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.