Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 5 - Uncertainty Abounds

We visited this afternoon with hopeful hearts and boys in tow. All were feeling a bit more lighthearted after the day before, and we were looking forward to see what new inroads we could make on the journey to becoming a family.

We walked in and Olesya met us and we were immedaitely taken upstairs to their family group room again. It was obvious fairly quickly that things were not going to be as comfortable as we were the day before. The girls were anxious to play Rummikub again, and 2 or 3 of their friends were present so we laid it all out and tried to bring the boys in on it. Immediately Angela took to the far side of the table and while she would look at us, really didn't speak to us or even say hello when we came in. As we played, someone else came in who the girls knew, and Angela abandoned the game and spent much of the remainder of our visit across the room whispering and giggling with her friends. Out interpreter had to ask her twice to come back over and join us, which she did reluctantly.

The boys...well...they were treated like furniture. They didn't exist for either of the girls. It was not as if there was rivalry or a push for attention over them, they simply were not present as far as the girls were concerned. And in most ways, neither were we other than to be the Provider of the Games.

Towards the end of the visit we went to another room where we all sat down and I tried to engage them in conversation. I asked if they had any questions about life in America, in our family or anything. They looked bored and said "no". We got none of the questions you would expect a child to ask of that age who was leaving everything behind that they questions about what school was like, about our rules at home, about our friends or whom might be their friends, about what we do for fun or anything. My attempts to offer that sort of information were met with a total lack of interest. Olesya might have wanted to ask something, but once again she was shut down by Angela's reactions.

I then asked Angela point blank "Why did you suddenly change your mind?" and she said her friends talked to her. I then asked the most telling question of all "Why do you want a family?" and she replied "Because then I will have everything I have ever wanted.". are her "ticket to the good life" and this has nothing to do with emotional connection, a desire for a family, or anything//which is frankly what we had been feeling despite it not having been said. The turn around was too sudden, the heart not really affected which was has been obvious from the moment we first walked in the door here.

Is racism involved here? I don't know, I think that might be a possibility with the issues in terms of interaction with the boys and our understanding of the society here, but I don't know for sure and won't probably know that. Is Angela too institutionalized at this stage to transition well into family life? Is she too hardened? I don't know, and I don't know if the child I met years ago can be touched somewhere inside. What is Olesya really feeling? She is so led, as one would expect, by her sister's actions.

And what are we to do??

When we came home yesterday evening and had a talk with the boys, Matthew commented on Angela's disrepect and Kenny asked why the still won't look or smile at them. Joshua ended up pretty much uninvolved with them at all, hanging on the fringes and not even making attempts. For Josh, that was telling as well as he normally would be gently trying to make friends.

Again everyone, I apologize that we have to share of such sad and troubling things. Sometimes journeys don't lead where we originally thought they would. Sometimes they are far more difficult than we thought when we first undertook them. What is happening here is heartwrenching...and yet it is life and part of adoption. It is the part that often is not shared openly, that is hidden in shame as if anyone is to blame.

We refuse to feel shamed or embarassed. We are not on a wild goose chase nor are we chasing rainbows. We knew this could be wonderful but were prepared for it to be difficult as well. Just as we adults change over time, so do children...time does not stand still and this adoption took far longer than ever anticipated. The child I see in front of me in the form of Angela today is not the one I met years ago. How can trying to offer love be wrong? How can that ever be a mistake? And why, oh why, would that ever give one reason to be embarassed????

Can her heart be changed? Are we the ones to accomplish that if it can be accomplished at all? We continue to pray for guidance as we deal with the truth that is before us.

In the midst of it all, there is LaJoy Love. We continue to support one another, sahre our feelings, fret and stew together. We are not tied up in knots, although troubled over this situation. The boys are relaxed and although confused about the girls reactions we are explaining to the best of our ability what might be going on with them so they can approach this with compassion and understanding.

Dominick and I have much to ponder and pray about. We are torn by many emotions and trying hard to keep our heads on straight. Waiting for God's leading, trying not to be angry or impatient, and seeing what is in store for us.

We are thankful to have you all commenting and offering encouragement. This is very, very hard and we need all we can get. Thanks for being there with us.


Anonymous said...

Your intelligence, compassion and level-headedness in these most difficult of circumstances is inspiring. I am wishing you all the best, and sending both your family and the girls lots of love.

Christina said...

Continued prayers of support and love...

Anonymous said...

Hi Team LaJoy - I will hope that some of the "powers that be" can look at how the ridiculous amount of time it takes to go through the adoption process impacts children's ability to survive outside the institution! My heart goes out to the girls and to you LaJoys as this struggle continues. How painful and disturbing this is for all of you!! Keep your hearts open and possibilities will come your way I am certain. Those possibilities may be different than what was expected and planned but...hope you can continue to find ways to have some fun! Thinking of you as always and with love, Miss Joan

J said...

Hi Cindy and Family,

You said...."so...we are her "ticket to the good life" and this has nothing to do with emotional connection, a desire for a family, or anything (else)"

Angela does not *know* about emotional connections, family, etc.....she can only learn this by coming home with you and being a part of it all. All she can understand from her friends and the 'donation packages' that arrive, is material possessions. I think even the smaller children leave believing that they can get everything that they want, and it is a bit of a rude awakening.....but then they discover that having someone tuck them in bed, care for when sick, take to fun events, listen to them, want the best for them, support them, love them, they get a lot more than what they *think* they want.

It's not everything she wants, but everything she *needs*....I think A is old enough to understand the difference - IF someone explains it to her.

Poor girl sounds like she used to know what she needed once...long ago, maybe she needs reminding of it. GL . J

Corinne said...

Prayers for your continued guidance.

Carol said...

You are doing an awesome job in a very tough situation. I am grateful for your candor and the details you share with us in your posts, no matter how disappointing the situation is. This certainly is a lesson in life, love, family and faith... and we're all learning along with the LaJoys. Hang in there.

Lindsay said...

I can't imagine what you are all going thru. I pray that Angela can open her heart and see that a family truly will offer 'all she can ever want' in so many ways.

I hope the weekend, with the time away from school and teachers pressurising her to stay, will help her bond with you. Perhaps her ignoring the boys is a way of protecting herself from bonding more with your family.

Praying it works.

Anonymous said...


I'll keep praying for all of you.


Andrea said...

Maybe it's time for guns blazing - your last ditch effort. Despite the love, prayers, hope and good intentions it may not overcome the grim reality. Time changes people - especially children and particularly in the "tween" years. You are all incredibly brave for making this journey and sharing it with us - touching the lives of us all and making us think.

Joyce said...

HI La Joys,
thank you for continuing to write and fill us in on your ongoing time there. My mind has been with you all week and I dont have to even live it and make decisions like you are!!!
Just wanted you to know that we are still thinking about you and praying for you all at this time still.

Not sure if you have answered it anywhere, or if you want to.. so leave it if you want, but how long before you apply for court - is it weeks?? and do you have a time limit on when it needs to be done???

I was also thinking that as much as your lovely and compassionate boys have so much to offer the girls specifically, you are also called upon to make sure that for them this is also right.

I wish you both much peace and may the enormous ever loving arms of GOd surround you both in decision making as well as surround all your children.

Julie said...

Team LaJoy you guys are amazing! Your strength is incredible. Wish it was not so hard for you.

Brainstorm of the day......
Any chance the remainder of "bonding" can be away from the friends. What about splitting up their bonding - spending separate time with each of the girls? Make the connections with O. Obviously it is going to take a long time for A. Start with O.

If you can't split them up but can get them away from the group could you have the boys play games with O. One of you take A off on a walk away from the others and one of you stay to supervise the play. Fun silly games - hot potato, musical chairs, red light - green light, tag, monkey in the middle, keep away. Something that allows the kids to move and be fun. Think of the playground at school - this is where kids make connections more so than sitting in the chairs with the teacher (parent) hovering. Can you get access to the gym? Again let the kids play - play basketball - I know the boys aren't sports crazy but if this is what the girls excel at let them show off. Have O pick one of the boys to be her teammate and play against the other 2. Laugh at yourselves, have fun, be crazy and let the kids bond-kid style.

Praying for you guys!!!

Michele said...

One step forward is often followed with a step back. Hopefully tomorrow will be a step forward.
How hard it is to watch the lack of interaction with the boys? Maybe getting to know the boys would be even more scary then getting to know you and Dominick. Their friends are the most constant part of their lives, adults tend to come and go. In other adoption blogs I've followed, the children begin to bond well before the parents. O and A may be protecting themselves from bonding by ignoring the boys.
11 can't be told old to learn how to trust and find love within a family, go with your heart and gut, it hasn't led you astray yet.

Anonymous said...

You all are doing a great job of a challenging situation. You remain in my prayers and thoughts. Try not to be discouraged, and continue to give it your best. I think the girl boy thing is related to the age of the girls and living as they do. I agree with some others, that visiting while their peers are around seems to be making it harder. Can you continue to involve the trusted adults from there? Pat

Anonymous said...

Not that anyone wants you to abandon hope for O and A at all. But if at the end of this A won't turn around, maybe there are 2 little ones (say 4-6 yrs) who would grow with the enormous love of your family. Someone you wouldn't have known about if you weren't over there now. Someone the boys can really shower with love. We are still praying for you all and hope that great joy comes out of this for all of you.

smileysk8 said...

Praying and thinking of you every day. I keep checking back on your blog several times a day to see what has happened. I do think the girls (at least A) needs a talking to. I also think it's a good idea to see if O will open up without A there for a small amount of time. I also think no friends in the mix would get A to focus more on you guys instead of her friends. They are a constant reminder of what/who she would be leaving behind and I am sure she wants to spend as much time with them as possible thinking she may never see them again.
I think it would be a good thing to tell her what will more be the reality of life instead of "everything she wants". I don't think she believes she will get everything she *wants* and have no rules (though maybe she does). I think if she did think that she would be trying to impress you guys so you would take her instead of being distant. I know she and you have mixed emotions. I think she needs to be talked to. To more understand what is going on and what would/will happen if/when she goes home with you guys. That life isn't a fairy tale but that life in your family is full of love and her needs will be provided for but there are rules in a family. I don't think telling her how your family functions (with rules & love) and telling her more about how her life would be involving sports and such would be bribing but instead, would be offering a more real look at what to expect. Instead of whatever her friends and the adults at the orphanage are telling her.

That's my 2 cents and worth about that or less. Praying for you guys! God bless!

Anonymous said...

My prayers today are for God's continued guidance, for continued soft hearts and firm determination in the boys. Angela is closing in on teenagehood. Now she is being pressured by peers and some trusted teachers. My prayers for her are for a clearing of mind. Is it possible or even desirable at this stage to take the whole family away for a weekend--I know there are athletic events to consider. Just thinking things I am sure you are already considering. Instead of raising questions, giving advice I'll quit here by just sending love, support, and prayers. Lael

Mala said...

I have no words of wisedom for you... but I believe if anyone can find guidance through this situation, it will be you.

You are in my prayers.

smctiver said...

HI Cindy & Dominick,

I agree with what both J and Smileysk8 have posted. A only knows what she has experienced in her young life & she has accepted and gotten comfortable with it. She probably can't understand how her life, emotional & spiritual well-being will change if she chooses life with your family.

Also as Smiletsk8 says, she has an unrealistic view in her mind that she will get everything she wants. It may help to sit her down and explain what REAL life will be like with your family. Maybe some questions are in order for her: When was the last time she was rocked to sleep at the orphanage? When did someone come to hold her & listen to her when she cried? Who came to her bed to check her temperature or give her medicine when she had a cold or a bad earache? Who helps her do her hair & put pretty bows in?

Our prayers continue to be with you, hang in there.

Your Utah friends

Unknown said...

I am so very sorry for your family and the girls that this is so very tough. I pray everyday that there will be a breakthrough. There is still time for that.

I am sure you have discussed all the possilbe ways to handle this, and I am probably not offering anything new here, but...
is there a possibility of meeting with each girl alone? Could time with just you and A provide the opportunity to have a good long talk that seems as though it might be necessary? Could time with O provide her the chance to open up to you? I would almost certainly say that meeting in their group room seems very counterproductive to bonding. (too many distractions)

I really want to make one other point here. I KNOW that you said you are there for those two girls only, and that you would not even consider the possibility of anyone else. But, I really hate the idea of a child being denied the chance of a family. There are so few families willing to accept older children into their lives. You are a family more than willing to do so. If the girls' hearts can not be changed, I wonder if you could not reconsider the idea of meeting other children/child. Perhaps these girls LED you to this place not for the reason of adopting them, but for the reason of meeting someone else you would otherwise never have known about. I understand you love these two girls and have, for years, wanted them to be you daughters. I only wonder if someone else will miss out on the chance to become a part of a wonderful and loving family if the idea is not even considered.

Please know that I am not trying to criticize, merely speaking what is in my heart.

Lisette said...

Thank you for continuing to share this very personal, very difficult time with the rest of us. The courage it takes to put it all out there like that.....Praying for all of you, especially A.

Kelly and Sne said...

It seems to be in your character but certainly very unnecessary to be concerned about what the readers think of your story. We are all here supporting you that's all. As I read your post it occurred to me that you may be expecting too much of Angela to expect her to feel love in her heart for you or even for the yearning for a family. IT is probably premature in the former scenario as they don't really know you and true bonding seems to take a long long time. And in the latter, how can she yearn for something she has never really known? In any case, at this point does it really matter why they would choose to join a family? They seem capable of bonding and respect given their tight bonds with their teachers and friends. I'm sure with time, they would do the same with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Cindy and Clan,

I am so sorry for what you are going through right now, but I know that you have the strength of faith to see this through. I also know that if anything can change a heart it is love, a strong and questionless love, like that I know you hold in your hearts and souls. Your love can change that heart because it is pure and real.

When children are young there is a distinct difference between girls and boys and perhaps in the institutional situation the line is even more so hardened and distinct with the need to set in place safety precautions. I remember being that age and there wasn't too much fratenization between the girls and the boys, we were two seperate teams then. Only coming together for school structured functions. I know that your boys are different because they have been raised by kind and loving parents, they see everyone as worthy of love and so they live their lives in this manner. They have learned how to love fully through your example. Perhaps the girls are just unaccustomed to befriending boys so easily. With the boys innocent charm I am sure that the girls will be won over with time. Maybe you should ask the school employees about the inaction between the girls and fellow housemates who are boys, I think I remember you saying something about them reacting well to adult male figures, but that is diferent, adults are parental and authoritative.

I don't know the answers, I only know that you are all worthy of the love and respect that you are being given, and I pray that the seed is planted, that it blossoms and flourishes in the light of your loving warmth.

Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
I opened the comments swearing not to add anything more, because I was so blunt last time. But, I can't seem to help myself! Although there is hope for a turnaround w/A, I don't think you should count on it, at least w/in a week or so. Rather, I think you should pray about what to do assuming that the moment you get on that plane, she will be right where she is today, emotionally. If you are willing to work w/her limitations, grab her up and head home. I think you will find success there, as age 11 is still so malleable.
But, if you are counting on getting more from her before court, then I think you should give her only so long as will give you time to choose 2 other little girls before leaving. Regardless of your decision about her, leaving empty handed when you have the ability to spring 2 from an orphanage seems such a waste.
As for the prayer part, I find that sometimes when I just pray, I end up giving myself my own answers, whereas when I be sure to read the Bible as part of my prayer time, I am more assured of hearing God's desires. You are wonderful, Godly people, and I know you will find a way to allow God to work in this situation, no matter what, so God bless you! Sherry

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please... do your best to let go of the expectations and the interpretations. Or at least try to realize how much they can be affected by the intense emotions of the situation, and the finite amount of time you have in this country.

Angela has her own thoughts on everything already. She's thought about life with your family and all the questions she's wanted to ask are already there. She's just choosing what words and emotions she's willing to share with you.

As for her statement, "Because then I will have everything I ever wanted"... that could be read in a million different ways. Angela knows what she means and it could be exactly what you think, or the explanation can be a world apart from yours. How and when she chooses to explain it is ultimately up to her.

The only question for your family is: Knowing there are things about these girls that you are probably NOT going to know right now, no matter how much you try to read them, how much ambiguity can your family live with in going ahead with this adoption?

Of course I'm not going to say 'Go for it', or 'Don't do it!' It's your decision to go further or not, but again, please, let go of any pre-conceived notions you may have about these girls and what their actions and words may or may not suggest. I truly believe that only then you'll know what to do.

Take care and best of luck in your journey.

Anonymous said...

No advice for you here. Just daily prayers to go around.

Anonymous said...

At some point, we all need to circle the wagons around family and sanity.

What you are in control of right now is when and if you leave.

If I were you (although I don't presume to give you advice, not being in the situation), I would consider whether introducing a potentially disruptive and negative element into your life makes sense.

Beth said...

My heart is torn for you and the situation you are facing. And I certainly don't have any answers for you. My worry, though, is that if you decide to return home without adopting the girls, Angela might soon realize the life-altering decision/mistake she made and beg for you to come back to Kaz to adopt them after all. I wonder if maybe a day or two away from visiting the girls would give them some time to contemplate what they are missing? Make them realize it is now or never?

I'm no psycho-analyst, but I have figured out that parenting my daughter is very different than my son. There's a lot more control issues going on, and a lot more need to "save face" with my daughter. She will dig in and want to do the exact opposite of what she knows I want (dispite what she really wants), just to control the situation. I don't know if this is the deal with Angela, but I thought I would mention it.

You obviously don't want to enter this adoption with her in total control of the family. But maybe she needs a face saving option? What about -- this is your best chance for a family, give it a try, and if you hate it, when she's 18 you'll support her to return to Kaz? You'll likely never to have a chance to be adopted, but with us, you will always have the chance to return to Kaz, see your friends, we won't let you lose these Kaz connections that are clearly meaningful to you, etc..

I don't know what the answer is, but I thought I'd at least throw out a couple of ideas. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.


Maureen said...

How very frustrating to have your fears confirmed - the girls connect with you one day and then disconnect the next day. I'm sure it's incredibly hard to see how they ignore the boys also. It is so hard to tell if that will continue or if the girls will eventually come around. Thank you for continuing to be honest in your struggles. God has led you this far and He will show you His path. As you said it best, "How can trying to offer love be wrong? How can that ever be a mistake?"

Continued prayers for your whole family.
~ Maureen

Susan said...

You may be going crazy getting all of this advice...but remember, there are definitely a lot of possible interpretations of Angela's "I could get all I want" that aren't bad--she is trying to make a decision here with absolutely NO understanding of what a family life would really be like given her experience. In fact, from the sound of it, her experience tells her it's pretty risky; the institution isn't great, but she's learned to manage its risks. Getting adopted clearly has benefits, including the benefit of simply being able to say she has a family (something she surely wants to be able to tell people, even if she doesn't understand what it means). She just can't fathom what a good family is really like, I'm guessing, and if she comes home, it'll still be months before she gets it. She'll be waiting for the other shoe to drop. My abused niece didn't trust her very kind stepfather for a couple or three years because her father had spooked her so bad.

I can also think of reasons why not looking at the boys could be rational institutional behavior--institutions aren't always safe environments, and not looking at boys may be a way of avoiding attracting unwanted attention that can lead to danger in the setting.

I obviously don't know if any of this is true...I'm just saying that the behavior you are witnessing can have different origins.

Kim Adams said...

How heart wrenching. So complex. It doesn't surprise me though that A. doesn't speak of a family in terms of love and emotional connection. What does love mean to her? Disappointment. I remember you commenting on the tremendous preparation Kenny had received for weeks, really getting him ready for the big changes, what to expect, helping his heart to cleave from his surroundings. The girls have obviously not had that kind of preparation. Sounds like it may be time for some serious talks as you were ready to do a couple days ago, and including a discussion of what love means in the LaJoy family ... commitment through good and bad. Praying for your continued wisdom, clarity, peace, and for some openings in A.'s heart that she may grasp onto real hope.

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