Today I was thinking back to the beginning of the second adoption journey. Remembering how stressful it was to get the dossier (huge pile of documents for the Ukraine government) and the USCIS 600a (another pile of documents for the U.S. government) ready to go. Wondering if it was received, how long it would take to process, when would we get our approval and travel dates. Then of course the 11 weeks spent in Ukraine and all of the hurdles we had to jump over. At the time that seemed completely overwhelming. All I could think of was when would we get these kids home and be a family.
All of that seems so long ago. 7 months ago today we landed in Detroit. When the plane touched down I cried. Home. Finally. The 8 months of trials and tribulations were over. I could relax. I was home. We brought three more teens home before they aged out.
The next chapter began almost immediately (not much of a honeymoon for us). These last 7 months made the previous 8 months look like a vacation at the beach. So many times Tom and I have said these words. “At least they are not on the streets of Ukraine or dead.” That is our perspective. No matter what else happens, they at least now have a choice in their future.
And that’s what I want to talk about today. That’s the gift we gave to them. A choice. That’s it. And it’s a choice that each of them has to make individually. Are they going to make something of this future or throw it away? Will they work hard to learn English and their new culture or constantly be like Lot’s wife, looking back over their shoulders to what they left behind and in doing so throw it all away?
We can only give them the choice. Show them the way and mentor them to the best of our ability. We can’t make them want it or do the work for it.
So I have a new peace about it all. I’ve given them a gourmet meal and if they want to throw it away and eat plain oatmeal instead I have to let them. They are too old for me to sit them in a high chair and force feed it to them. It’s like the old saying, “choose wisely”. I can pray that they choose wisely for their future. I can show them what the consequences are by both decisions but they are the ultimate decider.
There is a lesson in this for all of us. We all have people in our lives who seem to always make the wrong decision. We have to allow that to happen and let them experience those consequences. That’s how wisdom is obtained. Or not. Again, it’s all up to them. Yahweh never tried to convince anyone to follow Him and His ways. He was not in the convincing business and that is a good lesson for us.
As for us, we have moved into the second six months home. English is not being learned because they all want to speak Russian to each other. Vlad has just come to realize that he went backwards and is not happy with himself for that so now he is distancing himself from the other three. We say to him that he has greatness inside and he is meant to do great things with his life. I think he is finally believing it and doing things to make that happen. He gives me hope for the other three.
I remember back to his first year home. He is a different boy now than he was then. Back then telling himself and anyone else who would listen that he was stupid and would never amount to anything and that he was just going back to Ukraine when he turned 18. And this was said on a daily basis. He turns 18 later this month and there is no talk of being stupid or going back to Ukraine. He says there is nothing for him there.
So it gives us hope. For others who are in our shoes I see two things that are key to what we are seeing in Vlad. Learning English and getting some type of part-time job where they feel valued and can see the results (paycheck) of doing something positive. A third is just time. Time to let this new everything sink in. Time to learn what a family is and how it works. Time to let the past be in the past and be able to look forward with fresh eyes.
Vlad has now saved enough to pay for drivers training, which he will start later this month. It was a proud moment for him to realize he had enough saved and that he could actually learn to drive. When asked about driving in Ukraine he said that he never would have been able to drive there. Now he is saving for a car.
So hang in there with us. We are so blessed to everyone who is on this path with us. We are there with you in the daily struggles and small achievements.
And at the very least they are alive and not living on the street somewhere in Ukraine.