Zina part 3 (The Fallout)

After Zina left our home, we tried 2 more times to have her sign documents that would allow us to get the money back from the school and insurance company, in return for buying a plane ticket home.  We even created documents that made it clear that we would never enslave her nor would we ever require any repayment for anything we had done for her.  But she still refused to sign them and we were at an impasse. (You can read the documents here.) We let her know very clearly that we would, under no circumstances, buy her a ticket home if she did not cooperate with us.  We wanted to get her home as much as she wanted to get there, but we believed that it did her no favors to continue to allow her to receive from us without giving anything in return. She was not learning responsibility if we didn't require her to participate in returning to Ukraine.  She made her decision, knowing the consequences and, as an adult woman, we allowed her to feel the weight of her own decisions and waited for her to be willing to have a give and take agreement with us.

I began to hear from multiple people that  Zina had joined some Russian speaking Facebook groups that are based in America, and was telling the members of these groups personal details about our family and about the abuse that our adopted children had perpetrated in our home.  I was stunned that she would share such private and anguishing details about small children! She also made claims that twisted the truth, that we forced her out of our home without any way to return to Ukraine and that is absolutely untrue (see Part 2 for details of her leaving our home).  She called the Ukrainian Embassy with her fairy tales and they called us.  We gave them our side of the story and once they heard what Zina was doing, they had nothing more to say to us.  Zina spun this story to sound like we had immense and unstoppable power, that even the embassy could not stop our crimes.  But this is a ridiculous retelling of those events.   

Over time I've also learned that Zina said that one of my sons attacked her, insinuated that my husband molested her, claimed that we used her a la Cinderella to do all of our menial chores.  She claimed that she babysat for us all the time, sometimes for days at a time and had to always drive them to and from school.  She was able to create such sympathy for herself that people were outraged and advised her that she should call the police and Child Protective Services.  If she had, can you imagine that we could have landed in prison or my children could have been taken away from me?  What damage would have been done to my kids!  And all because of the lies of this girl.  Not only that, but she shared our Facebook profile so people could see all the photos of our family, gave them information on where we live and Jeff's place of work, in hopes that some crusader would exact vigilante justice upon us and avenge her alleged abuse. 

The damage she has done goes beyond simply spreading gossip and destroying our reputation online.  She has put our family in danger and has potentially harmed any future missionary work we might do in Ukraine, especially if people there will believe her too. The relationships we have there are precious to us and it breaks my heart to think that those friendships would be damaged by her behavior. I would never, in all my dreams, imagine that Zina would have been willing to put my children in danger and to try to destroy our family's reputation, and all in the name of revenge for not having what she wanted from us.  

As for the claims that men in my family attacked her, the adopted son that might have done such a thing is in jail and it was physically impossible for him to have done anything to her.  The oldest son in my home is 14 years old and half of Zina's size. I know Zina well enough to know that even if he had tried, she would have told me immediately.  Any time she was upset about anything, she would always tell me, and immediately.  As for my husband, we thought it wise to have proper boundaries in place because she is not our biological child.  She was never allowed to be alone with him, for any amount of time.  Not in our home, not in the car, not anywhere.  On one occasion when I was out of town, she went to stay at our friends' house until I returned.  Not only was there never any possible chance of an attack, again, she would have told me immediately.  As for her Cinderella story, we asked her to do very little, in fact, much less than we require from our biological children.

Only one person from these Facebook groups took the time to contact me and ask for our side of the story.  I was able to talk to her and tell her our side of things and her suspicions of Zina's lying were confirmed after our conversation.  She had also talked to multiple sources who did their own private investigation and they also felt that lies were being spread.  Others in these groups did their own investigation into the stories they were reading and came to their own conclusions, independently, that what Zina was telling them all was a huge fabrication.  Screenshots of that the lies that were being spread were shared with us from a number of people and we were amazed at all of what was being said.

The information from these Facebook groups was pouring in to us from various directions, including American friends and other organizations we trust. One woman had heard a rumor about the sponsoring family of a Ukrainian young lady that had done atrocious things.  She did some private investigative work and when she learned that we were the sponsoring family, she knew that the tales could not be true and she contacted me to tell me what was being said about us online.  She even verified with others that we both know, about our character and they agreed that the story was most likely false.  

A local Ukrainian man told my friend to tell us that we should definitely call the police and file a report about what was going on with Zina and he also advised that we call an attorney and protect our family. He also didn't believe what was being said about us online and saw Zina accuse  us of things and then change her story, and he was skeptical of her claims as well. When Zina began sharing our personal information, her behavior crossed the line from gossip, slander and revenge into Online Harassment.  These offenses are punishable by 30+ days in jail according to North Carolina law.

Nevertheless, Zina was believed by the vast majority of her readers in these groups and they began trying to comfort her and raising funds in order to send her home.  A friend sent me a message from Kherson letting me know that he saw Zina at the mall as soon as she returned.  It appears that the money given to her so generously by her compassionate supporters will be used to buy her a good time at the mall and not the necessities of life that good people were trying to give to her.  

Zina has used manipulation, twisting of truth and lies in Facebook communities and now among people we both know in Ukraine, as she did with us for two years.  This has taught her the lesson that lies do work on good-hearted people who only want to help and rescue.  She gets what she wants by destroying others, with no consequences, and never looks back at the damage she has done.  Since she has not been held accountable for her actions, one can only assume that this will be something she continues to do, to the detriment of anyone will be close to her.

Why write about all of this? We are very well known in America because we grew up here and everyone who has known us our whole lives knows who we are, what our lives have been about, how we've tried to serve others and about our character.  We have no need to explain anything to them.  So why write? Primarily for the people who defended our family from further online public humiliation and those who tried to calm people down when Zina had these groups in an uproar.  They went against the tide of great anger in these communities and they were also maligned in the process. 

In this same vein, I write this because I hope that hearing the other side will help another family or person from being publicly discussed, shamed or humiliated for some “wrongdoing” based on someone else’s story unless you are an eyewitness to the things being alleged.  We all need to ask questions before believing someone’s online story, especially if we don’t know them at all, except the online face they have presented to us.  (Believe me, I am taking these lessons to heart myself!  We all have something to learn here.)  Questions that we can ask:  Do I know this person intimately, enough to know if they are telling the truth or not?  Can I possibly know the entire situation or do I need to talk to other sources and get the full story of what is being told to me?  Could I possibly be aiding and abetting criminal activity by giving help to someone who is committing a crime like Online Harassment by joining in on the attacks?  If so, am I prepared to sacrifice myself and my own reputation in case this person is found to be lying or engaging in criminal activity?

Secondly, I write to defend the honor of my family.  We are not perfect people.  We have made many mistakes.  My children know very well what it looks like to see humble repentance when there is sin and to work hard to repair relationships.  Despite our humanity and failures, we never did anything but serve Zina without expecting much in return, and we certainly do not deserve the vicious attack on us. 

Lastly, I write because this whole thing has been so very painful.  It hurts to be falsely accused, especially after sacrificing so much for someone else.  It hurts to be misunderstood and seen as  monsters by those who don't even know you and have no desire to hear from your side.  It hurts to be betrayed by someone you trusted.  It hurts to see someone that you tried so hard to love, try to absolutely destroy you when they are finished with you.  So I write to sort of purge my soul of the pain and to sort out my feelings.  I write so that any one who might take the time to read these 3 blog posts might see that there is more to this wretched story than what they've been told.

There is something about being used by another human being that strips away some of your humanity.  When someone just sees you for what they can get from you, you become a mere object and you are worth no more than how many dollars you have in your bank account and how much of it you are willing to give to the one who has targeted you.  You begin to struggle with the idea that you are worthless, that any love or relationship that you try to give is of no value.  You begin to think that you are so deficient as a human being, that you should just give up trying to be a blessing to others or giving of yourself in relationships with others.  

Though I am struggling with all of these emotions, I do not intend to become stuck in them.  I desire to learn from these life lessons and have them teach me rather than make me bitter.  We are limping along right now, tending to our own wounds and don't have much to give to others outside our family right now.  I do have high hopes that one day we can be in a position to serve others and protect ourselves with the wisdom that I hope we now have.  God only knows and we trust Him to get us there.  Bless you for taking the time to read our story.  Please leave us a note if you have anything to share....

With Sincere Hope and Joy,
Amy


1 comments:

  1. I have seen the depth of your pain and find it difficult, if not impossible to understand how your generousity could have been met with such disregard and lack of gratitude. I know the many things you did for Zina. You helped her escape an abusive situation; you paid for travel, all the comforts of home, a car and even education. But most important, you gave her the comfort and stabiliy of a loving family. That she would be ungrateful for all you've for her is bad enough, but that she would malign you for her own purpose is incredible. I know in my heart that you and Jeff are compassionate, giving people and you have been badly used. I only hope that this experience doesn dim your compassion or make you wary of giving when you see a genuine need. Sending prayers for your healing.

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