Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Crossroad

This picture was taken in September....just 2 months before our lives were to turn upside down.  Since so many have been asking  "Where in the world is Natalie?", I feel compelled to offer an explanation, even though this will possibly be the most difficult post I've ever written.  

Natalie is hurting.  She is carrying the whole weight of the world on her shoulders as she stands at a major crossroad in her life.  The truth is, Nat is standing at a place where she must choose one of two paths.  One will lead her to life and the other will not.  

Most of you know we adopted Nat from Russia when she had just turned three.  Her orphanage was a terrible place that used electric shocks on the children as a means of control.  In addition to being abused, she was also severely neglected in Russia.

As I am quickly learning, our brains have a way of protecting us from information we are unable to process.  Our traumatic memories stay in storage until we are mature enough to deal with them.  Well, the week before Thanksgiving, Natalie's brain decided it was time for her to remember.  And with that recollection, most of which is still an unconscious memory since she was so young when the abuse occurred in Russia, came a wave of despair and depression like I have never witnessed in my life.  Nat went from a functioning teenager to a child screaming in complete desperation for help.  

We appreciate your prayers as you think of Natalie.  She is making progress, but it is in the form of baby steps.  We were hoping for big giant steps.  As for me, I have gone through every single emotion you can imagine.  I have re-lived the last 11 years to re-examine my relationship with Nat, I have questioned a million times whether I  parented her the correct way or if there is something different I could have done, and I have wished to go back in time and have a re-do.....but most of all, naturally, I have felt like a failure.  

But through this journey, God keeps showing up for me in remarkable ways....with little incidents that are too extraordinary to be mere coincidence.  And I hang onto those moments with white knuckles....making a choice to believe that He is Sovereign even in a situation that seems so out of control....choosing to believe that He is bigger than any mistakes I may have made in the last eleven years as I have parented Nat.....and believing He will lovingly provide her with complete healing if she'll only be brave enough to reach out and take it.  If she'll choose to take that step at the crossroad toward LIFE!   

Just one week after Natalie was admitted to a local hospital, I took Lydia shopping.  It was to be our day to get out and really talk about what was going on.  As we entered a store, we quickly noticed a girl who we know to be a teenager Caleb's age....someone who we both know by name and both recognized, but one who does not know us.  As it turned out, she was an employee of the store and came to ask us if we needed help.  We told her we were just looking around, but then she asked me:  "You have beautiful hair, can I touch it?"  

Before Natalie's breakdown, I probably would have let this girl touch my hair....but I wouldn't have had near the compassion I had on that day.  I turned to her immediately and said:  "Of course you may touch my hair."  And for a couple of minutes, she stood there with my hair in her hands.  And in silence, I just met her eyes and smiled.  Next, she turned to Lydia and asked:  "Can I touch yours?"  Lydia, following my lead, said:  "Sure!" 

Just as the girl turned to walk away, she told us how she wished she was beautiful and how she longed for pretty hair.  We offered her sincere encouragement, told her how beautiful she is to us and to God. And when the girl walked away, Lydia just looked at me with huge questions in her eyes.  I shrugged and said:  "She's hurting, Lydia...just like Natalie...let's just pray for her."  

A couple of weeks later, when visiting Natalie in the hospital, that same girl was whisked down the hall.  I caught a glimpse of her through the door and gasped.  And in that brief blip of time, my faith exploded into something tangible that I could grasp.    

As a believer in the Almighty, I am to literally be Him to others.....laying my life down in order to love others exactly where they are....even if that means allowing another precious human to stand in the middle of a store and pet my hair....and even if it means giving my daughter permission to stand at this crossroads with God....loving her no matter what....and continuing to pray without ceasing that she will make the decision to LIVE!

"Every adopted child at some point in his development, has been deprived of this primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the severing of the individual from his racial antecedents lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child......For the adopted child, the second set of parents are obviously the unknown lost real parents. His normal ambivalence will make use of this reality situation to focus his love impulses on one set of parents and his hate impulses on another. He finds an easy escape from the frustrations inherent in his home education by assuming the attitude that these, his adoptive parents, are his bad and wicked persecutors, whereas his dimly remembered own or foster parents, from whom he was 'stolen' are represented in his fantasy as the good parents to whom he owes his love and allegiance".  (Florence Clothier)

"Schechter reports we could see how the idea of adoption had woven itself into the framework of the (adopted) child's personality configuration. It certainly had an effect in later development, giving the stamp of antisocial behaviour and that of a paranoidal system. He summarises by stating " The patients in this paper do not have a fantasy about being adopted, they were adopted. Their daydream, which cannot be combated by denial, is the connection with their real parents. Who were they? What were they? Why did they give me up? Do I have any living relatives? What was my name, etc?"  (Marshall D. Schechter)

Kaplan.S.; Silverstein. D.:

  1. Loss: Adoption is created through loss. Without loss there can be no adoption.
  2. Rejection: One way people deal with loss is to figure out what they did was wrong so they can keep from having other losses. In doing this, people may conclude they suffered losses because they were unworthy of having whatever was lost. As a result they feel they were rejected.
  3. Guilt and shame: When people personalize a loss to the extent that they feel there is something intrinsically wrong with themselves that caused the loss, they often feel guilt that they did something wrong or feel shame that others may know. (Silverstein).
  4. Grief: Because adoption is seen as a problem solving event in which everyone gains, rather than an event in which loss is integral, it is difficult for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthparents to grieve. There are no rituals to bury unborn children, roles, dead dreams and disconnected families.
  5. Identity: A person's identity is derived from who he is and what he is not. Adoption threatens a persons knowing of who he is, where he came from, and where he is going.
  6. Intimacy: People who are confused about their identity have difficulty getting close to anyone, Kaplan says. And people who have had significant loss in their lives may fear getting close to others because of the risk of experiencing loss again.
  7. Control: All those involved with adoption have been "forced to give up control" said Silverstein. Adoption is a second choice. There is a crisis who's resolution is adoption.


  1. Oh Melanie. My heart is so heavy right now. All I know to say is I will be praying for Natalie and for your family. Thank you for sharing this with us so we can know how to pray.

  2. Would like to hear more about Natalie. She sounds a lot like my precious daughter. Where did you go to find help? Praying for you and Natalie.