Am I there yet? A Journey to a New Life This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 31, 2009
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When you get on a roller coaster, you think you know what the ride will be like, where it is going to go, and when it is going to turn, flip, twist, or dive. Often, it takes an unexpected turn that can change the whole ride completely. For me this happened in my life, when I made my first trip from Russia to the United States. Life gave me a big opportunity to take an amazing ride. So, on June 20th, at age eleven, I packed my bags, and took off on an airplane for the first time. Little did I know this trip was to meet my “new family.”
You might wonder how such a young girl had come to be in this position. It had started a year earlier when my mother was struggling to keep her life together. I was born in Russia in 1993. I grew up in and around the city of Vladimir, which is three hours away from Moscow. My mother and biological father had divorced. Then my mother remarried. I loved my stepfather, and I remember life with him was good. We had a nice apartment, a car, and went on picnics, and swimming in a nearby lake. But, unfortunately, that didn’t last either. After that split, my mothers’ life took a turn for the worse. She was involved in a car accident, and the physical and legal problems were too overwhelming for her. So , she left me with my two grandmothers, Zina, and Nina, who unfortunately were not in the best of health. In fact, life with them was a bit crazy because they did not provide a safe, stable environment. There was no supervision and no one really paid attention to what I was doing, and if I was in school regularly. At one point, my uncle moved in with us, and life became oppressive because of his abusive ways. I remember walking on egg shells often worried if he was going to explode into one of his tirades. After my youngest grandmother, Nina, died, I left to live with my mother again. A friend realized that my mother couldn’t care for me on her own, so she called the child protective services.
I ended up in the first shelter. It was frightening and confusing. My mother told me not to worry, that it would only be for a few months, and she had been there herself, it wasn’t too bad. I remember being in a room with over a dozen girls. We all ate together and played together. At one point, there was an outbreak of lice, and they used a strong chemical to treat us after they cut our hair really short. Ironically, during that time, I probably attended school more regularly, and completed more work. When we went to school, the other student there would eye us a bit suspiciously in judgment because we were the shelter kids. In her letters, my mother made a lot of promises for a better future, and I believed her. But after she didn’t show up for the court hearing, I was crushed. I lost all my trust in her.
I was sent to a second shelter and life was better. We were treated well, and given more care and respect. It was more of a family atmosphere with house parents. It was there that an organization called International Christian Adoptive Agency. (ICA) intervened and changed my whole life! I heard about a chance to go on a trip to the U.S. with a group of children who might be considered for adoption. I still cannot imagine how many twists and turns happened at this point in my life. Typically kids my age did not go on sponsored visits, but they made an exception for me. First, I was supposed to go to California, then New Jersey. Then it was decided that I would go Pennsylvania.
Initially when I found out that I was going to the U.S I was ecstatic. I didn’t really focus on the adoption part of it. I was glad that it was the U.S because that was where the “rich people” lived. I took a lot of time and care while I was packing my suitcase. I think I repacked three times. Not that I had that much to take with me, but it kept me from going crazy with impatience. As I sat in the airplane, a hundred questions ran through my mind. How did they live? Where would I be? What were the houses, stores, and schools like? How would I communicate in this new language that I didn’t even know? Most of all, I wanted to know- Are we there yet? I was told, “Be patient, you’ll see.” So, I tried to sit back and relax, but it was hard to do for NINE hours in an airplane with only the cotton candy clouds to look out at while visions of this new country danced in my imagination.
My first impression was that I LOVED America! It was beautiful, peaceful, and people were nice. The places were clean. There were a lot of cars driving around that I hadn’t seen in Russia. I first saw the skyline of Washington D.C. at night. It was all lit up. When we got off the plane, I was overwhelmed by the sights, the noise, and the people. The host families were there to meet us. They were so friendly. I remember that the whole time during this trip, I had never seen people smile so much. This continued during my whole visit. The only persistent problem that I had was the language barrier. But, we did a lot of acting, and I used the dictionary A LOT! It took me six months, to manage basic conversations. The food wasn’t so different, but I did learn to like pizza, and Chinese food. But basically I loved that I had chance to experience it all in this wonderful country. Little did I know how much my life was about to change .
I recently spoke to my American mom about her perspective on this experience. I realize now how much I was meant to be with them. My mom told me at first they weren’t going to host any child from Russia. They had had another boy with them previously, but he had to go back. For my mother that was like losing her own child when she had to say goodbye to him. She and my father prayed about it and asked for guidance. She said, “Lord, I don’t want to disobey you because of my fear and selfishness. If you want us to have a child, even if only for a month, then let something work out last minute.” My father received an e-mail, saying that a child needed a place, ad they prayed together and decided to host me. My mom said she didn’t want her heart broken again, so they had already chosen to not consider adoption. When we met and spent time together, we knew we were meant to be a family.
When I look back to the turmoil in my life in Russia, I recall how I cried myself to sleep every day, holding my mother’s jacket in my right hand tightly like a baby holds onto its favorite toy. I refused to let it go. When I fell asleep my grandmother would come and take that jacket away from me. She almost hated my mother for turning her back on me like she had. She wanted me to have nothing to do with her. Both of my grandmas would say “Kristina, dear, when you grow up don’t let your mother in your house, don’t help her if she asks for help, treat her just like she treated you.” During that time period, I did agree with them, but now I feel differently. I can look at the events of my younger life and understand a little of what happened and why it happened. I can honestly say I have completely forgiven her, and I believe what the Bible teaches about forgiveness and second chances. I hope one day we will meet again, and talk and some more of the hurt will be resolved. I will tell her that, with God, all things are possible. In a curious way, her abandonment led me to the life and family I have now, and that is a good thing! Little did we know.

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This article has 17 comments. Post your own now!

anyador said...
Jan. 26, 2010 at 10:51 pm
this is amazing Kristina. I love you, and I miss you a lot
luai123 said...
Jan. 10, 2010 at 12:07 am
amber said...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm
kristina i just wanted to tell you i love youuuu :)
lax8 said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm
Kristina this is soooo amazing!!!! i miss you guys so much! :) kellen
KristinaA replied...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm
awww kellennnnn
i missssssss yooooouuuuuu
but thanks :)
fromDAD said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 9:37 am
Thanks for writing this article. I am proud of you. God loves you. I love you. Dad
MaRcElItA said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 8:14 am
OMG!!!! kristinita this is the best thing i've ever read!!! im so proud of you!! & i'm happy that ur new life is better and that u ended up here with us and not in california. Love u soo much!
KristinaA replied...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm
thank you marcela!
lovelife said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm
This is truely an amazing and uplifting story.
KristinaA replied...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm
thank you so much!
TrustGod said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm
wow...This is a very moving story!..God bless you and keep your trust in him always!
KristinaA replied...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm
aw thank you so much!
and thank you for reading and rating my story.
and yeah god helped me with so much during this process. :)
jennaloveskristina(: said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm
sooo thisss is amazinnngggggg and i loveeee youuuuuuuuuuu and i loveee youuuu and i loveeeee youuuuuuu. and i loveee youuu soo freakiinggg muchhhhhh. hopee it gets published babygirl..ha ur sitting next to meee....kindaa hah but yesssss <3
KristinaA replied...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm
awww thankssss sis!!!
i love youuuuu tooooooooooooooooo!!!!
thank you
jennaloveskristina replied...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:11 pm
offcourseeee babygirlll lovee youuu
JAtkinson said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:47 am
I am so proud of you for all ogf your hard work, and what you taught me during this process. You have grown as a person, and a writer!
XO Ms. Atkinson
KristinaA said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 8:22 am
This is an amazing story. Sorry you had to go through all this. I'm happy you have such a beautiful life now. Treasure it!
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