Sunday, September 26, 2010

Living A Compelling Life...and other ramblings...

Today was the first day we left Zoya in the nursery at church. We had arranged to tour the nursery and the 2's classroom before the service started to see which would suit her better. I was a nervous wreck as it was because this was the first time we were leaving her with people we didn't know and leaving her in a group setting with a bunch of other kids. I figured she wouldn't remember being with a bunch of kids in the orphanage, but I worried slightly this might remind her of her prior life. So as we were waiting to meet with the director of the children's program, Shawn noticed this boy (about 8 years old) laughing hysterically while looking at Zoya. This boy went and got his sister and looked right at Zoya, while laughing, and said, "LOOK AT HER FACE" and continued to laugh and smirk. I was beside myself and Shawn was pretty upset. I said to the boy, "What's so funny? I don't see anything funny!" And then the director came over just at that moment to start our tour. He is lucky because I had it in for him let me tell you!  At church, I cannot believe this happened. My heart was racing, I was FUMING mad at this 8 year old! I felt like screaming at him, I felt like crying.  I was SO upset. I know not everyone sees Zoya like we do. I get that. Nobody else will ever think she is quite as special as we do because we are her parents. But to laugh at my kid right in front of me because she LOOKS different. You just woke up the momma bear in me!  My claws came out and I was ready to fight (yes an 8 year old!).  I couldn't believe I was so mad at a little kid! I wanted to just yell at him and call him a little brat. I wanted him to see what we see in Zoya, but it seemed hopeless. Parents, teach your children compassion, seriously....if that's all you THAT! Anyways....

She is really right between the two classrooms so we opted for the nursery for a few months and then we will transition her to the 2s classroom. She was eager to go in and play with all the toys and the kids. She waved bye bye with no reservation. I was trying to tell the workers everything I could jam in about Zoya and all her quirks but they were so busy checking other kids in I really didn't have time to say much. I did warn them she likes to touch everyone and sometimes hugs very hard and that she is not trying to be mean when she does this. So we left her there, and I watched her play and explore for a few minutes before I went into the service. The sermon was on Living a compelling life. The pastor got to a part in the sermon where he was talking about living a life in which we know we are constantly being observed by others and trying always to make Christ-like decisions.  He said, "when's the last time you acted in a way that was un-Christ like?" At that moment I leaned over to Shawn and whispered, "Oh crap, that would be about 5 minutes ago when I wanted to drop kick that boy who was laughing at Zoya!!!"  I still couldn't get un-mad at him though as hard as I tried.

The sermon was really inspiring and pushed me to reexamine how I can continue living a compelling life. We followed God's call to adopt Zoya but it can't end there. We need to continue living a compelling life in which we can affect other people and be an example of Christ's love.  I'd be silly to say I know what the future holds. I don't. Will God call us to adopt again? If I had to be 100% honest, I am hoping he doesn't. How could I say that after seeing how blessed we are with Zoya?  Well because international special needs adoption is hard, it's scary, its difficult, it's all unknown, its a risk (but I guess all good things in life are).  If you asked me a few months ago, I'd say this was our one and only adoption regardless of how God feels about it! We did our part, right?  To be honest, I don't really WANT to go through all that hassle again.  I don't really want to put my full trust in God again (isn't that awful?) I want control!  I struggle a lot with that.  It is so hard to let go of all the unknowns and just jump.  I laugh at myself because I can see the outcome and how God KNEW Zoya was meant to be ours.  I can see that I should have trusted him fully all along and never doubted him because he could see us as a family long before we ever could.  He knew we needed each other.  We have Zoya and she is such a blessing and we are so happy and content with this life.  But, this life is NOT about us or our comfort.  We need to abandon that idea, but it is oh so hard.  We are human.  I have no idea what we will be called to do, but I am hoping that when we are matter what he asks, we will abandon all fears and jump again...whatever that means....I hope we can be open enough to be ready when he calls us to our next mission field (whatever that may be).  I feel God has bigger plans for us in the orphan and special needs ministry area and am praying that I can help our church move more toward a focus on those two areas. Our church needs it. 

So you're wondering how it went with Zoya?  We picked her up and as a teacher myself I knew to ask an open ended question to elicit the most honest response about how she did. So instead of saying, "Was Zoya a good girl?" (How do you answer no to that?!....) I said, "How did it go?" And the lady said, "Good, she had're right she does like to touch everyone and not everyone appreciates it."  Heart broken there. I would love to help our church start a children's program that knows just how to include kids who are differently-abled. A program that would reach out to all the families with children with special needs. Many of these families are afraid to come to church because they don't know how their children will be accepted. We need to reach out to these families and tell them we want them and need them and value them. After I was feeling kind of sad about not everyone appreciating Zoya, the director came over to me and said that it seemed to go well while she was in the room. She said sweet Zoya crawled over to one of the babies in a swing and put a blanket over her to cover her up! My sweet girl. This almost brought me to tears. She is demonstrating love and compassion all on her own, which means she feels loved and valued and treasured and nurtured. I'm so proud of her. She also said Zoya was signing "help" when she wanted to play with a toy a couple of times. She was asking permission to play with it!

It's so hard to let go and let her show the world she is worthy.  I feel like I have to brag about her just to open people's eyes to give her a shot sometimes.  She is capable of SO MUCH, if people would just give her a chance. Seeing that boy laugh at her today made me most sad because it was once again a cruel reminder that some people will write her off because she looks different, or not give her a shot because they have preconceived notions about her ability (or disability to them). They will truly miss out. For now I will continue loving this girl with all my heart and pray that others can some day look past her differences in order to see her gifts. She is full of gifts.

Oh, and just for fun, it was a year ago today that I became a blogger.  I enetered the blog world with THIS POST ANNOUNCING OUR INTENT TO ADOPT ZOYA.


  1. Wow - What a post!! So Honest!!!! Sarah I admire you so much - you tell it like it is and not many people are willing to do that!!!!!!

    Oh man do I want to drop kick that kid too!!!! What a sad sad mistake he made! He could of had the chance to meet one amazing beautiful little girl and he blew it!!!!

  2. Oh my...SWEET ZOYA GIRL!!! YES, BE PROUD of your beloved sweetheart!
    I SOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH appreciate your HONESTY!! I THANK YOU again and again!! You brought many memorys and the related feelings back with your post today...I never forget the day, when we left Johanna at the churchnursery for the first time!! I made a similar experience: the "bearmomma flash" hit me in this room there....and it was not the last time, that I reacted un-Christ-like...I had a long way to go... and I admit, still today, when I travel with my daughter in a bus, or train, or when we go shopping together, the whispering behind her back, the stareing, the headshaking from people still hurts me...and I am definitely impressed, how Johanna deals with it!
    You, your family, little ZOYA touched many hearts, you changed lives, you made and make a BIG DIFFERENCE for ORPHANS and I am certain and confident that GOD will continue to BLESS you and others!
    Much Love Christina

  3. Ok, so I went upstairs to tell Conor the story of the 8 yr old and he stopped me as I was telling it and said "Wait, what happened to her face?"!!!!

    Then told Dave the story when he got home and he said, "whats wrong with her face?"

    Just wanted you to know that the boys in this house think Sara and Zoya are the 2 custest 2 year olds around.

    Thank you GOD for these beautiful girls!!!!!

  4. Having seen Zoya in person, it's hard for me to say she looks any more different than any other kid. I am so sorry that an 8 year old brat didn't have enough manners to keep his mouth shut if he thought she looks different.

    I have observed about kids that the ones who do that are ones that have been picked on for one reason or another. When my oldest son was in kindergarten, he was in tears because some little girl walked up to him at Waldameer and pushed him in line at the merry-go-round, and said "Get out of the way, big nose".

    She was a butterball, and if he hadn't been such a nice kid, he could have called her "fatso" which is most likely what others had done, and why she felt the need to lash out at someone who was more defenseless than she was.

    When he came over to tell me what she said, believe me, I wanted to drop kick her, too, but I didn't have the leg strength for it. :-)

    Again, I am sorry you had to see that, and I think she won't understand what happened. I had hoped this type of behavior only happened on set-up television shows. Maybe you and Zoya can be ambassadors for change in the way people see special needs people. Hope so!

    Sue M.

  5. What a beautiful post. I totally was with you with that boy! Shame on his parents. Kids dont learn that on their own. My daughter is not special needs and gets made fun of you want to know where....CHURCH! Yep! Thought it couldnt happen there and boy was I wrong. I almost drop kicked a few kids.

    I just dont understand, Sarah, Zoya is beautiful I dont see what they see I just dont get it.

    Be blessed


  6. Sarah, I'm so sorry someone couldn't see the beauty in your little girl! My fiance and I are considering international adoption, and I follow your blog frequently. I understand why you want to brag about Zoya, she is such a treasure! I showed my fiance your blog last night, as an example of what a difference a family makes for a child from EE, particularly a child who wouldn't be accepted in EE. I showed him the picture on the left side of your blog of Zoya, and then the photos from your alum homecoming game. He couldn't get over how cute your daughter is! I also showed him the video of Zoya playing peek-a-boo at the table and laughing... and then we were laughing! You daughter is so precious! He especially loved the end when she said "YUM YUM!" about the pizza! ;) So, after that rambling, I want you to know that for every one person who can't see the joy Zoya brings, there are hundreds more who do and are sharing her story, as God warms more hearts to helping orphaned children find their forever families.

  7. Oh, that makes me so mad. I cannot believe an 8 year old? I felt like you did and wanted to just call his parents out. How in the world could a "child" be so mean. I really don't even think Zoya looks any different than any other child. I even called my husband over to get his opinion.

    When I was a kid, I NEVER would have been so mean, really, I'm not even sure I would have noticed she was different. Oooh, it makes me upset.

    Since, starting our adoption process, I have come across so many negative people. It really shocks me, because I thought it was a wonderful thing, I was so proud to be adopting a child with special needs. But, I have had so many negative comments, or people just say "oh". Of course, there have been way more people be positive, but it is the negative ones that stand out.

    Just the other day, I was crying thinking about our little ones life. I just hope people will see who she really is, just as I hope for your little Zoya.

    I am so sorry that she and you were treated so badly. I hope that you will be able to turn the hearts of people around you to see everyone as God sees them, rather than how the world views them.

  8. That sermon was mine a couple weeks ago when our priest said that we have to find our way through the "tiny doors" in our lives....I am still working on that, but keep it in the back of my mind! Now I have to work on a compelling way to get through my tiny door!

  9. I believe that the 8 year old needs to be taught that there are all kinds of beautiful people that make up this world and he needs to be taught to embrace those differences. It is through educating children that we eradicate prejudice, intolerance and hate. I know at that moment you wanted to slap him and I would have too when it involves someone hurting your child.
    Maybe sometime you could introduce them to Zoya and if they get to know her they will come to appreciate her true beauty and come to understand differences.
    Our high school of 3,000 students just elected as their homecoming queen a special needs young lady who is wheel chair bound and standing proudly beside her was the homecoming king who has down syndrome. Our town is so proud that our high school students embraced these two
    wonderful kids and saw no differences only their hearts and spirit. I pray that somewhere along the line that the little 8 year will grow up and mature into one our high school students.

  10. Oh how I look forward to reading your blog! :) What a great post and I agree with the Anonymous commenter that for every one person who doesn't see Zoya in all her joyous ways, there are THOUSANDS more who do! I applaud your feelings about starting a group at church for children with special needs...maybe that is exactly what your next calling is so keep us posted if you ever get that in the works! And for the record, maybe I am just a "biased reader", but Zoya is beautiful and looks no different than all the other beautiful children who bless this Earth!

  11. Ah, Sarah. My heart aches just reading about that boys heart aches for you. As mothers there are soooooo many times that we just want to shield our children from any hurt...I still feel that way and my "children" are 31 and 34! About the touching kids that don't want to be, I think that is normal 2 year old behavior for lots of kids...Zoya is Zoya, no apologies needed. Glad to be back and reading your posts again! Love, Liz

  12. This post made me sad to think what Zoya might face in her life.

    It reminded me of when Bri was little and we were out in the mall, there was a very tall woman (I mean TALL like almost 7 ft.). I gasped as Bri looked at me and said Mommy, Mommy look at that woman.... Now I'm thinking to myself do I grab her quick and run, do I ignore her, or do I just smile and nod at her. Then she continued, "look at her pretty hair". whew! This was a little almost 3 year old and I was so pleased to think that we were at least raising her to not see "differences" in people that others might stare, point and make rude comments about. The woman stopped and turned around and smiled at her then bent down and said "Thank you". I think it made my day more than it made hers. She did have hair down the back of her back side past her butt. Another time we saw a woman in a wheelchair and again out of the mouths of babes I'm thinking OH NO what will she say and she turned to me and said, "Mommy isn't she lucky she gets to ride instead of walking all the time." Again the woman stopped and with humor laughed, thank goodness again as I've seen some rather rude people turn and say horrible things to people in return.

    Acceptance and tolerance is something that we have preached in our household since day 1. We've had children come thru our house from all walks of life and not one was more special or stood out exceeding in any of the others. They were all special in their own way.

    I pray that more people will see that with Zoya as well, just "how special" she is not for any difference but for what she offers in her personality and abilities.

    Simply she's a treasure! I can't wait to meet her one day.


  13. I agree with everyone Sarah, there are so many people who see Zoya for what she is: a beautiful child inside and out !!

  14. I want you to know, that your blog, inspires me. ZOYA inspires me and reminds me to teach my children compasion and love for everyone. Adopting from EE is heavy on my hart right now. Working on getting my husband on board Thank you for sharing!

  15. Your daughter is so beautiful.
    I wonder if the minister would be willing to address in church or children's church that everyone is different, and about accepting everyone for who the are, and how we are the same instead of focusing on the differences.

  16. I would have found that kid's mom! Seriously! I couldn't care less! And why did the teacher have to say that she likes to touch everyone but not everyone appreciates it? Like, rub the salt in the wound lady!! WTF? People are so crazy.