For the majority of the weeks of my life, Fridays have been an occasion to celebrate. This week was an exception. This Friday, was attack day. You name a negative feeling and I probably experienced it. I woke up to a breakfast of doubt and fear and for lunch I feasted on guilt, anger, and anxiety. By dinner time, I was in a full-fledged depression, crying inconsolably and ready to walk away from this journey.
When we arrived in Velika Plana, we were excited to learn that we were taking Sophia to the park for a few hours. Next to this park was a yard full of chickens. She loves chickens. She wanted to see the chickens.
The old lady who owned the chickens initially came out and shooed us away. Sophia wanted to see them from outside the fence, but she was too short to see over it. I got down on the ground and asked Kira and Chase to help her onto my shoulders. They both asked me if I was sure I wanted to do that and, without a second thought, I told them yes. Big mistake! When I attempted to walk away from the yard, she flipped out. She does this often, but this was the first time that I realized just how awful her outbursts can be. She began kicking my chest and grabbed fistfuls of my hair with both hands. It felt like she was trying to scalp me. I dropped to my knees and had to lie on top of her to get her to stop flailing around. I laid there crying and whispering to her until we were both limp from exhaustion. This entire incident was witnessed by two social workers, a psychologist, Jovana (the foster sister), Kira, Chase, Seth, Chad and all of the families at the park. This was the first time. Within an hour, it happened again. And in the next hour…again.
After driving back to Belgrade, we went to check in with the American embassy and pick up the needed forms for Sophia’s visa. Getting the visa will be the last thing we do before coming home, but I thought while we were there, I might as well get the needed paperwork. I can’t say that it comes as a huge surprise, but the wonderful lady at the Washington USCIS office has not yet bothered to send our visa approval to the national visa center. This means that the embassy cannot access it and that we cannot get Sophia’s visa. New prayer request: That our I-171h be sent to the national visa center within the next few days.
We had McDonald’s for dinner. It was almost as good as the McDonald’s in Seoul, Korea when I was 9mos pregnant with Seth.
After dinner, we walked back to our apartment. Chad emailed the lady at USCIS and I emailed our facilitator to let her know how things were going. Most families see her daily during their adoption process and are able to have her by their side through any difficult moments. We have had exactly five minutes of alone time with her since we arrived in Serbia and, other than the time that we spent sitting in the ministry office on Wednesday morning, we have not even been able to communicate with her. None of us wanted it to be this way, but after the appeal by the foster family, this is the situation we’re forced to work with. This situation means that our family has spent the past two days surrounded by people that we can barely communicate with and have simply guessed that things were going as planned.
Our facilitator has wanted to meet up with us and give us a cell phone so that we can at least keep in touch, so I asked her to come by before we went to bed. When she arrived, I fell to pieces. All of the negative emotions that had been planted and watered and fertilized throughout the day, came spilling out of my mouth and tear ducts. Her response to me was that we are free to walk away at any point before the adoption ceremony. Judge me. Call me names. Think what you will. At that moment, I felt relief.
I cried myself to sleep after my amazing husband prayed over me and assured me that this is still the journey we were called to. I woke to realize that the attack had moved to Kira. She was full of doubt and fear and certainty that she no longer wants to share a room with her sister. As Kira and I packed our bags to go stay in V. Plana for a few days, we both cried. Chase walked in just in time to hear me say, “What have I gotten myself into?” Without hesitation, he responded, “God’s will.”
I got it, God. I apologize. Please forgive me.
When we arrived at the foster home on Saturday morning, Sophia was in the window waiting for us. She was rocking from side to side and rolling her eyes, but she smiled and clapped and touched each of us as we walked in the door.
We left quickly, checked in to our hotel, and began to grasp the fact that we had her to ourselves. No supervision. No other women to compete for the role of Mama. At lunch, she decided she was tired of sitting so she reached across the table and slapped Kira’s drink out of her hand. A few minutes later, she picked up her glass, took a sip and then tossed the remainder of her drink all over the floor. When we told her no, she bit herself. All day long, I thought of the movie Nell. She is calling me, “Mama”. She is calling Kira, Chase, and Seth by name. She has called Chad both, “Tata” and “Dad”. She repeats almost every English word that we say to her. Yet…she is completely uncivilized. I have now watched her, on two occasions, pull a chair up to the stove, turn it on, and make a pot of coffee. She then pours herself a cup of the coffee, adds a ton of sugar, and drinks it. She is extremely intelligent and remarkably capable. She has just never had any boundaries or limitations and she has never allowed anyone to care for her. When we try to hug her, she is rigid. She does not know how to be loved. I share these things, because I know that there are many people reading this who believe in the power of prayer. Pray! Pray for her to accept love and give it in return. Pray for us to reach her.
In the late afternoon, we went with a social worker and her husband to a 14th century monastery. She needed to observe how the day was going and her husband speaks English. The place was beautiful and peaceful and I think that we all felt more at ease than we have all week. The well water there is rumored to have healing powers so we all washed our eyes and hands with it and drank a sip or two.
Before we left, we stopped to observe a small cage that houses two very large male peacocks. Seth walked around the cage and said, “I think they are like me.” Pause. “I feel God here.” I said that I thought it was sad that such beautiful birds are in a cage so small that they cannot even open their plumes and we headed towards the car.
Seth had been silent for a few moments when out from his sweet lips came this. “You know why I think the peacocks are like me? The devil had me in a small cage where I could not spread my feathers and be beautiful. Then God destroyed the cage and set me free.”
Chase was exactly right. All of the negative stuff that I am dealing with is simply a result of walking in God’s will.
Seth was also right. He spent several years as a beautiful creature trapped in a very small cage. God did set him free. He can set Sophia free too.