Thursday, March 14, 2013

Russian Adoption: A Happy Story

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

Eight years ago, we adopted three biological siblings from Russia. Tonight we celebrated the middle sister's 13th birthday.

Here is Natasha at 4-1/2 years old on the day we met her in her orphanage director's office...

 ...and here she is today:

Natasha--now 13 years old

On this day that marks Natasha's birth, we also celebrate God's goodness in this former orphan's life. You may have heard stories of Russian adoptions gone wrong. What has happened in a very small number of these adoptions has gained wide media attention. Negative stories do that. However, the terribly sad stories of American adoptive parents wrongly mistreating their children wildly misrepresent the love and encouragement nearly all the families who have adopted Russian children seek to lavish on the kiddos they treasure. These adopted children's lives now tell tales of what the love of a family and the stability of a home can do for an orphan.

When we adopted Natasha, she was five-years-old and weighed a mere 26 pounds. Three months after becoming our daughter, she was diagnosed by a pediatric endocrinologist with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) as a result of the intoxication of her mother during pregnancy. Her mother's drinking was the reason Natasha had been taken from her mother in the first place. Thankfully, the Russian government valued this little one enough to let Americans give her a fresh start through adoption. (This was after a thorough search to see if any Russians were interested in adding the four-year-old to their households. Russians had the first priority to adopt her.)

On the day we learned that Natasha has FAS, we were told that all children diagnosed with the syndrome will demonstrate mild to moderate retardation. Natasha's mental development has defied the prognosis. She reads at a collegiate level and reads voraciously. This serves her well because she has an unquenchable curiosity. Natasha is self-taught and well-versed in the areas of: horses, dogs, insects, horticulture, cooking, interior design and the functioning of the U.S. government. Natasha has a strong interest in relearning Russian (Small children adopted into another culture can't hang on to their original language unless they're in a bilingual environment.) Her 17-year-old sister Daria, adopted from Russia in 2010, is tutoring her. Natasha enjoys writing, working on political campaigns, baking and craft projects. In the fall of 2010 she was a finalist in the National Bible Bee after memorizing hundreds of verses. This qualified her to compete in the nationals in Chicago.

As a parent, these accomplishments can't help but bring a smile as we reflect on the teeny-tiny child who joined our family in April 2005 speaking only Russian. However, the state of her heart is much more important to us than any intellectual feats. Did you notice the shirt Natasha is wearing in the photo making her birthday? Natasha has a heart for orphans. This tenderness for children who need a family like she once did was even demonstrated in how the 13-year-old wanted to celebrate her birthday. Her request for her birthday gift was that we would forego buying her anything. Instead, she asked if the family could use the money we would normally spend on a present to host a fundraiser for families who are adopting.

Natasha has one other birthday wish. She longs for the four siblings whose adoption we had almost completed to be given the same chance she's had to join a family in America. She longs for the three brothers and their sister to become her brothers and sister. We continue to pray with her that her dream will come true. Please, Russia, reopen the door...


Melanie said...

Still praying for your family and the Fab Four.

Happy Birthday to Natasha!

Brittany said...

Happy birthday, Natasha! You seem to have a wonderful personality and love for children who need families. You and I seem like a lot alike. Have a wonderful birthday!

Tony and Dawn said...

Happy Birthday Natasha! Thank you for your very big heart! We have a 10 year old Anastasia that was born in a small village in Primorsky Krai. I hope you see your new siblings soon! We will pray very hard for them and that the political problems will go away that are preventing them from coming home.

SamUEL Finch said...

Happy birthday, Natasha!! You are growing into such a lovely, godly, young woman, and I am so happy to call you my friend. I am praying that you get your wish! :)

SoulsforChrist7 said...

Happy birthday, Natasha! The Lord is growing you into such a lovely young lady.


Josh Musick said...

Happy Birthday Natasha!!! I do wish I would have known earlier so I could have wished you a happy birthday ON your happy birthday :(

Mrs. Beaver - -Is it still to late to donate to the fundraiser that Natasha did? If it's not, I'd love to send a little something. What a beautiful glimpse into her heart.

God Bless

Rog said...

What a simply beautiful story. Natasha, you are a blessing to know and it is a privilege to have you and your family as friends. Happy Belated Birthday. :)

The fundraiser is so precious - praise God for giving her such a desire.

Sherri Kaneversky said...

What a joy to see your beautiful family come across our newsfeed. We have often prayed for your family and will continue to pray as you are waiting for four more children! Blessings dear friends...and Happy Belated Birthday to Natasha!

Jason M. said...

Happy birthday to Natasha! I really enjoyed getting to know her a bit over the last several months.

And I pray pretty much daily that the ban will be repealed and that your adoption will go through. Hopefully in 10 years you'll have 4 more amazing stories of transformed lives.