that these two girls are not testing but rather felt held as hostages.  There is no desire by one girl to share a family with the others.  We pray the day will come that she can be honest with her siblings and they can be grateful for her watchful care for them for so many years and bless her to make her own way and life.

We told each of them before we left Ukraine that we were not taking hostages and that if they did not want to come they were free to stay.  We are folks who keep our promises, they are still free to go if they are sure there is another safe place where they can thrive and find joy.

There is one who wrote appalled that we let a child go after only seven weeks.  If you learned that your daughter had been held hostage in a bank teller line, would you say, “it has only been seven weeks”?  We all know that seven hours as a hostage is an eternity.  For that child, miserable trying to live intimately with a sibling that was impossible for her to deal with, seven weeks was an eternity.  This girl is doing well and never given any indication she desires us to pursue her.  She is thriving where she is and loves it there.  We spent time with her today and she looks us in the eye and smiles and is genuinely at home and at peace in her new family.  Our only desire for anyone we love is for them to know Jesus and have as peaceful and happy a life on this side of heaven as possible.

Another significant factor with our 2 girls is that in Ukraine adulthood begins at age 16.  At ages 16 and 17 now, both of our girls would have finished school this spring and likely been released from the orphanage into the world for advanced schooling (if they were accepted to a school) and life on their own, totally independent with no support system at all.  Being an adult and having freedom to choose their location and home at age 16 is what they’ve known and been conditioned to all of their lives.  They see themselves no differently here.  To restrain them in our family against their will is clearly taking hostages, of which we will have no part.

The two younger siblings are doing really well in their respite home.  The family’s young children are drawing them in to play, learn and cooperate as they would never do for an adult.  They are able to come alongside those little ones who are learning the alphabet and basic phonics and learn as they do.

We are giving them time for the new to wear off and to settle in there and let down their guard and we will see how the Lord leads.  Our home is always open to them to return.  We love them dearly and it is a difficult thing for their places at our table to be empty.  We are firm believers that sometimes the loving and humble thing to do is to acknowledge that God may have designed this as a relay race and we are to now pass the torch to the next family to run the next course of the race.  It is not our choice nor what we would have chosen but we are at peace that if it is God’s plan we will follow His call.  This has never been about us, we want only the best for our children.  They are God’s kids and we will not be so prideful that we cannot allow Him to work in their lives.

We cherish your prayers for the two siblings as they move from the newness of their respite family into more realistic days.  We pray for a maturity in making decisions far beyond their emotional maturity.  Both sets of parents have assured them both that they are welcome to return here anytime.  We are leaving that choice up to them.

Our son loved it here and was adamant for weeks that he was staying but decided to join his sister with the respite family when the time came for her to leave.  This adorable little guy is having to make a decision no child should have to make and we pray for peace for him and that God will lead him every step of the way.  We will not pressure him or put him in a difficult emotional drama but will let God work for the best in his life.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kind, gentle, loving notes that encourage us to keep on keeping on and to not lose sight that this was God’s call and we have been faithful.  Many have reminded us that at the ages of these teens they have to want this for it to work.  The girls are struggling to even want to be in the US.  Please pray for them to see how God brought them here and has a huge amazing plan for their lives.  Pray that they will see Jesus and how very much He loves them and wants the very best for them.  He has paid the ultimate price for true freedom for them.

If any of you are walking a similar path or in the process of older child or teen adoption and would like to email us privately (follow his call @ gmail.com ) to chat in more detail we would love to share more of our story if it would be a blessing and encouragement to others.

We seek to follow His call every minute of every day wherever it leads…Lord, keep us humble and we pray earnestly for wisdom to guide and love our children as Jesus does.

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8 Responses to Taken Hostage or Testing Our Love?

  1. Ramona says:

    You, Barney and these precious children have been in my thoughts and prayers! We do have to put our trust in the Lord because He is the only one that truly knows what is best for them and what their future holds. You have followed his call and the Lord is now saying to watch and see what I have in store for my beautiful children. God bless your family for trusting in the Lord and being patient to see what he has in store. I am lifting all of you up in prayer!!

  2. Ruth says:

    Holding your children with an open palm is one of the hardest parts of parenthood. My heart aches for all of you as you walk through this. To be able to put your children above your breaking hearts is a testimony to our Lord and an encouragement to other parents. Know that we are praying for all of you.

    How is your son, who has chosen to stay? How is he dealing with all this?

    • Us says:

      He is doing incredibly well. He sees the situation clearly and maturely and seems to be enjoying the one on one time with his mom and dad. The relief of tension in our home is good for us all. We were going to unreasonable lengths to try to make it work with our youngest daughter.

      One thing we have not talked about is their early years history prior to entering the orphanage. In time I will post about that, and the contrast between the siblings earliest years of life and his. That is key to the major difference in their ability to bond and establish loyalty. A very interesting phenomena is watching how the youngest son appeared so bonded to us but immediately takes up with another set of parents. These are attachment issues that are textbook for their history.

  3. Dianne Colvin says:

    Maria and Barney,
    When Judith told me that you planned to adopt teens, my reaction was “Oh, no!” After teaching ninth grade English here in O’boro for thirty-one years, I know how emotional and vicious the teens, especially girls, can be. You guys hang in there. All of this has occurred for a reason, and with everyone’s patience, things will work out. God makes no mistakes. You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Douglas & Dorothy Bond says:

    The two of you are in our thoughts and prayers. When I heard your heartfelt story in ABS at church today, my heart ached for you both. I pray that the Lord will continue to show you His will and give you the strength and peace that you need to do His will. You both are blessed and have been a blessing to others through your journey. The Lord will continue to bless, keep and sustain you through anything.

    • Us says:

      Thank you so much. It has been nearly three weeks and there is peace that passes understanding that this is God’s plan. He prepared and brought these two other families into the story to water the seeds and take the torches from here, their stories leading up to this are incredible.

      We ache from the bottom of our hearts, but God will use disappointment, and a story that does not read as we envisioned, to His glory. From day one of the call to Ukraine, we knew this would be hard and never about us, but all about Him and His plan for these children’s lives. We pray for wisdom and open hearts ready for what He is going to do from here.

      The three of us are doing well and enjoying the time together. In this post-stress season Mom and Dad have realized we are TIRED!! Really tired. So, we are taking some time to rest and Dad is working most of the time on a 10 year total remodel project on our home.

      Alex is enjoying time at home as well as a full schedule of school, activities and friends. God has poured His grace on him beyond anything we have ever experienced. The transformation since he gave his life to Jesus in early December is an honor and privilege to share with him. We are so blessed!!

  5. mamaporuski says:

    Found your blog today through a comment by another reader on another blog. Praying for you and your family. Our 18 year old girl has been home three years, has firmly attached and wishes to stay with us forever, but struggles daily with being immature and not where her peers are, yet would be “free” in Ukraine. We’ve gone through trauma counseling and have a great psychiatrist that has helped with stabilizing the PTSD caused by years of neglect and trauma that made it so difficult for her to learn. Now she is learning and growing, just wishing it was faster :). Hugs and prayers for you today!

    • Us says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and especially for the prayers. It has been a tough journey. We met the three siblings a year ago this week, and Alex 3 days later, on April 4, 2011. From 95 days of never-ending battle in-country, to the trauma of adjustment and eventual decision by the three siblings to seek other families it has been a life-changing, heart-wrenching year.
      This week we have signed all official paperwork for the 2 other families to assume guardianship or adopt them. We are grieving…this is not at all what we envisioned or wanted. But, we love them enough to let them go if that is God’s plan for their lives and they can move forward and be happier in new families. It is clearly God’s plan and there is peace that all is as it should be. All 3 are doing well, in wonderful Christian families, each with two bio and four adopted children. They are all progressing well with English, one family homeschools while the other is in public school for international students.
      Our son that is with us has done beyond incredibly well…watching him settle in, relax, bond deeply to us both, and radiate absolute joy in the past two months since he’s been the only one at home is another confirmation that this is as it should be.
      Our hearts ache for them; their losses are huge and they grieve deeply and intensely, the trauma of the past has left gaping wounds and the road to recovery and wholeness is long and painful. The only hope is Jesus.
      Thanks for sharing your daughter’s story, we will pray for each of you. There is no way to fully imagine what this journey will involve but this has never been about us. Being in the center of God’s will for our family and each of these children is the only place we want to be.

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