A Fresh Start
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” 2 Kings 2:9
Born Sasha, fourteen-year-old Shane recently experienced a struggle common among young people who spend a significant portion of their early years in Russian orphanages. He had trouble respecting adults; however, that struggle now seems a thing of the past. Grounded and focused, Shane now understands exactly what is expected of him, how to give it, and why, and he has the patient, loving, and ever-available adults of OBHC to thank for helping him through this challenging learning curve.
“My parents adopted me when I was four,” Shane begins, a trace of Russian accent still tightening his vowels when he speaks. “I remember that I was taken away from my Russian family. Me and my brother were sent to an orphanage together, but he was separated from me after we got there and went to another place.”
Shane continues, “My parents went to Russia to adopt one child, my brother, but when they got to court, they found out about me. They started visiting me. They brought me hot wheels and a stuffed dog that I named Rocky… not after the movie.” Shane laughs. “I didn’t know about that. My parents decided we were great little kids and adopted both of us. Then they found out we had a little brother and a little sister and adopted them, too.” Shane smiles, proud to tell the story of his parents’ compassion and generosity.
“My mother was teaching a Sunday School class in America at the time,” says Shane, “and she was praying about it all. God gave her a verse in 2 Kings about God doubling your portion. She thought it was neat because, when she got us, God doubled her portion and then doubled it again!”
In all, Shane’s parents have seven children, so when Shane began to act out, they knew that they needed outside help in getting him back on track.
“I was worried at first,” Shane admits. “I remembered the orphanage in Russia. It was a long, wide, gray building with a blue background and a big sun in the middle. I thought coming here was going to be like that. I asked my mom if it was a place for more adoption, but she explained that it was a place where I could work on my behavior by setting goals. I’m relaxed now. Living here is like adding another family to the one I already had.”
Shane has lived at OBHC for a year and a half and is doing very well so far. Setting personal behavioral goals with the help of his houseparents and counselor has given him something to aim for and a way to gauge his own progress.
“I look forward to the assessments,” Shane says with obvious enthusiasm. “I like to see where I can improve so I can figure out ways to do it.”
Shane takes the same approach with his studies. “With my grades,” Shane explains,“I used to not do well. Then I thought about my future and what I wanted. I decided to have all A’s and B’s. Now, my math grades are back up, and my history is almost a B. It’s not really that hard if you look at it the right way. Like, when I let myself think math was hard, it made me lazy. I decided to tell myself that math was easy. When I applied that new truth in my thinking, it was easy.”
Shane shows measurable improvement in his social skills as well. “My houseparents, the Raffetys, are helping me,” he says. “Sometimes, I have to be disciplined, but they handle that well and do it right. They understand my perspective, so I’d say they are pretty awesome. So far, they have mainly taught me that it’s my job to put energy into my family, not take energy away. When everybody is quiet and I feel like I need to talk, I should wait and not just say whatever pops into my mind.”
Shane elaborates, “It’s hard for me to understand expressions. When people are quiet, it feels awkward to me. I want to make them laugh and know that I am there. My houseparents remind me that they know I am there and that they care about me. They don’t forget about me. It’s just that, sometimes, other kids, like the little kids, need their attention, too. I’m learning to wait for my time to speak and just know that it will come even if it’s not right now.”
The Raffetys have also invested in Shane spiritually. “I met Christ when I was eight back in Texas,” he recounts. “Some days, it feels like God is not with me, but I know in my head that He is. It’s just that maybe my heart hasn’t been focused on Him like it should be. Mr. Raffety does devotions with us every morning before we head out or go to the bus. He’s always teaching us about things like obedience, prayer, fasting, and other things. He basically preaches, and it helps.”
Someday, Shane would like to be either a professional tennis player or a chef, but right now, he’s content to work toward more immediate goals. His own parents being OBHC donors, Shane has a keen understanding of the love behind donors’ giving to the ministry that is helping to shape him. To all who support OBHC financially, he offers, “Thank you for providing money and gifts, but mostly thank you for my fresh start.”