We hosted her when she was 12, this was after we met her when we went to adopt Alesa and Julia. She came to visit us summers and Christmases. We always told her when she was ready we would come for her. She couldn't bear to leave her grandmother so she would always tell us, "maybe next year" Then we got a letter that said, "I am thinking about the family and missing you and wish I could see you." A friend went to her orphanage to adopt and came home and said, Karina has decided she finally wanted us to adopt her. Our friend said, she is such a beautiful and sweet girl and she emphatically states it has to be only your family she will go with.
We had adopted Lena the year before, and we were in the middle of working through a lot of emotional turmoil, we asked ourselves, can we bring Karina here now during this time? We prayed about it and felt strongly that God was guiding us to bring her even in the midst of it. We were never worried about how many children, after all we had as many as 8 home at once and it was a mix of fun and chaos that comes with a big family. We had an extra bedroom for Karina and we thought having 4 girls would be wonderful. Mark and I were very optimistic that we could reach Lena eventually. At this point we weren't even for sure Karina would not change her mind again about being adopted; we had to see and talk to her first. We decided we should have her come because this was her last chance as soon she would turn 16.
When we told Karina she could come visit we were very hopeful with Lena, but she continued over the months of waiting for Karina's visit, to escalate. In answer to the question did Lena escalate because she knew Karina was coming? No, she was actually excited about having another teen girl here especially someone whom she considered not part of the sibling group. Lena was very much into isolating out groups within the family and creating division, sadly she looked to Karina to be a possible ally. There were the usual daily missles, meltdowns and silent rejection, and a few weeks before Karina's visit the situation had gotten to a breaking point. Even something as simple as a trip to the store would frequently turn into a war. My usually calm nerves were frayed to the edges, and the older kids were worried about my well being. Julia was refusing to come out of her room at different points.
We started praying about two things. Should we still bring Karina with this going on, and should we seriously consider the possibility of trying to find some relief by getting a family for Lena that would give everyone, but especially her, some peace. She needed a place where she could grow and mature and this was definitely not happening at our home. We decided we needed to deal with each girl separately, Karina should not be left at the orphanage if she wanted a family and we had already promised her this visit. She had so many disappointments in her life we couldn't give her another one.
We were hopeful that the dynamics might change to the better with Karina's arrival. As I said we are optimists. I can't state strongly enough that Karina had nothing to do with our decisions on Lena. Our home and hearts were always big enough for a multitude of children. If they tried to destroy themselves we would stand by them, whatever they threw at us we could handle it, but the destruction of each other and the resulting emotional mess to the family was another matter.
Karina came for the summer and we knew she was ours. I would like to tell you while Karina was here things improved with Lena, but that wasn't the case. Karina stayed neutral from the continued turmoil, but she did not care for how Lena treated others. However, she was still torn trying to decide if she wanted to leave her grandmother.
We had put out a distress signal to friends about seeking a different situation for Lena. A family came forward to help and she was more than happy to make the change. In fact when we took her there she happily waved us away and bounced off to a waiting peer group without a backwards glance at me. I was heartbroken, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt this was the right thing for everyone. In retrospect that was the hardest time period in our entire marriage. I just thought it was forever, and now I realize that when you bring an almost grown child into your home there are so many variables.
People have asked us, if she were your biological child would you do the same? We answered, if our biological child were doing this at almost 17 and we saw no remorse and no willingness to change, then yes, we would do all we could, and if it continued they would be asked to find other accommodations until they figured it out. Call it tough love or whatever you will, but the other kids deserve the kind of peaceful and harmonious childhood we have offered all of them and that they have all grown up in. Don't get me wrong they have dealt with adversity in the family and with each other and they know what it means to help hurting children and to stand by them. They know what it means to forgive and work through issues, but at some point you have to know when it's time to draw a line.
We ended the summer in tranquility and Karina returned to Ukraine. We called her and she decided that, yes, definitely she wanted us to come for her. Our dossier was in process. We were concerned about having Lena in respite at this time and trying to adopt Karina, but several people assured us they didn't think that would be a problem. Our home study had been done back in late Spring and was still good so we just let it stand since at this point nothing permanent had yet taken place for Lena.
All our paperwork was submitted and in place and we were waiting for a submitting date which we prayed would be sometime in October as the SDA was not giving any more appointments after December and wouldn't open back up until February to accept dossiers and Karina was turning 16 on March 14th. We were essentially in a race against time.
I came home from work and my husband was white as a sheet he said, I just got off the phone with Sveta and she said someone named Carolyn Jackson claiming she was from a special needs group has written her, the SDA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the prosecutor and several other offices and said we were trying to adopt another child and we had gotten rid of Lena because she was a special needs child and we wanted only perfect children and we were not stable enough to adopt another child. She stated that she cares about special needs children and that is why she was writing the letter. We were shocked and devastated and we thought who and why would someone do this? First off I am a special education teacher and I worked with children with Downs and adore them, and later with children with emotional handicaps. The reason I became a special education teacher was because I had a special needs brother. Two of our sons have dyslexia and Zhenya had serious emotional problems that Mark and I have worked through with him. This was just a mean slanderous lie and obviously came from someone who did not know us very well, if at all.
These letters and this lie halted our adoption. We wrote letters, we had our social worker review our case and he spoke extensively with family, friends, and Lena herself stating that all was well and everyone was happy with the change and that we were indeed a very stable family. Our adopted kids wrote letters that would slay your hearts telling the SDA that we were wonderful parents and that they needed to allow us to adopt Karina. Alesa wrote this to the SDA, "None of you know what it is like to be an orphan alone and without a family or a future. Our parents have given us so much please do not deny this for Karina." Letters from all of us and Lena were sent to Carolyn Jackson begging her to retract her statements to Ukraine. Lena was incensed that someone said she was "special needs". She wrote quite a strong letter to Ms. Jackson. Lena also stated that we should be allowed to adopt that we were a good family just not what she needed. We told her we had hosted children in our home and found many families for them. We had our town and church writing articles about orphans and had found families for them. We came back from our adoptions and found families for kids left behind. We explained this wasn't just affecting Karina, that we would not be allowed to do any of this anymore. She remained anonymous and never explained even to the SDA what "group" she was from except for her name and e-mail address and would never answer anything we sent her.
The SDA rejected our dossier based only on the letter of some woman who was so blind she would not see that Lena had a future she had hope, she had people, many people, who cared very much for her. Karina had no hope and no future without us. We know now it takes very little substantal evidence to halt an adoption in Ukraine even with all the official letters we sent.
We had to call Karina and tell her we would not be coming, but with God all things are possible and we were not giving up. She was so sick she could barely speak with us. They had no heat in her room and she was cold. Can you imagine our panic and the helplessness that we felt. We wrote Carolyn Jackson another letter and begged her to reconsider we told her Karina was sick and she was going to spend Christmas without family, in fact she would be spending all her future Christmases without a family but she never acknowleged us.
We prayed, we prayed and we prayed some more. We had everyone we knew praying and so many times I wanted to get on the blog and ask you all to pray, but we could not do or say a thing that might give CJ any more information.
Our facilitator was working every angle she could. Finally she wrote and said, You must pray because they will not take your dossier now. We must wait until February and they may revisit this after it has had time to cool. We once again cried out to God, because if the dossier had to wait until February and she turned 16 in March we might not even get an appointment until after her 16th birthday. We couldn't fly over and make a petition because they had refused our paperwork.
We knew we had to turn it over to God, and we did but I was a mess I would start crying every time I would talk to Sveta because it looked so hopeless. We were fighting an army of the unseen enemy.
I must stop here even writing this has taken me back and I am exhausted. This story will be continued...