Monday, May 16, 2011

An Adopted Child's Perspective: Kristina (Part II)

We wanted to share some of the stories of adoption from the point of view of the children, both biological and adopted. It has been fascinating and faith-building to hear them tell their own stories of life from their perspective. The fourth in this series is from our precious Kristina, now a 20 year old college sophomore who is spending her spring semester studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a Russian Studies and Environmental Studies major.
Kristina and Pasha's adoption announcement--we wanted to treat the
adoption of our children the same as the births.

I didn’t like being told what to do
Kristina's 4th grade Science Fair--The
Simple Machine. It was the first time she
spoke English in front of the class. 
Adjusting to my new siblings was as easy as pie because they were all very kind and loving. It was no problem adjusting to my new parents because they were everything parents should be and more. But adjusting to a routine and being told what to do was miserable. I remember long nights of crying, throwing fits, and being a stubborn child. Having been the boss and parent of myself my whole life I didn’t like being
told what to do.  I often thought, “who are they to tell me I have to do my homework?” It took a while to really trust and get adjusted to the idea that they were my parents. Truthfully I have no idea how my parents survived that period of my life. However of all the hard things that I had to face in adjusting to a new family and culture was school. The frustration of not being able to communicate very well what you want, how you feel or ask questions was the most frustrating thing. Soon after I arrived in America I began to attend 4th grade with only knowing the alphabet, Old McDonald had a farm and how to write my name. I remember a couple of long horrible nights of staying up late and writing or reading something. But being a very motivated person, even while I was living in Russia, I adapted in almost six months.

Emma welcoming Kristina to their room
on the first day home.

Kristina (front left) and Pasha with their new siblings in the
hotel pool in Moscow.

Advice for adoptive parents

To those adopting parents I would say that beware of that “post honeymoon” feeling. Adopting is one of the most wonderful things someone can do. You’re giving another child a great chance at life and particularly a good and healthy life. When you are in the process and right after coming home with the child you feel so happy and good inside knowing that you did something good and are ecstatic that you got someone so wonderful in your life. But the post honeymoon feeling comes when you begin to see the not so good sides of the child and are presented with many difficulties that you have never faced. Don’t forget this child is not only going to have normal child issues that any child faces, but also extra difficulties that many children (or even adults) have never faced. Be prepared to face some months if not years of hard work. You know God is doing miraculous things when you come against difficulties because it means changes are occurring. Don’t get discouraged because in the end there are few things that seem more wonderful then when you see the fruit of your labor in that child’s life. Maybe my parents can testify to that. Of course those parents should discipline the kids, but there also has be understanding where they came from and what they went through. It’s hard to suggest what the parent should do, but maybe compromising and agreeing some way. Not always allowing the child to have his way but also not being so determined to have something go your own way.

Why did You allow all these horrible things in my life?

 I believe with all my heart that God’s plan in using my new parents, family and culture is to save me and prepare me to do his work back in the country and with the people that brought so much pain in my life in the first place. I accepted Jesus into my heart very soon after being in America and around my family, who showed how important God is in their lives. Even when I was in the orphanage I remember reading the children’s version of the Bible with my best friend. We were curious souls even then. Year after year, my family returned to Russia for different reasons; to see friends, to visit the orphanage and to minister. 
Our 2003 ministry trip back to Kalinina Orphanage. Kristina
is in the center (gray sweater) surrounded by the girls
in her group. Her best friend, Natasha (front right,
red sweater) used to read the bible with Kristina;
they still keep in touch.

Now that I think about it, it was such a God thing that even at such a young age I was so drawn back to Russia. There was nothing there for me, but it was like God was preparing me to one day return and do what he initially was calling me to do. I didn’t receive this calling till I was much older. One day when I was battling with God, I remember asking him, “ Why God, why did you allow all these horrible things in my life? Why did I have to see and feel all the things I did at such a young age? And why did you chose me to bless in such a tremendous way?” God’s reply was “So that when I call you to minister there you can relate to those kids because you have felt what they feel, you have done what they do and you have seen what they see. But above everything else you can give them hope for a new and better life because you have seen all the blessings and good I have done in your life.”

So here I am ten years later, once again back in Russia. This semester I am a study abroad student, but doing some ministry wherever and however I can for the people of Russia need to see God’s face and the love he has for them. 
Our family trip to visit Kristina (in grey coat)
in St. Petersburg, Russia,
Spring Break, 2011

In Vyborg--Kristina has visited the orphanage
she used to live in a few times during
her time studying abroad.

In front of the Hermitage Museum during our
visit in April, 2011
I know that God has a good future in store for me
The most important decision that I made eleven years ago still affects me today and in many ways it will affect me for the rest of my life. I know that without God I would not be where I am today. I was so young when I said yes to being adopted by a strange family that lived on a different continent. In many ways I did not know what I was doing and God guided me to the perfect family and gave me a future that so many could only dream of. Once again I learned to trust, experience feelings such as love, happiness and sadness. This decision gave me the confidence to make other important decisions in my life. Now I am no longer afraid for my future because not only am I confident that I will make the right decisions for the college that I go to or whom I marry, but I also know that God has a good future in store for me.
Our Kristina at Stetson University the Fall of her
sophomore year.
You are welcome to respond to Kristina with any comments or questions you would like to ask her.

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