Overwhelmed, but surviving…

May 14th, 2007

It is harder, now, to write about our experiences now that we are home and transforming into a family. I know that one day, you will read this, my dear Dascha; you probably don’t remember this first month home, only the life we have had together. Understand that through all the difficulties, our love never wavered. You have been and always will be our beloved daughter.

For your brother, the changes came simpler. He is younger and his needs simpler. His language, underdeveloped, already accustomed him to the frustrations of imperfect communication. For you, my daughter, it has not been so simple. Your initial reaction to all the dramatic changes, to the grief at having to have waited so long, at having had to give up all you know and the language you understand, has been rage.

I hope, in the years that are to come. The years that are my future and your past (as you read this), you have come to know us as parents whose hearts are full of peacefulness and love. So I hope you have forgiven us for our inadequacies this past month. We simply have not had the skills needed to help you find the joyous little girl that we know you are.

The triggers of your rage are simple, and yet we have been unable to maneuver around them. You do not wish to nap when it is time to nap; you do not wish to sleep when it is time to sleep. You get tired and irritable as a result. You do not wish to always wear the clothes that are clean and though we understand what it is you are trying to tell us, we are unable to effectively communicate that we understand. We are unable to communicate why it is your wishes can not always be met.

And because of this, you have become enraged. You have screamed so hard you foamed at the mouth, you have scratched, bitten, hit, and thrown. You have beat doors so hard that your arms, legs and feet are covered in bruises. You have been openly defiant for the sake of being defiant. It has been a trying time to have come so far and wanted you for so long to live in fear of your every reaction. For the rage is difficult for us as it attempts to consume our own hearts.

We can not talk with you to calm you, nor can we hold you as it increases your rage. We do not wish to use any form of corporeal discipline – but the process of restraining you to prevent harm to your self and those around eats at our very being, for this is not how we wanted to spend our time with you.

But the last few days have also brought hope. We found that water was an effective counter to rage. Water, we realized would not harm you. It was not spanking (something neither your mother nor I wanted to institute). We did not have to restraining you by holding you (and hence avoided the risk of injuring you as you normally struggled so vigorously). By spraying you with a mist of water, you reacted first by stopping your aggressive behavior to cover, then, after getting wet enough, reverting to an almost infant like cry.

Once in that emotional state, we were able to hold you and tell you how much we love you. We apologized to you for making you wait so long and explained to you how we did our best to come to you as soon as you could. We did understand just how difficult it was for you – far more difficult then the wait we had for you, for we, at least, understood the delays.

We are proud of you for you actively have worked against your aggression. And when you behave well in times when before you would not, you now say “mol-a-dyets Dascha” – complementing yourself on a job well done. And well done indeed.

Just as your mother and I wondered if we would have the strength to be what we needed to be for you, you came to us and lifted us out of our despair.

Entry Filed under: Adoption,General Musings


5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mamarose  |  May 14th, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I know you both. You have what this child needs.
    You have remained loving during your shock, sane through her rages. Experience will give you more and more skills to help her through the difficult times….but experience will never ever be able to be more important than an enduring, kind, patient and loving heart.
    It has to start with the heart.

    Love and support to you both,
    I am counting the days until I can come to you.
    More love…and patience…and endurance….and …occasionally laughter. May you life have a bit of laughter during the darkest time.

  • 2. Ronda Farrell  |  May 16th, 2007 at 8:07 am

    My heart goes out to you, Tanya and the kids as you make this difficult transition. Your strength and determination are inspiring to those of us following close behind.
    Hold fast to the good times, the memories of the laughter as you played in the music room and the smiles and joy of little Nickolia. Your language skills are getting better and so are Dasha’s. Soon the communication may ease the difficulties and gradually Dasha’s greiving and need for control may fade. Know we’re here and understand if you need to vent or just need a sounding board. We’re not in the soup yet but with all the books we’ve read we surely understand.

  • 3. sonjaya  |  May 16th, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Thanks mom and Ronda :)

    So far, this has been a really good week. We talked with Brent and he mentioned to us that because the children had so many external controls, once removed, they really have no impulse control — one of they ways that can manifest itself is in rage (though ours was an extreme case).

    Ronda, you children are Nikolai’s age, so hopefully they will adjust similarly — though you do have the challenge of them getting used to each other.

    Bed times and nap times will be tough — but you have the advantage that they are still small enough that they can’t climb out of the crib.

    When you put them to sleep — it is ok to spend 5-10 minutes stroking them and singing to them — but after that, probably best to get out of eyeshot and let them cry/scream themselves to sleep. It has only been the last couple of nights that Nikolai finally fell asleep w/out crying.

    When you get home expect it to be tougher by far than what you expected (if that is all possible). There may be days you just want to run away — it’s ok to feel that way (just don’t run away :P) — you and Lewis are in it together and we are a phone/email away — you will get through it.

    Also, while you wait — we are always here.

  • 4. ajelden  |  May 21st, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Sonjaya and Tanya,

    Hang in there. You have opened your hearts to these children and have done so much for them. I know that what you are going through right now is far tougher than I could imagine. I know it’s hard but your two beautiful children are much better off thanks to your kindness, and, over time, they will realize how much you have given them and be grateful to you both.

    Alan Jelden

  • 5. ElizabethN  |  May 27th, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Sonjaya and Tanya,

    It’s so clear that you have the love and the patience to nurture your new family. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through with Dascha, AND I can’t thank you enough for your candor and courage in sharing your experience and challenges with all of us.

    Our hearts and prayers are with you and the children as you bring the love and nurturing to their lives that they have needed for so long.

    And make sure to take care of yourselves.

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