Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Angela and Olesya

Dear Angela and Olesya,
My I have longed to call you that for so very, very long.  What a very moving time we have been through as we take these tentative steps towards becoming a family.  There is so much I wish I could say to you right now, words I wish would come easily and didn't have to be translated or emotions I wish could be expressed if we had the closeness we might one day have.  Since I can't say it to you now in person, I will share them with you here and maybe one day you will look back and read this, and will know what was in my heart even when it couldn't be opened to you yet.
My heart hurts for you both.  I read the translation of the court documents for the termination of parental rights for your biological father and it has remained with me, I can't seem to shake it.  I can't even imagine the additional horrors suffered at the hands of your biological mother, Angela...your anger is so justified and righteous.  I am angry standing right beside you, I want to shake my fists in rage at those who held so little regard for you both.  No, shaking my fists isn't exactly what I want to do.  If truth be told, I want you standing there watching me as I beat them both into a bloody pulp.  Not Christ-like, I know, not a great example, but it IS what I feel right now.  I want you to have seen someone stand up for you when you were so little and helpless and couldn't do it for yourselves, and while it may not be politically correct I want you to have witnessed your REAL mom kick some birth parent booty all over the map, protecting you as you were never protected.  This is a new emotion for me.  With the boys it is all unknown and sort of benign.  We assume the best, that their parents loved them and did the best they could for them in their particular circumstances.  In your case, none of us can pretend that, can we?  We know they didn't love you, didn't care for you, and to insinuate that would be an insult to your intelligence.  And I am struggling with that.
Alas, neither your dad or I can do that for you...
I know you don't know God right now, and it worries me.  Scares me is more like it.  How can we ever help you learn of God's amazing love for you?  Will you ever see that God's protective hand was held over you in the middle of those awful nights when evil things were going on around you that never should have been witnessed by two little girls?  How can you ever understand that God WAS with you and brought us together?  Will you ever know the peace that walking with God can bring?
You are both so courageous, so much my heroes.  I know how much it took for you both to take this leap of faith, to be willing to walk away from the relative safety of your home at the orphanage and put your trust in us.  That alone shows me you are capable of faith, for someone who was utterly lost to the world would never be able to do what you are doing. 
That first week we visited you both, I was never angry with you.  I knew the girls I was seeing were not the real Angela and Olesya.  Your were both so torn, as much a victim of our presence as anything else.  We  tore open wounds in an effort to reach the real kids underneath before it was too late and our chance and your chance was forever lost.  I knew we had a chance though when we met in that office and Angela, you seemed to just know that when I said even if we had to leave because it really would be too hard for you to change, I would always be your mom...that would never change.  There was a look in your eyes when you said "I know", you may not have realized it, but that was our turning acknowledged that you KNEW I wasn't going to ever abandon you even if I would be forced to love you only from afar.  You and I both knew, we both understood...others may not but we knew what I was saying.  You knew I was Mom and wanted the best for you and loved you, truly loved you...and it was up to you to be able to accept that love and risk it all.  But how hard that must have been for you!  But you, my strong and capable daughter, showed what you are really made of...your inner goodness shined as you apologized, as you honestly expressed all your doubts and allowed us all to speak so openly about truths we knew shouldn't be hidden but with most other children could never have been expressed so clearly, and as you allowed me to comfort you and share your pain at your birth parent's inability to be who they should have been for you.  I don't know another child your age who could have shown such courage, I will forever be in awe of you.
Olesya, you and I shared that moment when we pulled away from the orphanage at dusk that night when we both thought it was all over.  I turned and saw your face staring back at me through the window.  We didn't exchange smiles, we just stared and I tried to burn your face into my memory forever knowing that we were being separated by forces that were out of our control.  I continued to stare back through the window until our car was out of sight, I wanted so much to beg to go back and gather you up in my arms, but what good would that have done?  It was one of those moments if my life I will remember on my deathbed, you and I, connected by love that was being denied through no one's fault.  We both loved Angela, we both understood, we both didn't want to hurt her anymore, understanding that she was not to blame and had already suffered enough in her short life.  I think I loved you even more then, seeing your loyalty and love on display so clearly, putting your own heart's desire aside.
I love you both.  I don't love you now the way I will a month from now, 6 months from now, a year from now.  For love grows, one day you will see...if we are all blessed we will one day look into each others eyes and realize we don't want to even imagine a life without each other in it.  But I do love you and have for a long time.  It is just a different type of love than what it will eventually be.  Someday you will better understand what I am saying.  That new and improved Mommy Love is happening gradually though...last night seeing your smile Angela was so sweet for me, I could hardly recall the kid of a few weeks ago!  THIS was my Angela!  Olesya, seeing you in the dim light as you kept glancing over at us as we teased you about having to stay with us a year longer now that we learned you are a year older than we thought was priceless, such tender looks you threw us.  I know you don't yet truly love us the way you will one day hopefully love us all.  Isn't it wonderful that we have the gift of time and none of us is pressuring the other to feel things that would be unfair to expect yet???  I get this sense from you both that you understand this is a process, and we all know it will work out but thankfully none of us is very good at pretending or game playing, and we are allowing each other to simply be who we are and trust that Family Love will come, and we all see it is building even now.
I grieve your lost years of childhood, your lost innocence.  Someone emailed me today and said they would pray for your "restored innocence".  How I loved the sound of that, for that is what I wish for you.  When you were talking about all the scary movies you have seen Angela, when you talked about seeing several of the "Halloween" movies I tried not to cringe.  I know you have been witness to real life horrors much worse than that, but there is something about having a child of your age look at you and tell you they have been exposed to such things that is heartbreaking.  I know you both have been introduced to things so casually as no one cared about preserving your hearts and souls the way we would have.  Can you ever put the Genie back in the bottle?  Can innocence really ever be restored?  And if so, how do we go about doing that?  It is the one thing that has been so important to us as parents...the boys are even scared of Raiders of the Lost Ark, for goodness sake!  There is plenty of time for the things of the adult world, and yet you have had that swirling around you for so long...Russian MTV which is even worse than the pornographic American MTV, discussions that older teens have in your family group that you should have never been privy to.  How I wish I could turn back the clock, how I WISH we could have gotten here sooner!! 
And how I wish I had the wisdom to know how to reverse some of this, but I fear it is impossible, and it is so very, very sad to me.
I see you playing jovially with the boys, and I hear the toxic comments of others about race "mixing" in our family, and it is so very easy to see where racism starts with ignorance and adults.  People aren't born racist, they are made into racists.  I am thankful that you both are open hearted and accepting, that you haven't been tainted by the wrong thinking of the adults that inhabit parts of your world.  Skin color is nothing more than skin color.  There is no superior race, and there is none who is more suited to our family because of their race.  We love all our children equally....those that look more like us and those who look nothing like us.  As you will soon learn, eyes that are covered with love colored glasses see the world very, very differently.  Maybe you are already starting to learn that as I see you so gently care for Joshua, I know race isn't even a part of your thinking.  And I know your brothers already treasure you...their care for your hearts through this difficult time has been touching and they could care less if you look more like us or not...they just love their sisters.
The coming weeks will he filled with so much for you...tears, pain, sorrow, tentative growing relationships, embracing a very new and often confusing life.  A part of me wishes we could jump way ahead and bypass the hard stuff, but the other part realizes that to get there from here we have a lot of rivers to cross and we will all grow in strength as a family by doing so.  We will be there to hold your hands, to carry you when you are weak and can't, to understand your frustration, to love you through it all. 
For that is what family does.  And you now have a family, one that treasures you and will care for you for all time.
I have yet to tell you both how adorable I think you are!  You are the most beautiful daughters a mommy could ever ask for.  Your Daddy is totally, completely smitten with you and I will be blessed to see a new side of him as he parents daughters for the first time.  Your smiles light up your faces like morning sunlight on a still mountain lake, reflecting light all around, for within you resides a peace as well.  You are pretty inside and out, you are kind and generous, and your sense of humor couldn't be a better fit for our wacky family!!  You'd need it to survive us, and as I saw you teasing the boys last night I knew that only God could have created such a remarkable match up of personalities gathered in one family.
My dearest daughters, we will not always do the right thing, we will make mistakes as we test the waters of bringing children of your age into our lives.  Please forgive us our missteps, there really, really aren't any rule books out there for parenting and even fewer places to turn to learn about parenting children who have been through all you have been through.  But all we will do will be brought about by love.  Be understanding with us as we will be with you.  There will be many things we do, many rules we have that at first will make no sense at all.  Trust us, continue to trust us...
I can't believe we made it...we are here, you are here, we are officially family.  How long we have all waited, how much we have all gone through!!  We deserve to give each other a pat on the back. We actually deserve a vacation for having made it through all of this!!! Hahaha!  As we all well know, adopting is NOT a vacation, it is one of the most arduous marathons anyone could ever willingly put themselves through.
WE DID IT!!!  Let's jump up and down for joy!!!!  The hard stuff remains ahead of us, but at least we can rejoice in having made it this far...there were times NONE of us thought it would really ever happen.
Welcome to Team LaJoy, Angela and Olesya.  Where love reigns forever.  Thanks for hanging in there with us, you proved our LaJoy mettle over and over again.
Let our new life together soon begin.
Love you sweethearts, more than you will ever know...
Your "Real" Mommy


Anonymous said...

We'll be working on two translations over the weekend - consider the one of this post my personal "baby gift" for you both. It should be done by the time you get home.

Anonymous said...

i am lisa. I was in the plane from petropavlosk back to europe two weeks ago. Please, can you keep in touch with me for some information and help? lisa from paris.

Lori said...

Welcome, wonderful and dear little girls!!!
SO many people are so grateful for your lives!

Cathy from Montrose said...

Cindy - When your family gets settled and I get done with school next year, I would love to see if the girls would be open to a little coaching. It works wonders to build resilience esp if it happens before age 18 - and it is fun for kids. I know your love will go a long way.

I can only imagine their docs where not unlike patients with traumatic backgrounds. The sad thing is that this goes back generations. I have heard those who have committed aweful crimes say how aweful their own childhoods are. The girls parents are not happy - I offer a shift and that is to pray for their happiness. For, authentically happy people do not hurt others - because that is not happiness. When I saw that, I quite wanting to hurt back and started wanting to teach happiness. That said - it can be PTSD to read things like your girls records. You are in my prayers, friend! I know the love of daughters!

Hilary Marquis said...

That was BEAUTIFUL! And you owe me a laptop...I think I have shorted out the keyboard ;)

Dee said...

Oh Cindy, I know exactly how you feel! I have been through it with my kids. It's so heartbreaking to know what they have been through. My kids were exposed to all kinds of horror movies and explicit things and I don't allow that. They have an outlook of innocence. They want innocence, not to be hardened and callous, and I know your girls will want that too. You can't turn back time but you can replace negative influences with overwhelmingly positive things.

I wouldn't worry about teaching them to love God. Just take them to church and show them what real Christians look like - walk the walk, long before you try to talk the talk. They will get it. It will take time, but they will. They are good girls. They have an advantage over a lot of kids because they've seen cruelty and racism, but now they will see and experience kindness and love, and they will have a clear choice to make. I know they will make the right choice, with y'all to guide them - they already have, in so many ways.

I pray for you every day, as I know it's taking patience and fortitude to endure the long sojourn in a foreign land. Now you will have a much better understanding of how the girls will feel their first few months home. God is showing you such a valuable lesson.

Stay warm!

lisatony said...

Beautiful. God bless you!!!!

Anonymous said...

Praise God for His blessings -- we rejoice that the girls will soon be in your care (and always in His!).

I really empathize with your distress over the horror movies. In our family, we talk about "brain trash." It is everywhere -- supermarket tabloids, conversations at school, sneaks onto the computer screen even when we are very careful, going to the mall, posters in store windows, trailers for movies, magazines in the Dr.'s office, even words on people's clothes. We are forced to teach them all kinds of things that I didn't know about until I was much, much older. What is happening to childhood??? I am trying to teach the kids to filter stuff out, and replace bad stuff with more positive thoughts.

Recently one of my kids came across a word in the dictionary which I won't repeat here. And the Bible has some pretty difficult stories too. So even if we stayed home and never turned on the TV or computer, they would still get exposed to all kinds of things.

I want so much to protect them, but I have to do that by teaching them to make choices about what they allow into their brain.

OK, that's my rant for today.

Peggy in Virginia

Anonymous said...

Your anger is so understandable. Children adopted at any later age have experienced things that we can never change, good or bad, and it can take a long time to get to know the real child inside.

I hope your anger lessens though. It's understandable, but no less toxic. I have the horror stories too to discuss with my kids someday and it's my hope that any residual hostility I may have towards their birthparents will stay where it belongs - in the past. It doesn't have to be the Christ-like or the politically correct thing to do, but no amount of anger will ever help my children. You'll be at that place too. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful letter, Cindy!


Anonymous said...

What a legacy you are giving not only your daughters but also your sons. I understand, at least in part, your anger about their past and about people who not only don't care for their children but actively expose them to evil. You will never be able to erase the past. Even Oleysa will have residuals, but you are offering a future of love and of learning coping skills that will aid them in dealing with their past as it returns to affect the present. They are blessed to have you as parents just as you are blessed to have them as daughters.


Anonymous said...

Hi guys, Wow, life is good for you. Although I don't understand the "cold". Is it really that cold???
I am so excited for you. When will you be returning??
I am hoping the girls can be friends. Maybe on facebook to start. I know they need to learn English. (There is no Russian in my house).But we can make it work.
When will you be returning? I know you are ready to be in your own homes.
God Bless. I am so very happy for the whole"Team LaJoy"!!!!

Julie said...

Cindy, it is wonderful to find you again after so many years, and to read about your dear family. What a blessing for these lovely children to have you for a mother, bringing love and the light of Christ into what until now must have been a terrible darkness. I plan to follow your continuing saga! May the Lord bless and keep you all!

Love, Julie Kane Roper

Lindsay said...

So happy to see you all family.

Praying for all your family.

Cindy, I wonder if you would consider sharing how you explained to your children that they were adopted. Especially with Joshua. Hannah knows the word adopted, but none of the meaning behind that in terms of her birth mother and abandonment. How did you approach it, especially with Joshua's RAD. Hannah's had such a stuggle with attachment issues too. I'd really appreciate your advice.

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
They WILL be restored, because they WILL know our Savior. Love you!