Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 7 - We ARE a Good Family Despite Opinions to the Contrary!

We arose at 6:30 AM, most of us finally having our internal clocks reset, and readied ourselves to go watch Angela's basketball game. It was completely dark at 9:15 AM when we were picked up and driven to their orphanage, where we were to pick up Olesya to take with us. We waited in the car for quite awhile while Irina went in to get her. While in the car we saw the kids all pile out of the orphanage to load on a bus that was parked behind our car. The boys looked out the back window expectantly and saw Angela, but she did not look our way.

Olesya finally arrived and we ended up piling in EIGHT in a Lada and joked that this must be a new world's record! Hahaha! Olesya refused to sit on my lap, electing instead to sit on Irina's lap. She was very quiet on the drive to the gym where Angela's team was supposed to play. Upon arrival there we discovered that the boy's team was playing there and everyone would go to the girls game after this one. So we all stood around and waited for the game to be over. Olesya would not stand near us and didn't say much or look at the boys at all. We took this time to visit with Irina about our situation, sharing our thoughts and eliciting hers. She too does not understand what is going on, why the girls are choosing to be so cold.

Irina suggested we sit down with the Director and the Social Worker to find out what is going on and have them talk to the girls. We declined saying we think they have already had far too many adults pressuring them and that might be part of the problem itself...they have ben tugged a lot of different directions. We don't want to have them swayed simply because someone talks them into changing their behavior for the moment, we want to know who they really are and what their hearts are toward us. Sadly, I think we are getting that answer without asking the questions.

We left to go to Angela's basketball game and before we went we stopped at the Doner Cafe and got everyone some lunch, as it was later by then. There we saw a tiny bit of what Olesya might be like as she loosened up and was far more appropropriate and what I would have expected to see on Day 3 or 4. She responded a little to our comments and offered some of her own. She played a little with the boys...not a lot but did seem to have some fun with them climbing on the indoor play set and even laughing a little bit. She just sort of let her guard down a little without her sister around, and we caught a glimpse of who she really is. And she is darling. I also think, as does our translator, that she would assimilate reasonably well into our family if there wasn't pressure to make Angela happy with her responses to us and if given time.

We left to go to the game, where we watched Angela who really IS very good! She is fearless on the court, not overly rough but definitely stands her ground. I kept thinking the entire time how I would have loved to stand there feeling so proud of my daughter and her skills...and yet was being denied that opportunity by the invisible wall that separates us. What hurt more was seeing Matthew's excited face as he watched her and looked back at me saying "Did you see that? Angela made a basket! She is GOOD mom!!" with a huge grin on his face. How our boys are ready to embrace their sisters and want so badly for them to like them!!! But Angela never once looked at us the entire day, I have never seen anyone work so hard at ignoring someone. 3 or 4 times she walked by me so close I could touch her (not while playing) and she absolutely refused to look at us. To say we are puzzled goes without saying...we did not invite ourselves, she invited us and asked if all of us could go!

We split up after the game, with Dominick and the boys going to the Oborn's apartment and I going back the orphanage to drop off Olesya while Angela returned with her team. Olesya again didn't speak nor wanted to answer any questions directed to her, shutting down once again, and when we went inside she walked off without a backwards glance, not a good bye or anything.

While we ARE the adults here and we are trying hard to maintain some sense of peace around this entire situation, of course it hurts a great deal to be rejected like this and to not even understand why. It could be they flat out don't like us, but they haven't really given us a chance. It could be all the other things hashed out in the blog in earlier posts. But the reason doesn't matter much when you just are hurting inside.

It has brought back a small portion of the emotional pain I felt with Josh's rejection when he was so young. How grateful we are that he was able to heal! But that was the single most painful thing I have ever been through. This must be right up there at #2. And this one is unexplained and so complex I doubt the girls could explain it if they tried at this point.

We ended the day on a nice note though, spending time with the Oborns and having Yannik spend the night with us. Cracks me up, even here in Petropavlovsk we have extra kids hanging out! HAHAHA! What a gift it is to be a family where other children feel a sense of belonging and safe...I have to remind myself of that when going through something like this. We are NOT bad parents or people, there ARE people who love us and kids who enjoy our company. We may not be desired as a family by these girls for complex reasons we will never truly understand, but our boys love us very much.

We will wake up tomorrow to a new day. It will be a cold, overcast, did I say cold? day but it will dawn again and we will continue on.


Anonymous said...

Wisdom--you, collectively, individually, are so wise and open-hearted and loving. We will be praying for you in church today and individually. We will pray that answers come, that you can hear God's guidance, etc. But I think you are already listening to God and the girls with all your heart and soul. Your tears are compounded by ours. The sunrise here is gorgeous--gold, pink, cerise fanning out over the Black Canyon, spilling out over the San Juans and Grand Mesa, and tinging the Uncompahgre Plateau. Such promise in God's beautiful world and yet such pain we humans can produce for our children. We will prayer for love to triumph, for hope to be sustained, for peace of heart, for rebirth of trust--one atom at a time.

Heather said...

Cindy, Hang in there....easy for me to say! I wish things were going better. i'll continue to pray for you all and for wisdom on how to handle things. On the other hand, a good swift talking to might be in order. Children are very self centered but they need to be reminded that you uprooted your family and traveled around the world to see them and deserve respect!

Dee said...

Cindy, the girls are just afraid, that's all. They are being told on every side they should go with y'all, and they are resisting that the only way they know how, by being cold - sounds like Angela is resisting more than Oleysa. It's NOT who they really are. It's fear - fear of the unknown, fear of loving and losing again. Don't judge them by the fear. Don't let the fear win and keep your girls! Only when they are home with you and the boys will they be able to relax and bond.

Still praying hard -

Anonymous said...


Still hoping and praying with hopeful heart!
Photo showing time and big talk time about love and family and being together.
Do not let this wall grow.
Time to fight for hearts.
I'll keep paying for a huge breakthrough.


Julie said...

Cindy, I am an unknown friend and fan of your blog who's never written before but wanted to do so now and offer some encouragement from afar (Reseda, Calif). You LaJoys are awesome; even in the face of this somewhat unexpected and disappointing situation, the family - all of you - are staying positive and standing united, encouraging each other and just doing your thing!

I also love your posts when you talk about not worrying about saving face and not being there to "save" these kids or do a good deed. You are trying to make a family; seeing if (and hoping that) these girls, who have been so damaged and are being subjected to way more pressure that little girls should ever be, might still be a good fit. And you're realizing that they may not be and I can read the heartbreak it's causing, but I so admire your keeping focused on the big picture...what's best for all involved.

I am thinking of you daily and praying that this all turns out the way it should.

Chris J said...

No need to apologize to blog readers for not being a fairy tale - those of us still reading are doing so because we know you ARE an amazing family. Many of us feel blessed to have watched a 'virtual' view of your parenting and life wisdom, and we are still reading because we care about you and hope to offer some help and support back to you during this unbelievably challenging situation.

I am disheartened for you that there has not been more progress with the girls yet - it must be so hard to stay strong in the face of their coldness. Perhaps you are seeing their real feelings, it is so impossible to understand, and harder still to accept. I still pray that a heartfelt change will come to them somehow.

I do think it could be useful at some point to have the social worker or director get more involved - not intended as another source of pressure (though they may pressure anyway) but simply to try to understand what is happening. If you are at a point when there's nothing left to lose, fighting for some shred of explanation or understanding could possibly result in a breakthrough for them. Even if it does not open their hearts, it might give you some bit of information about why this is happening. Not everything in life can have a neat answer, but if you decide you must leave them in Kaz, it might be a tiny bit less painful to do so if you have some shred of comprehension about why things are going this way.

Continue to care for yourselves as much as possible to help keep your hearts and minds clear and strong. If I were there I'd squish all the wonderful LaJoys together on the couch (rather than in a Lada!) and put on a funny Christmas dvd and make you some comfort food like diet coke and mac&cheese and give you all many hugs. You are a great family and you are loved.

smileysk8 said...

I would think having a talk with both girls (but seperately) w/ an interpreter may be a good thing at this point. To try to understand what they are feeling. What their expectations are.

Do they know you may not adopt them? Do they know that by acting like they have been, they may be left behind? Not to scare them into pretending they love you or like you or anything. I just am curious if they know this. If they know that they are not the only ones that have to agree to this adoption. That it is not set in stone that they will come home with you even if they say they are willing to? I truly wonder if they know this.

They may be behaving like this to show you they are in control (at least A) or they may be behaving like this in hopes you won't like them and will choose to not adopt them. I have no idea but I think it would be good to find out as much as you can. I am not sure they even know why but maybe they do.

I hate to even say this, as I don't want to overstep any bounds or step on any toes here. But you said the ultimate goal is to grow your family, not save these girls. That is a great mind set. It makes me wonder why you would not consider meeting some of the other girls in the orphanage. Maybe God has 2 other girls for you to grow your family that you wouldn't have ever heard about or been able to meet had it not been for A and O. I've seen it happen to other adoptive families. They felt called to adopt a specific child and through unfortunate circumstances beyond their control, they were not able to adopt that specific child. However they ended up meeting the child/children they were "meant" to have as their own. Again, I don't want to step on any toes here. I know you guys have thought this through, I just would hate for you to miss an opportunity to possibly grow your family.

We will continue to pray daily for you guys! You are in my thoughts. God bless!

Maureen said...

I can read the heaviness in your heart. I can read your pain. Look to God! And you're right, you are a very good family. Sometimes prejudices and walls are hard to break down.

Here is a versus that has brought me comfort in times of struggle. I hope it helps you too.

But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day. [Habakkuk 2:3]

In my prayers,

Dee said...

I adopted a 13 year old girl and a 10 year old boy, and I can tell you, there is always fear and anxiety, no matter how great the adoptive family is. Some kids hide it better than others.

Our therapist told us children always cling to the familiar - even alcoholic abusive parents, because it's KNOWN. Angela knows the orphanage, knows the friends there. That doesn't mean she won't adapt to America and your family.

You are asking the girls to leap into a great UNKNOWN, and to trust. They have never done that before and had a good outcome. Only time and love will overcome it. It won't happen in Kazakhstan -too many pressures there.

Try not to be hurt by the behavior - I know it's terribly hard. Try to step back and think how Angela thinks, after her traumatic past. Trust is SO hard for her, but it doesn't mean she won't be able to trust eventually.

I know two girls who were adopted from Ukraine by friends of mine at 10 and 13. The girls had meltdowns in public places, couldn't attach for a while, were terrified and acting out a LOT when they first came home. Time, love, and a LOT of therapy with our Russian-speaking therapist changed them amazingly, within just a few months. I have watched the transformation. Now they are totally bonded and sweet girls, doing well in school. My kids went camping with the family recently and had a great time. It wasn't easy for the parents, but the therapist helped tremendously. I can put you in touch with the mother, if you like.


J said... is true what other people have written, there are many children who would JUMP at the chance to have a family.
I myself met 2 unrelated boys of 6 and 7 years old in Petro last year, at Poludino orphanage, who worked so hard to get chosen by families....they would sing, recite, show how fast they could run - ANYTHING they could think of......the poor things were desperate to be chosen and taken home.It's a shame that we can't take them all, but you, Lajoys are in a position to take 2 (who really want to go) home. There are many singles or sibling groups of 2there. Of course, it is your decision, but it is true that there are many other waiting and 'willing' children there.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

It's Teresa again... talked to Damian (hubby) about your girls.
He (He's a Psychotherapist by the way), well he says your girls developed skills to survive in an orphanage atmosphere, and those skills kept them safe for years, do not expect they will let go of those important survival tools until they feel safe again.
And they will not feel safe with a family speaking a language they still don't understand, offering something they believe they always wanted, but they don't know what it is exactly and offering to take them away to the other side of the world from everything they know.
They need time, time to live their life with you guys, and to feel safe and see they can survive there too, do not expect miracles in days, not even in weeks, specially as they have very good reasons to have trust issues.
He says it is normal and healthy to feel terrified, and they can't express how scared they are because either they don't even know how to or they don't trust you yet, so they close and block all stress sources (you and the boys).

Damian says if they were able to keep healthy relationships with the usual people in their lives PRIOR to your arrival and this new unsettling time, there is Hope, because this is not their usual "coat", but a special protective layer they created to survive this hurdle.

It might not be the appropriate "Coat", according to us no doubt, but it's the coat they found "at such a short notice". :)

Also consider self-sabotage or a preemptive strike (they don't think, or fear you don't really want them and are already pretending you're not there not to get hurt when you leave.

Damian says to expect they won't let go until you get them home and even home this will improve with ups and downs.
So prepare to travel with Miss Iceberg and her sidekick... :)

I suspect all will be fine, but they'll need a few months home to feel safe and open completely.

Can you get them to start with english lessons ASAP?

Hope this helped.

Will keep praying for all of you.


Joan said...

Hello to the LaJoy family. I have no advice for you and trust you will eventually know what to do. Your heart, mind, soul and strength may line up and you'll know exactly what to do, but it may not and you'll have to decide what's best for all of your family. I do suspect different languages and working through an interpreter is difficult and is a barrier, but that's reality. And Angela is going on 12, and it causes me to remember a workshop I attended once where a particular clinic would not take children over the age of 12 to work with because of the high percentage of failure. Even that is different from what you are dealing with, but just a reminder that age 11 or 12 is much different, as you have recognized from the years of knowing the girls, from 6, 7, or 8. It's the first year of life when we learn to trust or not trust, and if we don't learn to trust then it's that much more difficult as life goes on. You are wise, capable people, who love and care for one another and others who allow you. I started by saying I had no advice and now believe I do: read all these comments, mull them over, and then "let go and let God!" lead you through. LY Joan Vincent

Kelly and Sne said...

You know, while reading this, I couldn't help but think of the Mom that was going to stand her ground and lay it all out for the girls and wondered where she is. Just think, if Angela was your daughter and your were home with her, would you have allowed her to be so rude with you? With anyone that SHE invited to an event and then ignored. My opinion is that simply the fact that she is going out of her way to be the way she is actually is probably a good sign. Perhaps she is testing you just like kids do to see if you will step up to the challenge of unconditional love. Perhaps she is also showing off a bit as well (and wants you to get to know her life and friends too). In any case, how about some one-on-one time with Angela as well? Maybe without the boys. Perhaps you can convince her to make the best of the time she has to get to know the "americans" and then make an informed decision about her fate. Perhaps you can convince her that if she doesn't at least attempt to discover what is involved in the decision then she may regret it someday. If she can get away from being a role model for her little sister, her teachers and others and spend a day with you, Irina and your husband at least you may be able to have a heart-to-heart talk. You also have to remember that she is probably a scared little girl inside shielding herself from potential hurts. Yes, I know, we are all armchair therapists who may or may not be on track. I offer my observations/ opinions only because it may be helpful to have a third party point of view even if that point of view is far far away. So take it all with a grain of salt. Certainly, I and all of us, are hoping greatly that all works out in your favor.