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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

God in the Russian Orphanage

Theological questions arise when adopting from Russia. There are the random, “God bless you” comments from strangers, then there are the friends’ helpful words: “God knows when the timing is perfect for you to get through the incessant red tape and bring your chld home.”

The first exchange, I appreciate. The second, I’m not so sure about. Not that I’m not sure about God, it’s the idea that He may leave a child rotting in a substandard Russian institution for a given period of time for some good reason. Hard to swallow.

(Mind you, not all Russian orphanages are bad. Some are quite advanced and well-appointed with computers, sports halls, and Chuck E. Cheese. Well, maybe not the latter. I once commented about how nice a certain orphanage was, and the director looked at me with piercing eyes and said, “It’s no home.”)

It’s a matter I would have liked to discuss with Alexander Solzhenitsyn, but alas, he is no longer among us. He knew great suffering, along with many others. Perhaps now it would be best to get input on suffering from those who wear high heels or wax parts of their body on a regular basis.

Where is God during days of suffering? Why do some children end up on the street, or live in lean-to hovels without enough food or clothing? Obviously the sins of the fathers, or what we might term the lifestyle habits of the birthmothers have a big part to play in the mattter. I do believe that God cares, and that He is trying to maneuver the right people into position to help these children. But that He has a perfect timing, some magical moment that He’s waiting for, is beyond any compassionate comprehension. As a matter of fact, it’s downright unthinkable.

Instead, I view suffering as a tug-of-war battle, one that we were never intended to lose. God wants good to happen, but there is still evil in the world. You could compare it to a major sale day at Loehmann’s, and having to compete with other shoppers vying for the same bargains. We are the ones who must work through obstacles, while relying on God for His help, and yes, even for His miracles.

I look at the many orphanage behaviors that our dear Pasha has recently shed, much like a snakeskin left in the dust. It’s not “him”, it’s a shell, a scaly layer that had to go. And how was the devil depicted in the Garden of Eden, but by a snake? Today the devil is a joke, with most feeling that there is no real evil in the world. The devil wears Prada and for me, is often represented by the latest celebrity on a fad diet, instructing the world how they lost 50 pounds while eating TV dinner lookalikes. However, for those with children who languished in institutions, or within “the system” until older ages, evil is all too evident and real in the form of abuse and/or neglect.

To turn our heads and shrug our shoulders is similar to Ebeneezer Scrooge’s modus operandi before meeting the Ghost of Christmas Present.

“Look upon these,” the apparition instructed, parting his voluminous robes to reveal two emaciated waifs.

“What are they?” puzzled Scrooge, recoiling in horror and disgust.

“They are your children. They are the children of all those who walk the earth unseeing. Their names are Ignorance and Want. They are hidden, but yet they live.”

In a similar way, God is often hidden, but can be made more visible through us. I’m convinced that He was there all the time, in the orphanage and in the streets, feeling the pain that our kids felt. Sometimes He flies below the radar, visible to those who care to look and to those who would seek Him, often making bold moves through those who are committed to act on the children’s behalf. He works through people who are willing to be His hands extended.

I like the butterfly analogy. Petya and Pasha are Butterfly Boys, once hidden from view in an awkward stage of semi-imprisonment, much like the caterpillar in its cocoon. Rather than being beaten down by their restrictive circumstances, they increased in strength. Their suffering solidified within them not only a survivor mentality, but a certain resolute resiliency.

When the budding butterfly is strong enough, the insect pushes to come out of its cocoon and finish the final phase of its transformation. If helped along in its process, the butterfly will never take flight. It is in the struggle that strength is gained. (Which leads me to believe that I must be some kind of strong-woman, destined for a championship weight-lifting career if struggles are the measuring stick.)

I can more readily believe that God is often in the preventing-bad-things-from-happening business, not totally, as in we will never have a care, but we can bring those worries and concerns to Him. In the Psalms He states, “I will be with you in trouble to deliver you.”

But I categorically reject that He is in the preventing-good-things-from-happening business. That’s somebody else fighting against us from the netherworld.

God allows certain struggles in life. He allows us to stretch and gain strength to grow. Thankfully, He allows saviors, also, to help those in time of need.



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