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candybars, FaceTime and goodbyes…

Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living.  It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built.  Where trust is, love can flourish.  Barbara Smith

Well – it is Labor Day and we are back down to a family of 3.  My primary feeling?  Relief…  Why?  Well let’s rewind to last week…

photo3When last I wrote we were anticipating a weekend trip to Hershey Park.  Hershey Park is like Pennsylvania’s Disney World… and, I’m pretty sure that last Saturday – there were just as many people there.  It was very crowded.  Even the waterpark was crowded with lines to get in the wave pool.  In fact, the wait for the lazy river was 30 minutes!  Now, I did not go in the lazy river, which was lazier than normal because it was a giant glob of inner tubes and people.  However, Gretchen (the other host mom) did have a good point that, for her, it was worth the 30 minute wait because unlike pretty much any other ride at the park it lasted more than 11 seconds.  In fact, she enjoyed at least 15 minutes of mindless floating… so, perhaps worth it in the end.  However, despite the masses… the weekend was fun and it was good to spend time with another host family.

As for the kids, Mariya’s behavior remained the same for the most part.  But, being so busy and having distractions made it easier on everyone.  It was a little tricky always waiting in line – for all the kids – but that is certainly true for anyone.  So, all in all… a successful weekend – complete with custom-made chocolate bars… now, who can beat that?  The picture above shows the kids about ready to go into the candy bar making factory.

Sadly, after we got home… things escalated.  Mariya was increasingly argumentative.  As I’ve mentioned before, our only real recourse has been to call Dima – the facilitator of the orphanage.  I really didn’t want to be calling him every day, although he made himself readily available.  He was, in fact, very apologetic because had he any idea that we would encounter this behavior… Mariya would not have been eligible to participate in this program.  So, up to last week – it was typically enough to merely threaten a phone call to Dima to get Mariya back in line.

However, following our return to Virginia, Mariya made some really bad choices.  She became increasingly physical with Rachel (and Aleksei) and I must say that, in one instance, seeing Rachel’s reaction made me realize that should I be attacked by a bear, I would like to have her around.  Now, don’t think that I encouraged fighting back… I did not.  But, I have to say that I wasn’t totally surprised.  Basically, Rachel had had enough.  I did, however, talk with her about not resorting to violence and about following the “golden rule” – even when it seems impossible – and although I got a lot of “yeah but’s” I think some of it did manage to permeate.

Mariya also decided that should I mention calling Dima… it would behoove her to threaten me back.  Not sure where she came up with this idea… but let’s just say that it was not one of her better decisions… In fact, her last threat was to take a large glass jar which holds hundreds of Eric and Jacob’s Beads of Courage and smash it on the floor, should I pick up my phone.

For those of you unfamiliar with Beads of Courage – they are beads that are given to kids in the hospital.  They get beads for all the crappy things that they put up with every day.  They get a red bead for every blood draw or poke, a yellow bead for every night in the hospital, a green bead for every x-ray… etc.  And, depending on what your child is “in” for… dictates how many beads they end up with.  Needless to say, bone marrow transplant yields many many beads.  How many?  Well, as I said, we still have hundreds left and we’ve shared hundreds with family and friends.

So, this particular threat struck a chord that could not be unstruck.  This was a very bad move on her part.  Not only did she make this threat… when I told her very emphatically to put the jar down, she apparently thought it might help to make her threat more real by shaking the jar over her head – cork top falls out – followed by about half the beads.  At this point there was a freight train running through my head.  I was shaking I was so angry.  But I decided that I should just start picking up beads so that I could pull myself together.  Rachel and Aleksei were standing to the side… mouths wide open… and decided that it would be a good idea to help… and between the 3 of us we got them up and back in the jar quickly.  At this point it was best that I didn’t even lay eyes on this child… I was done.  She had crossed the line and there was no coming back.  I left the room and called Bob who thankfully expedited his departure for home.  Ultimately, the result was not just a phone call with Dima… but FaceTime with Dima on the Mac.  He could have been sitting across the table from her… he was so big.

And then it was time for bed and we were down to the last full day.

The next night our neighbors, Katie and Victor, and their two girls came over for dinner.  It was a good time and Victor was able to spend some time talking to Mariya and Aleksei.  Sadly, Mariya really did waiver from statements that could very well be believable to statements that were delusional… clearly not true.  For example, she not only told Victor that she had been over to their house several times and no one answered the door, she also told him that she had written him a letter and left it under the door mat… no letter existed.  My interaction with her consisted of making sure that she was fed and safe… other than that, I was just counting the hours.

And then it was time for bed, the end was in sight and the next morning was departure day.

And so – I was and still am relieved most of all.  Yet, I am also sad.  I am mostly sad for Aleksei – because we would have scooped him up in a heartbeat… foibles and all.  I am also very sad for Rachel who was heartbroken to say goodbye to Aleksei… another difficult and final goodbye.  However, despite everything, I am also sad for Mariya… because as I’ve said to a lot of people – she was not born this way.  However, that being said… her problems are bigger than what we have to offer.  And so, we will just pray that she finds what she needs and that both she and Aleksei get the opportunity to become whatever great people they are destined to become.

On the home front, we spent the weekend at the lake and it was relaxing and healing.  Yesterday marked a year from the day that we had to say goodbye to our sweet Jacob.  So in his honor… we ate bacon and shrimp!  And we found time for some good conversations about which direction we will head.  We talked about expanding our sights in some respects but limiting them in others.

So… here we are!  Where?  Not completely sure…

But I have learned something about trust… or lack thereof.  I have learned just how important trust is.  Because, basically, after that first week at the beach – I really didn’t have trust with Mariya.   Honestly, I was just waiting for the next blowup… not hoping or trusting that it wouldn’t happen.   And, it is amazing to realize how unusual it is not to trust someone…at all.  Obviously, those who are closest in our lives are those that we trust the most.  But, really, we trust our extended friends, we trust people that we know from church and school… Frankly, I hold some trust in the guy that is passing me in the Safeway aisle – trust that he won’t ram his cart into me or start yelling at me.  Some level of trust is inherent.  When you have no trust, let alone with someone under the same roof, it is exhausting… both physically and emotionally.  Rachel would like me to point out here that I have a lot of trust in her… and I do… and not just because she is watching me type this!

So… that’s it… sorry for the long entry but as always… stay tuned.  We’re not done yet!

4 responses »

  1. Thanks for the update Leslie. With Labor Day being today, it looks like it’s almost the end of summer. I’m glad for that for me. However, I wish there were more summer days for your family to unwind from the past 3 weeks. I’m sure you and Bob and Rachel have made a positive impact on both of their lives and Mariya will realize that some day, god willing.

  2. Priscilla from CA

    I’m so sorry this was not the visit you hoped for. However, with all the stress and loss you’ve suffered, I don’t think you deserve any more. (I followed both your boys’ Caring Bridge sites.)

  3. Leslie,
    I am so sorry things didn’t work out.And I am sorry for the girl and boy too as obviously they miss a great family that would have changed their lives and made their lives complete!But I also understand when you said Mariya was not born that way.
    On a side note,if you are looking at the sights in China,don’t forget you have a friend in Shanghai and I am looking forward to seeing you here in my city if all is possible.:)

  4. Christopher Brasco

    Take heart my dear friends. Your willingness to share love in this broken world is still the only way to make things better. Your witness to this truth is not missed on your widening circle of friends, although the rewards are not always visible …. On this side of heaven anyway.
    Know also that the right fit is just around the corner.
    With love and prayers ,


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