Monday, December 21, 2009

Lessons Learned

Today I asked the boys to write about what they have learned thus far on the trip. We have done a lot of the three R’s while here, but there has been so much else going on the past 3 weeks that I personally feel is far more important than academics (sorry Amanda and Sarah!) that I wondered how they have processed all of this. I gave them no words to put on paper…no hints…just asked them to speak from their hearts about what important lessons they have picked up.

Those of you who know our sons in “real life” may or may not be surprised at their responses. As I typed each one as they came to me and read it to me so I could post it for them, I had a very difficult time not crying right there in front of each of them. One by one they came, these innocent and kindhearted sons of ours…and shared their acquired wisdom for all the world to hear. As you read their posts, you may say “That’s not them, they wouldn’t use those words.”. Yes, they would…

To see their faith put into practice this past couple of weeks has been a deeply humbling experience. They were hurt to the core, they were filled with grief and a dream of theirs died right before their eyes while they felt powerless to change it. I am convinced they were not as powerless as they may have felt, for the strength of their love and compassion gently tugged at hearts, it dissolved misplaced anger and fear.

I sit filled with admiration for the qualities they exhibit…that they at their own tender young ages, not even teens …were so eager to offer second chances, to reach out with love even if it meant their own hearts might be pummeled again. They never reacted out of anger, never once treated Angela or Olesya rudely or unkindly as they suffered at the treatment they themselves received. They were confused, but never anything but hospitable and warm. I realized tonight that it is no wonder I have always said that my children are some of my most favorite people in the whole world.

But this is not a “brag fest”, despite how it might sound. It is about what we all have learned, which is SO much, and about recognizing that “real” learning often doesn’t come shaped in the form of a textbook or a school desk. What all of our children (and we, ourselves) learn from immersing ourselves in life’s wondrous events is more valuable than the best university education.

I admit, there were moments as we were going through the past couple of weeks when I second guessed myself. Reading of their pain put into simple yet powerful words, consoling them after copious tears shed, how could I not ask if this was too much to put them through? These treasures of ours are beyond precious and here we were, exposing them to incredible emotional turmoil, we “allowed” their hearts to be ripped apart as ours had. And, as some might say, we publicly exposed them as well through our and their own blogs.

But, what did we REALLY expose them to? The love and comfort that can be received when part of a community…when one sees others as an important part of their lives rather than as “bit players”. I reminded myself that our job, as parents, is not to hide our children from life’s challenges and pain, but to walk beside them, explaining, nurturing and guiding as they go. A child’s life was never ruined by going through some tough stuff, it is ruined when they feel alone. Boy, that fact was never better illustrated than the circumstance we faced this past week.

We love our sons so much, that even typing that seems like the world’s biggest understatement, and yet we realize that love is born of trial and error, and it was deepened by experiencing grief, joy, loss, anger, and so much more. We know others don’t view them as we do, for it is our JOB to be their biggest Fan Club, it is our JOB to think they are the most special, precious little people walking the globe. For if we don’t think so, who will?

We have seen evidence this past couple of weeks of what it means to feel special to someone, and what can happen when you don’t. Angela has kept every letter and card, every single photo we ever sent because for the first time in her life, she felt precious and cherished by someone. And yet even that, even 5 years of commitment and love sent long distance almost wasn’t enough…a soul was almost lost. Olesya always felt special to Angela, she always had her Guardian Angel caring about her, and she also had us for the past 5 years. Her wounds still exist though, and to ignore that because they are not as obvious would be insensitive and ignorant.

Yes, the lessons learned by all of us this week have been profound ones, life altering ones. I myself have learned that we, as a family…as Team LaJoy…have a capacity far greater than I ever would have imagined to weather some tough storms and come out of it intact. I have seen inside myself and learned a lot about who I really am. I have learned about quiet courage. I have seen how being part of our faith community lead me personally to this place where I could face this experience and not be shattered by it, not feel forced to build my own walls. Somehow, I managed to remain open and not move to self-protective mode. I have learned that my beloved husband has matured too, acting in ways I never would have expected out of him 5 years ago or so.

As I reread what my children wrote about this special time in our lives, I know that someday I will shake my head in disbelief that they have come so far, so fast. They are well on their way to becoming the men I would hope for them to be…strong, loving, compassionate, understanding men.

I am so grateful that we all have been put together. They have taught me a lot.


Anonymous said...

You are teaching me how to become a better parent and I thank you for that. I think parenting is the most important job in the world and we should all be as strong and focused as you are.
I look forward to your blogs and continue to be inspired by your writing. Thank you!

Betsy said...

You have made me a better parent, too and to be better prepared for adoptions that will hopefully be in our family's future! I've never bet your boys 'in real life' but I can tell you are raising outstanding young men! We are continuing to pray for you here - I even dreamt of the girls running around and playing on Saturday night and woke up at 1am thinking of your family!! Looking forward to your next update.

Anonymous said...

The teaching of love and compassion pervades the whole family--parents and children alike. If you choose to adopt Angela and Oleysa they too will become a part of Team LaJoy School of Compassion.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Dear Cindy and Dominick,

Matthew, Kenny and Josh are who they are because of who you are.

May you all continue this journey with with joy and faith.

Peggy in Virginia

Rachel said...

Amazing. Is God at work in their lives, or what?

Anonymous said...


I keep praying for all of you.

Cathy from Montrose said...

Cindy - Looks like you have found your 3 wise men for Christmas this year!

Joyce said...

I really appreciate you sharing this journey with us but me particularly. You opened yourself up by sharing so many details and I love reading your posts. I feel like the last week that my life here was lived with you.
But one aspect I really appreciated was that by opening up like that, the comments from people who are adoption minded, were so great to read. I learnt so much from you but also your readers. But had you not shared, no one would have been able to comment and I wouldnt have learnt the stuff I did. (sorry if I am not making too much sense - late night and my words are flowing so well.;))


Stephanie and Gary said...

I am here in Almaty catching up on your posts. Your writing, your heart, your experience has brought me to tears. My heart is praying along with you for your journey, for the parent you have been to your daughters of your heart for so long now, for the parent you are to your remarkable sons. I am so impressed by your parenting and you as a person and feel happy to know you in this manner, through the beauty of sharing life stories in the blogosphere. Your honesty will guide so many people. Every time I read about "Team LaJoy" my heart gets lifted. Wishing you much peace this Christmas season with your family.

Monica said...

Eloquent. Wise.

.......and now you've made me cry!

Merry Christmas Team LaJoy!!!!!!

Monica in NY

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

You have truly all exhibited exactly the behavior of our heavenly Father. Truly. I've read all your words, the boys words and I sit back and think, how many times have we hurt our Father, how many times did He cry at our rejection, but how many chances did He give us? How many times after we open our hearts and allow Him to love us, do we still reject Him through sin. Yes, even after the acceptance. It won't always be easy, but it IS the right thing.
When we hear from Him, we must believe and I couldn't be more pleased for your family. You have truly shown the kind of love He shows us every day. Every one of you!

Trey said...

Team LaJoy is just amazing, and our God is an Awesome God.

The Robeys said...

We have been following along on your journey. A friend sent this link to me and it made me think of Team Lajoy on many levels. You have taught many of these lessons to all of us, you have learned some yourselves on this trip and the pictures speak for themselves. We continue to pray for your family and wait to see what God unfolds for you.

The Robeys

Anonymous said...

Dear Robeys,

I was not able to follow your link, could you post again with more information?

I did, however, end up on something called Century Link Web Results, one of which was:

"Lessons on Life. Compare prices on lessons on life at and shop smarter." My, how I wish it was that easy!!!

Merry Christmas to all our fellow blog posters, love reading everybody's comments.

In His Name,

Peggy in Virginia

Anonymous said...

I hope all is going somewhat OK. I am sure there will be ups and downs with the girls. My thoughts and prayers continue for all of you. Pat

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful ceremony and a memory that you can all cherish in years to come. God has a plan even when we don't understand it at all!

Debbie in VA

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on this life altering event. You are all team Lajoy. I am so happy for you. Your family will weather that yet to come.

Diane said...

I don't know why I read you blog when I am at always make me cry! You are so honest and open in your journey and it's an amazing one to be sure. I think you are all very blessed and all very wise, and I have no doubt the girls will continue to blossom with you as their family.

You are raising 3 amazing young men and shortly it will be 5 amazing children!

Enjoy Christmas with your WHOLE family and your newfound family the Oborns!!


Stacie Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colorado, USA said...

Wow! How beautiful! Thank you for sharing so much. Sometimes these thing are too big for us to decide and we really need to rely on God to show us the way. I think you have done that. Best Wishes and Merry Christmas!

The Robeys said...

I was concerned the link might not function correctly. Try this one at It pulled up for me. Once you get to the link it will let you click on the powerpoint presentation.