Today dawned a new day, and sadly we don’t have any better news to report. In fact, I think we are as conflicted as I know Angela and Olesya certainly are.
Our visit this afternoon started off on a light note, as we were greeted at the door pretty warmly by both of them, particularly Olesya who gave us a solid hug and the cutest grin ever. Angela grinned a little and did seem glad to see us, but quickly sobered up. They indicated they wanted us to follow them, and we were led to a classroom where we were very surprised to see an old friend, Boris. Boris is originally from Petropavlovsk and knows the girls well, having worked with the Antares Foundation as their coordinator here. He has also visited us in America. So it was “old home week” for us all. We then had to hurry out and leave to go the restaurant which was really more of an indoor theme park, Kazakhstani style. It had a menu of hamburgers and such, and a small playland and some blow up jumping houses and the like.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Angela completely shut down…she disengaged from us and started walking around the huge indoor area alone and when approached by me she purposely walked the other way. After a few minutes of giving her some time, I asked Irina to get the girls and let’s sit down and talk. We sat on benches with Angela next to me and Olesya across from me. I apologized for the way things were handled yesterday, saying that I felt it was unfair for them to have had no notice and not be told of our arrival soon. I asked if we could just start over today and I got a little grin out of Olesya, who kept looking at Angela for cues. Angela wouldn’t look at me at all. Then the tears started to fall, and Olesya started to cry a bit again as well, but she smiled occasionally through her tears. I tried to get Angela to share what was going on with me, but she said she had a headache and didn’t want to talk. It was her way of pulling out of the situation. I asked her if she was afraid of living in a family again, after feeling safe in the orphanage and she said yes. After a few more gentle attempts, we decided to let it go and Angela walked away again. Irina went to talk to her by herself, and Olesya tagged along, but Irina too was unsuccessful in drawing her out.
Irina rejoined me and said that our attorney said we had to get very close to the girls before court, and I looked at her a bit incredulous and said “There is no way I am going to push things at the moment, and as it stands right now I am not sure we will even get that far…we can’t even get her to talk to us!” . Olesya came over to us then and started talking about nothing in particular, but at least she was talking. Later I walked away by myself and sat at our table alone, and within moments Olesya joined me. I grabbed my camera and we looked at pictures we had taken earlier in the day. She tried talking to me and she sat close to me, so it felt like maybe were making some headway with her.
It wasn’t too much after that when Boris arrived, to join us and visit. We pulled him aside and explained what was going on and he said “Don’t worry, let me go talk to Angela”. He spent a good 30 minutes visiting with her and she was in tears with him as well, and eventually shut down and wouldn’t talk any further, then got up and walked away by herself again.
Boris came to speak with us and shared what he learned, and it explained a lot of the inner conflict that is going on with her. It seems several adults at the RBS are pulling on her to stay...coaches who don’t want to lose a star soccer and basketball player, teachers who don’t want to lose a top student, and friends who of course don’t want to lose someone they are close with. He told us that when he arrived before us at the orphanage, the girls came up to him and were excited to be seeing us soon. He also said that she immediately told him that part of her wants to go with us, but another part is very scared. No wonder if trusted adults in her life who matter very much are encouraging her to stay!! I also don’t doubt what we were told as everyone there has told us that Angela is an excellent student (as is Olesya) and very good at sports.
Later we learned of a possible additional hurdle. When we dropped the girls off, there was no warm good bye, no nothing. There were several of the woman who work there who asked how it went, and I said in all honesty “Not great.”. One of the Vice Directors was there, and she told us that Angela had asked her teachers if they thought her biological mom would be in court. She is terrified of her biological mother for very good reasons I will not go into in public at this moment. The Vice Director gave me a hug and said “Don’t worry, they are very good girls and you are a very good family…it will be OK. Give them some time.”. She also said she would talk to them later tonight.
We came back to the apartment and Dominick and I looked at one another and said we just aren’t sure we are coming home with them. Angela’s fears may prove to be too big to overcome. If others in her life are tugging that hard at her, it will be difficult for her to let go enough to give us a chance…she is risking her heart, risking offending adults on both sides of the fence, and better to offend us whom she hasn’t lived with for years than to offend coaches, teachers and friends she looks up to. Throw that in with the issues surrounding her bio mom, and Olesya waiting for Angela to enthusiastically make a move, and we have a situation that at the moment feels almost impenetrable.
I know that they wanted to be with us up until this very point when we arrived and it became real. Even the Vice Directors of the orphanage told us this yesterday and were so happy to see us there. This was not some wild goose chase we were on, and I do not feel foolish or “tricked”. These are 11 and 9 year old little girls who are alone in this world to make the biggest decision of their lives, and it sounds as if they have far less support for giving a family a chance than they do for staying. They do not have the ability at this age to see into the future and realize how bleak it is without a family. They do not have the maturity to step back and look at things rationally. This is also asking a child (Olesya was too young to even remember her mother, as she admitted yesterday) to trust that “family”, which once so cruelly betrayed her, can be something totally different than what she has experienced…that she can be safe in the loving arms of a family.
It may prove to be too much to ask.
We talked with the boys again this evening, and they are all sad that they might not end up with the sisters that for so long they imagined having. We want to be honest with them so they are not surprised should things end up going south. Kenny said “This isn’t fair, the grown ups should be helping them, not making it harder!” and was quite indignant when we explained what Angela is battling inside. We used several adults the boys know and love and asked them “If they did the same thing to you as others are doing to Angela, wouldn’t it be hard not to trust them to know better than you? Wouldn’t you think it would be wise to listen to adults who had treated you well all along?” . We want them to understand that the pressure the girls are under is tremendous…more than we ever would have imagined…and it makes embracing the thought of a new life that much more scary if you are going against the will of those whose opinions you value. We reassured them that we have this under control, and will make the best decision possible ourselves for all of us…and that we would not bring home anyone who did not truly want to be with us, as it would change the heart of our family and would not be right. Matthew said he hoped things changed as they really wanted them home. We explained we were absolutely not giving up and it was only the 2nd day, and that God can do lots of things but we have to be open to the possibility that this just might not work out…and that we didn’t want them to be surprised if it came down to that.
So, a subdued Team LaJoy is sitting quietly and introspectively in our apartment this evening, wondering where this is all leading us. This is so sad to me, as the real Angela surfaced for a few minutes as later in the evening, before we took them home, we were standing around and talking with Boris…and she was animated, bright, sunny and you could just see all the potential there if only she can let go and trust. We had one small bit of light when I asked about her basketball games and she said they played on Sunday. I asked if I could go watch her and she immediately fired back that she’d like it if ALL of us could come watch her. A baby step? I have no idea because 5 minutes later she wouldn’t even look at me.
At this point it will take another miracle, as she was so totally non-responsive to us and we can’t really begin to get close until she is willing to open the door. I think part of her is terrified of letting someone in, aside from all the other things swirling around in her orbit. She is protecting herself, and confused. These poor children, I can’t imagine this and can’t begin to comprehend all that is going on inside of them.
We will continue with our visitations, as that is all we can do, and see what develops. This is very, very hard…no other way to put it. We want only to bring love, joy and commitment. It may turn out to be too scary to reach out and grab. We can’t bring home children who are coming reluctantly, we have to hope that we have a breakthrough here sometime soon, that our love can melt hearts. We refuse to “bribe” them or pressure them with scare tactics of their future. Of course we are hurting too, but it seems insignificant when compared to what is going on inside their hearts.
Thanks again for your support and concern. Let’s hope things begin to improve and we might have some better news to report over the next few days.