‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Where Is Anya In All This

Blessed asked about an update on Anya's mental/emotional state. I realized I've been very quiet about her lately without meaning to. I wish I could share the whole story here, but it's not fair to her. But suffice it to say, Anya continues to make very poor choices for herself, and runs from us when the love feels too real.

I realize that I was very naive about the depth of Anya's trauma. She is a very damaged girl and sadly has no one advocating for her here but me. If I had to guess I'd say she suffers from bi-polar disorder, but I am no psychiatrist. She just manifests all the classic symptoms, and knowing a few people who suffer with it at home, it just seems to fit. Of course, it could be that her brain is so damaged from the years of neglect and abuse that she simply has similar behaviors, while not having the biological basis for it. I'll never know, likely.

Anya is as complex as they come. No matter how I try to explain her history to others, very few seem to get how crippled she is -- emotionally, mentally, socially, cognitively -- she simply does not have a brain that works like most of ours do. On top of that she has many symptoms of agoraphobia. I have a family member who has had it my whole life, so I lived it firsthand. Anya is terrified, absolutely physically nauseated, by new environments and experiences. She dissociates completely.

When I think of how best to describe her to someone, the first thing that comes to mind is a wild animal that has been injured and doesn't want you near them. Her 'fight or flight'  mechanism is stuck in 'flight' mode and she runs at the slightest whiff of danger. Love is foreign and therefore dangerous, so this up close and personal attention from us is simply more than she can handle.

Sadly, my attempts at bringing her home with us have failed. I am sorry I cannot blog about all the paths we have tried, but I've been advised not to and I'm keeping my word. But trust me when I say every single stone has been upturned to find her a way home with us. But the way our immigration laws stand, there is simply no way for her to enter the US till many many years from now. Everyone has tried, and I do mean everyone. But the law is the law, and it seems no one is above this one.

It's time to let go. I do not say 'give up' because I could never possibly give up on her. But living here has proved futile. It is impossible to help her here, because she runs. And because her former life is here. There is no escaping it. If she were to come home to the US with us, she would have therapy and all kinds of help from sources that would make a difference. They simply don't exist in this part of the world.

I dream of the day that Anya is home with us. I have dreamt that dream for exactly 5 years next week. But it is simply not to be. We live in a broken world where doing the right thing is not always easily accomplished. Mercy, true mercy, is in short supply down here. But I trust that my thousands upon thousands of prayers, and your thousands and thousands, will keep Anya safe while we are apart. That is all I can do.

And so, Nastia and I leave in 2 weeks, empty-handed. Yes, we have accomplished alot while we've been here, but not the one thing we set out to do. It is deeply painful  and agonizing to both of us, but so is much of this life. I am lucky -- I know that some day the pain will be a distant memory. My heart and soul cling to tha knowledge as we walk away from Anya. Someday this will all be over and we will be together, one family under one celestial roof.

 I wait in joyful hope for that day.


  1. Oh, my dear Keri. My heart is breaking for you. I hate hard stuff!

    Please God, give this dear sister courage to do what must be done. Fill her soul with light and peace. Take dear Anya in the palms of your hand and watch over her. Most of all, let each of them feel your love and strength as they walk through this most difficult season in their lives.

  2. My prayers will continue to be with Anya, and I am so grateful that you have lifted her up to all of us to pray for. I completely understand what you mean about there not being the resources there to help her.

    I know some of us have suggested that you rent an apartment for her, make arrangements for an apartment that we could all contribute to on an ongoing basis. I take it from your posts that it's entirely possible that even that amount of provision for Anya may well be for naught. I would encourage you to consider it one more time before you leave. I know you've mentioned before that nobody will rent to Anya; I wonder if they would agree to rent to you in absentia.

    I also will have Nastia in my prayers, and I pray that she won't suffer from survivor's guilt. Not one iota of any of this is her fault or her responsibility of course, but it's a natural human response and one to watch for in therapy back home. But I think you know all of this.

    You are an inspiration to me, Keri, seeing the lengths to which you have gone to try to reach Anya. My heart is breaking along with yours.

    And then there's Daniel! What a blessing, that you have found each other. I know that with young children, understanding the passage of time just isn't possible yet. One thing I have heard of (when you have a finite period of time identified that they will have to wait) is trying to show the time in a graphic way. One example is to make a chain of links made of construction paper, where every day is one link, and then another adult can tear off one of the links every morning or every night so the chain gets a little shorter every day. I know you aren't at a point yet where you have any idea how long Daniel's (and your) wait will be, but when you do have a date certain, that might be one thing to try.

    We love you, Keri, and we love your girls, and Daniel, and thank you for sharing your journey with us. I know that much of what you have shared is raw and painful. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know.

  3. I am so sorry this has been a difficult voyage for you and Nastia, but I do believe your time with Anya will leave some lasting impressions on her (in a good way). You found your son! And lastly, think of the children at the detsky dom whose lives you have affected! Y'all are in our prayers -

    Tony B.

  4. Thank you for writing this. I have been wanting to know. It makes sense. I will pray for Anya. And the rest of you, of course.

  5. My heart and soul is so sad for you and your family. I do not understand why this happens, but I also know you have given this sweet loveable child something she will hold close. She may not give all she s feeling to you openly but I know in your heart knows her special soul.
    Thank you for being an amazing you!

  6. I love you, Keri. Maybe let go--but don't give up.

    I'm thinking of you and can't wait to see you when you are back.

  7. We are so sorry, Keri. Sending you all light and love.

  8. this must have bee hard to put down on ... screen (not paper!)

    i'm so sorry.

  9. Oh sweeties, I am so sorry. We will all keep praying for your family. Do you know when you might be able to bring home your son?

  10. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is so sad and I cannot comprehend your level of disappointment or Nastia's. I pray that time will heal your hearts. I'll never stop praying for Anya and for changes in the laws that will clear the way for her to come home. Bless you all.

  11. I too am sorry it did not work out for you. Prayers are being said for you and her.

  12. I've been reading your posts the whole time you've been gone and I just wish I knew what to say. It all seems futile and I know it won't make anything better. So just know that there are so many out here (who you don't even know... like me) who are following your blog and your story and just praying so much for you and thinking about you and Nastia and Anya and Daniel all the time.


  13. So, so very sorry and sad to hear that this will be the outcome. My heart goes out to you and your girls, who I will keep in prayer.

  14. Keri, thank you for writing this. Your description and Anya's photo are equally candid, powerful, tragic. Your image of placing your children in God's hands is still with me, and now I see more fully what you mean. He alone can be her rescuer, her champion. He is GOOD and He will provide. It won't look like what you want, that's clear. But it will be what He allows, and I will pray for His mercy and protection and healing.

    And for you, blog friend, may He walk tangibly with you through your pain as you anticipate leaving her--in body, but not in spirit.

  15. Keri, I literally just cried reading that!! My heart breaks for all three of you. You, Nasti and Anya are together forever in my heart and my prayers. Xo

  16. Anonymous12:49 AM

    Keri, I intend this to be an encouragement, so I hope you will receive it that way. I have been praying over this potential moment for many months. I always, ALWAYS believed (and still believe) that this could have come out exactly the way we all hoped, but I have been additionally holding up "if the moment comes, Lord, when the decision has to be made, please grant an outpouring of grace and peace like no one else has ever seen before..."

    Knowing there are no words of my own that can make much of a difference, please take for your own the words of Paul to the Ephesians:

    "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being...that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
    Eph 3:16&19 NIV

    We'll continue praying for all of you.
    Much love, Dawn

  17. I am stunned and humbled by your post and the comments. I cry for all of you, and know that you have done amazing work with Anya, the benefits of which may become apparent at some later date. Peace to you.

  18. I wish I could understand the purpose of the court's decision. I just can't. I hope someone can't sleep at night and they make it happen using simple human regard.

  19. I often think of my son Ilya as being much like a feral cat. You described that so well (and I haven't heard it described before.) Bringing Anya here - it would be hard on her. After three years it is not uncommon for Ilya to go into a funk of despair over not being "home", even though in so many other ways he is healthy and happy; he accepts our love and gives love in return; he is a good learner and worker, he does not have any self-destructive habits....
    But, the fear and lack of trust is nearly debilitating, even without other issues.

    I fear it would have been harder on her here than you might have thought - but I know how much you want to mother her, and how much she needs it. That's the painful and impossible part.

  20. The powerful, arresting, faith-filled messages on this blog are surely the best Christmas present ever! This blog journals feear/anger/acting out to change, adjustment, surprise--and offers a reaction called choice: it is a witness that the myriad of emotions and reactions to them are constants.

    Your descriptive and honest posts help me to KNOW (not imagine or hope for) that it is possible to love and manage physical outbursts of children, and even in the face of that outburst, love and protect them (with a hint that this was not availed them by prior parent).

    It is so important for me to know that HAVING an emotion does not make you evil; dealing with an emotional feeling (by a child) can be shaped/molded and validated by a caregiver, and (some adults have never learned) that caring/protecting is more effective than punishment.

    I'm on a quest to learn more about healing and loving (vs disciplining) a child who is acting out. The unknown/unknowable situations that may affect one's sense of safe/self: to label them lazy, abuse, or neglect can ignite all ilk of reaction from publicor outside observers as well as siblings and parent generations.

    To observe and experience the actions, reactions--choices of child and parent--on this blog is reaching deep into the dichotomy of self, sibling, and parent: needy, nurturing, observant (hypervigilant vs. withdrawn).

    I have so many questions, doubts, conjectures that are addressed (without my even asking) in this blog--it is a blessing that words cannot measure!

    Thank you!!


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