Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Biological Child's Perspective on Adoption: Emma

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 third in this series is from our eldest, Emma, who is a lovely and amazing young woman soon to graduate from college.

Emma's Story
I could not wait to travel to Russia
Emma, Rachel and Julia
before adoptions
When my parents first talked to my sisters and me about adopting, it came out of nowhere. As a 12 year old I had never even thought about adoption, positively or negatively, in my entire life. But as soon as I took a moment to consider the possibility, I was ecstatic about opening our family to two new members. I also could not wait to travel to Russia and learn the language and culture. Of course there were many cultural differences; I remember ordering spaghetti with marinara sauce at a restaurant and getting a plate of pasta with a gravy boat full of ketchup next to it. 

Andrei, Emma and Sergei in the
children's home
The driver asked if we could pick up a little boy                                                               One of my favorite memories of going to Russia for the first time was meeting my future brothers, Andrei and Sergei. On our way to the orphanage to meet Kristina and Pasha, our driver asked if we could stop at a foster home to pick up a little boy who was being sent to the orphanage to be with his older brother. Though we were distraught at the idea of taking two children away from the orphanage only to bring another, we of course said yes. This little boy was my brother Sergei. When we arrived and were ushered into a small room with tea and cookies, Andrei was already there, waiting to see his brother. As soon as they laid eyes on each other, I could feel the joy and relief they felt. For the remainder of our visit, they did not stop hugging or smiling.

And then they were 5
Retaining some stability was important to me                                                                        Once we all returned home, I started to get to know my new siblings better. Pasha and I watched The Lion King together over and over, always returning to the stampede, his favorite scene. He would sprint around our house on all fours like a lion until he broke his leg after falling off his bike. Then he just ran around on three legs, with his broken cast lifted in the air. Kristina and I shared a room and bonded over her incredibly loud and annoying gerbil named Mary. No matter how many times she woke us up scratching at her cage during the night, Mary remained a permanent fixture in our room. Of course there were hard times, but within weeks I couldn't imagine sitting around our kitchen table for dinner without Kristina and Pasha, and eventually Andrei and Sergei as well. I found it very easy to adjust to my new life; I was and still am the oldest child, and my only concern about adoption was that I would have to give that up. I'm sure I would've grown to love an older sibling as well, but retaining some stability (and the ability to boss people around) was important to me.
Emma and our friend Nicole with
some new Russian

Seeing the world from a different perspective
Our group in Russia,
Through our adoption, I have grown so much spiritually and intellectually. I am a Political Science major at college now, focusing on international politics, and growing up aware and involved in the world outside my bubble played a huge part in that decision. I think I have become a much more well-rounded and aware person because of traveling to Russia, meeting and getting know people I never would have known, and seeing the world from completely different perspectives than my own.

Emma (standing) with others from
our team ministering in the

 The Amazing Love of Christ
However, seeing the transformation of our kids prompted even greater spiritual growth inside of me. A picture is worth a thousand words as the old cliche says, and one of the most moving pictures I have ever seen is my sister Kristina's first passport picture.

Our Kristina's passport
 She and my parents went to some sort of embassy in Moscow to obtain her Russian passport so she could travel to the US with us and become a part of our family. That picture shows a girl with haunted, empty eyes and a blank expression. She looks so lost and hollow. But through the love of my parents, my siblings, and most of all the Lord she came to know so well, Kristina's smile has become one of the largest and brightest I have ever seen. She laughs with her entire body, and her eyes sparkle with the knowledge that Jesus loves her and has adopted her into his family forever. Her transformation is the clearest picture of the amazing love of Christ I have ever seen, and I am so happy to have been there to see it happen.
Kristina's senior portrait

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