Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hearing from Julia

Here's Julia's wonderful story of adoption, posted earlier in 2011. She is now a freshman in college. Such a blessing to read!

I remember how it felt to be the youngest....                                                                              
I was 8 years old when my family decided to adopt. I was 8 and my world was about to change. I don’t really remember the moment my parents sat my 2 sisters and me down to tell us that we were going to adopt; I don’t remember what I first thought of the idea, and I don’t remember the process of adoption. What I do remember is my life before hand and my life afterward. I remember how it felt to be the youngest, the baby. I wasn’t spoiled but it was nice to be the baby of the family. I got attention and love. It was just my 2 sisters and my mom and dad-- that was my family. Then all of a sudden my family, my world as I knew it, was significantly altered. 

I remember embracing and accepting my new family
Julia with her 2nd grade teacher
I don't think I fully understood what we were doing until my parents showed me a picture of my future brother and sister. I brought it to school and showed my 2nd grade teacher and class. I was so proud. We ended up not adopting them because their grandmother took them, but that was the first moment I remember embracing and accepting my new family. I remember when my mom went to Russia to visit orphanages. She called us and said that she had found two kids, a brother and a sister, that she thought were the ones. From that moment on all the talk was about Kristina and Pasha. 
A life-changing event
After months of paperwork and waiting, which I do not remember at all (I do remember moving from our old house to a bigger house in preparation for our bigger family), we finally prepared a trip for our whole family to take so that we could adopt our future family. I remember the trip so well it was a life-changing event. I was half excited and half nervous. I remember the plane ride there, everything being so foreign and weird to me. I remember when we got there it was like a whole other world. I could barely keep my eyes open because I was so tired, yet I couldn’t close them for fear that I would miss all the different sights and atmosphere.

A shocking place

The outside of the orphanage
 The whole trip consisted of staying at different houses and apartments, and some sight seeing, but the most impactful was the visit to see my new brother and sister. I remember driving up in front of the orphanage, and seeing that it was dirty and falling apart. I remember being a little scared to enter into such a different and shocking place. The director came out and welcomed us and brought us inside. All the kids were running around and looking at us. I could see that they weren’t very well dressed and that they looked different from me, yet they also looked similar to me, after all they were kids just like me.  

In the orphanage

Julia embraces her new brother, Pasha. Stickers
were the language of the moment!
We played with the kids for a while, taking Polaroid pictures of them, which they absolutely loved, and gave them gifts that we had brought. Then the director brought us into a room where we were to wait to meet Kristina and Pasha. They served us tea and cookies and brought in our new family. I remember putting Pasha on my lap and playing with him. I remember we had a lot of stickers that we put all over our faces and played with some toys and looked at some books with pictures that told a story. We were a family; we were playing together and communicating in the broken language that we had fashioned together and we were smiling and laughing and getting to know each other.   

Little did we know....

Andrei and Sergei reunited in the
When we were in that room, the director also brought in two brothers who had just been reunited in the orphanage. They were so happy to see each other and were hugging and holding each other. She introduced them as Andrei and Sergei. Little did we know at that time that they too would join our family just 18 months later! After our visit to the orphanage we had to go to court to legally adopt. I was too young to actually attend so my sisters and I waited in the car while my mom and dad and Kristina and Pasha went in. I remember sitting there playing on a game boy and talking to my sisters and grandparents, totally oblivious of the significant event going on inside that court building. After we went to court and had legally adopted, we flew to Moscow. I remember that first night we went to the pool in the hotel and had a wonderful time; everything was so new and exciting at that point. Finally it was time to go home. After the long flights and layovers and countless hours of being awake we finally reached home. We showed Kristina and Pasha their rooms, all made up with toys and signs and pictures from people that already loved them, even though they had never met.   

Things were pretty good, however...

The new siblings in the hotel pool in
Moscow after the first adoption
The first couple weeks after we adopted were full of emotions for me. Kristina and I had already become best friends, playing with dolls and speaking in a combination of broken Russian and broken English. We really hit it off and I finally had someone who enjoyed dolls as much as I did. We all took family outings and did things together. I learned to communicate in some form of Russian, and they were steadily learning more and more English. Things were pretty good, however not all the time. I remember some times crying and thinking that my life wouldn’t be the same. I remember thinking that my parents wouldn’t love me as much now that they were giving all of their attention to my new siblings. There were times when I was completely happy with my situation, having more people to play with and new family, but there were also times that I was sad and felt like I wasn’t important. Those first couple of months were full of wonderful and tough times and emotions, but eventually all of those emotions steadied into happiness and acceptance.
I can't imagine my family any different way

Julia and Kristina became best buddies
Now, looking back, I can’t really remember what it was like without my adopted siblings. I don’t think I would want to go back to that time because I can’t imagine my family any different way. To me, my sister and brothers from Russia are my siblings, sure they were adopted and weren’t always a part of our family, but now they are. I sometimes forget that they were adopted and that my life used to be so different. I think that I was at a perfect age to accept and move into my new family. Today I see my siblings as truly part of the family and I can’t imagine my life without them. We truly are one big family, no division and no differences, just one family.     
Arriving home in Atlanta--exhausted but happy!

I grew to know God as a wonderful, loving Father
My family life was not the only thing changed by the adoption, but my spiritual life and relationship with Christ evolved too. I was only eight when we first adopted, so at that point I had already accepted the Lord as my Savior and had given him my life. But I didn’t have a relationship with him, or at least not like I do now. While the adoption didn’t magically change my relationship with God or make God closer, it did give me a better understanding of him and his love for us. I grew to know God as a wonderful loving father who not only gives us his love but he adopts us into his family and gives us his inheritance, just as my family adopted our earthly family members. The adoption definitely helped me nurture and develop a lasting relationship with God that would continue to grow in understanding and love as I got older. My growth and closeness to my heavenly father has definitely been affected by our adoption and the impact it had on my family and those around us.
First day of school with the Headmaster

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