Sunday, June 20, 2010

here to there and back again

Don't you hate it when you have a lot to say, but can't talk about it? This post might be a little vague, but those of you who know what is going on, will understand, and those of you who don't know, might get bored.

Recently, we have been exposed to some of the nastier sides of life, and how they can affect innocent people. I have been by turns enraged, broken hearted, grateful, exhausted, joyful, and rejuvenated.

When we adopted Nik 8 years ago, we traveled to Russia to get him. We were required to appear in a family court, and had to listen as Nik was asked such questions as "Isn't it true that your parents have made no effort to communicate with you in the 4 years you have been in protective custody? Isn't it true you have received no birthday cards in 4 years? Isn't it true that prior to your removal from your home that you were forced to break into the neighborhood's homes for food because your parents failed to care for you?". He was 12 years old, and had to answer in the affirmative to all of these questions, and others as brutal. By the end of his "testimony" he was in tears.

In Russia, you get one chance at parenting. For example, if you are down at the neighborhood bar, and it is discovered that you have left your children at home, they are immediately removed from your care, and your parental rights are terminated. That is not an exaggeration. At first glance, you might think-" It is about time!" . And you would be right. Until you understand that these kids are placed in "orphanages" where they are "cared for" by hours and hours of TV watching. In Europe, pornography channels are part of regular programming. Kids are exposed to porn from a very early age. At age 16, they "age out" and are kicked out on the streets without any job skills, home, etc. You can imagine what becomes of most of the 800,000 parentless children in Russia.

Nik lived with us for 6 years. He moved out at age 18, and now lives with other people, living a life that will only bring him pain and heartache. Someday, we hope he will return to the Church and the teachings he has received.

Fast forward to present time. I spent hours in a family court listening to similar testimony in reference to people that I know and love. It was of course even more heart rending because these people are not strangers. As in Nik's case, drugs and alcohol have left 2 young lives in a shambles. And I am not talking about the adults. Thankfully, the judge clearly saw the implications of leaving the children with their mother and placed them in our care. However, this did not make it easy to watch their sobbing parents being led out of the courtroom. My heart broke as I placed myself in the mother's place. If someone took my children away, it would be the end of my world. I don't even want to contemplate the thought!

So, our family has grown by 2. These kids are sweet and easy to love. There are lots of issues and concerns, among them autism. It will be difficult, but definitely worth it. The learning curve is steep, navigating through the legal system is mind boggling. All we know, is that we want these kids to feel loved, secure, and safe. Given the American system, the road is long with lots of turns and surprises. Is it right that the children remain with us? Should they be returned to their parents, where the neglect/abuse may continue? How long is long enough to determine that the parents have gotten it together and will make whatever sacrifice necessary for the wellbeing of the children? Who is an accurate judge of that? What benchmarks are appropriate? How much dysfunction do the kids have to endure before they have a stable lifestyle?

What ever happens, our Father in Heaven is very aware of our needs, and the needs of these innocent kids who have gotten the short end of the stick. And at the end of the day, "All will be well".


Susan said...

Oh my goodness Viki! I don't know what's going on, but I know taking on two more children, special needs or not is a lot on someone's plate! My thoughts and prayers go out to you and thanks for being willing to do this!!

Kathy said...

May the Lord bless you as you are in the process of rescuing these children. What more can I say?

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

You are so articulate and have such a big heart. I'm rooting for you, Paul, and the kids.