Friday, May 31, 2013


closure: a bringing to an end; conclusion

My cell phone rang.

It was Cava's school telling me to come and get him. This is a call that I had not gotten in a while and was crushed to get it so close to the end of the school year. To be honest, I felt blindsided.

As I drove to his school, Plumb's "Need You Now" came on the radio. How apropos the lyrics to the chorus were (and have been during the worst of the behavioral problems):

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me the strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh, I need you,
God, I need you now.

When I finally got to the school, I was met outside by his teacher who told me the whole story of what had transpired and it was not good. Going inside the office, Cava had hidden under a table. It was just like before he started taking his ADHD medicine and while I was trying to talk to the head of the international program, Cava kept yelling, "No!" Then he began to kick the chairs back from the table. Finally, I told him it was time to go home but he refused and I ended up having to carry him out of the school. He was crying and kicking and hitting me.

To put it simply, the ride home from his school was simply a nightmare.

MercyMe was on the radio singing "The Hurt & The Healer." Once again the lyrics hit home:

Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

Once again, it amazes me how God so often speaks to me through songs.

Later that day, I found out that Cava was suspended from school and wouldn't be finishing out the school year.

I was heartbroken and felt utterly defeated. I could not believe he was going to end the school year on a bad note and that he would not get to finish that mural he'd begun in school. At one point, I found myself unable to hold back the tears at the realization that this mural, which had such symbolic meaning for Cava, as it was one of the first steps he'd taken to come to terms with his past, was going to remain unfinished. He was so proud of working on that mural of Ukraine.

I'll admit, I prayed, "Lord, I don't understand . . ."

Cava had made such strides and had come so far . . .

The night before Cava would've gone back to school, Danelle heard him up in his room around 11 pm.  When she went in to check on him, he was weeping. Sitting on the bed, she held him, sobbing against her. "Mama, I'm sorry," he sobbed.

"For what Cavitchka?" (Her pet name for him).

"For hitting and kicking Ms. W," he replied.

This sadness stayed with him and it was especially hard on the days when he knew his friends were still in school and he wasn't. I would notice him being melancholy and I would ask, "Cava, are you sad?"

"Da, I miss Ms. W and Ms. Scarborough."

"You loved going to school with them, didn't you?"


School was something that was relatively new to Cava. In Ukraine, in many of the orphanages, kids don't start school until they are seven, so we are unsure of just how much schooling Cava has even had. When he came to America, it was something he wanted to go to desperately and would ask us each day when he was going to school like Benjamin. He was sooooo thrilled when the day came that he finally got to go to school. All he could talk about, mostly in Ukrainian, was Ms. W and Ms. Scarborough.

For anyone who's followed this blog knows, Cava has had a bumpy time adjusting, particularly in regards to school. He really struggled behaviorally. Yet one thing that was obvious to us, even during the worst of his problems, was that he loved his teachers and that they loved him.

That's why it was so important and meant so much to Cava that he got to see them one last time. He was very excited when I informed him that we were going to see them. His first reaction was an enthusiastic and loud, "YES!"

Then he wanted to go to the store to get them a present and cards. I let him pick out what he wanted to get them and Cava decided on flowers. We walked among the many different flowers for a half hour before he decided on Petunias for both teachers. He picked purple ones for Ms. W and purple and white ones for Ms. Scarborough. He also chose their cards and went to his room to write what he wanted to say to them. He did not want any help and waved me away with, "I can do it."

Today, I took Cava over to his school.

He was very subdued and, as we walked from the parking lot to the school, I could tell he was anxious. "You okay, buddy?" I asked him.

"Da," he answered in a voice that was a lot quieter than his usual one.

"Cava, your teachers want to see you, you know. They both love you very much."

"Papa," he said, "I want to tell Ms. W something."

"Okay, what do you want to tell her?"

"I'm sorry for kicking and hitting."

"I think she would appreciate you telling her that."

Just as on any normal school day, Ms. W greeted Cava at the classroom door. He gave each teacher their card and their flowers. Then they presented Cava with his "goodies." Along with little toys, a monkey puzzle, a Frisbee, and bubbles, they gave him a small book signed by each of his classmates. This will be something we keep for Cava to have later on.

They also gave Cava his Ukraine mural so we could finish it at home.

It was easy to tell from their interaction with Cava just how much they truly love him and want the best for him. The international program was one of the things our family was extremely grateful for and we were thankful to have teachers like Ms. W and Ms. Scarborough. 

"Cava," I said, "What was it you wanted to tell Ms. W?"

He looked at me confused so I had to whisper a reminder. 

Cava then offered his apology and she hugged him.

Today was important, though, for Cava. It helped give him a sense of closure to his first experience in an American school. He needed to know that, despite his behavior, his teachers really did love him, believe in him, and want the best for him. Cava left that school differently than when we arrived. There was a real joy in him again and, as he looked through his bag of goodies in the backseat, he said, "Papa."

"Yes Cava?"

"I love Ms. W and Ms. Scarborough."

"And they love you, too, Cava."

"Da. Very much." Then he laughed. For some reason he finds the phrase "Very much" to be funny.

Being loved despite his behavior is something Cava deeply struggles with. I can see from his reaction when it happens that this is all new to him and something he has never experienced before. His trepidation was gone when he left that school and I knew that this was another step in the right direction for him to understanding what it truly means to be loved and accepted.

1 comment:

  1. I think that is it VERY important for all humans, but especially Cava after all he has been through, to know that we are loved unconditionally (even when we are awful, even when we make mistakes, even when we fail: which are things we ALL DO.)

    I am sure you already know that adopted children from situations like orphanages and foster care are known for "testing" behavior to find out if they truly are loved unconditionally.

    What I am trying to say is that I believe this was a VERY important experience for Cava to see that his parents and teachers still love him deeply even though he messed up. I think that even though he took "one step back" that this experience will help him take many steps forward.

    BTW I too have sobbed my ways through those songs. I believe that God can definitely speak to us through music when we need him the most.

    Praying for you guys. You can do this! Just keep loving that sweet little boy one day at a time.