My husband Al & I have been married for 39 years. He is a health care practitioner. We have 2 sons, Jeremy, 33 and Brett, 29. We adopted Alexa when was she was 3-1/2 years old, from Russia, and the boys were 13 and 9 years old respectively.
Presently, I am entering a new phase in my life. After teaching for almost 30 years, I am turning my focus to advocacy, education and awareness on issues related to bullying, depression and suicide. I am trying to turn our family's tragedy into positive change for other families. Hopefully, other children who are in similar circumstances as Alexa was will have a different outcome.
I am more available to spend time with my family and enjoy events with them. This has been a very exciting year for us. Our older son and his wife Laura had their first child, our first grandchild, Elin Elizabeth, who turned a year old in July. Our younger son got married last September on Block Island, RI, where we spent many summer vacations. He and his wife Marcella have moved to Boston, where Brett is attending graduate school and she is working as a social worker, having completed her MSW.
While we are thankful for these happy occassions, they are bittersweet, knowing how much Alexa would have enjoyed being part of them. She would have loved her sisters-in-law and becoming an aunt.
Alexa was with her birth mother for 18 months before she was taken from her. She was young and unable to provide for her. Alexa was in several different orphanages prior to the one we adopted her from.
She was a very happy, affectionate little girl. She made a very smooth transition into our family and life in America. She loved the boys and they loved her. They were a good deal older than her and had their own lives and activities, but Alexa just went along with all of the running around we did. Within 3 months she understood everything said to her and by six months had pretty much mastered the English language.
Alexa was very bright. She had a natural curiosity, worked hard and was a teacher's dream student. She was gifted in the area of Language Arts. Her vocabulary was astonishing for a child with her background. Her brothers joked that they were born in this country, while she came here not knowing a word of English, and far surpassed them in both reading and writing.
Their prediction was that she would be accepted into the best colleges of the 3 of them and probably with a scholarship to boot.
As Alexa got older, it became apparent that she was a bit different, not glaringly so, but enough to not be in the ‘in crowd.’ She was sensitive and rather mature for her age. She didn’t have a need for a lot of superficial friendships, but she wanted the friends she had to be genuine and meaningful. She had one friend for quite a few years that she considered to be a soul mate. When she entered 8th grade, however, at the urging of another friend, this girl and the instigator dropped Alexa. Then they convinced another friend to break off her friendship with Alexa.
Throughout most of her 8th grade year Alexa was demeaned by being ignored, taunted, made to feel worthless, and at the height of the torment was cyberbullied via e-mails and I-M’s.
She appeared to weather the storm, however, with the help of an outside therapist and the school guidance counselor. She became good friends with another girl who shared many of her same interests. Alexa was the lead in the school play and she also caught the attention of a kind, sensitive boy.
It was an absolute shock when she took her life just 3 days before she was to attend high school. While there were most likely numerous reasons for this tragic turn of events, depression being one of them, we feel that the overriding one was due to the bullying she received in 8th grade. Alexa decided that she was not going to relive that torture in high school.
Alexa ended her pain, but she left a lifetime of pain for her family.