Tuesday, December 08, 2009

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.

39 comments:

Dee said...

The assistant director at RBS was super to me. She champoined Mike and he wouldn't be here without her help. I think you need to speak to her and ask her to meet with the adults who are pressuring Angela to stay at the orphanage and try to get them on your side.

Here's another thought: tell Angela she can play sports in America. Emphasize to her the scholarships female athletes can get here, the real career potential for star athletes, etc.

Finally, Mike was scared at first that his birthmom would come to America and beat him for leaving Kaz. Irrational but a real fear. I had to explain how expensive it is and how long a trip, plus explain about me being his forever mom, legally, to reassure him.

Don't give up! I am praying hard!
Dee

Anonymous said...

Cindy and family - My heart is breaking for what you are going through and because I know your hearts are breaking more for the girls and the struggle Angela, in particular, is dealing with. I still believe you will have that breakthrough! You have described so compassionately what is happening there. How cruel for the adults in the girls' lives to be so selfish and attempt to sabotage this. They are so vulnerable and I am certain your respectful, honest, unconditional love for them will be the deciding factor and the girls will come home with you. Give it time. You are handling this all so perfectly. Perhaps when the girls can just "hang out" and play with the boys some it will give them a peek into the world of "family." Just know all of us over here are behind you 100%, sending lots of love and prayers your way! With love and hope, Miss Joan

Schlef Family said...

We will continue to pray for your family.

Kerri

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy and Dominick,

Clearly you need to talk to the director and orphanage SW and explain what is happening, they need to talk to all the grown ups the girls love and trust and get them on board supporting you guys.
You need more support on your team!!
They should be congratulating them for getting a family and a future. Will they adopt them just before they are kicked out to the streets in a few years time? I don't think so.
So if they care about the girls they need to learn to let them go and support their adoption not block it. Shame on them. :(

You really need to explain to them what life is like back home, sports, possibilities in the future, etc...

I'll be praying for you guys.
Fight for your girls!!!!

Teresa

Anonymous said...

Me, again. I like Teresa's blog. Yes, fight for your girls! I know you will and getting the "grown ups" on board and supporting what is best for them is hugely important. The girls need to hear from these folks that this is the best thing for them and give them permission, of sorts, to let go. Miss Joan

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

Sorry to hear things are not going better. My heart breaks for you.

I agree with Dee. The director seems to be behind you and should be able to speak to those that are trying to get Angela to stay. I am sure the teachers, etc. get attached to the children and it is hard to see them leave.

I can't imagine how hard it is for Angela and my hear breaks for her. Having waited for so long, probable fantasizing about having a family and then having all those people in the room without being prepared for you, the fact that her fantasy may some true but not be what she imagined - all on top of having to leave everything and everyone she knows - that is a lot for an adult to get their head around, let alone an 11 year old child.

It is only day 2, one day after a very big shock. My prayers are with all of you. I have no doubts that as time goes on that God will help open her heart and trust in all of you as her family.

All my love and prayers,
cat n.

Corinne said...

Thank you for sharing your journey.My prayers are with your family!!

dan said...

Sounds like you are doing everything you can. I appreciate so much how committed you are to not pressuring the girls like others at the orphanage seem to be, and its neat to see how open you are in talking with the boys about the whole situation.

I know you aren't having a lot of spare time, but perhaps if you wake up at 1 am sometime, I have a question.

For those of us who havent been following the blog for years and years - could you give a quick summary/background sometime about how you initially met/found out about the girls and planned to adopt them? Would love some background to this story that is unfolding...perhaps im not only one? -- kristy

Paige said...

The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end,
may also be the beginning.
--- Ivy Baker Priest

Continuing to pray for you and your family. How much you have accomplished over the years is really to be admired. Go Team LaJoy!

Anonymous said...

Team LaJoy,
I remember our time in Kaz very clearly (Sept 2001)and as you well know things change from day to day and you can't always rely on what you are being told. I wish your family (all 7 of you) the best as you ride out this journey.
I know how bumpy and unpredictable the road can be. We have an 11 yo daughter adopted in 1998 from Kurgan Russia who struggles every day with the ramifications of fetal alcohol effect and a 9 yo son from Karaganda who is delightful, funny and smart but still struggles with his origins. My thoughts are with you and I am confident that this journey will be a success for all.
Best,
Sue from snowy upstate New York

Allison said...

My heart breaks for those two girls. I can't even begin to imagine how scared they must be in this situation. We're saying prayers for your family and the girls and hope that a breakthrough can be made soon.

Bill and Cathe: said...

Dear Friends;

It's a very scary time for the girls. And a huge leap of faith is needed on their part. Everything they know and everything they have dreamed will soon change as they truly become part of your family.

Although excited at the prospect of having their own family, we later learned that our son, then 12, cried himself to sleep for the first week of our visits. Puting ourselves into the children's shoes it becomes easy to understand their fears. Fortunately, they have the opportunity to "test drive" being a family. Petropavlovsk offers many activities for them to see that they do want to be part of your family.

Echoing Dee's comments about sports, feel free to share David and Kate's pictures! 8-D

Work at being a family, let the girls share their fears, and God will take care of the rest.

Heather said...

Cindy, I still think you will "get there". It's only day 2. She's not ignoring you completely because she really does want a family. It is hard for a 9& 11 yr old girls to understand, but maybe you could show them some pictures of the boys doing their activities. Maybe you all could meet w/ her teachers/coaches, too. It will work, Cindy. God promises to finish what He starts!

Betsy said...

I'm sorry that you seem to be facing an uphill battle to win these girl's hearts. I think you have the right attitude to not pressure them and also knowing that only God can prepare them emotionally for such a tremendous leap of faith. We will be praying that God's will would be done and that His will would be for the girls to become a part of your family.
You often talk about not being 'girly' enough to parent daughters. What I truly think girls need the most is a loving, gentle and compassionate mother- they need you! You are clearly approaching every interaction with the girls in that way, and I pray that each encounter will plant a seed of trust in their hearts.
Praying for all of you-
Betsy

Kami and Scott said...

Hi Cindy and Family,
You are in our thoughts and prayers. Blessings as you go through this journey and may God carry out His will in your lives.

Hilary Marquis said...

I wish I had a piece of wisdom to share..but I don't. Just know that we are praying very hard for the girls' peace and that they would find the courage to allow you in. If anyone can break down those walls it is our God...with his instruments, TEAM LAJOY!

Karen said...

Prayers, prayers, and more prayers. Your family in Montrose is with you every step of the way.

Tammy said...

Keep working at it and it keep praying. We all know the Lord can work miracles. You would not be here in Kazakhstan if it weren't for Him already moving mountains!

Everyone has had great advise, including talking to the director. Hopefully she can talk to her staff. They might be the key.

I too think Angela isn't totally rejecting you. She wouldn't have come along to lunch if she wanted nothing to do with you or invited you all to her game. She is clearly just so conflicted. She wanted to go to lunch, to be with you, to have the family she has been thinking about for so long. Then it became too overwhelming for her. Give her time.

Will she talk to Dominick? It's always harder with the mother's, you know. Is Kenny strong enough to share what his fears were when he was going through this? If he can't say it, can he write a letter? Can your boys talk about what life in your family is like? To compare it to orphanage life? To talk about how good it feels to have parents who love you and help you through life's struggles and joys? That you guys are not just putting on a show, that you really are as great as you seem? Sometimes kids will relate to other kids before they relate to adults. Maybe if the girls can start to feel comfortable with the boys, they will eventually become more comfortable with you and Dominick.

Was leaving the orphanage to go to lunch too much for her? Maybe it felt too much like she was leaving for good, which is what was so overwhelming. Maybe stay at the orphanage for the first few visits (or however long it takes). Maybe it will be easier for her to relate to you guys in a place that is familiar and comfortable. Maybe play some card or board games. Doing an activity is much less threatening than going out to eat, where you have to stare at each other and make conversation. Plus, funny things always seem to happen when you play games, which is great for bonding! How funny would charades be when you can't even speak the same language?!?! Be creative or let the boys come up with some good games to play. Take a walk around the orphanage (as much as they will let you!). Let her be the "expert" about her life there. Let her show you everything you are asking her to leave. Maybe she will feel like you have a better understanding if you see it (since kids are so concrete).It may build a connection with you. If she seems ready, talk about daily life at your house. What time do you get up, eat breakfast, what do you eat, where do you sleep, how are the kids educated, where do you work, who makes the decisions in the house, what are your values, activities they can be involved in at your home, etc. Give her things to compare and contrast. As you said, she is just going on feelings right now. While emotions will always be a part of it, give her something concrete to think about too, instead of just these overwhelming emotions.

Can you guy write her a letter (and have it translated) to tell her all the things you want to tell her? Or maybe she can write you guys a letter telling you what she is feeling? Talking face to face can be so overwhelming. You have someone staring at you and you have to come up with something intelligent to say. Writing it down may be easier for her to handle right now. Plus, she can process it at her own speed, instead of having to deal with it in the moment.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, just a few suggestions I thought of. I know this is so hard for you guys. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

J said...

It's early days.

Raynola said...

The fact that you take what the girls are feeling ahead of your own feelings, wants, needs and desires are a strong testament as to the exceptional parent that yo are. I think that in the end the girls will gain witness to this fact and love will carry them over and into the realm of team LaJoy, afterall, what's not to love.

There are hopes, prayers and faith on this side, wrapped up in love from us to you all. consider yourself huged.

Anonymous said...

Cindy, we adopted a baby so we never dealt with these issues. However, in looking at your situation from the outside, I just can't imagine that an 11 year old is capable of making such an important life-changing decision - for both herself and her younger sister no less. I know I certainly wasn't capable of that type of responsiblity at 11 and when I look at my friends' children of that age, there is no way they could do this either. I just worry about what becomes of these kids when they 'age out' of the system and I'm sure that is a fact they have never considered and possibly can't comprehend at their age. Wishing you all the best with this struggle, you are a wonderful family.

Anonymous said...

Cindy,

Don't know if it would help and it is too soon but there are pictures of children who were adopted from the RBS on the Petro yahoo site (including the 2 i had hoped for). The first two albums are of one of the girls that was there and her sister that was at another orphanage. The were adopted at the beginning of last year.

Cat N

Anonymous said...

Cindy - This is not in any way intended to marginalize the enormous situation that has been set before these two children or the way that it has been presented to them by the adults close to them. BUT, as a mom to three daughters, I can tell you that gender alone causes them to process things a bit differently.

From reading your post, I was immediately getting images of my own three girls and how they respond to emotional events in their lives. Shut down? Yes. Go back and forth between shutting down and being present/ standoffish and loving? Yes, yes. And tears, yes. Lots of them.

As I said, this is an enormous situation. It's beyond anything they'll deal with again in their lives. And yet, some of the unexpected reaction seems to be all girl to me.

I hope this helps. You're all in my thoughts!

-SusanC

smileysk8 said...

We are praying daily for you! So sorry to hear things aren't going smoothly. Praying for hearts to be opened! God bless!

Andrea said...

I have to think that sisters of this age group must be at the most difficult age to make such a life-altering decision - they know just enough to understand the short-term but not the long-term. There has been no bridge from fantasy to reality and now it needs (?) to be built in a matter of days -hardly seems fair. As an agnostic/atheist, I obviously would not be praying and leaving it up to God. You have to give it your best shot - get the girls talking about themselves - their life at the boarding school - immerse yourselves in their world - How about talking in a classroom about the USA? Can you meet their teachers? Involving the boys as much as possible could help - kids relate to kids - partly why they don't want to leave their school.
We adopted a 10 mo old from Astana in '03 so I have no
similar experience, but even then it hardly felt like a slam dunk so I can appreciate what you are experiencing. Stick to your team concept and give them a full court press of engagement (not persuasion).

Rachel said...

Praying for you all.

Anonymous said...

Cindy, Dom, Matthew, Kenny, Josh,
You are surrounded by love and prayers. We--your wider blog family--wish we could be there to give you hugs. Since we can't we send love and prayers, not just to you but also to the girls and the staff at the orphanage. Cindy, this is not a test for Motherhood 201. You're already in graduate school and headed for post-grad soon. Love, Lael

Christina said...

Love you, and feel that you are doing great..... I truly believe God will guide your steps as to what you can do to help your daughters broken heart. Prayers, and love!

Anonymous said...

I thought that the boys were going to be blogging everyday?

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

My dear Cinday, There are so many comments, you may not get to mine. I haven't read any of them, but if you don't mind me making a few simple suggestions. Cindy, if there's any way at all that you can have the girls at your apartment, like a family and cook for them and just spend some time without all those outside distractions, I believe it would help. Get a simple game or a deck of cards. Have the boys play "war" with them. Something that can be understood in either language or even crazy eights. The more time you can spend in more of a family environment, away from the hubbub, the better. A simple walk with the 7 of you, but mostly quiet time with interaction between the kids with simple things they can all do even with a language barrier. The more simple, without outside chaos you can make your visits, the better. pictures, tracing bodies, tracing hands. See if they know any of those girls hand games, (a sailor went to sea, sea, sea)-how about string for Cats Cradle http://www.alysion.org/figures/catcradle.htm Set dominoes up to knock down. Simple games, simple family, security.
I also believe Kenny could be quite instrumental-perhaps he can share how long he was in an orphanage and his fears and how wonderful it's been to be a part of a family. Even about leaving his friends behind. I love you. Don't be discouraged. Remember who the father of lies is, who causes fear, who causes discouragement and doubt-he does not want them released. I promise. We're praying you through

Anonymous said...

Cindy,

Bless your hearts for hanging in there. As I write this, I am now the mother of a teenage runaway. We learned last night that she ran away after school yesterday. We got a call from the mother of one of her classmates, telling us that she was with them and she had told them that we had kicked her out of the house - which is not true. But that mother will not tell us the address of where they live so that we could go and pick her up. Frankly, at this point we are not trying very hard to do so, either - the respite is amazing!

We adopted her 3 years ago from Russia. So much of what you are saying about Angela and your first meetings with both daughters is so true of our experience as I look back. Particularly when you said you parted with them yesterday and they did not display any remorse over you leaving. We were expecting tears and clinging from our daughter the first two times we'd traveled to Russia to meet her and for court. Surprisingly, when we left her at the orphanage, she bounded up the steps without hugs or looking back. We now know the orphanage was her home and her group there was her family. She only wanted to come with us because she had no idea there would be rules, boundaries, expectations, etc. She instantly tried to control us, our home, our lives, etc. Once that was challenged she became defiant and has never given up her quest to ruin me and take over here. She has desperately wanted to return to Russia and the life she had. Surprisingly, just because they live in an orphanage does not mean they have a bad life. She had gone to summer camps each summer, traveled to France, Germany, Finland, etc. We were told she excelled in sports (but didn't demonstrate that here).

Kelly and Sne said...

It sounds like Boris needs to have a talk with their teachers rather than with the girls! Geez - THAT seems to be awfully selfish of them to actually try talking them out of joining a family. In any case, it sounds like everybody is putting so much pressure on the girls no wonder they are withdrawing. THat's a lot of pressure for 9 and 11. Perhaps you can help fill in the details about what they could expect regarding schooling, sports, friends, etc. in America. I think once you all spend time together, they will feel a lot more comfortable with the concept. And perhaps this is a learning opportunity on the part of your family too... having to give up your dream (e.g., don't pressure the girls with your own hopes) in order to realize it.

Anonymous said...

I was clear that I did not want a menstrual girl when we looked at adopting an older child. I wanted the chance to bond with the "child" before the woman set in and I would have all of the hormonal things on top of everything else. The orphanage assured me that Russian girls start their periods very late and that at 12 going on 13 she wouldn't have her period for a long, long time. Well, she started her period the week after we brought her home and she told me that she'd been having it for a long time and that seemed to be true.

Girls are very hard. And, girls resent the mother figure and try to charm the fathers. They will polarize the parents and triangulate them if they can. Also, I don't know how long they have lived in the orphanage, but if Angela has been the mother figure for some time, she will not be able to turn that role over to you willingly. And, Oleya will not be able to stop seeing Angela as her mother and let you replace her.

If they had a horrible experience with their birth mother, they could most likely transfer all of their anger and rage for her toward you - their new mother figure.

As far as them being great in sports and excellent students, they may be sent to a university in their country or even to the olympics. They will be well taken care of there. We learned that despite what we had been told, the kids are not kicked out of the orphanages when they turn 17 or 18. Many of them can continue to live there and do.

The way you described Angela walking around the perimeters of the restaurant and being unable to interact with you - I just so fear RAD & with older kids it bad.
You are so lucky to have three wonderful sons and I would just hate to see you bring conflict into their lives.

Just don't force or persuade the girls to come with you. Readers are encouraging you to tell the girls how much fun your family has, how great American life is, etc. Please also oaint a realistic picture for them that lets them know that they will have rules to follow, there will be boundaries, that you and Dom will be the parents and the ones in charge. If you don't and they come here and have a rude awakening, you cannot ever send them back home.

Again, I am just sitting dealing with 3 years of heartache and a 15year old runaway who is out there lying about me and defaming me in every way she can.

I wish so much more for you. Take care.

Nick & Mary Sue said...

I'll continue to pray for you all, and particularly for the girls.

Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
I think you are doing the right things with your children, but I would suggest being more direct with the adults involved. Do you have any evidence of what becomes of orphanage grads in that country? Is there any info you can pass about that to those coaches/teachers? There is a blog about "the Lie" in Ukraine: http://doctordavid.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/the-lie/
Even in Azerbaijan, we learned that the old Soviet beliefs caused denial from top to bottom about the realities of orphanage graduation. Their news media do not do stories about orphan suicides, etc. b/c that would shame the gov't, and one is not permitted to do that. Maybe not in Kaz, but most orphan kids are discriminated against in jobs, university admissions, etc. Can you bring that reality to their teachers? Ask your facilitator how to help combat "the Lie" with these adults. It is a tricky line to walk, trashing their system w/o insulting them, but truth is sometimes painful. Can you find ways to distribute the truth? I would mix facts about orphan grads against pics of your life and then allow your natural grace to shine. But I would seek out these "mentors" and ask to speak to them w/a translator and pitch your family! Due to media control, these adults may not really know the reality your girls will face if they age out, and you should use every effort to bring that reality to their attention. If that is not possible, then at least let them feel the love and disappointment you have and see if you can sway them. "The Lie" is another example of Satan at work, so passivity may not be God's directive. Boldness might be the order of the day. I know you are praying for guidance, so just consider this my two cents! Truth is, family is proven to be better than an institution, but there is a lot of built in denial in these countries. Can you prevail? Try Matt. 10:16. Love, Sherry

CariotaFamily said...

Cindy -
I haven't read the other comments and someone may have thrown this out there...

Angela may be grasping for control. She feels like she's in the middle of a proverbial tug-of-war over which she has no control. Rather than having people convince her why being adopted is in their best interest (long-term), take away all pressure currently on her of making ANY decision right now (easier for you to do than her teachers/classmates). Wipe the slate clean and see if she is simply willing to just spend some time with your family... a family who just wants to learn more about "a day in the life of an 11 and 9 year old." Maybe if she sees you on those terms, rather than someone uprooting her from all she knows, it will give both of them the opportunity to get to know you and your family, without the pressure of making a decision.

Re: CONTROL....
Regardless of her ultimate decision, she may feel she is "giving in" to one side or the other. If she thinks you'll support her decision either way, that would allow her to make the decision to GO with you on HER terms. She's in control, not merely giving in, and will have had the opportunity to get to know all of you on neutral ground.

Elizabeth in ATL
Almaty '03; China '07

Carol said...

Cindy,
I'm sorry to hear about the conflicting feelings residing within the girls, particularly Angela. You are handling the situation extremely well. Your wisdom, intuition and compassion... and of course the rest of the LaJoys... are exactly what the girls need. Hang in there... and keep up the good work.

Kim Adams said...

I can imagine some well intentioned and sincere comments such as, "You bring such joy to this team/class, I would sure miss you if you left / can't bear for you to leave / what will we do without you," trying to express love and support and not realizing the pressure that puts on the girls. Of course I am naive and maybe they are really being quite explicit in asking them to stay. Can the director speak with them and ask them to say some more supportive things?

Barb and Ken said...

Cindy, keep being the family you are with the girls and they will fall in love with all of you. It will take time, but I am sure with all the prayers God is receiving in your family's name and the love and understanding you all show, Oleysa and Angela will know they have always been meant to be part of your family. You have lots of time yet to spend with the girls. I know the faith your family has will keep you all going.