"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
- John 14:27 KJV
Yesterday was one of the worst days I have had with Cava. From the moment I picked him up from school, he was aggressive and angry. By the time we got to Benjamin's school to wait in the pick-up line for him, Cava unbuckled, got out of his car seat and, since the door next to him is safety locked, he scooted over to the other side and out the door. I had to chase him through the parking lot and get him back into the car (and setting the other back door to safety lock as well). Once we were home, he began his tirades and tantrums. Normally, I just ignore him and, not getting the attention he wants, he stops. But not yesterday. Oh no, he was full force.
Our friend Yulia and her mother Valentina came over last night to talk with Cava. For the first time, they saw his stubborn defiance, as well as his refusal to apologize for what he'd done towards me. When they asked him why he wouldn't tell me he was sorry, he replied, "Because I'm not remorseful about what I did." Wow! Not what you want to hear as a parent.
Cava also told her that he didn't have to listen to his Mama and Papa because they spoke English and he spoke Ukrainian. Language is one of the major problems right now in our struggle to help Cava adjust to not being in a new family, a new school, and a new life for him: all of which must be unbearably overwhelming. He told Yulia that he would be leaving for Ukraine soon with his puzzles. Hearing that, I realized that all of this must be so stressful for this little eight year old boy that a life, many would call a dream life for a child who's grown up in orphanages, is really a nightmare to him. Knowing that, it breaks my heart for him even as I grow frustrated with how to deal with him and discipline him.
So, I've been doing a lot of praying and I had wanted to study verses of scripture this week that pertained to "peace," which is something that not only our household could really use but something Cava so desperately needs to have in his life. Picking him up sometimes, I can feel how rapid his heartbeat is, like a scared rabbit. Yet every time I have tried to read my Bible on this topic, something has happened to keep me from delving into the Word.
The only verse I have gotten and have meditated on is Psalm 34:146, "Seek peace and pursue it."
Maybe that's the only one God wants me to meditate on.
What struck me about that verse was that it was active and not passive. There are two active verbs: seek and pursue. Both require me to search or hunt for peace. God is telling me that peace is something I am going to have to work and strive for.
It's not easy to be at peace when you have a child who is terrified, angry, and aggressive. It's hard to be at peace when you are bent down, looking in his face to try and communicate your love to him, and he spits in your face with a smile. Yet it actions like that one that make me more resolved to help this child find peace because it is obvious he has never known any.
Someone I know recently asked me how it was going with Cava. When I told him about how bumpy the early stages of this adjustment period have been, he asked, "If you knew then what you know now, would you have done things differently?"
What I understood he was asking me was, "Would you have adopted Cava?"
The fact is, I can't think that way. It would be very easy for me to get caught up in that kind of questioning; after all, I'd wanted to adopt a girl who, in my mind, was a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Jo March and who would be bookish, a dreamer, and a devoted daddy's girl. But we prayed that God would give us the child that our family needed and who needed our family. He gave us Cava. There are times when Cava's at his worst that I have to make sure that I remember this because it is only by remembering that all of this is part of God's will that I will experience any peace.
I do believe that the language difference is a big part of the problem. Yesterday, when I was trying to talk to Cava, he began to go, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and then gave me the raspberry. I could have gotten upset with him but I didn't because I knew that this was how he heard us talking to him. How terrible must that be for someone so young? Danelle and I are trying to pick up more words and phrases in Ukrainian or Russian to use with Cava to help us understand him; just as he is trying to learn English. This morning, on the drive to school, he began to attempt reading different signs and was very excited to say, "CVS." He's also very proud to read to us Go, Dog. Go!
We are trying and working hard in our strive to help Cava feel at peace and that he is home, so that he doesn't want to go back to the boarding school or Ukraine. Danelle and I thank God daily for having a true godsend like Yulia, who has been so generous with her time. It is her caring that will help us help Cava become a part of our family. She ended her time with Cava last night by praying with him. Previously, when we have prayed with him, he prays what sounds like a little song such as "Now I Lay Me" or "God Is Great" sounds. When he prayed with Yulia, he prayed a different prayer. While I didn't know the words, I knew that this was a prayer he was praying and not one he'd learned. After Cava had gone to bed, we asked Yulia what it was he prayed. She told us that he prayed about how he loved God. That will be what will give him peace, in the end. God and God alone can change his scared, rabbit's heart to one that is at peace.
Thanks to all of you, such as the Bradshaws and the Kellys, who have encouraged us and prayed with us.
A very special thanks to Yulia for your generosity and kind spirit. We consider ourselves richly blessed to have you as a friend.