In the midst of what is confusing and painful, there is God. Many have asked in private emails how we are getting through this, how OUR hearts are as we focus on Angela and Olesya. We are fine. Seriously, we are OK. We are stunned at how “OK” we are, and I am 100% certain it is the result of those who love us all over the world and back home in our small little town that we are actually doing well under the stressful circumstances. Your prayers are worth gold to us right now, as we try to remain balanced, connected to the Spirit, and compassionate in a frustrating circumstance. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for holding us up, for I know we would never make it without each and every single one of you.
We are as perplexed as you all are. This IS a God journey, but why? We know God is in it because we feel we belong here, we are comfortable in every way, we are not panicked nor utterly disheartened. There is peace surrounding us as we try to discern what is best in a situation that is completely out of our control. Seeing the internal struggle of children being used as pawns is one of the most painful things one could ever be in the midst of. Finding the wisdom of Solomon to do what is best is not easy. Your prayers will perhaps bring us that wisdom.
We have talked at length that this is not about “saving face”. We are not going to harm 7 lives by moving forward or pushing if that is not what is best. We are not going to rip the girls away from here and whisk them to Montrose all the while hoping they can one day connect with us. For then it won’t happen. The discouraging part is, we feel they already do connect with us but are fighting it tooth and nail. With no one advocating on our behalf (and it has to be the right people in their lives), their fears of the unknown future will win as they cling to the familiar where they are excelling. They have no ability at 11 and 9 years old to understand life at 16 or 17 and that those who are here who express the desire for them to stay will no longer be a part of their lives. Would you have had that foresight at that age? Besides, we do not want children to come to us merely for opportunity. That is not what our family is about, we want them to join us heart and soul, even if that takes awhile. But there have to be tentative steps in that direction before we would go to court, and at this stage we are not seeing anything other than total disconnect.
It is interesting, as it is not “rejection” per se, just disengagement. Sort of like “if I go through the motions but don’t engage, I will pacify everyone.”. It amazes us that there would be adults in their lives who would be so short sighted and selfish, that the orphanage would be seen as a long term home rather than a short term solution until hopefully a family could be found for each and every one of these kids. The sad thing is that there are so few children adopted each year from here, that it IS a long term home for the vast majority of them, and the thinking changes because of that fact.
How happy we are to be here when we are! As I said, God is absolutely still at work. We have met a wonderful couple who have struggled in their adoption of an infant here, and have met them for lunch twice with their delightful 5 year old son Yannik. Jocelyne and Sven are so easy to be with, warm and friendly, and we have at least had someone to share this with as we struggle. We are thankful for an English speaking, relaxed and comfortable couple to commiserate with. The boys love playing with Yannik, and a fast friendship is developing with a sleepover planned soon.
We went to visit the girls yesterday, and came with the Team LaJoy attitude that we were going to have fun, even if they elected not to join in. We broke out the Uno cards, and the girls did at least willingly play. Boris was there to help break the ice a little, which did help some, and Irina our young coordinator played as well. Angela sat between Dominick and I by default as it was the last seat available, and Olesya was directly across from myself. We had a lively game with lots of interaction between all of us, but the girls were still very much reserved and Angela in particular never looked at either of us at all the entire time. I caught her grinning several times at Joshie, who was about as adorable as they come in both action and looks as an hour before he lost his other front tooth so was smiling gap toothed and lisping at everyone. Matthew and Kenny were tender and funny with each other, as always, as they teasingly hugged each other, patted each other on the head, and generally goofed off. Olesya would smile at things, glance at Angela, and instantly reign in any happiness she might be feeling. Angela would interact and smile broadly at Boris and Irina, but would simply not have anything to do with us whatsoever. If my knee touched hers accidently, she quickly pulled away. Olesya would playfully grin at me when Angela wasn’t looking, and I know that were it not for her concern over disappointing her sister we would be having a blast with her right now.
When it came time to leave, they both got up and quickly walked away. They kissed Irina goodbye, and were walking straight out the door when Irina told them to say good bye to us. They stood woodenly at the doorway and tolerated our hugs which I almost didn’t want to make them suffer through.
And that was the end of Day 3.
It is as if there are so many others in the room with us who are not visible, sitting on Angela’s shoulder and whispering in her ear…teachers, friends, coaches, and a bio mom and dad who were horrific. The cacophony in her head must be overwhelming, and the quiet and gentle voice of the LaJoy’s probably can not be heard over it. Can she overcome it? Frankly, we are beginning to doubt it. We do not know how to break through. I am not a skilled enough mother. She has obviously had the hope for a family for years, and made it well known to everyone around her. Yet she may not have the necessary fortitude and courage to go against the grain and to move through her fear. I am certain she never anticipated this kind of tug from her old life, as neither did we. After all, what adult wouldn’t want an orphan to gain a family? While one could easily anticipate the loss of friends being an issue, how could any right thinking adult assume other adults might not wholeheartedly back an adoption of a child?
The boy have been incredible through all of this. They are rock solid, clear headed, and we are incredibly proud of who they are and how they have handled themselves. Disappointed at the unwillingness of the girls to interact with them, they have made gentle efforts but not been overly pushy. Somehow they have that 6th sense that I would never have thought would have been so well developed at their young ages.
When we had a family conference after our visit, they expressed sorrow and fear the girls won’t come home with us. We are involving them in every single step of our own thinking, and we were honest in saying we are feeling the same thing, and that we are feeling it is less likely than it is likely that they will come home. We had this amazing conversation about God’s will in our lives, about discernment and hearing the Spirit speak to our hearts. We all leaned on one another as we wondered together about the reasons why God would bring us this far only to have this happen. I loved that the boys all said they think the girls would be awesome if they would just let go with us. It is nice that they can see all the layers to this, and remain positive about the character of the girls and understanding of their sad situation.
For it is absolutely through no fault of ours OR the girls that we are all experiencing this right now.
Many of you have made some wonderful and thoughtful suggestions. We are not allowed to bring them to our apartment, and we may be allowed to take them bowling. We will see if we can do that tomorrow. We do not feel it is appropriate nor would it be helpful to speak to the Director about what we know is going on behind the scenes, as it may not play well for the girls, and that is something we need to keep in mind. Nor might it be appreciated for us to point such things out. We also feel quite strongly that coercing them in any way might lead to a “yes” in court, but not in their hearts where it needs to be. We don’t want them to come to us because we can be a “better orphanage with more opportunity”. We want them to want to be with us. We want them to come with hearts prepared to love and accept all of us, or this will never, ever work.
We will visit again today, we will try to be present and be ourselves in a non-threatening fashion. We will pray for guidance and wisdom above what we are usually capable of. And we ask for your prayers for discernment in all areas right now, for we are stumped and are doing the only thing we know how to do really well…love. Sometimes love looks differently. Sometimes love may mean letting go, letting your children make mistakes that they will have to learn from. The sad thing is that this mistake will haunt them for the rest of their lives…not because we are so wonderful of a family but because they have no idea how ill equipped they will be to face the real world. Being a good soccer or basketball player in an orphanage setting doesn’t help you learn how to get a job. Being cared for by a coach is not at all the same thing as the unconditional and lifelong love and commitment of a parent, who will be there the day the coach, teacher or friend is no longer by your side. But at 9 or 11 without having experienced that sort of love before, it is hard to imagine what that is like.
There is no feeling of doom and gloom here, there is no sense of failure hanging around our apartment. The boys are doing their homework and loving being together to work with one another. Dominick has turned into quite the launderer as he has taken over the task of washing our clothes, hanging and ironing them (Yes, I have the BEST hubby!), and our days have been happy ones despite all that is going on surrounding the purpose for our trip. I can not really tell you why we are not more morose right now, as I would thoroughly expect us to be. But, maybe it is that we know what we already have is so wonderful and we appreciate it to the hilt. Maybe it is that God still has some miracle to pull off here that we are currently unaware of. Maybe we are making a decision to be happy and that is working. I know we have made a huge point of saying over and over again that this is not anyone’s fault and we are NOT to be angry with the girls. We are NOT letting anger or resentment reside within any of us, and are going to be appreciative of every moment we are here, even the very hard ones.
Thank you for your continuing comments and support, your private emails which have meant the world to us as you reassure us we are not being laughed at for a foolhardy adventure. Your compassion and love stretches across the miles, we feel your warmth and hugs as we go through this unexpectedly gut wrenching time. Please continue to pray for the girls, regardless of what happens. They are innocent, sweet, and obviously tender hearted children even if we are not the recipients of their affection right now…we see it in their interactions with others.
Much love to you all from all of us.
PS: The older boys posted a blog post yesterday