Big Sisters

For about 2 years, Yelena has had a Big Sister who she has gone to events with, out for a movie or dinner or on a walk with, etc. A few weeks ago, Yelena asked me when she was going to see her again and I sent her an email saying that Yelena was asking about her. Although she is 12, Yelena doesn't really use the phone or email herself to be in contact with others or arrange meetings. Her Big Sister sent an email back saying roughly : A lot going on in my life right now, sorry I haven't been able to spend time with Yelena.

I emailed the social worker who works with us and asked her if she knew what was going on.  Meanwhile, Yelena asked again when she was going to see her Big Sister.

Last week, Yelena had an early release day from school so in an attempt to fill up some of the extra time we had, I took her to do some errands and we ended up spending some time at the Mall. I was trying to get Yelena interested in buying some new clothes.  I think that one of the reasons that she has so many problems with other kids is that she has no sense of how to dress. When she was in private school last year, one of her teachers convinced her to get some jeans and all the kids clapped and told her how good she looked when she walked in wearing them. While we were at the Mall, the social worker called me and told me that Yelena’s Big Sister couldn’t continue with the program due to personal issues. I asked if they could see each other one more time to say goodbye and she told me that she had asked her if she would do that but she had said no.

Yelena and I found a store called “Forever 21” that had some cute clothes and I sat down on the steps because I was tired while Yelena looked around. After about fifteen minutes she hadn’t returned so I went to looking for her and I couldn’t find her anywhere. I looked through the whole store, asked several people if they had seen her and then started calling her name. She finally appeared and I asked her where she had been and she told me she had been upstairs (the store had 2 floors) and I told her that I had been upstairs and had not seen her. I asked her to show me where she had been.  We went upstairs and then she told me that actually she had left the store and was playing with the video game machines in the hallway.

Very calmly, I tried to explain that I didn’t really care if she was playing with the video games but that she had to tell me where she was and it was not acceptable at all for her to lie to me. She got very upset because I was angry at her and while we were in the car driving home she said angrily: “Yeah, and when am I going to see my Big Sister again? I know when: Never!” I think it had been on her mind and I was upset that this woman wouldn’t see her again to say goodbye.

When I got home, I wrote the social worker a note and said:

I need to say again that even a very short meeting with Yelena would be really helpful. I could bring Yelena someplace to meet with her and make it a 15 minute visit. I just feel really strongly that with reactive attachment disorder and being adopted, Yelena is so very sensitive to any issues around feeling abandoned and rejected.  Without her Big Sister explaining to her personally what is happening and having her just drop out of her life, I think it will be very hard for her. Yelena will feel like this is just another instance where she has been rejected yet again. I don't know how to say it more plainly than that.

I am sorry for all of her troubles and I am willing to do anything to make it easier for her. Of course, if she can't manage it, then we will just have to deal somehow or other but I hate to have this happen to Yelena yet again.

A few days later I got a message saying that Yelena’s Big Sister would meet with her for a final cup of cocoa.

Today, when we were in the car going to the Farm to see all the baby animals and the chickens that she loves so much, she asked again when she was going to see her Big Sister. I told her that she was going to see her next Monday after school and then I told her that this would probably be the last time they would get together. Yelena said “But she’s one of my best friends!” She asked why and I told that I wasn't quite sure but that it wasn’t her fault but she would have to discuss it with her Big Sister.  I told her that she could get a new Big Sister and she said that she would have to be as special as her old one. She was really quiet and sad for while and I put my arm around her. There is no way to protect her against people leaving her life who she has grown attached to and I am sure that this will not be the last time something like this happens.