by Sue Volpe
Alina doesn’t talk about it much and I don’t even know how much she remembers but while she was still in diapers, she was placed in one of the worst orphanages in our province with three of her siblings. It wasn’t until she was 11 years old that she was moved into a placement home with 9 children. That small family environment helped her grow into an educated, functional young woman who knows how to carry
herself. Sadly, child protection does little to deal with the trauma that almost all of my young ladies have suffered as children in the system. So, under Alina’s put together exterior, there is a hurting, little girl. When Alina came to us 7 months pregnant in August 2014, she was very closed off. She did what was required but would not let us in. She even called my church “our church,” yet there was still no meaningful connection and that distance grew as more moms came into the home. As her time in the home was coming to an end and it was time for her to move into independent living, she felt alone and rejected even though there was another mom in the apartment. It seemed that there was a chasm between us. The girls still in the residence would draw her into household drama, she would take-sides and try to defend them. When I told her it wasn’t her concern in the attempts to defuse the situations, she would pull further and further away. All my actions to show her love was viewed as false by her. All I could do was pray.
This time last year the residence was empty for the first time since we opened and I sensed that God wanted me to start afresh with her by inviting her to come stay with me the week of Christmas. So even though she lives only a block and a half away, her and her daughter, Victoria, came and stayed for an old fashion Christmas. We decorated the tree, watched old Christmas movies, baked, cooked, danced, and celebrated Christ’s birth…open dialogue started to happen. As 2018 progressed, our conversation became deeper and deeper. In July, she asked me if I would take them to her birth mom’s place with a cake for her birthday. While we were there, she told her birth mom that I was Victoria’s other grandma. My heart skipped a beat. It is rare within the orphan subculture to to refer to someone as family apart from blood relation. The chasm is a small gap with a very lovely bridge. I cherish these past three months as it was well worth the spiritual battle for relationship. There is a trust…we are friends.