Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Karina - From Daughter to Daughter-in-law

Rejected, neglected, starving and kept from others who loved her was Karina's fate after her abused and beaten mother died. "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Karina was the first Borblick foster child who did not come to them through the orphanage. She lived in an extremely dysfunctional family. Her father was a very wealthy businessman with two very wealthy business associates. They were very rich because the business they were in was very illegal and immoral. When Karina was about 11 years old, one of these two associates was killed. This death brought instability to Karina’s family. The father became a very abusive and cruel man to his wife and also to his child. His wife ended up in the hospital and there she died.

After Karina’s father lost his business partner, his money, his business and then his wife, he began to live only for himself. He totally neglected Karina and would leave her at home alone with no money, no food for weeks at a time. To survive, Karina did not go to school but went fishing instead. Sometimes she was able to sell her catch and buy other food. If not, she made fish stew.

She tried going from one relative to another and from one friend to another. They were compassionate for a day or two or a visit or two but eventually they would turn her away. Her grandparents on her mother’s side, at first, wanted to take Karina to live with them. But when she would go spend time with them, her father would come looking for her. He would beat on the door and the windows and yell at them as though they were the enemy and trying to take his daughter away from him. This frightened them very much. One night around 11pm, Karina came to her grandmother again. But this time her grandmother told her that she could not allow her to come into the house. Because of the scene her father had caused on previous occasions, the grandparents no longer wanted to risk having their granddaughter with them. This was a very, very sad realization for Karina.

The government would not have helped these grandparents even if they had had the courage to ask for help. Because the father had not been identified as unfit to parent and no social worker had been involved, he still had the legal right to control Karina’s life. So there appeared to be no solution to her problem. One hope was that the second business associate of her father, who had become a Christian, might be able to help. He took pity on her and from time to time he would care for her. But he was also afraid of what her father might do.

Eventually a friend of Sergey Borblick told him about this girl and her terrible circumstances. During a drive into the city one day, this friend offered to introduce him to Karina. Sergey agreed. Nobody in the Borblick family expected their husband/father to come home with a daughter that evening but that is exactly what Sergey did. When God touches the hearts of these two people, they are promptly obedient and Karina came to live with the family. Because they were getting very familiar with the bureaucratic system of becoming foster parents and knew exactly who would help them do the necessary paperwork, they began this lengthy process within the next few days.

Eventually, Karina’s father discovered where she was and came looking for her. At first, he came with a limp and a stick to help him walk explaining that he had been in a serious accident at his work and had been in the hospital for two weeks. He explained that this was why he was not at home when they took Karina and why he could not get in touch with her to explain what had happened to him. Sergey and Lena did not believe his story and Karina did not want to go with him. Then, he began acting the same way he had with Karina’s grandparents, banging on the door and windows, shouting and yelling, even going to the neighbors looking for support for his accusation that they, the Borblicks, were using these children to make money. The neighbors, however, knew Sergey and Lena very well and just laughed at his accusations. Finally, he gave up and angrily stomped off even forgetting to limp! He tried several more times but Karina always said, “No!” she did not want to go back to live with him. Eventually, he quit coming.

The first few months that Karina was with the Borblicks, she would have nightmares and wake up crying. Lena would rush into her and comfort her until she fell back to sleep. In the morning, there was no memory of these bad dreams. These were difficult months for Karina as far as her studies were concerned. Because she had missed so much school trying to just stay alive, she was well behind the other children in her class. So Lena worked very hard with her at home and on her homework. This continued through the first year of school. But the following year, all the hard work paid off and Karina finished the next school year with very good marks. She went on to graduate from high school as an honors student. She then graduated from technical school with practical marketing as her specialty. She completed that with excellence as well.

Then it was time for her to go to university. Karina was the first Borblick child that the Young Adult Orphan Discipling Ministry (YAODM) supported for her university studies. She attends a school in Donesk, about two hours drive from Mariupol, and has marketing as her major. She is able to attend as a correspondent student and only needs to actually go to the university once a semester for exams.

In due time, Karina and the Borblick’s only natural son, Prohar, fell in love and were married in June of 2009. Prohar, who is now 25, had been working and living independently in Mariupol while Karina was being raised in his family home. They are expecting the first Borblick grandchild in October, 2010. For this reason, Karina has taken a leave of absence from her university studies but plans to return next year to complete them. She and Prohar are living with Sergey and Lena while a house that Lena inherited from her step-father is being renovated for them.

This is certainly a Cinderella story and one that Sergey and Lena have been blessed to receive from the Lord. With so many of their foster children choosing to live a life independent of their leadership and parental guidance, this daughter who has become a daughter-in-law is truly a reward from God for all their obedience and sacrificial love.

Maxim - The Brilliant One!!

Locking himself away (sometimes in a dirty bathroom) from the world, hours at a time, was Maxim's solution for dealing with life. "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14.

Maxim was 10 years old when Lena first met him at the orphanage. The supervisors had talked to her about a new little boy that they were especially concerned about. Maxim was unusual because he was completely absorbed into himself. He did not communicate with anyone, not the staff and not the other children. In fact, the other children in the orphanage did not like Maxim and abused him for any reason. As a result, Maxim began to lock himself in the bathroom for hours at a time.

This behavior troubled the supervisors immensely because they had already had three children commit suicide in this orphanage and they were afraid of another. Maxim was also physically very weak and although way beyond babyhood, still wet the bed. Another problem that faced Maxim, especially with his poor health, was that he was in a room where all the boys smoked cigarettes. Lena observed that when the kids she had taken from the orphanage behaved themselves and kept themselves in good relationship with her and others in the family, their beds were not wet. But when there was sin or secrets, the bed, of that particular child, would be wet. As soon as he or she would repent of the behavior the bed would be back to dry. So, this fact of bed wetting did not concern Lena.

But the lack of communication was a grave concern. Even at a Christian summer camp, Maxim had locked himself in a bathroom for more than 30 hours. He was obviously very troubled and this was a problem for the orphanage staff.

When Lena first saw him, she described a little boy, with snot all over his face and body and with an awful smell of urine emanating from his small frame. But when she began to talk to him (and for some unknown reason, he was willing to do this), she saw life in his eyes. Maxim was like her little Olga who just seemed to attract troubles to herself. Lena believed she could find something worthwhile in Maxim and he also became part of the Borblick family.

Although he was completely unaware about proper hygiene and taking care of himself, clothes, hair, smell, Lena eventually discovered, Maxim was extremely gifted in unique areas. Even though he had no formal or even casual learning in these unique areas, he was very skilled at doing them. Among these areas were chemistry, music ( self taught to play instruments) and art. At age 13, Maxim dreamed about learning the piano but, no school of music would take him even though he could play almost any musical instrument.

Lena would talk to Maxim for many hours on any subject as he wanted to share many ideas. He stopped being non-communicative in Lena’s care and with the Borblick family. Although extremely talented, Lena also discovered that Maxim was extraordinary in one other way – laziness. As with all of her children, Lena prayed about Maxim and received a revelation that this laziness would become a real snare for this boy. But he would not listen to her about overcoming this weakness in his character.

Maxim learned the Bible very quickly because he had such an agile mind. But he still had, Lena believed, some spiritual oppression or problem that she felt needed to be addressed. Neither the social workers nor the church would help her in this. They told her to deal with the spiritual warfare on her own. On the one hand they prohibited her from doing what she felt needed to be done, but were unwilling to offer any help. She was all alone in this except for her husband, Sergey. They now had two bed-wetters to deal with and no social, psychological or spiritual help for either boy.

Eventually Maxim finished school with good, but not outstanding, results. He was capable of much more, but even with every little effort, he received high enough marks. He was also baptized in the church. So, Lena saw good progress with Maxim.
It was time now for Maxim to enter the university. Lena begged him to stay in Mariupol so that she could take care of him. She knew he would not do this and would allow himself to become unkempt again. But, he would not listen to her. He entered the medical faculty at the university in Kharkov, a city some 500 kilometers from Mariupol. For the first year, Maxim managed alright. But at the end of that first year, he began to have problems living in the dormitory and began missing lectures. Finally, he left the university. He didn’t want to do the homework and he didn’t want to bathe.

Maxim fully understood that he was wrong, but he chose to live that way anyway. After he left the university, he went into the army and did his mandatory service. Because of army rules and structure, he did what was needed and completed his one year. Lena again suggested that he return to university but enter the field of criminalistics. He liked this idea and seemed enthused by a new direction. He went to Kharkov again, but never enrolled in the university. Instead, he found a job in an art studio carving wood, which he was very, very good at. This studio made custom furniture and decorations so it paid enough for Maxim to live.

In the last year and a half, Lena has not heard from Maxim. Yet, this is another success for her in raising a child with numerous problems so that he could finish school and become a useful adult. Although it has not turned out completely as Lena and Sergey would have desired, they know that they have been obedient to God and done what He has asked them to do in this young life. They pray for Maxim, as they have with Sergey and Yuri before him, that he will one day restore the relationship with them and return to Jesus as Lord of his life.

My personal comments/opinions: Although Maxim never had any kind of psychological assessment, I believe, with my training as a Marriage Family Therapist, that Maxim probably has some form of autism or similar psychological illness. Perhaps it is caused from some level of spiritual oppression, as Lena believes, and perhaps it is due to some form of early brain trauma that neither the orphanage or Lena was aware of. Even though autism is becoming a more frequent childhood diagnosis, there is still very little known as to its cause and even successful treatment is unique to the child and his or her particular level of impairment. Praises be to God that He equipped Lena to be as effective with Maxim as she was. May God protect him and keep him safe.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Olga - The first GIRL!

Ugly, unkempt, stupid, disaster-finder. This is how Olga would have described herself before she met Lena Borblick. "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." John 14:18

Olga began her life in the orphanage at a very early age. At 2 years old, her youngest sister died because her mother did not take care of her. When social workers came to the home, Olga was lying in a child’s bed with no bed clothes and cock roaches crawling all over her. She was quickly taken from the home and placed in the orphanage. Both the mother and the grandmother were alcoholics and parental rights were removed. Minimal contact has been maintained by the mother and grandmother Olga since was removed from her their care.

Olga was at the same orphanage where Lena had taken both Sergey and Yuri into her home. In her visits there, Lena had established a connection with young Olga. But she was a child who was full of defeat and a continual liar. One day when Lena was visiting the orphanage, Olga asked her, “Don’t you like girls? Why do you take only boys?” Being moved by this, Lena began to spend time with Olga. But it was difficult because Olga was a very unattractive child. She never took care of herself, like combing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she had ears that stuck out on each side of her head. Her teeth were unhealthy and uneven.

In addition, bad things always happened to Olga. If a brick were to fall from a roof, Olga would find a way to be hit by it. She was a magnet that attracted every type of problem. Lena really struggled to find something positive in her. Eventually, she found that Olga greatly desired to be trusted. She was also fond of working with younger children and was very hard working. In this photo, she is watching 3 year old Masha play.

When Olga was 11 years old, Lena took her home to live with the family, Lena soon discovered that even with Olga’s positive features, there were problems. For example, though she loved working with younger children, her goal was to control and manipulate them. She would notice them doing wrong things, point those things out, and then tell them to keep it a secret from Mom (Lena). In this way, she had a means to control them when she wanted to use it.

Although Olga was a hard worker and would gladly volunteer for various tasks, she would not do a thorough job and sometimes would even cause problems for others with her lack of thoroughness. An example was when she would wash the floor but leave it unclean and very slippery causing others to fall. One worker at the orphanage, who liked Olga a great deal and even interceded for her to be taken home by Lena, was a victim of Olga’s sloppy and slippery floor washing. As a result, she fell down a flight of stairs and injured her back very severely. Another example was when Lena asked Olga to get something from the cellar. She obediently did this task, but left the ladder exposed which created a serious danger with the younger children around.

Lena continued trying to find something positive that Olga could do and be successful with. Within a short period of time, Olga began to know more about keeping the house than Lena did and Lena began using her in this way. Olga was a big help with the younger children who came to live in Lena's home. Eventually she began taking Olga with her when she visited the various government offices she needed to frequent regarding the foster children she was caring for in her home. Olga was quite helpful because she was a good example of a child who had been helped and was showing good signs of becoming a useful person because of it.

Her academic abilities were very, very poor. It was so bad, that while in the orphanage, they had wanted to put her into a mental institution for the educationally handicapped. Twice she had to repeat the previous school year and still knew very little at the age of 11. She was around the 2nd form (equivalent to 3rd grade) in her learning to that point. Before taking her home, Lena had told her that one of the reasons she could not take her was because her academics were so poor. Olga responded to that in a very positive manner by learning ALL of the times tables, 2 through 9, in a matter of 2 weeks. This determination convinced Lena that this girl was teachable and could learn what ever was needed.

As a result, Lena had a very serious talk with Olga and told her that she would end up in an asylum if she did not become motivated to learn. Olga again responded in hope and was willing to have Lena spend long hours with her doing home schooling as well as attending regular school. After some time, Olga brought home excellent marks. Then it happened again and still again. At one point Lena asked Olga if she understood that she was not stupid. Olga answered that she, indeed, did not see herself as stupid any longer. So then Lena offered her a choice. She told Olga that it was up to her as to how she wanted people to see her, stupid or not. She used Jesus as the example of someone who made a decision as to how He wanted people to see Him. At that point, she asked Olga to make a choice as to how she wanted to learn, as a normal person in school, or as a handicapped person. Olga made the decision to learn at school like a normal child and Lena no longer had to worry about her.

When the issue of education had been closed, another had to be dealt with. Olga, as mentioned previously, had a bad habit of wanting to control people. Although she was only 12 years old, she controlled everyone, children and adults, by knowing their secrets. She even attempted to do this with Lena.

Each day, the family would have one hour of Bible study and each child would do their own study in a different corner of the house. Olga did not like to do this daily task and would often try to avoid it. This particular day, she asked to go upstairs to Lena’s sewing room to do her study. After a short time, Lena heard a terrible scream from upstairs. She froze and at that moment, the Holy Spirit revealed to her exactly what had taken place. When the rest of the family heard this scream they all rushed to help Olga, even the father, Sergey. Olga was in the hallway with a very pale face, fear in her eyes, and blood dripping down her leg. Everyone was in shock wanting to know what had happened to her. Nobody knew what to do. So Lena approached her and instead of talking in soft, comforting soothing tones, Lena confronted her asking, “How dare you do this!” Olga immediately tried to blame Lena saying that she did not take care of things and that was why she had gotten hurt. Lena, who was confident in what the Holy Spirit had shown her, said, “No, it was not me.” She asked Olga, “Do you want to hear the real story?” Olga foolishly said, “Yes, I do.” Lena said, “You were in my sewing room, not reading the Bible as you were told to do. Instead you began to look through my things and found a razor blade. You were afraid to cut your leg with a whole blade, so you broke it into two parts. You were still afraid, so you broke it, still smaller, into two more parts. Then you took that tiny piece of blade and made the cut on your leg. But not very deep and little blood came out. So then you began to squeeze and shake your leg to make the blood flow more freely and then you began to scream.” Olga was in shock. The other kids were too. One of the younger girls tried to side with Olga and asked Lena why she was so angry. She tried to argue that Olga could have accidentally cut herself. Lena responded to her, “My dear daughter, I would give you $10 if you could do this (accidentally cut yourself with this tiny blade).” So Olga learned that day that Lena could not be controlled by her, although several more attempts were made to do so. Eventually, with much time and prayer on Lena’s part, and explaining to Olga each time it would happen how she herself had to take responsibility for her actions, change began to happen. Lena made a big effort to direct Olga’s ability to lead and direct into right actions and directions. For a certain period of time, the control issues at home stopped.

Olga graduated from 9th form (high school) as a normal student and with good academics. She also graduated from technical school and enrolled in a university in another city (Kharkhiv) to become a social worker. Now Olga is 22 years old, serious and choosing the standards and values that she will live by. She has two more years before she completes her degree program. Unfortunately, the changes Lena was able to help Olga make in the family are now coming back to Olga as ways of coping in her new environment. Lena has, in conversation with other students, learned that Olga is once again using her controlling strategies and causing problems among her friends. Lena, of course, continues to pray for Olga to make these changes permanent in her life through her relationship with Jesus Christ.