‘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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Where Things Stand

I don't have an update on Anya except that she had a fourth surgery this past week. We have been unable to reach her via skype or email for almost a week. I'm going to try calling my friend Svetlana tonight and see if she knows anymore.

The last update I heard from the surgeon via Svetlana is that Anya must stay there for at least three months. The doctors there do not think she should be flying before then. I have to trust them. In the mean time, I have almost everything I need to apply for humanitarian parole EXCEPT the letter from the doctors in Kemerovo. I'm praying they will decide it is ok to send me a letter to submit SOONER rather than later. The good news is, it seems they agree that Anya will need rehabilitation HERE, and that they are willing to sign their name to that. So far they have managed to save her foot, but its unsure if it will be useable.

Now I come clean on where I personally am at. I am grateful to hear from those who have been in my shoes, or something nearly to it. I am grateful to those who can offer words of hope or wisdom, but please oh please do not post if you are here to condemn me or shake a finger at me or say " you should have" or " I told you so." I am honestly so fragile these days that one mean comment might undo me..and I am not being dramatic. I really mean that.

Life has been incredibly difficult for the past 5 weeks. After I had the stroke I was supposed to take it easy, see my neurologist, start physical therapy twice a week, de-stress my life. I have not done any of those. My life seems to be so jam-packed with other people's needs that I truly am starting to wonder what I have gotten myself into. I feel completely ill-equipped to deal with what is on my plate. For a taste of what that is, and this is only a glimpse, if truth be told:

~Nastia begins school in a week. We are not prepared. She needs more testing done, school supplies, school clothes and shoes, and needs plenty of emotional preparation. Sadly, when I spoke to the school, I was transferred to an enldess stream of very mean people who spent most of the conversation lambasting me for not calling sooner. I hung up in tears.

~We have had a new 'family member' this summer that I have not spoken of much, out of respect for her and her family. She is a lost soul who has been through tremendous pain and upheaval in her 18 years and who called me in early July in desperation after a domestic assault at her partner's home. She had (and still has) nowhere else to go right now, and I love her dearly. But having another person, with huge needs, in our small home is another major stressor. N's needs are great and I find myself unable to meet all her needs and feel terrible guilt for that. I've been taking care of her as best I can, but its hard. I wish I had a live-in therapist to help her. She is about as fragile as I am right now. I know God placed her here with us for a reason, but I feel useless in helping her learn to make better choices for herself. I worry for her every day.

~I still am experiencing some after-effects from the stroke, but it's hard to tell what is from residual brain swelling and what is just stress. I haven't talked to anyone about it, because I can't handle another person giving me 'hell' for not taking care of myself. It doesnt help to tell me that. I already know I'm not doing what I should. Don't you think I would if I could? My hospital stay was also so traumatic that I have been positively terrified of going back for more tests. I had a full-fledged panic attack when getting one of the CAT scans, and another during the MRI. ( If you havent experienced one before, I cant possibly tell you how terrifying it is.) I'm still experiencing PTSD symptoms from time in the hospital, and it unexpectedly brought up TERRIFYING memories from an early childhood hospital stay and surgery from when I was only 4 years old.. I've had four mind-numbing flashbacks this month. It is like being there again...almost unbearable. I'm scared, too, that the neurological issues I'm dealing with from the stroke wont go away. I'm scared.

~ I'm so behind in catching up on Daniel's adoption, I feel like I dont know how to start again. I'm still so angry at what occurred in the spring, dealying me at the ONLY time I had to get it done, and once my job started in late June, I knew I would not get to restart anything until September. And yet the people involved do not seem to understand. Running my own business makes it VERY hard to just take time off to complete it. I wish I had a paperwork whizz who could finish it all for me. And meanwhile, I get updates from the orphanage that Daniel is so sad and so confused. And I can do almost nothing to ease his pain.

~ As often and as hard as I try to hand all these issues over to God, I find myself still waking up nightly in abject fear. I wake dreaming that Anya has died. I wake from a dream that Daniel is taken from me. I have constant nightmares about all these unfinished things in my life. I keep having a re-occurring nightmare of drowning. I wake gasping for breath.

I dont even know where to start. My house is a mess. My computer has died, but I cant afford a new one. Anya wants me in Russia, my health requires me here, Daniel thinks I've abandoned him, Nastia says my stress is affecting her. And I pray and I hope and I call out to God. Some days all I can do is breathe and try to make it to the next hour.

I can only assume this is one big spiritual test. I wish I could say I'm passing it, but it feels more like I don't even understand the questions being asked of me. It feels ike the test was meant for someone with more experience. Like I'm taking the wrong test, and any minute a teacher will walk in and recognize the mistake.

I feel like a broken record...repeat...repeat...repeat.... All I can muster is requests for prayers. but I feel I've worn out my welcome in people's lives. I have a handful of other things I cant even talk about here that would make your head spin. I"m even raking a risk in sharing some of the thinfs I have today, but I'm doing so in the remote chance that someone has something helpful to share. Until then, I try to hold on until a better day appears. And keep calling on Him. Over and over again.


  1. It seems the devil is attacking you and you need strength, relief, hope and prayers. Hopefully all is coming your way.

    When I feel weighted down, this always helps:

    St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray and do Thou, oh, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

  2. Although it's not as good as a live-in therapist, your new "family member" might qualify for counseling through a local domestic violence organization. A lot of people think of "battered women's shelters" and they assume it's just that--a shelter. The truth is that these organizations usually offer much more than shelter services and typically don't require someone to be in shelter to get help. These types of organizations often have staff members who are specially trained to counsel women who have survived violence and need help picking up the pieces. Some also offer specialized therapy to deal with the effects of trauma. Sometimes they have people who will help with legal issues as well, such as filing for a protective order. I don't want to promise what services will be available for your houseguest, because I know that lots of things have been cut in this economy. But it is something your guest might want to look into.

    A lot of times, the hardest part is getting the person to make the call and seek help. So realistically, even if these services are available to your guest, she may not get the benefit of them. But it's worth looking into.


    PS- If your guest is undocumented or has uncertain legal status, please let her know that she should seek help anyway. A lot of organizations offer help regardless of immigration status, and in certain situations there might be special visas available to help victims of domestic violence.

  3. Well, do I have a few things to say to you:

    YOU SHOULD. . . have opened your heart to those children. And thanks be to God, you did.

    YOU SHOULD . . . have done everything in your power to claim those children as yours and get them home. Which you did.

    YOU SHOULD. . . keep trusting in the One who loves you more intimately than any other, the One who chose you for this hard time, for these kids, the One who has perfect faith in you.

    YOU SHOULDN'T . . . listen to anyone who is can't say anything nice. Please allow yourself to really hear the loving positive words people have for you, but just close your ears to the negative. It is not from God. (Yes, I do think I can say that with authority at this moment!)

    I TOLD YOU SO. . . that Satan wants to hurt you, to hurt your children, to keep you apart, but most of all to keep you discouraged and apart from God.

    Sweet sister, this is not the first time I have wished we were not all the freakin'way across the country from you, so I can't come over to clean or bring you dinner, which I would love to do. But I am praying for you, that God will lift you up, and that His perfect will be done in all these frustrating and painful circumstances, and that He will be glorified in all this, and in you.

    Much love!


  4. Just keep your spirits up and take care of yourself. I am praying for you.

  5. Love and prayers and support...that's all I've got.

  6. I wish I lived closer so that I could offer you more practical help. Do your laundry or help with those mundane chores that always need doing no matter how we are feeling. But, I am a virtual stranger and live far away in western Canada. So I will do what I can and pray for you. I will pray for God to send you someone who can be around to help you with the unglamorous and mundane things of life, to take over the things that are always there so that you can reserve your strength for what needs you. It's not all up to you. It's up to God and when we are doing His will, He will help us get things done.

  7. Praying for others to come along side you and be the hands that lift you up and the feet that go where you cannot in this moment.
    Praying peace and healing to you and your household (where ever they are :) in Jesus name!

  8. Oh, you darling. People often mean well when they say, "you should have" because that is the only sort of mothering they know, maybe. I know that you are at all times doing eveything according to your conscience.

    Any chance you could pray/brainstorm for another support for N.? Somehow she seems like the puzzle piece that "doesn't quite fit" - but of course, you are limited in your ability to share, so it could just be that for a reader who only knows a portion of the story, that it seems that way.

    I bet there are people out there - in your parish, even - who want to support adoption, but can't adopt... Could you ask around at church? (Even at other parishes, your retreat center?) for suggestions of a person who might like to "take on" the Daniel paperwork?

    It also just occurred to me that the St. Vincent de Paul might be able to help N. I was at a complete low last fall....I don't know when I've felt more bereft of help and hopeless...and was the ONLY lifeline for Maxim. At the darkest moment I prayed and the answer was "Call St. Vincent de Paul". I did and was overwhelmed with all kinds of help, that I really did not expect... as well as caring people who helped me brainstorm solutions. Each SVdP group is different, but it is worth a try.

    Any other possibilites for school for Nastia? When I run across a "stream of mean people" - as I did at our local school district, I back away. I just found a very nice local school district that will accept "tuition" students from other districts for $1 a year tuition! And EVERYONE I've spoken to there is KIND.

  9. Praying for you! I have been for a while and I will keep you in my prayers. Be encouraged that you must be doing something right- or else Satan wouldn't be attacking you so fiercely. Keep holding on to your faith, God is bigger than all of this and He will see you through it.

  10. Wow, Keri!

    You have not worn out your welcome here. I check your blog daily for updates- share whatever you feel comfortable. I don't know how you do it. I thought our 2 year Russian adoption was a nightmare, but I never had your issues to contend with. Echoing the sentiments of others, I so wish I could help you juggle all that you are doing, but am not close by.

    So many of us reading really want you to succeed in all you are doing. You have accomplished so much! I know you will be able to accomplish all you have set out to do. I am so sorry you have encountered rude people and naysayers. Screw 'em!

  11. I wish I could do more to help; I'm best for giving you a laugh, generally, but remember I'm here for all the panic and anxiety you are feeling. I know how to deal with that, and I understand it well.

    I love you. Lots of people do, but it's nice to personalize it. Feel free to say out loud "Leigh loves me!" at any given moment. It might help. You might feel "so what?" when you say it, but the spirits around you who wish you ill will simply hate it.

    That ocean you are drowning in? Well, that water? It might be your emotions feeling overwhelming. See if that resonates. When I dream of water that's always what it is.

    Again: I love you. You are wonderful. It's true no matter what chaos spins around you.

    If you can provide any computer info maybe we can find a geek to help ya fix it...which one is it?

  12. Keri, do you want my old computer? It's not fancy but it works.

  13. Keri darling. I DO live close enough that I could pitch in for some of the practical Keri-needs-a-wife duties. I could come this Sunday: cook, clean and launder. Take some of those things right off your plate for a few hours. Would that help?

  14. I wish I could be there to be that live in therapist that you need and to help with Daniel's paperwork. Know that I am thinking of and praying for your family.


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