We started our adoption blog when we left on our journey to Ukraine about 5 and a half years ago. The hope was to continue with our blog every year until our son Sasha graduated. We decided to wait a little bit longer to complete this final adoption update because this is Sasha’s adoption year. We are sad to say that we can’t seem to sign on to update our blog on Blogger anymore. Not sure if they made a transition or updates or changes that rendered it obsolete. And so we will have to do our final update via Dave’s personal blogspace here.
Here are the older posts just to tag them here and give some cohesion:
So we are proud to say, Sasha graduated.
And sad, and torn, and elated… a mix of emotions all rushing in at the same time.
We know many of have said this on route to Sasha’s Grad over these past few weeks, which given the nature of the times has traveled a long and uncertain path to say the least, but it feels impossible to believe that this man-child, now standing a good deal taller than both of us now, first walked through our door just over 5 and a half years ago. That is crazy to think. And believe us when we say we’ve been thinking about that A LOT lately.
We still remember sitting around the tables at our initial seminar meeting and thinking, are we really doing this? Is this actually happening? The long and somewhat tumultuous ride to get to Ukraine, which was happening at the same time as the Maiden war breaking out in Ukraine, had us genuinely wondering if it would indeed happen. But the moment we saw his photo and encountered this young, slightly mischievous but caring and emotionally present kid bounding through our door in person, carrying all that uncertainty, anxiety, and fear, we knew our family had been made complete. The rest of course of history, a wonderful history that now culminates with proud parents witnessing the proudest moment, seeing him hold up that certificate. This is not to brag on our own kid… okay, maybe it is a little, or a lot… but this guy who came to Canada not knowing even a word of English, stayed dedicated enough during the Covid shutdown to finish every last assignment on the list. And his teachers sent A LOT of work, so this was no small feat. It’s something he can now carry with him and be proud of as he enters into a new phase of life.
Struggles and Joys: Our Journey Together
If we are being honest, the past year and a half hasn’t been a cake walk by any means. And that would go, we know, for all three of us. And yet there is a sense of resilience that we all feel in navigating it together. The heated conversations, the tricky foreign territory that comes with him being the first 18 year old in his Grade 12 class, the struggle and need for Sasha to find some independence when so much of his circumstance has forced him to remain dependent on others (necessarily so) in the different aspects of his life, it all gets filtered through our 5 and a half years as a family, doing our best to try and do and figure out life together.
A Personal and Collective Spiritual Journey
One of things we did as well over these past few weeks as we prepared for Sasha’s grad day is, we sat down as a family and revisited our spiritual journey together by walking through the Christian story. Given that faith is an important aspect of our life together, and that faith holds both a personal and communal component, one of the questions we tried to table was, where are we in this story of faith, together and individually. There is a good kind of healthy fear that comes with Sasha finding that space, through time and age, to figure that out as he will, and as parents as well to learn how to lean back into the same weight of those prayers that we feel guided us towards his direction 5 and a half years ago. By revisiting the Garden narrative in Genesis, and trying to travel the emerging line from this story towards Christ, one of the striking things about this journey is that while we can discover a linear line, our place on this line is far from linear. That is the beauty of the journey. What forms our faith as we now find Sasha’s line starting to carve an even more distinctive and defined path in his own particular direction, is this grand picture that we find in the Garden of the angels protecting “the way” to the Tree of Life. As it writes, “therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.” Encountering this scripture, we saw a picture not of fear and condemnation in light of being sent out into the struggles and joys of a life lived and developed in relationship to the land, people, and culture, but of angels also guarding the way forward to the Tree of Life, that great source of life that continues to inform our lives no matter where we find ourselves, as individuals and as family, on this journey called life, even, and maybe especially, when we remain uncertain and unaware of it and of what lies ahead.
And the beautiful thing about this story is that what is being revealed through our journey, in our successes, our failures, our hardships, struggles and accomplishments, is God’s heart for us and the spirits work in us. These graces are the things that we can bring out in each other and inform in one another. And these are the same graces we believe will cover Sasha as he finds his own way forward. This takes on a new weight perhaps as we consider that he was born on September 12th, 2001, the day after 9-11, that we adopted him right after the war in Ukraine ended with the remnants of that war still visible, and now he graduates in the midst of a global pandemic that has shut the world down. Talk about some character shaping realities to add to his story.
Changed Plans and a New Normal
We had great plans back in March to celebrate Sasha’s accomplishments and our life together by taking Sasha skiiing in Banff (he still loves to snowboard), and to get him to one of the wolf sanctuaries in the mountains (he loves and has a special connection to wolves). Those plans have obviously been put on hold, even as time moves ever so slowly forward into what is hopefully some better days. For now, he is simply looking to get a job, enjoy a summer of paintball, and figure out his plans for the fall. Even without the chance to celebrate properly, those things feel momentous in and of themselves.
TRYING: Looking Back on our Adoption Journey
Over the past couple weeks, we have both been watching a new show on Apple TV Plus called TRYING (it has some mature elements, so be aware, but it is so, so good). It’s the story of a couple that tried to have kids and couldn’t, and then they end up in the adoption process. It is shocking how accurately the show gets the adoption process, and for those who have been through it I imagine the same trigger points would be there for you as they were for us.
We are a long ways though from those days of having our lives poked and prodded and put on the table for all of us to see, warts, weaknesses, faults and all. We are a long ways from the days of facing the reality that we have to prove ourselves to be competent parents while also being forced to face our deepest fears, greatest struggles, and biggest weaknesses at the same time. We are a long way from thinking we were getting a younger child and coming home with an older young man. It is not an easy process by any means. And yet the tables turned for us the moment we set foot on Ukrainian soil. This was no longer just our story, it was now his story, and understanding his story became our central role as parents as we tried to work to find ways to bring our stories together.
Watching the show has been cathartic in a way, helping us to walk back through that journey and reflect on how it has changed us. There is a definite sadness to knowing that things are transitioning, to new opportunities for him and new adventures for us, but we do this knowing that family is that unbroken and unquestionable bond. And we do this knowing that we, all three of us, are not the same people we were when our paths crossed 5 and a half years ago. And that is a good thing. That feels good and right.
One Last Word For the Journey
So to sign off on this part of the adventure, bringing this adoption blog to an end, the adventure that watched him grow from a 13 year old boy with an 8 year old spirit learning and discovering things in a different Country anew, to an 18 year old feeling proud and accomplished and desperate to make his mark on the world and find his independence in a world now made up of his peers, let us simply say this- it has been the greatest joy we could have asked for. Our family was not only made complete, it was made complete for a lifetime of new adventures, knowing that the central line that continues to forge the way before us still holds us together, and that there is a lifetime ahead of watching how that non-linear line shapes Sasha in unique and exciting ways.