Friday, February 04, 2011

Grief Comes Calling - Extremely Long Post

It is morning, the deep chill that has come to rural Colorado is a reminder of where we were this time last year, 10 days from arriving back home after an unexpected journey that tested and stretched our hearts in ways that had been completely unanticipated.  What has occurred since then is a blossoming, somewhat akin to viewing time lapse film captured of an early spring crocus as it emerges from it's frozen slumber.  That emergence, to the outsider, is beautiful to watch, and the time lapse version of this emergence glosses over the painful struggle the tender shoot experiences as it pushes up the soil.

To those watching our family, I have no doubt that it all appears to be somewhat storybook perfect.  Five wonderful children have found homes, a childless couple's home is filled with laughter and love.  There is part of that to our story, I'll readily admit that.  There are moments when even I look back over the past 11 years as we built our family and stand silent in wide eyed wonder at how it all turned out.

What others don't see and can't possibly understand is the lives that were lived before the crocus emerges, for those lives were similar to the bulbs that were stored in a dark cellar, kept away from the nourishing light and water needed for growth.  Sometimes, we have to revisit that cellar with our kids, we have to hold their hands as they fearfully enter that cellar, trembling and tentative, knowing they have no choice but to re-enter and gather up more pieces of themselves that were left behind.  

Last night, without plan or forethought, we found ourselves suddenly smack dab in the middle of that very cold, damp, pitch black cellar.  It was a place where we slogged through grief the likes of which I have never witnessed before, where I felt more helpless than a mother ever ought to feel.  This subterranean chamber had been a previously closed vault, locked tight to protect against entry, and somehow I accidentally stumbled upon the combination to open that door, but I was ill prepared for what followed.

It started as a firm reprimand.  I have shared in the past that Olesya is as easygoing as they come, eager to please and as uncomplicated as a child could be.  While this certainly makes for pleasant days, I have become increasingly concerned over the past several months as I have watched Olesya consistently place her desires beneath everyone else's. She places herself in the role of peacemaker far too often, never standing up for herself.  Because none of our other children is intentionally bullying her, and generally never makes an issue over anything, this is all very subtle.  For example, if there is one ice cream left and Olesya  takes it from the freezer, one of the others might say "Oh shoot...I was going to get one too!" and it is a 100% certainty that Olesya will smile and hand it over.  A more generous soul NEVER existed, and because the other child who wanted the ice cream wasn't really whining or angry over it, and was not being pushy, it is easy for this stuff to go by unnoticed.

Well, perhaps it has not been completely unnoticed as I have been observing and tucking it away, and decided this week it was time to begin to put a stop to this.  What appears to be generosity is really more about Olesya deeming everyone else's needs to be more important than her own, it is about her making herself subservient to all others in an unhealthy way, and as I discovered last night, sadly, it is more about fear and ingrained patterns than anything else.

Earlier in the week I had inserted myself in a situation similar to what I described above...Olesya quickly and easily gave something over to someone else and I put a stop to it and sat everyone down to talk for a few minutes.  I asked why it was that Olesya was always the one giving in, and if anyone had ever noticed just how often this happened every day.  Of course, no one had, as nothing had ever been intentional nor done with a mean spirit.  Olesya grinned her usual grin and said "But it not important to me, it's OK Mama...they can have it."  I then said firmly "No, Olesya, it is NOT OK for everyone else to get what they want and you to never get what you want.  I know you are being nice and you love your family, but what you want is important too and I don't like seeing this.  You need to stand up for yourself more."  I then turned to Angela and said "You know exactly what I am talking about, because you do it to her all the time.  Just because she won't fight about it, you know if you say you want something she will hand it over.  I want you to stop that, you are being unfair and you know it, you are taking advantage of her kindness."  Angela hung her head a little, then looked up and said "Yes, you right Mom.  But she give it to me all the time!" and then smiled.  I replied "Just because she does, doesn't make it right, does it?"  The smile dropped and she admitted that no, she knew it wasn't right.

Tonight, the girls were going through some clothing someone gave us, happily digging through to find what might fit each of them.  Later, Angela walked by wearing a cute new TShirt from the batch, and I complimented her on it only to hear Olesya quietly say, "That was mine!" then quickly revert to "It's OK, Angie can have it." and try to walk away from the situation.  

Something in this instance set me off, as I saw just how quickly Olesya was willing to let go to avoid confrontation.  I also knew this had been going on for years, and it was time to create a new dynamic once and for all.

I called Angela back to the table where I was sitting and quite angrily said to her "Was that Olesya's shirt?  Did you guys decide it was hers?  Why are you wearing it?  This is exactly what I was talking about earlier this week!  You go take that shirt off and give it back to her."  Angela truly is a child who desires to please others, just as Olesya is, and without hesitation she went back to her room and changed, then returned.  I had them both sit down with me, and let them know just how serious I was about this.  I told Angela that what she had done was selfish, and that what was going on here was not at all funny.  I explained that I was older and wiser, that I could understand things that she and Olesya could not because I had more experience in life.  I told them that Daddy and I were growing very worried about this pattern of behavior, and that we knew it wasn't their fault, but it would be ours if we allowed it to continue.  

I laid it on the line when I turned to Angela and said "Do you know where this could lead?  Do you know what this will mean for Olesya if she continues to see her needs as less important than everyone else's and always give in to what everyone else wants?  It is going to lead her to being with a boy one day in the back seat of a car and not wanting to make him mad when he wants to touch her in ways he shouldn't, so she'll let him.  It's going to get her pregnant or beat up by a guy who treats her badly, because she only wants to make him happy and what she wants is not important.  What you see as not a big deal is a really big deal, Angela, and I KNOW you are not trying to hurt your sister and that you love her very much, but this pattern you have fallen into is leading her to put everyone else ahead of herself because she doesn't want them unhappy, and it has to stop."

Angela dissolved into tears immediately, as she is one of the most intuitive people I have ever met and I saw the light bulb go on for her before  I was even done speaking.  She saw the truth in what I was saying.  Oh, how she saw it...and she realized that what had seemed to be a fairly innocent childhood act of manipulation could see her beloved sister making really unwise choices in the not so distant future.  She got it, totally and completely got it, and was mortified by it.

I then turned to Olesya and said "You, young lady, need to hear me on are important, you are valuable, what you want in this world is NOT less important than what everyone else wants.  You also are smarter than you have ever thought you were, and I don't know how to get you to realize that.  You need to stand up for yourself, you need to see yourself as worth a lot, because you are.  I don't want to see you giving in to everyone all the time, that is not about being nice, that is about you thinking what you want is not as important as what your brothers or sisters want, and that is just not true.  You have a responsibility to yourself!".  She replied without much emotion showing "But I just want to make people happy!", and I slammed my hand down on the table as she jumped and exclaimed "What about making yourself happy??  You do this all the time, every single day of your life!"  and I turned to Angela and said "Do you see what I mean?  Do you see it?  This pattern you two are in is going to lead your sister to want to make some guy happy someday or to take drugs someday even if she doesn't want to because she doesn't want to make anyone unhappy." and Angela looked me square in the eye with tears spilling over and said "I know, I didn't know but now I know."

I turned to Olesya then and said "Do you think that by telling Angela 'no' she will get mad at you?  So what!  She'll get over it!".  Then I saw it, the tears coming when Olesya whispered "I afraid I lose Angie if I tell her no...I afraid I lose her..."  Angela's head whipped up and she looked at me as she heard this, and I realized new understanding had just occurred.  I said to Olesya "You will never, ever lose Angela again...EVER.  She loves you deeply and will not walk away from you just because you say 'no' to her over a candy bar!  She missed you as much as you missed her! Angela needs you too!  The only way you are going to lose her is if you continue to give in to her and someday, when you are much older, you will get tired of giving in to her and will avoid her rather than be with her because you have never learned to tell her 'no' and stand up for yourself.  She isn't doing this on purpose, you each have trained each other to act the way you act.  It is time to retrain each other in healthier ways so you can enjoy a loving friendship for the rest of your lives."

I then told Angela and Olesya  "Girls, it's not your fault.  None of this is something either of you caused.  You both love each other so much, and lots of bad things have happened to you both to create the ways you act with each other and others around you." and I have no idea why I inserted this but I was having a glimmer of understanding I guess as I added "And then they separated you!  They took you away from each other!  These adults DID that to you, your parents didn't take care of you, then other adults took you away from each other, and you were powerless to change any of it!".

Oh man, that was it...both of them just totally lost it.  Years of pent up emotions came spilling out, trickling down cheeks, heaving in huge sobs as Mom cried right along with them.  Olesya looked up at me and I said to her "You were so alone...I can't imagine what that felt like" and she managed to sob "I thought I never see Angie again...I so scared!!!!" and I then quietly asked them both "Have you ever told each other that?  Have you ever talked about what it felt like for each of you?  Olesya, do you know Angela would have NEVER left you if she had a choice?  She loved you and wanted to take care of you!" then I said "You two turn your chairs around and look at each tell each other how you felt, how sad you were, how scared you were...".  They turned and looked at each other, and the love was palpable, the heartache was exquisitely painful as they could barely get out the words "I was so scared..."  and Angela "I was so alone...I know no one and I so so scared!!" and they hugged and cried in each others arms.  After a few minutes I said "I am so very, very sorry this happened to you both.  I am sorry that you were alone, that no one loved you, that you were not cared for.  I am sorry that no one could protect you from all of this." 

Then, overcome with emotion that even I didn't realize I had locked up I cried out in the same anger and sorrow they were feeling "How could anyone do this to my babies!!!  How could they have done this to you??  You were little girls and you were all each other had and they ripped you apart!!  I can't even imagine how awful that was the day they took you away from each other!!  I wish Daddy and I had been there to stop it! We love you both so much, and we didn't even know you when this stuff happened, but if we had been there, they never would have done that to you!" and suddenly, both girls were at my side, and we were holding one another, and holding one another up as well.  

All 3 of us were powerless for years to bring us all together, all 3 of us yearned for what we now have, and all 3 of us grieved deeply for what had been lost...innocence, comfort, time.  I think the girls also needed to see someone who truly loves them grieve for their losses, they needed to know that their pain was not theirs alone anymore.  They needed to know that even as they were hurting so far away, someone here was hurting for them too, and that at least in part, I understood a little of the horror that had happened to them, I was not oblivious to their previous suffering.

We eventually parted and sat there talking, dabbing at tears, and I said to them "Nothing that happened is your fault, but when bad things happen we do what we can to survive and make it through.  We become tougher people, or we learn to give in because it is easier when we don't have control.  Each of you is different from who you would have been.  That is not a bad thing, as you are wonderful, amazing young ladies.  But I would not be a good mom if I didn't point out what we need to work on together so you can be the happiest and healthiest in your heart that you can be.  There isn't much, but I think you both can see that we need to help Olesya become stronger and believe more in herself.  And Angela, you are slowly learning that there is nothing to be scared of to show how you feel.  You are safe now, and you don't always need to be only the tough kid.  It is not weak to show how you feel, as you are seeing it is hard work and takes a very strong woman to look at someone and to risk sharing your heart.  You can be strong AND soft at the same time, and that makes for the best kind of woman ever.  You call me strong, and I one is going to push me around, but I am also soft enough to grab you in my lap and cuddle you, hug you and kiss you and tell you how much I love you." and at that Angela laughed out loud and said "Yea mom, you strong AND soft!".

But we were not done yet, I thought we were, but we weren't.  It got worse, much, much worse.  The grief had only begun to surface in this conversation...

As we sat there much calmer, we talked a little about their past life, the orphanage, Angela was truthful about how she had to be tough and not let anyone see her fear and that she could sometimes be mean to other weaker kids because she didn't want others picking on her.  Then somehow the conversation turned to her mom and her grandmother, that night, the stabbing Angela witnessed...and all of a sudden Angela put her head on the table and began to cry convulsively.  She didn't speak a word, just sat there, leaning into me as I put my arms around her and her body was wracked with grief filled wails.  Olesya came around me and hugged her, and we three huddled together as Angela relieved herself of years of terrible memories that thankfully Olesya was too young to share.  On and on it went, and there was nothing I could do.  Olesya looked up at me in panic as it was obvious this was something terrible and deep that needed to be released, and Olesya was terrified by the depth of emotion she was witnessing out of her usually strong and self-contained sister.

As this went on, I saw this was really disturbing Olesya, so I sent her off to be with the boys who Dominick had corralled in their bedroom with a laptop, dinner and a movie so we could work through our "stuff" without interruption out in the dining room.  Olesya was torn, but I could see the relief in her face that she could leave Angela in my care and not witness what she didn't know how to fix.

On and on this went, and as time passed, Angela's cries became a mournful keening, and I moved her over to the couch, buried in my arms.  There we sat as Angela internally relived all that had happened.  She shuddered, she cried out "stop...stop!" and she started speaking in Russian...sort of stream of consciousness spewing as she was no doubt a tiny little girl again, witnessing a horrible act of violence committed by her own mother.  An hour past, then almost two.  I was extremely worried as this was truly terrifying to witness, and I was wishing Dominick would come out so that maybe he could see how deep we had gone and he could reach out via phone to someone for help.  This was way beyond anything I have ever experienced with any of the kids, and was more likely the kind of thing that takes place in a therapists office, not in the arms of an uneducated lay person.

But maybe that was why it finally was able to come out, because it WAS in the arms of the right "professional"...MOM.  It doesn't really matter whether that mom thought she was prepared to deal with this appropriately, all that matters is that enough trust had developed that Angela felt safe and secure enough to finally let it all out.  

There she was, this daughter of mine wrapped in her blankey lovingly made for her by our sister-in-law's mother, curled up in the fetal position clinging to me for all it was worth, as she was absolutely in the moment when her grandmother was murdered...and she cried out "No Mama...No Mama...NO!!", and then she trembled and shook uncontrollably as I whispered, barely daring to interrupt the process taking place "Were you scared she would hurt you??" and then her chest heaved as she sobbed "Yes Mama...I soooo soooo scared...I afraid she kill us too!!!  No on there to help me, you not there, Papa not there....I scared she kill Olesya and me!!".  

I guarantee you, had that woman been present that moment, it would have taken all my restraint to keep from being violent myself.

We stayed there, just she and I, as I waited for the cries to subside, and as they did, new ones replaced them...more concerning ones...for this time she was muttering almost trance-like and it was obvious she really wasn't with me anymore.  Now I was very, very scared, and the sound she was making was something that only as I type this I now recall having heard once before.  A man was hit on a motorcycle by another car and flung over mine once, wearing no helmet, the sound Angela was making was the same odd deep chested rumblings that came from this instantly brain damaged man that once lay before me.


My heart stopped. "What did your uncle do to you, sweetie, did he hurt you?"
"Did your uncle hurt you Angela?  Were you scared of him?" I whispered into her hair as I gripped her tightly.
"Yes....I scared...I scared...I so scared..." she replied.
I swallowed hard, "Did he touch you in places he shouldn't?  Did he hurt you that way?" I barely dared ask.
" mama...I scared he kill me too..." she replied as she shook her head.
"Would you tell me if he touched you that way?" I asked quietly.
"Yes mama, no one ever do that to me.  My uncle he crazy crazy...I thought he kill me too like mama." She cried.
"Was he drinking a lot of alcohol like your mama?" 
"Yes, everyone all the time drink, drink, drink, get crazy crazy and do crazy thing.  Papa not bad, papa just sick in the head.  He good man but sick.  Mama not good, Uncle not good." She shared in between deep sobs.

Then "I want my grandma!!! I want grandma! She love me and I wish I see her here where we both safe!  I want my grandma!" and her crying became less trance-like, more in the here and now.

Letting go of any theological arguments others might have against it, I whispered to her "Maybe your grandma is watching over you right now and smiling because she is so happy that you and Olesya are finally safe and loved the way she wanted you to be. She isn't scared or hurting anymore, she is safe all 3 of you are safe and I know she must be very happy if she knows that."  I then added "I am so glad you had your grandma, she is the one person who helped you learn what love is, and without her, you and I would not be loving each other right now because she taught you that love is good."  Finally, Angela seemed to calm down a bit, her chest stopped heaving as deeply, and she was winding down.  

It was 2 1/2 hours later.

We sat there quietly, she curled up coming as close to being in my lap as could be at her size, whispering quietly to one another.  She looked up at me and said " read me a book please?" and I said "Honey, I'll let you curl up with me and I'll read to you when you are 35 if you want me to!" and a grin lit up her grief ravaged face as she ran to get our beginner version of the classics.

How poignant that she grabbed David Copperfield for me to read her, a book that she had worked diligently through the past two weeks and talked over and over again about how she loved it.  So there we sat, my daughter and I, reading about another child whose life had been filled with loss and yearning, who finally found wholeness.

Later, before heading off to bed, she grabbed me and held me for the longest time.  Then she pulled away and at arms length looked me straight in the eye and almost willed me to take in what she was saying..."Thanks mama for make me feel better."

No thanks needed, Angela, that's what mom's are for. MOMS in big 'ol capital letters.


Yes, adopting older children is not easy. They aren't cute and cuddly, they come with damaging memories, ingrained behaviors, truckloads of pain, fears and 3 foot thick brick walls.

They can be:

Positively confounding,
Periodically exasperating.

They also come with one huge word hanging over them, as if in a cartoonists speech bubble:


They have:

Potential to laugh,
Potential to hug,
Potential to learn,
Potential to succeed,
Potential to play,
Potential to love.

Our life often resembles a cartoon, not always subtle, filled with humor both dark and light, sometimes in color and sometimes in black and white.  It is probably the best metaphor for life in the LaJoy house...lots of humor to get you through, and as in a comic strip, a zinger now and then in those speech bubbles.

Time for me to go now, my crocuses are awake and need some tending.


J said...

Thanks for your post Cindy.
My adopted dd is now 6 1/2. She was apprehended from the Kaz family at age 3 1/2.

She also must have witnessed so much in her first 3 1/2 yrs, and I wonder when or how it is going to fully come out. If ever? She recently verbally re-enacted a complete adult sex scene from beginning to end, and this happened just before she was falling asleep at night, she wasn't aware that anyone was listening to her. She was recalling some incident burned in her memories from more than 3 years ago, as there are no men in our house, just mom and the 2 girls. And we do not watch TV or adult movies.

It's no wonder that we are working with behaviour issues. It's never a dull moment is it? Poor kids.

Sounds like you are doing a great job with the girls. GL.

angela said...

It's such a relief to know you have their back--that there is nothing you cannot handle. At its root that's what we need from parents and yet it's almost always too much for them to do. And after reading this I see why parents shy away instead of trusting themselves. The Spirit is with you, girding your armor.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy. We are getting ready to go get our four kids 5-12. So your blog has been a big help for me for years. In 08 we brought home our little girl. This summer we did a summer Hosting. We had four wonderful kids. They did not speak much but they knew what we were saying. I have so much to ask you, & I am very happy to be able to read your blog. Please e-mail sometime. thanks

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how difficult that was for all of you, especially Angela and you, but also Olesya. But I'm so thankful those two girls now have the love and support of your family to help them work through their past and to have a happy life in a safe family. It must have been frightening for you to witness, but we can all read here that God gaveyou the right words for your daughters' hearts. How wise it was for you to help the girls voice their fears and their love for each other.

It might be that Angela may still one day need professional counseling to work through the horrors of what she witnessed. But it might also be that you and Dominik and your family will be all that she needs to feel safe and secure and to move past these tragic events from her past.

Our first grandchild was born Monday. As I witnessed the instant love our daughter and son-in-law have for their little boy, heard my daughter say about him, "I just can't get enough of him!"...I was reminded once again of how much we missed with especially our youngest daughters. We missed ten and eleven years of their lives. And while they were blessed not to have such horrors in their lives, it struck me deeply once again how much we will never share because we could not know and love and nurture them from the time they entered the world. So while this week has been a joyous one, welcoming a grandchild into our family, it also brought out the sharp contrasts between our three birth children and our five children through adoption. I've always known this, obviously. But knowing what this baby will gain from his parents love, support, made me very sad for what we lost.

I'm sure you must have both felt like you had been through a wringer. I know God will use it to draw you closer to each other and to Him. Please tell your girls that there are many, many adults in the world, who would have done all they could to come to their their mom and dad...had we known what they were going through. Children deserve to be loved and protected...and it is a grievous thing when they are not.

But now...they have YOU!

Nancy in the Midwest

Dee said...

Wow, words fail me. You were able to accomplish something with Angela I have never been able to do with my daughter - she witnessed something similar. The terror and pain are buried very deep.

I agree with the other commenters - God was guiding you, I feel certain of it.

Give Angela a hug from me and tell her I send lots of love from me and Michael in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

There is no greater counselor than a mom guided by the Counselor. No professional could accomplish what you, Dominick, and the rest of the family are achieving. There will never be that level of trust and love. Yes, someday a "professional" may be called on to help, but you have laid a foundation in recognizing the past. These things spiral. You uncover a layer, give it some resolution, and later it spirals back into your life at another level. As this happens to Angela and Oleysa, and to the other children for their own past experiences, you have opened doors that allow fresh air in, secrets out, fear faced.

Love to each of you. You are brave and wise and loving.


Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,

Wow. I am struck dumb just thinking about it all. Thinking about the layers Lael mentioned, sounds like someday there will be the story of the terrible uncle. I, too, am having trouble forgiving our girls' mothers. One is deceased from her alcoholism, and the other sauntered in last summer, after we received the referral, saw her 5 yo daughter for the first time in years, announced their relationship and said good-bye forever all in one brief visit. For turning a mythical rejector into a living and breathing rejector, I just want to reach across the ocean and shake that person. Both girls will carry the effects of their mothers' alcohol use forever, and I fear that the more I come to love them, the more angry I will become at these women. I don't want to be angry, and I can even sympathize with their circumstances, but I fear my anger will increase before I will be able to get over it. It's so hard to forgive someone who hurt "your" child! We are meeting our girls in 2 weeks, and I wonder whether she will compare her 2 "mothers" and whether that woman created extra hurdles I will now have to span in order to reach our daughter. So, it was good to read about your own difficulties with the "other" mother, and I will be waiting to learn any advice from you in future as you process and deal with the feelings you experienced. Thanks for being willing to share, for you teach as you do so!

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing mother. The bonds you're making with your children is so inspiring. You were meant to be their Mom. It has always been God's plan. How incredible that both girls were able to REALLY open up to you like that. You have much more wisdom than you know. I'm just awe-struck by the power of this post. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Nancy A.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is amazing. What you allowed to happen, confronted and encouraged, could have taken years and years of "professional" therapy. I am at a loss for words other than..remarkable. Once again, Love Wins for the LaJoys! If Angela and Olesya only knew how many of us, right now, would love to open our arms and hearts and hold them tight....but they have their strong, soft Momma! You are all such a blessing to each other...and to the rest of us for sharing your story of love.
Love always, Miss Joan

Kimberly said...

Cindy - what an amazingly beautiful post - thank you so much for sharing it. As a professional child therapist myself I can tell you that you handled yourself incredibly professionally, but FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY, lovingly! That is more important than any professional training. You didn't try to stop the pain, you didn't try to move on quickly - you sat with your daughter and moved through the pain. so often people are inclined to dab away tears and move on - being too overwhelmed by the grief, by the sadness. What you communicated to Angela was - "I can handle it - I can handle you, I am big enough to walk through the dark places with you. Your pain won't overwhelm me." Beautiful! Exactly what she needs!
As I prepare to head to Russia this week for court, your post inspired, ecnouraged and fills me with excitement and anticipation - I cannot wait to be a mom!

Anonymous said...

Dear Cindi,
I've been reading your blog for about a year now; I went back and read the archives from the beginning, and then caught up with you, I think, just before you traveled to Kazakhstan.

As someone with a traumatic, grief-filled childhood, your blog has been so helpful and healing -- even, sometimes especially, the "boring" days. You wonder how and when and what you can bring to the world? Just keep doing what you are doing; you are healing a small but terribly important corner of the world; you are doing mighty works. But please, keep writing!

Very few therapists could have done for Angela what you did; even the best don't have the luxury of time, nor of knowing their patients as thoroughly as you know your children -- nor the opportunity for reading them to bed!

As for Joshie's night terrors, a friend who has night terrors says that a soft light in the room often helps prevent night terrors, and helps him a good deal. What he uses is rather more than a night light -- it's a shaded, very diffuse light that doesn't throw shadows, but is about the level of light in a restaurant where you more-or-less can see your food. I googled "night terrors soft light", and found this:

Be aware -- you probably are, with your wise heart, but I thought I'd mention -- that Angela and Olesya's trauma may be to the forefront for a bit. They may be spooky; they may be moody and reactive.

Thank you.

Lindsey said...

What a scary but inspiring post to read! I am so grateful that God put those girls in your capable, loving hands. You are so intuitive and wise and incredibly sensitive to their needs. I cannot imagine the ache you and Dominick must feel, knowing what your kids went through in their "other lives". How wonderful that they are now in such a love-filled home! Praying for your continued wisdom, L