Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Longing for Freedom

Part Nine 

(Part one begins here

(Shortly after my last post, You are Mine, part eight in the ongoing Family Connection series, my computer died. As thankful as I would like to be for my new computer, I am struggling. My new one seems to speak a different language. All my photos are gone, or missing. I can't locate some of my files. Thanks for being patient with me as I've tried to get back on track . . .)

Some kind readers have suggested it might be time for a sequel to But the Greatest of These is Love. These periodic posts might one day serve as outlines for chapters.

The information that flooded into my knowledge in the early months of 2015 have filled in so many gaps of the mysteries in my son, Roma's early life. But everything I learn from Roma's first family begs for more answers as the story unfolds. The story is so rich, so tragic, so real. One important overall revelation has been that Roma's birth family is made up of lovely people with integrity, people who I immediately loved. My most ardent hope is that we will meet one day in person, this side of heaven.

In Face to Face with Igor, (Part Four) I wrote that Roma had shared a few stories of his father. Unlike his happy recollections of his doting sister, his memories of his father were dark and frightful. Once he was eager to point out a steam radiator in a older home. "This what Papa pushed me and hurt my head. Blood. Hospital. " Roma's new English was insufficient to tell this story, so Roma, always the dramatist, was demonstrating how his head bounced off the radiator, complete with "crash" sound effects. He spoke, and acted, matter-of factly, as if he were telling a story of someone else's life.  He was not saddened by the memory.

I, on the other hand, was crushed to the point of tears by my little boy's memory. I could not protect him from that abuse. I knew these memories left scares on my young son. I was glad there were happy memories of love too. I listened with mixed emotions to his cheerful tales of dear Liana who so sacrificially loved her little brother, happy because he had experienced love, and sad because she had experience loss. I had prayed for all his Russian family members with whom he had lived for five years, whose lives could not be without their own share of grief.

Roma had few other memories involving this man he called Papa, other than someone, maybe the police, had come and taken the angry man away one night. His memory was of a violent confrontation.

Over the years he didn't want to talk about his father, so I had to let it go. As he got older and got more involved with church activities, I would tell Roma that I prayed for his family, and suggested it might help him to do the same, reminding him that everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves forgiveness. I wanted him to find healing in forgiving them, and I truly had compassion for his family and often wondered how they were doing. I hoped that their period of chaos and loss had been a temporary condition, that unfortunately had severe and permanent consequences. The loss of two little boys, Roma and younger brother Rostilav, had to inflict deep wounds. I prayed that God would give them peace, and a supernatural understanding that Roma was well and very loved.

One of Roma's counselors he visited when he was fifteen, an adoption trauma specialist, had remarked that Roma had done remarkably well as an adoptee. She in fact remarked that she did not find any "adoption trauma" in peaceful, humorous, confident Roma, a first for this therapist of twenty-some years who had two adopted Russian sons of her own. She said it was obvious that someone had loved him, before he came to us. That early love had taught him to bond with us, had made him whole. This precious gift of love I had always known was, at least in part, from his sister Liana. That was the reason I have always loved Liana, and felt such compassion for her loss.

I knew little of his mother, and the father was only an unsettling mystery. Starting in late December of last year, I was learning new information daily. Roma had stopped messaging Liana shortly after we found her. He gave me permission to message her and learn what I could, and share his photos and updates with his eager birth family. He wanted to know the details, but wanted a safe filter, through me. He said, understandably that he was too emotional about this revelation, and he didn't know what to say to his sister, just yet, after thirteen years separated, with different languages. Roma has completely lost his first language.

Once I learned from cousin Lia that Igor had never met his son, the "papa" that Roma thought he knew was not his papa. I knew this was an important treasure in the unfolding story.

I chose my time for the reveal carefully, when Roma wasn't dashing off from home, as usual.

"Roma, what do you remember about your father?" I asked when I knew the truth. Knowing I had learned so much about his family, and I was sharing new information with him daily, Roma's body language told me he did not want to know about his father before his words confirmed it.

"I hate him. I don't want to know about him." Roma was insistent that he was not interested in this man he thought he knew.

"Roma, the man you knew was not your father." His quick glance told me he was interested.

"Wait." Roma froze, processing this new truth. I waited for him to continue, but he was staring back into a different lifetime.

"Roma, the man who hurt you was not your father." I repeated. "Your father never saw you, except in photos."

He never looked at me. But he repeated, "Wait . . . Mom, I have to think about this." He was quiet for many seconds. "I have to remember . . . " His eyes darted and I knew he was conjuring all memories of this man. He was digging deep into a buried childhood. Then his shoulders slumped and he slowly exhaled. I fought tears, almost successfully.

"Roma, that mean man was not your dad."

Roma let go of something I could not quite put my finger on. Was he relieved to learn that violent man's blood did not course through his own veins? Did he dare hope that his real Papa loved him, would have done something to save him, if it had been in his power to do so?

Igor in high school

Whatever it was, Roma walked a little lighter after that knowledge. He would lean over my shoulder when I showed him photos of handsome, tragic young Igor, younger than himself, so full of hope and potential, so wrecked by his own brokenness. Was Roma filled with compassion? Was he proud? Roma, by nature, has the pride thing going on, but this was different.  "It's like looking in a mirror," he remarked after a long study of the eerily familiar face

Roma hasn't read these posts yet. I pray when he is ready to know the whole story as I know it, real healing can begin. The first day we had connected with a cousin on VK.com which led us quickly to his sister, I floated around the house on a cloud of pure joy! I recognized God's good Gift!

"Roma, I'm so excited that we have family in Russia."

"Mom," he scolded me. "I have family in Russia." He acted as if it were no big deal, and even told me it was no big deal, but I knew it was a big deal to him. His whole reality shifted. He had an identity.  I studied the glow of his face as he daydreamed. This revelation was a very big deal. He continues to process this new reality in little bite-size pieces. He trusts me with the tender story's safe keeping and sharing. I try not to tell him more than he is interested in hearing. But I had to tell someone, so I write these posts.  Thanks for reading and validating this is indeed good news!

One day Roma's curiosity will get the better of him, and he will be drawn to read this story in the privacy of his time alone. When he does, he will learn the truth, and as we have all hopefully experienced, the truth will set him free.

Continue with Part Ten here.

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