October 30, 2020

Six hours in the dark

Alexander is almost 16, but he looks 13, his growth likely curtailed in the five years he spent in a Latvian orphanage after his parents died. Seven years later, after being adopted by a family in the U.S., he was abandoned again—to a group home for boys. 

Alexander’s adoptive grandmother, Patricia, faced either caring for her grandson herself or watching him enter the foster care system. With grown kids and a business to run, Patricia felt like it was crazy to welcome a teenage boy into her home. Ultimately, she consented to what she felt was God’s will. “I’m going to allow God to direct. He has a plan for him,” she said. 

When Patricia picked up Alexander from the boys’ home, he was 13, overmedicated, and angry. But Patricia persistently spoke up for Alexander, pushing for the right school options and medical care. “I am constantly fighting for him,” she says. “I want him to have the best, I don’t want him to slip through the cracks!” By February of this year, Patricia and Alexander had established a consistent routine of activities to keep Alexander socially engaged and active. He was on the honor roll and playing lacrosse. It wasn’t always rosy, Patricia says, but they were stable.

Then in March, everything stopped. For most kids, this halt was jarring. For Alexander, it was darkness..

“He went back to a lot of his old toolbox—the way he learned how to cope,” remembers Patricia. “He picked up his shield of anger, shield of blame. He retreated into himself. He could just sit in a dark room for six hours at a time.” 

Patricia was desperate as Alexander continued to deteriorate through the summer. “He took all his stress out with anger and depression,” she says. “He spews his venom toward me because I’m the safe person. All his hate comes out toward me.” 

She says the only way she’s stuck with Alexander is the people from her church who have surrounded her and a care community through Restoration 225. She says, “I don’t need child care and meals. I need prayer and someone to help me when I’m losing it!” Now, Alexander has a mentor, a tutor, and a workout buddy. Families have welcomed him to join them at their homes for online school while Patricia is working. And Patricia has a prayer partner she calls on regularly.

“They care enough that they want to come alongside and not let him fall into depression or drugs or gangs,” says Patricia. And when she sees Alexander jumping on the trampoline or playing hockey with friends, she thinks: “He’s pretty amazing.”

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Read more stories of our under-served neighbors.