Thank you for your continued support. Whether you're a returning or first time reader, greatly appreciate you checking out my website and blog post(s). I am excited to see my audience continue expanding in support of my book Coming to America: An Adoption Story on Amazon and weekly updates. I am now multi-state and even multi-country with European countries, including Germany :) This week, I am going to go over the most common questions I get once people find out I am Russian and/or adopted.
First and most common question I get once people find out I am Russian and/or adopted is whether I still speak Russian. Sadly, I do not. Even when living in the orphanage, I had very poor and broken Russian. I had enough knowledge to get by for basic needs but did not expand my knowledge base. Once I got to America, I had to learn English quickly to survive and there was minimal people speaking Russian. At one point, one older woman moved to America shortly after I did who spoke Russian. After a short stay, she moved back to Russia and our interactions were non-existing.
I had considered minoring in Russian language in my undergrad studies but did not have the bandwidth due to taking 5 courses each semester along with working full-time. However, fun fact, in 8th grade of my middle school days, I had the opportunity to take high school coursework which included foreign language study. I selected Mandarine Chinese. I took 2-3 years worth. At one point, I knew more Chinese than I ever knew Russian.
The next common question I get is whether I want to or have been back to Russia since my adoption. I have not been back since. I have considered going back but it will be a long time due to the job and clearances I hold. I have never been jumping up and down to go back. If I did visit, I would want to go back to where I grew up in the orphanage.
Another question I get with if I want to visit Russia is if I want to find my biological parents? That has always been a very loaded question to me. For the longest time, I did not want to find my parents. I did not want to face my worst fears which was that my parents, especially my mother, had passed on. However, after decades and emotional healing, I went ahead and submitted my DNA for Ancestry and 23 & Me. While I have not found my parents, I have found many 4th and 5th removed cousins and a whopping DNA match of 0.45%. The good news is, I am 98.6% Eastern Europe DNA :)
The last common question I get is if I have memories from when I was in Russia and in the orphanage? That too is a very loaded question. I want to go into this topic more in-depth in a different update, but at a high level, yes, I do have some memories. I have memories of abuse in the orphanage along with my last interaction with my biological mother. Growing up in America, I was quickly shut-down from talking about my memories. Often, I was told I wasn't remembering correctly, which was extremely difficult to hear. More so to be completely shut down when asking about what I was recalling and what may have triggered it. However, the hardest memory I have had to live with is not recalling my biological mother's face. She did not remember who I was and I barely knew who she was. I never got visitors, so I was super excited to just have a visitor and especially having a gift of bananas being brought. Growing up, I could hear a song, see something, even be running and some memory triggers and I can find myself crying with the lack of visual memory of her face. I struggled with that for many decades. However, within the last two years, I had an aha moment. I was looking myself in the mirror on one of the triggered days and I realized, you see her every single day that you look at yourself in the mirror. How could I have taken so long to realize I see her every single day!?!?
A main takeaway for adoptees and parents is to listen to your child and their memories. It is understandable you're trying to protect them, however, by denying their trauma, journey, and memories, it's setting a poor presendence of the child being comfortable to share and have deep emotional conversations without being shutdown. At a very young age, I learned to not bring up any memories and emotions because I was shutdown. As adoptees, we are already shutdown by the state we are in, it doesn't help to continue forcing us to suppress even when we finally have the courage to ask and have hard conversations. The flip side of this interaction, I have learned to listen so intently because I never want someone to feel shutout.
I go more in-depth on the common questions: