Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Help from the Motherland

There was a spike in my blog's pageviews yesterday. When I checked my "audience," I was excited to learn a large percentage of my readership came from RUSSIA. Twenty one views from Russia! Being the techno ignoramus that I am, I am baffled at this new development. Perhaps because the profits from But the Greatest of These is Love go to orphan care for Russian orphans, my blog has had exposure in Russia.

So I started thinking . . .

My son, Roma, was born in 1994. We adopted him from Russia in 2002, at age seven. Before we left for Russia in April, 2002, we sought information about possible siblings. We had heard stories of families traveling to adopt one child, only to discover the existence of siblings. We wanted no surprises. We were not opposed to adopting a sibling group, but we wanted time to adjust to the idea.

We learned that Roma did indeed have siblings, a younger brother, Rostislav, and older sister, Lianna, born in 1999 and in 1984, respectively. The paper trail on little "Roostic" as Roma called him, disappeared when Roma entered the Mozdok Home for Children in 2000. We learned that Lianna was not available for adoption because of her age. She was almost eighteen.

As Roma learned to communicate in English, he would share stories of  Roostic and Lianna. Roma only remembered Roostic as a baby. He had more tender memories of Lianna. She would visit him in the orphanage and bring the little sweet-toothed boy (that much hasn't changed!) gifts of candy. Roma said that Lianna came one day crying and told him that Roostic was lost to them. I have hopefully guessed that perhaps Roostic was adopted, since he was a desirable baby at the time the children were removed from their family. We learned after we returned to the U.S. that Roma's doting sister could have been awarded custody of Roma if we had waited another month until she reached her 18th birthday. We were pushed through the process at an unusual speed. We completed our paperwork the end of January and left for Russia on April 22. We joked at the time that rules were being bent  to get our little dictator out of the country before he took over leadership! Is it possible that the paperwork was rushed through before Lianna hit her age of adulthood? I guess we will never know. I have always worried and prayed for Lianna. And for Roostic. Once, at a large reunion of adoptive families I spotted a boy younger than Roma that had his same spark, and resembled him, but Bruce assured me that boy was too old to be Roostic.

If I have readers in Russia, perhaps they know Lianna. And maybe a U.S. family adopted Roostic and lives close enough to visit.

Here is what I know of my son's family history. Last name: Sudzhashvili, father, Igor. They lived in North Ossetia, near the Caucasus Mountains. Lianna's birthday is May 31, 1984. Rostislav was born in December, 1999.

It might be a long shot to ask for help, but stranger things have happened! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Use it or lose it: your mind!

Just when we thought the pendulum couldn't swing any further toward insanity in dealing with gun facsimile- toting tots, we are proven wrong. A seven-year-old Maryland boy was suspended earlier this month for nibbling his pop-tart into the shape of a hand gun, aiming it at his classmate, and uttering the forbidden words "bang, bang." Predictably, the principal was quick to bring down the gavel on the "pop-tart terrorist."

Can any society endure this level of stupidity?

Well, now our elected officials here in Maryland, with obviously nothing more pressing to do, have introduced legislation to deal with such foolishness. "The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013" is designed to prevent principals from suspending or expelling students who make "a hand shape or gesture resembling a gun" or bring to school "any object that resembles a gun but serves another purpose."

Maryland State Senator, J. B. Jennings, who introduced the bill, explained, "These kids can't comprehend what they are doing or the ramifications of their actions."

The same could be said about the adults issuing the over-the-top consequences for this new "sin." The harsh and irrational treatment, as well as the recorded suspensions on the children's permanent record could have lasting effects on their education. Some children even have probation officers and a police record!

This is the culture that adults have created for the children. We have created mega-hit violent video games that many experts claim alter a child's sense of reality, and blatant sexual content in the media that is proven to have ramifications, and our "leaders" are worried about imaginary guns? Is this perhaps an attempt to indoctrinate children in a worldview that demonizes firearms, instead of rooting out genuine diseases of our culture? This is a distraction!

If politicians and school officials really want to correct the problem of violence, they are going to have to go much deeper than throwing the book at imaginative children brandishing pretend guns.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. For example, gun ownership is common in Norway, yet Norway, a country of almost 5 million, has one of the lowest per-capita homicide rates in Europe. So what is our problem? It is much deeper than imaginary guns!  When a chronic sickness isn't healed, the symptoms do not go away. The same could be said about so called, gun control. People intent on doing harm will use other weapons at their disposal: their fists, baseball bats, knives, cars . . . planes.

It might be an appropriate time to mention that I have never owned a gun. Nor have I ever been outraged or terrified when a student at the high school where I work holds his fingers to his head like a gun in what has always been an innocuous show of boredom. Should I alert the deputy (another band-aid) now employed in the school system?

It is a pretty safe bet that finger, paper, or pop-tart guns have never harmed anyone. But the evidence of harm on young minds is mounting against the devastating results of media violence and graphic sexual content. Why is there no public or political outcry to ban these "weapons"? Why are parents shirking their duties of supervision ("super"  vision—think about it!) American schools have declined and are currently rated "average" globally, even though per-student spending is the highest in the world, with no close seconds. Something is out of kilter.

Instead of treating imaginative child's play as a pathology, we need to spend our time and money solving real problems. My blog is called "Consider it all joy" for a reason. I am sure that God is in control. He is relentlessly calling us back to Him. Jesus said, "Love God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. Let us not forget the mind part.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

God did not give us a spirit of fear

My spiritual memoir, But the Greatest of These is Love, has been out for over six months now. I am encouraged by the responses of the readers and thankful for those who have contacted me to share their reactions to my faith journey with God through adoption. I appreciate the cards, emails, and calls from friends. I have been surprised by the messages from complete strangers:

"We have lived such parallel lives . . . I adopted my two daughters from Russia, my second one also in April of 2002. I felt like I was sitting with you on the plane at Dulles!"

"I have always felt a nudge to adopt."

"Your story has made me question what I might have missed by not "listening" to God."

I even received a phone call from an apologetic gentleman who thought he might be out of line for using my home phone. I was, however, thrilled to hear from him, especially when he said my book was "phenomenal!"  He used that word to describe my little narrative! And people I have never met have blogged about my book, and written reviews on Amazon! I am humbled by this attention. I am also amused by the common description "honest" used in many of the correspondences, as if I could be anything but truthful when I am writing about my experiences with God. He is the main Character who knows this story better than I do. I could hardly make it up, especially by making myself look less like the self-centered mother I was, who wanted no part of God's up-close-and-personal invitation to join Him in taking care of the least of these, in my case, an orphan. Another common adjective used in describing my book is "powerful." How could I have given this book "power" apart from God? It is impossible. 

My fondest hope is that you will read But the Greatest of These is Love and be encouraged that God's will for our lives is infinitely richer than the safe lives we can plan for ourselves. The biggest obstacle to action is fear, and fear is always the enemy. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT) All profits go to Orphan Care Resources, an organization that trains Christians in Russia and Ukraine to step out of fear and into faith to care for and adopt the orphaned children of their countries.

Please feel free to contact me on my home phone at 301-829-nine-zero-zero-four. Leave a message and I will get back to you. Everyone has a story. I would love to hear yours.  Find me on Facebook to read some of the public posts about my book and see photos from my journey.  I would appreciate your "like"s and comments.